Blurring the Work-Home Line: One More Cause of Guilt?

by Work 5 Comments

When the boss calls you at home, do you feel guilty? If the same thing happens to your husband, does he feel guilty? According to a new study, working moms are the ones who feel bad when work life intrudes on home life. Dads, not so much:

“For women, levels of guilt and distress seem to be correlated quite strongly with the frequency of contact. Women experience, on average, a rise in guilt and distress as you increase levels of this contact.”

Yeah, I know. Another study about how and why we feel guilty. Awesome.

I’m bringing it up for two reasons. Neither of which are to make moms feel guilty, because this is, after all, Working Moms AGAINST Guilt.

First, I just want to say that we each have to be conscious of how our work lives affect our home lives and our families. It’s our responsibility to decide how we conduct ourselves and set limits with work. If your situation makes you feel truly guilty, ask yourself why — and how can you rectify it?

Personally, I work from home and for myself. I often get emails and calls from clients when I’m at home, because that’s where my office is. No big whoop. But that doesn’t mean I feel like a bad mom when a client calls me just as I’m putting dinner on the table or giving my sweeties a bath. I don’t have to answer it. I can always call back later, after the kids have gone to bed, or email the client that I’ll be in touch in the morning. I’ve never had someone fire me for having a family life. My clients respect those boundaries. And if they didn’t, I wouldn’t want them as clients anyway.

Second, if your current work situation is causing angst at home (like say, your boss feels free to bug you at 10 p.m. and expects you to pick up the phone), I strongly encourage you to fix it. You don’t have to let work push you around and make you feel bad. I know the economy sucks and we “should be grateful” for whatever jobs we have. Still, everyone deserves to have a good work-life fit, which includes quality time with their families and the freedom to unplug from work once in a while. So do what it takes, whether that’s having an open conversation with your manager, re-setting expectations with your coworkers, looking for a new job or even rethinking your entire career. You owe it to yourself and your kids.

Got a good story about how you brilliantly fixed a work-home blurring problem? Please share. Or need help solving an issue? Ask in the comments. WMAG readers always seem to have great suggestions and support.

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Susan Wenner Jackson

Susan Wenner Jackson is the cofounder and editor of Working Moms Against Guilt. She lives in her hometown of West Chester, Ohio, with her husband, two children, and their dog.

5 Comments

  1. This is such a timely post for me. I just started a new role at work, and have been seriously having pangs of guilt BOTH ways. I’ve worked from home for 10 years for a tech company but still strive to get the balance right. Thanks for the reminder that I need to focus on balance and not get consumed by guilt!

  2. Susan-Great post! I was acutally talking to a group of people this weekend about this same subject as it realted to smart phones. The men in the group were so anoyed with the work e-mails and calls that came in after hours, but were expected to be answered and followed up on immediately.As a working mom, I love my smart phone becasue I can check my e-mail and get messages on my breaks at work.However, I do not like getting parent or administrator e-mails (I’m a teacher) on a weekend night. There is nothing I can do until Monday but worry. :(In that respect “comunincation” can definately ruin my “time off”.:)Warrior MAMA Lisa

  3. Have been a partner at a small business medical practice for the past 13 years. What a joke that you can have a separation of work and home. I am made to feel guilty for every moment that I am at work by my family and my partners give me endless grief for trying to keep myself sane by working 40-50 hours per week. There has been little if any progress for women in my eyes…just lip service.

  4. Oddly enough I was just discussing this with my husband today. Why I feel guilty about letting work rule my home life, and when I feel guilty that my family life affects my work. I just went part time after returning from maternity leave, and have received quite a few comments from coworkers and supervisory staff about how I “owe” them since I was away on maternity leave. Despite the fact that I know I don’t owe them, (I was unpaid the whole maternity leave) I still feel guilty! I also feel guilt, returning to work, since I’d much rather spend time with my family than be at work! This was such a spot on post for me.

  5. I'm always consumed by guilt every time I leave the kids…maybe because I have been with them 24/7 for the past 9 years. But we're slowly coping up now, my kids had somehow find their way around and cooperated with my new "working" mom status.

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