Working it out - without the guilt

Are you a parent who’s returned to work after the Christmas break? How was it?

Some parents dread the thought and feel guilty about spending less time with their children, while others can’t wait to get themselves and the whole family back into a routine.

If you’re among those who’ve felt a wave of guilt during a rushed morning of drop-offs and long hours away from the kids, it’s important to examine where your guilt stems from. Are there real changes you’d like to make to your work/life balance in the year ahead, or is it just a natural and temporary response to the change in pace?

Over the holidays you might have been free to do whatever you want, with no routine and nobody watching the clock. So it’s not surprising that the children might feel a bit sad about things returning to normal and as parents we can acknowledge that. We don’t need to dismiss or minimise what we all may be feeling. It can be while you’re cooking or getting children ready for bed or even when you’re taking the dog for a walk, as long as you are in a place that you are both able to listen.

Often what we feel as guilt isn’t coming from anyone other than our own harsh inner critic, and it can be an effort to switch our focus from dwelling on what we think we’re getting wrong to all the effort we put in and the rewards we share with our families. This means giving yourself a break and being kind to yourself – at work and at home. You don’t have to be perfect and you won’t get it right all the time, especially if you’ve been working long hours and are feeling a bit frazzled.

Children want to spend time with their parents. They want to feel secure, loved, supported and encouraged. They want to be listened to and valued (just like parents). If you’re trying your best and creating a happy home – most of the time! – then having fun and staying connected doesn’t need to be restricted to the fleeting holidays.

Caring for children is sometimes really hard for all of us. Just talking things through with someone else can help. Phone, email or webchat with ParentLine in confidence: 08000 28 22 33.