There is probably nothing tougher than being a single parent. Parenthood is a difficult journey even when you have a partner to help you with the house chores, pay the bills, and take care of the children. Being able to handle all of these responsibilities is already admirable. But, there are some that have to do it all alone.
The hardest part of being a nurse is when they become a mom at the same time. In these situations, finding work-life balance is difficult. "Balance" as a working mother would seldom mean being accustomed to pretty tough situations— from dealing with crying babies to missing a meeting at school or even trying to cope with inconsistent sleep patterns. Trying to balance the time as a nurse and as a mother leads to the most common diagnosis— Working Mom Guilt: Nurse Edition.
Balancing nurse life and mom life
Working mom guilt as a nurse is especially tough because a nurse usually takes care of other people while minding the condition of their own family.
A study conducted by Michael W. Firmin et. al., which focused on full-time working mothers as nurse managers, aimed to take a look at the stress a working mother experiences as a nurse manager and the motivations they have to do in their respective jobs.
Since it was a qualitative study, an in-depth interview was done with 13 mothers working as a nurse manager. Similar results were found with each mother as all of them expressed the challenges they encountered while trying to balance their time and separate work and home duties. However, these challenges were counterbalanced by assets that include health insurance, professional and personal fulfilment, complementary roles, and added income.
In the study, the participants stated that they "wanted it all"— the conveniences of a part-time employee and the benefits of being a full-time employee. However, implications of the unique tension that distinguishes work and home environments are experienced by full-time nurse managers who have children at home. In this regard, the employers of these nurse managers were recommended to assist them by giving them a flexible work schedule, promoting child care and educational support, and providing assistance in arranging work and home roles.
Similarly, Michael W. Firmin conducted another qualitative study that focuses on mothers working full-time as hospital floor nurses. Thirteen female floor nurses were interviewed in a Midwest hospital. While working full-time, these nurses are also responsible for providing care to their children left at home. The results include specific challenges the nurses face while being a mom at the same time—separating work duties from home duties, high-stress levels, sleep deprivation, irregular hour adjustments, and the struggle to advance while carrying the pressures from home. All of the participants experience a lot of benefits and drawbacks from their chosen profession.
While working mothers do experience and receive a lot of benefits from having dual roles, this will also affect the development of their children and may result in long-term impact.
The study conducted by Dr. Abdul Sattar Almani and his team focuses on the impact of having a working mother to the children’s development in Pakistan. In this study, the supporters of working mothers stated that having a work create social awareness, self-confidence, commitment, and monetary benefits while the opposing group argued that working mothers deprived their children of receiving an early development and training.
In this study, 1,200 mothers, 1600 children, and 800 teachers were knowingly selected from different areas of Pakistan. The demographics of working mothers are increasing on a daily basis. But with the study, it was found out that the there is no difference between the behavior of the children having working mothers and the children with mothers staying at home.
The children’s point of view about having employed mothers was even found positive. However, the attachment or bond between the employed mother and the child is found to be decreasing.
Early maternal employment was discovered to be linked to a beneficial child consequence when families experienced financial problems or as the outcome of being in a single-parent family. In those kinds of families, the children with working mothers exhibit a higher state of achievement and lower state of problematic behaviors, like depression and anxiety. However, these conclusions can’t be directly applied to different communities.
How to deal with Working-Mom Guilt
Even though being a nurse is a rewarding profession, it is demanding. But finding time for their children is not impossible though. Here is a list of things to help deal with the Working Mom Guilt:
1. Stay away from emergency care work, if possible
The long hours needed to deal with emergency cares and the unpredictability of an emergency will make it harder for a working mother to find time for their child. In case of consecutive emergencies that a nurse needs to deal with, a lot of their home responsibilities will be neglected, especially if they are a single parent. It is necessary that single parents must have a flexible schedule, and this is not applicable to emergency care workers.
2. Do not rule out night shifts
Working the night shift can be effective for mothers with younger children as they can still tuck them to bed, wake them up in the morning as soon as they finish work, and try to get sleep while their child is at school. But as their child is growing older, this might not work as effectively.
3. Pick a job that you can have a flexible schedule
Some jobs with a more flexible schedule:
- School nurse: Sometimes kids get hurt while at school, other times they may not. Working as a school nurse in your child's school can help you spend more time.
- Consulting nurse: Not all of the nurses are involved with direct care. For instance, registered nurses can be employed by law firms to do an assessment of various medical records related to a case and to prepare a brief.
- Home care nurse: There is an increasing need for nurses for the elderly who can examine their health conditions. Even though the patients require a lot of medical attention, this kind of job offers a flexible schedule.