Even Juggling Guilt over family, work and me-time can be a chance for growth.

Years ago, when my daughter was a baby, I was on a business trip in America when I was told that she had got her first tooth. You can understand that I felt like I had failed as a mother. I was on the other end of the world (from South Africa) and I had missed this milestone.

I went home and got to see my daughter’s first tooth for the first time. I spent time having a good long look at how I felt and decided that my guilt would serve no one in the long run. I reframed my thinking to say that although I may not physically be there, those milestones would still happen for me as a first time when I got home.

I explained to my daughter when she got older that I worked for me and also for her. She got to spend quality time with her Dad and often I would get a message from the two of them that they were out eating sea food. (I do not eat sea food).  My daughter has also then grown up with a father who supports women having careers.

I can share with you that I have helped with math homework from a bus in Lagos Airport, and from a conference in America, I have organised stationery to be purchased. We have been very blessed that technology has allowed this. I have said that as far as possible, I would not miss very special events, but often my clients set dates that cannot be changed and so my family has moved the special events. Nowhere is it written that mother’s day or a birthday can only be celebrated on a specific day.

I have also included my daughter in my career. When I did my MBA, I hosted all the group work and the group sat in my home at my dining room table. I did this on purpose so that my daughter could meet all of them and she knew which projects we were working on. She attended my MBA graduation and was proud of mom for finishing what she had started.

I now see in my clients how they juggle guilt. When they are at work, they feel miserable and guilty and think they should be with family. When those same people are with family, they long for the fast paced work setting and feel guilty. Let’s not forget the guilt of not seeing friends and having the years slip by without there ever being time to just chill. Then we get the guilt of me-time. You are exercising or gardening or doing whatever you need to fill yourself up and you feel guilty because you should be working, parenting, partnering or friending.

You can see that all we end up feeling is guilty. I gave up this juggling of guilt by changing my mindset. Wherever I am, I am all there. When I go away to a client I go with the intention of enjoying it. After all, I do not get those days back again. When I am with my family, I am with them and not feeling guilty. I have aimed for quality time with my daughter and not loads of time with her but multi-tasking at the same time. She will tell you, at 20 years that I do not always get that totally right as I sometimes multi task in the quality time.

I also know that “me-time” is vital if I am going to be of any use to anyone. So often I see clients who do not prioritise “me-time” and end up with burn-out and become people who no one would particularly choose to be with.

Adopting a new mindset is not easy as you have to introduce new habits. This takes dedication and time and of course is easier when you do not do it alone.

I would love to hear from you. Are you are juggling guilt? How do you manage to mindfully be in one place without feeling guilty that you are not someone else?

Send your thoughts, insights and questions to submit@vanichi.com with subject line “Colleen Qvist”.