Working From Home With My Daughter Intensified My Mom Guilt

work from homeI feel like I have a confession to make. While I’m happy that my daughter got a chance to relax over winter break, the combination of a work-from-home mother and her 4-year-old daughter trying to coexist in the same house for two weeks turned me into a really horrible mom. Honestly, I became the worst version of myself. And it made my mom guilt soar to new, surprising levels.

I realize that just last week, I was vowing not to over-analyze or critique my parenting quite so much. But I guess I join countless other New Year’s resolutioners in failing at my goal less than a week after it began. (Hey, have you hit the gym yet? Or thrown out the holiday treats? I’m not alone here.) Honestly though, I feel like this year’s winter break gave me a big insight into my own work life balance and my abilities as a mother.

When people hear that I work from the comfort of my couch, their first or second comment normally sounds like this: “It must be nice to have so much extra time to spend with your daughter,” or “That’s great that you can be home when you have a little one.” There’s always this assumption that working from home means I’m capable of being a mom and an employee at the same time.

That assumption is oh-so-wrong. And I realized just how amazingly wrong it was when I tried to take care of my daughter during the work day while she was home on winter break.

My original thought was that just a few days of working with my daughter at home wouldn’t be so bad. She would have plenty of new toys to keep her occupied. I might have to take more breaks to get glasses of water or put clothes on a Barbie, but in general, I’d be able to get small blocks of work done as needed. The reality of my situation was very different.

As the days went on, I found myself popping in movies at an increasing frequency. When I asked my daughter about all her new toys from the holidays, she said that they weren’t much good if no one was playing with her. Once her cousins came over, the situation got only marginally better. I was still bribing them with popsicles and cookies for a little good behavior, during which I furiously worked as quickly as possible.

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  • Designwali

    oh you are so NOT alone…I have been struggling for months on this exact topic. I feel anxious and guilty all the time. something has to change. thanks for this article…i needed it.

  • Helen Hyde

    This is something I am struggling with also… And when I asked my own mom for advice, she reminded me that it won’t be an issue for long as they grow up so fast. Guilt overload.

  • msenesac

    I can TOTALLY relate. When my sitter can’t come work, I have to attempt working from my laptop on my couch while watching my soon-to-be one year old. I’ve had to do this occasionally since he was born. The first 6 months wasn’t a problem but the last 6 has been sheer hell (thankfully, this situation happens less than once/month). Recently, my sitter had to quit and thus Tues-Thurs of this week, I will have to watch my son and work. Basically, I will be watching hours of Cat in the Hat (trying desperately to keep my son occupied for even 60 sec) while trying to appear like I’m working. It’s going to be extremely frustrating, exhausting, and by 5pm I will be handing my son over to my husband so that I can go in the bedroom and relax for a moment.

    For me, working while watching kids is a nearly impossible task and should only be a done if in an emergency (which this is). Hopefully, by next Tuesday we will have picked a daycare so that I don’t have another week of dealing with this.

  • Eileen

    1) Wow, that sucks. I’m sorry. Don’t feel guilty, though – no one is awesome at everything, and two weeks of slightly non-awesomeness isn’t going to ruin your daughter’s life.

    2) This is why I can’t get behind women who bring their kids to work with them.

  • Chantal

    It is hard. I have been a WAHM for 4 years – and yes, the business is what pays our mortgage. I have had to be strategic about using help and working at odd times / night time, etc… It’s not easy but it was important for me to be around for my daughter’s early years: I didn’t want to hear about her first steps from the nanny.

  • Scoop007

    I struggled with this for two years. One of the reasons I worked from home was to be able to be with my daughter but nothing prepared me for how hard it would really be. My WAH job doesn’t allow for much flexibility on when I work. After two years of tears, stress, and driving myself nuts trying to do it all my husband finally talked some sense into me and we put our daughter in daycare and I’m such a better mom because of it. I still have moments of guilt but far less than before when I ALWAYS felt guilty someone was getting the short end of the stick.

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