Letting Go of Guilt: Help for Working Moms

If you have ever bounced a baby on one hip while trying to type a work email with one hand, raced out after daycare or preschool drop-off to try to get to work on time, had to rely on others to pickup and drop off your kids to activities after school, given all the hand signals and mean looks when you are on a work call and the kids still bound in your office needing something or wondered if you are really giving anyone your best, ruining your kids, and getting passed over for promotion: I GET YOU, MAMA.

Being a working mom is not for the faint of heart. Moms work for a variety of reasons: single moms to pay the bills, moms who choose to work while their husband stays home, moms who need a second income to pay for braces, cars, sports teams, and college, moms who don’t want to work but have no other choice, moms who don’t want to stay home and love their careers, moms who work part-time or remote schedules to try do it all. No matter how much you work, or why you work, every working mom I have ever met agrees: It is hard and they are tired. Exhausted, really. And full of guilt.

But guess what? So are stay at home moms. Through our work at Gather Moms, we have found that no matter the stage of parenting, moms are tired and struggle with mom guilt. And not just in America. I have a dear friend in China with 4 young boys, and she asked me on Zoom last week if I’m as tired and overwhelmed as she is and if I had any advice for her. Moms all over the world struggle with the same things. In fact, a Barna research study shows that eight in ten moms are dissatisfied with the amount of stress in their life, and seven in ten do not get enough rest. 1

“Work-life Balance” is meaningless to moms now, and although businesses may offer more resources than in past years to moms, it still is not enough.

CARRY Media says that 38% of women are looking to leave their job with burnout being the main driver.

If we can’t achieve balance, then what are we trying to do? How do we measure “success” as a working mom? When our kids don’t get in trouble at school and we get the promotion at work? As a working mom, I think this is one of the biggest challenges and questions lying heavy on our minds: Am I doing enough, am I present enough, AM I ENOUGH? We have natural constraints in our lives and there are only so many hours of the day, only so many years at home with our kids, only so much workload we can handle, so we end up in this place, wondering if there is MORE God has for us?

In the book Wonder Women author Kate Harris introduces the idea of “vocation” or “calling” on our life. She says that:

“The definition of vocation, as a lifelong response to God’s voice, is the closest I have come to finding a framework big enough to make sense of my life and work. Vocation offers the possibility that my life and my faith can be richly and imaginatively stewarded as a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts.”

Kate goes on to encourage moms not to be defined by whether they work or stay at home, but to define your life around obedience to the voice of God. If He calls you to work, then you trust that He will fill in the gaps with your kids. If he calls you to stay home, then you trust that He will fill in the gaps of the finances. God’s economy is endless, and not finite like our own, and He has the means to provide all that you need when you are walking in step with Him. Walk closely with Him every day, so that you can hear His voice clearly and learn to obey instantly. Even in the most small, mundane tasks like grocery shopping, have your heart attuned to His voice.

Annie Dillard once wrote in The Writing Life, “how we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives.” Kate Harris explains that, “In whatever form they take, in every season of life, my relationships and responsibilities are ways God has given me to experience His grace. My work and the tensions of my work are an ongoing invitation into deeper knowledge of God and myself.” Have you ever considered your work to be a way for you to grow to know God on a more intimate level? As He sustains you and provides, you will fall in love with Him more, and there is no better place to be, in complete reliance on Him. He sees your limitations and weaknesses, and He sees a way for Him to fill in those gaps for you. For His glory and for your good.

Learning to hear God’s voice can be overwhelming to many moms who are stuck on the negative soundtrack in their own minds. Thankfully, God is ready and willing to speak if we find time to: Be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). Open the grip of your hands and RELEASE it all to Him. Yes, He might ask you to quit your job and start your own business (He asked that of me!) or make a drastic change. That might scare you, but the center of God’s will is the best place to be; it is there you will find the peace and rest for which your soul has been searching. Daily continue to lay down your plans in exchange for His.

If God has called you and placed you in the role of a working mom, embrace it and flourish there! Your greatest ministry is where He has placed you. Find practical tools to help you delegate household tasks outside your skill set, and use strategies like Time-Boxing 2 and Pomodoro3 (see info below) to be more productive at work. Connect on social media with other working moms in your field, follow other working mom organizations like CARRY Media4 , Polished 5, or 4Word 6, and reach out to encourage those that work with you.

Lastly, mamas don’t do this alone. The Barna study found that more than 1/3 of women often say they feel lonely. In fact, only 42% feel they have a strong support network of friends and family. That’s why God called us to create Gather, to provide a space for moms to connect, be encouraged, and laugh together. Find or start a Gather Moms group near you, and begin building true community with us at Gather Moms.

jenny worsham

1 “Frames: Wonder Women”, Barna Group

2 Time blocking technique: block out your schedule in chunks with smaller segments allowing time for desk time

3 Pomodoro technique: can be used to determine where you are losing time, increase your efficiency, and limit interruptions. Choose a task for 25 minutes, set a timer, and don’t do anything else until the timer finishes. Then take a quick break and get back at your work.

4CARRY Media is founded by Paula Farris and provides a weekly newsletter for working moms, as well as resources

5Polished is a ministry founded by Kat Armstrong for professional women in the workplace

64Word is a ministry founded by Diane Paddison for Christian professional women in the workplace