No one can truly prepare you for the overwhelming guilt you feel after you have your first child. It starts hours and often just minutes after that precious bundle of life is placed in your arms.
Was it wrong for me to send my baby to the hospital nursery so I could sleep for 2 hours (after 24 hours of labor!)? I should be breastfeeding instead of bottle feeding! I needed to try harder to get the pediatrician my friend recommended. Everyone knows she is the best in town. What kind of mother am I?!
Sadly, these examples don’t even scratch the surface of all of the ways we moms begin beating ourselves up almost the moment our babies are born.
The guilt and self-doubt continue on from there.
These emotions rear their ugly heads even more when we start to do something of our own...
meet up with friends for no other reasons than fellowship and a good cup of coffee.
create a business.
Ways To Combat The Guilt
I wish I had a magic wand that with a small wave removes all of your and my guilt. Boy would that be wonderful! But, that is not reality.
Therefore, we can recognize it is a natural tendency and then find ways to combat the feeling. Or at least lessen the guilt!
1.) Own It And Own It Again!
This strategy is the toughest (downhill from here!) because it deals with your mental state…your belief in yourself as an entrepreneur and business owner.
Get this…you actually have to see yourself as one! Crazy, I know. But, many of us women (me included) sheepishly whisper that we have a side business or that we would like to have one in the future. Almost like we are ashamed.
What do we have to be ashamed or embarrassed by?
How horrible to want to bring additional money to your family when your husband has lost his job! How rude to use your God-given talents to serve someone else! What are you thinking to learn new skills at the ripe-old age of 30…40…50…60…or 70?! Learning is so dumb!
Really, you should be ashamed!
All of these things are written in jest. And when said aloud, they sound ridiculous. That’s my point!
There is no reason to feel guilty about providing income for your family, using your God-given gifts, or learning new things. We all have our reasons for our businesses, and clarifying yours will help with your feelings of guilt. You may want to read my post on the 5 Mindsets of a Sidepreneur to help you define your purpose.
From there, you can completely own your entrepreneurship goals and then own your business.
2.) Carve out time.
This is the simplest of the three strategies but the one we often dismiss. If done, it has a HUGE impact on what business tasks you actually accomplish and your mental state as you work.
Perhaps this sounds familiar to you. You have your supplies and computer on the kitchen table and begin working. Then, your son runs in to ask you to tie his shoe as he flies out the backdoor. Next, your youngest son yells, “Watch this!” You tilt your head up slightly from your work just enough to nod and smile at him (as if you actually saw his great feat). Two minutes later, your husband walks through the door with his work computer, lunch box, and gym bag and begins to disperse them throughout the kitchen. His “placement of things” messes up your focus, if you ever had any to start.
A few minutes after you huff and puff out of the kitchen, you feel guilty because you didn’t really watch your son when he asked, you have no idea why your other son raced out the backdoor, and you didn’t ask your husband about his day.
I have had many moments like this and probably will again. But, when we carve out time and treat it as work, we are less likely to think that plopping down in the kitchen (the busiest room in the house!) during the afternoon (when everyone is awake and home!) is a good idea.
Carving out time for your business requires that you look at your calendar each week and determine times you will work PRIOR to the week or day starting. It is like a budget you use to control your money, except this budget controls your time.
Rachel Cruze, the daughter of financial guru Dave Ramsey, says that a budget doesn’t put restrictions on you; the opposite—it gives you freedom. If you have ever been on a budget, you will understand what she means. With a budget, you no longer agonize over buying local honey when the cute Honey Bear is a lot cheaper at Wal-Mart. You don’t feel guilty over purchasing your favorite salad dressing that is $1.43 more than the store brand.
Instead, if you have money in your food budget and the necessities have been bought, then you have the freedom to buy! Guilt-free because the money is there!
The same is true with your time. If you plan accordingly (like you would for a financial budget), then you can work guilt-free during the time you have set aside.
Being honest about the season of life you are in is crucial as well. You must determine how many hours you physically can work each week and then go about carving that time from your busy schedule. I recently learned a lesson about the season of life I am in and how it affects my entrepreneurial goals. You may want to read How to Set Realistic Goals as an Entrepreneur.
Presently, I aim to work 15 hours a week on my side business and follow a specific structure to ensure I cover all of my bases.
No matter your business type and the hours you deem possible and appropriate for your present situation, carve out the time and then work the hours.
When you do this each week, you will be more productive, more focused, and feel less guilty.
3.) Involve your family.
This strategy is the most fun because, well, it involves your family.
You look your precious angels and handsome best friend in the face and tell them that you are a business owner. Remember strategy number 1—Own it and Own It Again. That means even with your family. They are a great place to start if you are struggling with the confidence to tell people about your business or your desire to have one.
You will probably have this conversation numerous times. (Hey, we all need reminders!)
To be honest, you will always be mom and wife first in their minds, which is really how we moms like it. We aren’t asking to no longer be moms and spouses. We are just telling them that we are more than those things, and especially during certain times of the day and week. Remember strategy number 2—Carve out time.
Tell your family when your scheduled work times will be and how you want to be treated during those times.
Remind them that they have goals and you gladly help them work to achieve those things. You simply want and expect that same consideration from them.
Lastly, involve your family physically if possible. For example, have them help with packing items to mail, going on trips to the bank or post office, or writing thank you cards to your customers. Having your family physically involved in some way makes your business more tangible, more real, in their minds.
Full disclosure, you may never shake off the mom guilt completely.
Yet, you can face it head on and use strategies to lessen it.
1.) Be confident that you are a business owner and entrepreneur! There’s no reason to be ashamed of providing for your family, learning new things, and using your God-given gifts.
2.) Carve out time for your business. You actually have to spend time working on your business if you are going to have one. Be intentional about your time.
3.) Involve your family. Tell them about your business, when you will be working, and ask them to help when possible. Then, repeat…like 1,000 times.
As moms, we spend much of our lives telling our children to pursue their dreams. Work hard and go after it! Nothing’s impossible!
As an entrepreneur, you have a chance to put into action, right before their very eyes, what it takes to pursue a dream.
Actions speak much, much louder than words.
A Step Further
If you struggle with self-doubt, which is truly what Strategy 1 is all about, there's some good news. You are not alone! Welcome to the club that I have been a (not-so-proud) member of for some time now. You may find my post Self-Doubt is a Real Issue for Entrepreneurs helpful--for no other reason than to know that one more crazy momma exists out there. :)
Have I missed any strategies that help you combat guilt? Would love to know them!
Why do you think guilt is so prevalent for mompreneurs?
Feel free to comment or to just ponder.
But definitely, keep working at your entrepreneurial goals!