Losing the 'Mom Guilt' about Working Part-Time

I’ve Been Told...

I’ve been told that when you work part-time as a mom, you are left feeling like you are only "half a mom" and "half a worker." As if you don’t fully belong into either category, and the category of "part-time worker" isn’t enough.

I’ve been told that when you work part-time as a mom, that you are left feeling guilty all the time— guilty when you are playing with your kids that you aren’t getting enough work done and guilty when you are working that your not playing with your kids enough.

And yet, a lot of moms act like finding a well-paying, flexible part-time job is the "Holy Grail" of motherhood.

And then others tell me not to jump into business too soon, to just enjoy my "little hobby" for myself for a while longer, because turning it into a business will stress me out too much. (And probably give me a lot of guilt, cue the first "I’ve been told" statement here.)

Well, I’ve been told a lot of things.

Once upon a time I may have even listened to all these opinions. I would have been stuck as my inner committee (I’m an Enneagram 6!) debated, agonized, and fretted over whether the decision to start an Etsy shop for 19 PAPER LANE was the best decision I could be making.

But right before the new year I decided that I didn’t need to listen to my own inner committee, and I didn’t need to listen to others, however well-intentioned their comments were. I honestly don’t know if starting this business is the best thing for me to be doing. Heck, I don’t even know if it’ll work. But I was tired of being paralyzed by fear and indecision so I told myself that this year, 2020, I was just going to do it. I was gonna try, and if I changed my mind later, or it didn’t work out, that’s ok, because at least I tried. At least I made a decision, moved forward, and wasn’t held back by fear.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m moving forward with 19 PAPER LANE, and we’ll see what happens. Fears be damned.

Part-Time Guilt?

Even though I’m not making money yet, and haven’t officially opened the doors of my business yet, I’m essentially a part-time worker now. (Turns out, starting a business has a lot of upfront work involved in it!) It’s very part-time, because being present with my boys is and always will be my first priority while they are so young.

And so far, I don’t feel like "half a worker" or "half a mom." Mostly I feel like a mom who also happens to be an artist, who also happens to be trying to start an art business. Actually, since I stepped into this role of "artist" and started making stuff, I feel more… complete? whole? more myself? I can’t quite capture the feeling in words, but I feel fuller somehow, rather than "half"or less.

Am I busy? Sure! It’s not called a "side hustle" for no reason. But the late nights and early mornings, the slightly messy house so I can work during nap times, are all worth it, because when I’m working I’m inspired. Sure, there is a billion and one things to do, things I could be doing instead of chasing my toddler and making sure my 9 month old doesn’t smash his face as he learns to crawl. But because I’m my own boss, there’s no rush. I can start my business and grow it as fast or as slow as I want. Right now, it's happening slow because I have other, higher priorities (my littles!). And starting slow is why I think I don’t have all that guilt that these people keep warning me about.

No More Mom or Work Guilt

Moms have enough "mom guilt" from society without adding more guilt about work into the mix. I love what Christy Wright says on her blog about mom guilt:

"Do what’s important to you. Don’t get caught in comparisons. Ignore the haters."

Christy’s advice applies to part-time working mama guilt as well. If working part-time is important to you, then do it. Don’t compare what your part-time looks like to Susie’s part-time work. And ignore the haters. Always ignore the haters.

So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m moving forward with my business in a very part-time fashion because that’s what works for me and my family right now. I’ve been told a lot of things, but I’m letting go of anything that brings unnecessary guilt into my life.

How have you dealt with guilt concerning your work or your lifestyle?

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