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Guilt About Returning to Work After a Child

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 25 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Guilt Baby Emotion Family Partner

It is common to experience a range of emotions when you return to work after having a baby.

Guilt is particularly common. This is often because the woman feels as though she should be looking after her baby at home, just as those old fashioned books and films like us to think is the ideal. Sometimes, new mothers would actually prefer to be at home with their child but the rising cost of mortgages and living means that they cannot survive on their partner's salary alone. Single mothers often have no choice but to return to work in order to pay their bills.

Whatever the reason for the feelings of guilt at returning to work, it is important to understand how you can deal with those feelings. All too often, negative feelings can manifest themselves externally, through illness or stress. If you are able to identify your feelings and work through a solution, you and your family will be far happier.

If Your Partner is Making You Feel Guilty

If your partner is making you feel guilty for returning to work, you need to look at why they are doing this. Some men can feel emasculated when their wife returns to work, especially if they are earning more that they do. Men can also enjoy having more of the domestic shores done by their wife as was more likely when they were at home on maternity leave.

If you need to return to work for financial reasons, you and your partner must accept this and not apportion blame. However, if you are returning to work to 'keep up with the Jones's' and you could actually afford not to work if you made some changes to your family spending habits, there may be another conversation that you need to have.

If you have decided to return to work because you want the fulfilment of your career and own money, then you and your partner need to establish some routines and ground rules. There is no reason why the mother should be the primary carer at home, unless that is what you both choose.

If You Are Making Yourself Feel Guilty

Many women 'assume' they should feel guilty somehow about going back to work, which, whether they actually feel like that or not, becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. If you kick yourself every time you do not make a meal for your family from scratch after a long day at work, or when you have not taken a home-made offering to the school cake stall, you are in danger of giving yourself unnecessary stress.

In this situation, many women find the 'seventy - thirty' rule helpful. This is when you do what you consider 'right' seventy percent of the time - cooking fresh food for dinner, ironing all the family's clothes or whatever - and thirty percent of the time doing whatever you actually have time to do. This may be finding a good ready meal that isn't too high in salt and sugar, going to bed early with a glass of wine and letting your husband order pizza or just ironing the visible parts of all the shirts!

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