A Working Moms of Twins Guide for Dealing with Guilt

Working mom's guilt. It shows up when you least want or expect it.

Your stay-at-home-mom friends talk about their fun trip to the park.

Your daughter begs you to make cupcakes for the school party. . .but you run out of time and buy them at the store instead.

Or your mother-in-law makes yet another comment about how horrible it is that moms have to work today and send their kids to daycare.

It happens to all of us (even stay-at-home moms who want to take some time away from the kids).

For moms of twins or multiples, it can be worse because there may be an assumption from others that you will automatically decide to stay home to care for your babies. When you don't (out of financial necessity or a desire to continue your career), you may feel uncomfortable. . .and guilty.

Working Moms Don't Need to Feel Guilty

More women with children are working than ever before. More than 70% of women with children are currently in the work force, and 63.5% of women in the work force have children under the age of six, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (Sept. 2008).

While the media often portrays this trend as a negative, further fueling the worry and guilt working moms feel, recent research shows that the children of working moms are doing just fine.

Research released in 2006 by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development concluded that children who were cared for exclusively by their mothers did not develop differently than those who were cared for by others. The study, one of the most extensive looking at the impact of different types of child care on children, was conducted over a 15-year period following 1,364 kids and their families.

One of the key points brought out by this study is that your focus should be less on worrying about using child care and more on the quality of your interactions as a parent with your children. Spending more time finding high-quality child care for your children can pay off as well. One of the studies surprising findings is that kids in high-quality child care had higher cognitive and language skills than other kids, including those who stayed home with their mothers exclusively.

You can download a free copy of the study's findings on the NICHD website.

Coping with Working Mom's Guilt

Even though most working moms know in their heart that they don't need to be with their kids 24/7 to be good, loving moms, the guilt still surfaces at times. The following are some things to consider or strategies to use to help minimize any guilt you may feel about working and raising your children:

Explore and embrace your reasons for working: It may help to write down the reasons you want to work. It may be anything from a love of your job or needing the money to a desire to be a strong role model for your children. Understanding your motivations can help you accept and trust that you're doing the right thing for you and your family.

Look more closely at your reasons for guilt: Sometimes the root of your guilt has less to do with working outside the home and your responsibilities as a mother and more to do with being unorganized or not getting the help you need. You may just need to tweak your support system a bit or get help structuring your time more effectively so you feel more in control. Don't be afraid to ask your spouse or other people in your life for help.

Join a Mothers of Twins or Multiples Club: While not every mom in these organizations is a working mom, many of the moms are either working full- or part-time now, and many more will eventually go back to work as their children grow. Seek out other moms like you who are working and raising twins or multiples. Just talking to someone who understands where you are coming from can make you feel better. It's also a great way to find ideas or solutions to problems unique to working moms of twins or more.

Realize you are just one person in your children's lives: Moms are just one influence in their children's lives. Dads, grandparents, teachers, friends, babysitters, coaches and other adults can all have a profound impact on your children's well being. Plus these other people may have talents or experiences to share with your children that you don't. You can only do so much as one person. Give yourself a break and recognize that other influences in your children's lives can be healthy.

Avoid or Ignore Negative People: You will always encounter a few people (or relatives) who feel the need to make you feel even more guilty about being a working mom. Unfortunately, we all have at least one or two people like this in our lives. When possible avoid these people or try to ignore the comments when they come. Recognize that they may be stating what they think based on their own situation, which is not the same as yours.

Understand that you are an important role model: Many moms want their children to grow up to be independent and strong. You can help your children - both boys and girls - gain healthy attitudes about a women's role in marriage and society overall by your attitude and example. Kids of working moms often have more expectations to pitch in at home or to get their homework done early, which also helps encourage independence and self-reliance.

Do what makes you happy: Some moms would be miserable staying at home and giving up their career. Others might be happier working part-time. Some moms would like to stay at home but it's just not realistic given their financial situation.

Look at your situation realistically and then try to decide what would make you most happy. While quitting work may not be an option, maybe you can find a job you like better or one that offers you more flexible hours. Or you might even take some classes or work toward a degree that will offer you more career options down the road. Don't force yourself to stay home full-time (even if you can swing it financially) if you will be miserable. This isn't doing you or your kids any favors.

Children take their cues from their parents. If you are comfortable and happy with your situation, they will be happy and well-adjusted too. Spend less time feeling guilty, and cherish the time you have in your life to spend with your children and your family.

Going back to work after your twin pregnancy. . .

How do you cope with working moms guilt?

What types of strategies do you use to alleviate working moms guilt when it rears its ugly head? How does having twins or multiples make it better or worse? Any words of advice for other working moms of twins or more on how to deal with negative people who feed your guilt with their insensitive comments?

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