Mummy guilt… 


As I sat at a busy Manchester airport, tears streaming down my face, a middle aged man awkwardly peering over his newspaper in my direction, it dawned on me… I’d finally cracked!

I’d been back at work for two months and had been guiltily enjoying being back in adult company, sat at my desk with a warm cup of earl grey tea (or two, or even three) and achieving a page full of to-dos each day, instead of my usual routine of changing half a dozen nappies, sorting the laundry and building duplo houses.

It’s always been important to me to lead a balanced lifestyle with both a good career and loving family and it seemed I had hit the jackpot, working for an award winning full-service marketing firm on the south coast whilst also boasting a beautiful daughter and doting husband.

Not going back to work just wasn’t an option for me. I knew that in the long run, it was best for our family as well as my career. Plus, I was only going back part-time to begin with – the best of both worlds, right? But, after a year of maternity leave, spending the most treasured moments with my little girl (and some bloody stressful times too, of course!), I was dreading the moment I left Madeline for the day to pursue my own ambitions.

Mummy guilt. There is simply no other way to describe it. It eats at you and torments you, especially as you wear a brave face venturing into the boardroom on a Monday morning after the dreaded child-care drop off, leaving your little one sobbing and reaching out for you as you simply walk away.

The silly thing is, while you are having some well needed time out from being a mummy, your bubba is having an absolute whale of a time once they’ve settled (usually as soon as the door closes!). Whether they be at nursery developing their social skills with lots of other precious munchkins (proof that you are not alone in ‘abandoning’ your children for the day!) or on fun day trips with their grandparents or childminders, they always have a really lovely day.

But, on this occasion I was feeling especially guilty. I’d been planning for a client meeting in Manchester for the last month, had worked extremely hard for it and secretly was looking forward to a quiet plane journey, with a nice cup of tea and a good book (The unmumsy mum – such a good read!). Our previous trip to Portugal with our little Maddie Moo had been stressful to say the least, so I was certainly going to make the most of being child-free for this journey!

At 4am I crept into Madeline’s room, where she was so angelicly sleeping, and gave her a big kiss on her cheek before setting off. It was very rare that I was leaving the house before she woke but I knew that Daddy would be greeted with her usual big cheeky grin when she woke and she would be absolutely fine.

My client meeting went well and I must admit, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I could do something other than being a mummy and there was no need for that self doubt I had built up inside me before returning to work. I had done what I set out to achieve and now I could make my way back to the airport and get home to my little girl for the usual bed time routine and give her a big cuddle for leaving her all day.

However, I got back to the airport to see that my flight had been delayed for over two hours. I knew it couldn’t be helped but I couldn’t believe it and literally broke down in the middle of the airport – how embarassing!! I just couldn’t handle the guilt that I would not see my daughter awake at all that day, and more to the point I really missed her!

Life is hard as a working mum. But life can be equally as tough when you are at home looking after a tiny person all day. There really is no right or wrong way and I think mummy guilt will come into play whatever route you take. So, I guess we just have to learn to deal with it.

I was so pleased to get home that evening to find that Madeline’s grandparents had kept her awake for me. And, there are no words to describe the reaction you receive as you walk through the door to be greeted by a smiling baby reaching out for a cuddle. I got to tuck my little girl into bed that night and for that (as well as a successful meeting!), the day was good 💗

Keep going mummies… We are all doing the best we can! X

Diary of an imperfect mum

A Cornish Mum

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20 thoughts on “Mummy guilt… 

  1. I really enjoyed reading this article, every situation and family is different I guess, I went back to work for six weeks to pay back maternity leave and it nearly broke me!! Now concentrating on setting up my own business and will mainly be doing supply teaching in the hope that I find some work/home life balance!! Teaching really is an all or nothing career!! I take my hats off to all you working mumma’ out there as it’s such a tough job balancing full time work with being a mum!!

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    1. Hi Helena! I completely agree and, like you say, every family is different. Often I take my hat off to stay at home mums. Sometimes being at work can feel like an absolute holiday having a bit of me time and a sit down, even on the most stressful of days (completely different if you’re a teacher, nurse, carer etc.) but at other times I can’t help but wonder what I’m missing out on while we are having time apart. These babies grow up so quickly! Good luck with your new business. Look forward to hearing how you get on xxx

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  2. A brilliant read! I can really relate to the “mummy guilt” all those emotions we feel looking after our babies with the added dose of crazy hormones to challenge us!! Being a self employed mum I had to return back to work very soon after the birth of my son. I really love my job but it was very challenging and finding a balance isn’t easy. We are doing great jobs! Xxx

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    1. Thanks Ceri, we are doing a great job… the best we can anyway 😊 I’m sure your little boy will benefit lots from a mummy who is self employed, although I can understand how tough that must have been for you. Those crazy hormones really do have a lot to answer for!! Xx

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  3. Really good read and so much of it resonates with me! I’ve recently made the decision to be a stay at home mum for a while and am super excited for the time with my bub but also a little miserable at the thought that all my mummy friends will be out accomplishing adult things whilst I’m still celebrating the fact that my kid has mastered some mundane skill or task! 😩😭🙈

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    1. Hi Vivi, thanks for getting in touch. It’s so nice talking to other mums who understand. Being a stay at home mum definitely isn’t easy… I don’t think I ever realised how much hard work is involved in childcare before having my baby and yet it’s hands down the best work! It is nice to have some adult time too but it will be lovely for you to spend lots of time with your little one. Sounds like you made the right decision for you and your family. I guess that’s all we can do 💗 xx

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  4. Love this piece and love that I’ve come across your blog via mine. I’m only just back to work yesterday so will be following your blog keenly over the coming weeks – the nursery drop off is the worst!

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    1. Thanks Samantha! I hope it’s all going ok. I’ve been back a couple of months now and definitely finding it easier… But, I do hate the childcare drop offs! Let me know how you get on 😊 xxx

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  5. Aww bless you, I think we all suffer the mummy guilt, whether we go back to work or not. I am a SAHM, mainly due to the fact that with four children, three under three, child care costs just weren’t an option! I’m sure it will get easier, just go easy on yourself! #picknmix

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    1. Ah thank you. I’m not too hard on myself really, we are all just working it out as we go along! I absolutely take my hat off to you though with four children and so young… But I bet you have lots of fun! Childcare costs are a bitch… So lucky that we have family to help us out for now 😊 Xxx

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  6. Oh sweetheart, no matter what we do we all get the guilt in some way. I stayed at home after my second son was born and I felt guilty for years that we couldn’t afford the things that their friends had at times because I wasn’t working. I’m sure it will get a little easier and go you with your successful meeting 🙂

    Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix

    Stevie x

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    1. Ah I know… We can’t quite win whatever we decide to do can we. I think quality time is much more important than material belongings anyway… But, I’m sure it gets tough as they get older and want what their friends have! I have all that ahead of me 🙈 Thanks for your comment xxx

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    1. Ah I’m sure it doesn’t really get any easier, but I’m starting to get used to it now (I think!). Enjoying a lovely holiday this week, so just have to look forward to quality time! Thanks for your comment 😊 xxx

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  7. Lovely article. Enjoyed it. Not long and I have to go back to work. I am not looking forward to be honest. I still look at my baby and think how the hell will I be able to stay apart from her for an entire day.

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  8. Parenting is one huge guilt trip. damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I work evenings which means I see my kids briefly for an hour or so after school and that’s it. Can’t describe the guilt. However it does mean i get to go to all the assemblies etc. We just do what we can to work around our families don’t we. I think we would feel guilty no matter what our situation.

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