Overcoming 'parent guilt' when returning to work

Overcoming 'parent guilt' when returning to work

Published: 14th of March 2021

Like many women, I’ve suffered from ‘mum guilt’. Even from the first weeks of pregnancy I felt guilty for that boozy conference before I knew I was pregnant and the fact I was passing on nurturing foods for a diet of chicken nuggets and crisps (honestly I was surprised he didn’t come out looking like a bag of Sensations!).

Then the baby arrives and the guilt intensifies as you battle sleepless nights, feeding your baby and keeping them as happy as possible as you entertain hoards of well-intentioned visitors. And just when you think you’ve got it pegged, a passer-by comments that your baby must have a cold head (do you want to try and get a hat on him!?) or they need feeding (oh thanks, I would have never thought of that!). I can’t count the amount of times I’ve said, “you’ll think I’m a terrible mum” because I’ve only brought beige snacks with us or because of that red mark where he toppled chasing after the cat!

As with many parts of being a mum, going back to work may fill you with that familiar feeling of parent guilt. Perhaps you want to go back to work full time but feel guilty about putting your little one in nursery or maybe you want to stay at home but feel guilty about not giving your baby the opportunity of going to nursery.

As with many aspects of being a parent you may feel judged whatever you choose to do and it can be a big shift to start thinking about your own career and not just the needs of your little one.

Try reflecting on these questions:

Coaching can help to unpick some of these feelings of parent guilt or anxiousness about returning to the workplace. It could also give you the space to think about pursuing a new career or business opportunity that would ultimately make you happier in your work and family life.

Through Baby Steps Coaching, I focus not just on helping you achieve your career goals but also on balancing this with your family life and wellbeing. I truly believe that by spending time considering your own happiness and wellbeing, you will be better able to support and care for your little ones.

Please get in touch with me if you’re interesting in booking a FREE 60 Minute Career Strategy Call to see whether coaching could help you give yourself a break and move forward with your career and life ambitions.

P.S. Have you joined my FREE Career Clarity for Working Parents Facebook group? It's packed full of top tips to keep you motivated and on track for moving forward in your career.

I help parents like you to get clear on what they want from their career

Parents who want to be challenged in their career, but still have headspace to be present with their kids. Here are 9 baby steps you could take this week, to clarify you career direction



I returned to work after maternity leave and felt a lack of confidence in my ability to juggle home and work life successfully. Jenny helped me to see that I was already doing what I feared I couldn’t do. Talking through my thoughts really helped me to relieve my worries and stress. I have also been working towards a small business venture. Jenny helped me to break down the steps needed to achieve my goals and motivated me with targets. Jenny is an excellent listener, who instantly made me feel comfortable. I would definitely recommend her services as a coach.

Amy Talbot, Funds Officer at University of the West of England

Trusted, safe, caring. Like a really excellent and progressive manager at my work....but for my life

A dad working as a Strategic Director

Jenny is calm, respectful and discerning. During my coaching sessions I felt that I was being coached in a safe space with a real person who was non-judgemental and had the intellect to understand how best to challenge me. She always showed immense care and emotional intelligence. I would not have started to move forward without her consistent and careful input.

Senior Female Higher Education Academic

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