The Mommy-Guilt Cure: Dr. Amador
Bethenny has discovered that a big part of motherhood is feeling guilt for the time you are away from your child, but as a mother, you learn that quality time is the most valuable commodity. Mom guilt is tough to ditch. Bethenny tries to do one quality activity with Bryn every day, like going to the park or working on a craft project. It helps Bethenny feel connected and value that one-on-one time together.
This week, Bethenny's therapist, Dr. Amador, is dissecting Mommy-Guilt -- the good, the bad, and what you need to stay the course. Stop beating yourself up.
The Mommy-Guilt Cure
By Dr. Amador
There is one thing in this whole wide world that our children want most from us, more than candy, toys, chicken nuggets, or the latest games: they want our time. But if you work, who has the time?!
Whether you work outside the home or have a home office like Bethenny, you have very likely succumbed to Mommy-Guilt. Maybe you are like some who rarely catch a full-blown, knockdown cold and suffer only from an occasional sore throat and sniffles -- your immune system is rock solid. But chances are whether its heart-wrenching and stops you in your tracks or only gives you serious pause, you feel guilt when your little one cries and begs you not to go to work. Or slings the “You always work!” accusation when you try to explain why you don’t have time to play right now.
I have a home office and travel for work like Bethenny does. Although fathers like me do feel Daddy-Guilt, we have a lot more support from friends, family, our kids' teachers and even complete strangers at the grocery store: “You know your Daddy had to work hard to buy your family all this food, you shouldn’t complain.” Seriously, that was said to my youngest son.
After all, fathers are the breadwinners (WRONG: actually, today more women than men are the breadwinners, according to recent US Department of Labor statistics). So I am going to focus on how you can inoculate yourself from Mommy-Guilt, and when do you succumb, show you how to bounce back quickly for everyone’s sake.
Guilt is Bad
Here’s the first thing you need to understand: If Mommy’s not happy, no one’s happy. If you feel guilty you likely feel sad, even depressed, and are self-critical or resentful. Guilt hurts you and your family.
Guilt is Good
Okay, not so simple. Guilt exists because as our species evolved, those of us who felt guilty when we left our children for too long went home sooner. We were the ones at the cave entrance, club in hand, when the tiger came sniffing around. We were the ones that made sure the fire was well stoked so our offspring didn’t freeze to death. Our children and our genes survived. So guilt is a good thing.
Tips: Examples of Bad Versus Good Guilt
If you are not saying no to your child when deep down you know you should.
If you think you're a terrible mother because you’re not with your child 24/7.
When you make time for yourself and you can’t enjoy it.
If you stay late at work and you really didn’t need to, or could have brought the work home and spent a little time with your child. Go home next time.
If you find you do not follow through with promises. Keep your promises.
If you choose the TV over time with your child who wants to play a game. Save the show until after bedtime ("Bethenny Ever After" is on iTunes).
The Cure: Make the Most of Your Time…
Hug and kiss your child and tell him/her you love them (it takes 3 seconds).
Once a day tell your child something you like about him/her.
Make time to play, if only for 15 minutes, every day.
Do homework together whenever possible -- it doesn’t have to be every day.
Involve them in your chores. “Come on, play with me, you spray and I’ll wipe!”
Ask them to help you cook or set the table, the trick is do it together, side-by-side.
If you travel, have a set schedule when you call home, preferably when they wake up, after school and at night (it takes as little as 10 to 15 minutes a day).
Always ask how their day went even though you may only ever get “good” as an answer.
Read bedtime stories whenever you can (or sing your child to sleep).
If you feel impatient or like a failure when you try and help your child go to sleep, buy a copy of "Go the F**K to Sleep." This book is for your eyes only. Believe me, you're not alone and it will help.
Stay the Course:
Listen to your inner voice. If your thoughts turn to “I should be home, I leave her too much with other people,” remind yourself why you are working and the care you took in choosing the person who is watching your child.
At the risk of creating some Mommy-Guilt, don't be afraid to examine if you are working too much. I recommend you do what I do: before I say yes to a new and exciting work opportunity, I ask myself, “How important is this truly, and how will it affect my time with family?” I’ve turned down some great opportunities, like the time I turned down the Oprah Winfrey Show to keep vacation plans with my family. Don’t worry, more opportunities will present themselves -- they certainly have for me.