Before I was a mummy, there was no serious guilt attached to work. Maybe a little regret for not getting tasks completed on time but as a reliable and conscientious normal employee, guilt was not even on the horizon.

Then came babies.. Here was my Harry, he’s 6 Now and the youngest of my 7 children

Guilt for going to work and leaving this child was real on so many levels.

I felt guilty I needed to go to work for financial reasons and because I was leaving him and I knew he would miss me and I would miss him. His eyes followed me everywhere so how could I leave him for hours? How could money replace this??

Then came the guilt for wanting to go to work. A love of my work and my role within it. How could I dream that this was just as important as time with my child? It maybe wasn’t but I felt guilty anyway

The guilt for being the last one to collect from nursery. Another stamp on the bad mother card.

My son knew how to play on that guilt as he got older. Tears would flood in my eyes when he screamed when I left him in and tried to leave. It was a daily emotional trauma.

Then the childcare provider told me to go and wait 5 minutes and look through the window. As I walked away, he walls faded and I waited in the car for a minute and then went to the window.

There was my boy playing away all happy and content. No tears. When I went later to collect I listened to the daily routine properly for the first time and realised he ate food that he wouldn’t for me, slept at the same time of day as the rest. He was playing with his peers with a range of toys far bigger than his own. This was good for him. It was good for me to know he was fine and learning too.

Guilt as a Mum in Business

Now as a business owner, the guilt of leaving children is replaced by the guilt of taking a day off.

“No way!” I hear you say. What does this mean.

For many business mums, their business is another baby, born out of the need to work around their family, and nourished by their own talents. It’s their extra baby..

Most business mums did not set off in their career wanting to be self employed. They worked or trained for a regular job but when this didn’t work out, they built something that suited themselves.

And being an irregular job, they work irregular hours doing irregular tasks and generally putting all their spare time into it. By the time it is on its feet, they have fed it, changed it, put some of it to bed, and raised it back up again Ever day.

So it’s sports day, or Xmas play day… or God Forbid, a holiday! Time for time off… the guilt begins, it’s bred into us now, but do we learn?

No we check our emails and ring in, I admit it, I have checked emails AND REPLIED in the interval of the Xmas play..

is this healthy? No of course not. Your customer is important but so it your time with your family.

So it’s time for a reminder, why it began.. to suit you and suit your family.

A wise man (Jim Robyn) once said something like.. when you are in the office, be in the office. When you are at the beach, be at the beach. Don’t bring your briefcase to the beach, you won’t get your work completed correctly and your family won’t appreciate it. Don’t be at the office wishing you are at the beach. And keep a time with family that is private and sacrosanct.

My advice..

  1. When you have a family make sure you have a job you love or that gives you a reward. Leaving your children is a decision only you can decide is right for you but most people do not have a choice as they need an income so make sure you like it at least
  2. You must like your childcare provider, they are your substitute and you must like them and trust them
  3. Don’t feel guilty about taking time off to spend with sick kids or sports day.. remember the late nights before, the early mornings? Yeah it balances out.

The results

Your children will understand the need and purpose of working. You have time to be yourself and have a purpose. Work to suit yourself and your family. You control your destiny. If it doesn’t suit or you don’t like it, then stop and change it.

Me and my dad on my graduation day at Queens 1997 when I was 21 years old. I would love to say I went out the door and had a career but life doesn’t work that way. I had 2 children while I was at University

Below is my eldest daughter Jamie on her graduation day at Queens.. one of the proudest days of my life. No children yet for her though..

In our first year as wedding suppliers, we were already winning awards. There was an immediate reward in my job but extremely irregular hours. It took me 3 years to train myself to suit myself