Nurse practitioners are known for providing compassionate, patient-centered care. APRNs strive to work hard and offer thorough, quality care. But when a nurse practitioner mom leaves work, the job is not done. More time is spent on caring for the little humans that made us mothers. Being a nurse practitioner and a mother is a juggling act that requires immense dedication, compassion, and energy.
It can be challenging to work as a nurse practitioner AND be a mom. There are mouths to feed, homework to be completed, piles of laundry to fold, activities to attend, and so much more.
The increased overwhelm and stress can create feelings of nurse practitioner mom guilt. They feel like they are not doing enough or good enough as a parent. They have a gut-retching feeling of guilt when they have to leave their children to go to work. They feel bad they don’t have the time or energy they want to give to their kids. They feel shameful when they do not live up to their own or others’ expectations. It is difficult to navigate the feelings of nurse practitioner mom guilt.
My struggles with nurse practitioner mom guilt.
I’ve been there myself. I have missed time with my kids while putting my patient’s needs in front of theirs. I have left my sick kids (under the care of my husband) to go help my sick patients feel better. I have missed activities with my children because I was working as a nurse practitioner. I got home after a long day, feeling completely drained, not having the energy to play with my children. When my on-call phone rings, my kids hate that I have to leave them and go into work. I have felt the nurse practitioner mom guilt far too many times.
Don’t get me wrong, I love working as a nurse practitioner. I love being able to care for patients. I love being able to promote health and wellness. I love patient’s look at me when they are sick and scared. I love that I get to help others feel better. But working as a nurse practitioner doesn’t come without sacrifice.
The burned-out nurse practitioner moms that I have worked with have made so many sacrifices. They have given so much to their workplace but do not have enough to give to their families. They have a disproportionate work-life balance. They stay late at the office. They bring their charts home. They sacrifice so much time and energy.
To be honest it leaves nurse practitioner moms broken. The guilt they feel is gut-wrenching. The missed memories weigh heavy on their minds. The lack of energy leaves them feeling inadequate as a nurse practitioner mom. And yet they show up to that nurse practitioner job again and again, to provide for their families.
While I wish I could change this modern healthcare system and allow every nurse practitioner mom to have a better work-life balance, changing an entire system is not possible. I do, however, want to provide nurse practitioners with the inspiration and empowerment to change things themselves.
Tips for navigating nurse practitioner mom guilt
Here are twelve tips for navigating the nurse practitioner mom guilt.
Advocate for needs.
I always encourage nurse practitioners to ask for what they need. If you are struggling with finishing charting during the workday, ask for 4 hours of admin time a week. If you would like time off to spend with your children, ask for the time off. If you need more help at home, hire the help or explain to your spouse how much you are struggling. Advocating for what you need can help you navigate the nurse practitioner mom guilt.
Focus on quality, not quantity.
When working a full-time, demanding nurse practitioner job, it is difficult to spend enough time with your kids. But focusing on quality time can definitely help. Eliminating distractions, providing your full focus, and living in the moment can help improve that quality time. I have realized that spending time with my kids does not have to be an elaborate trip or expensive activity. Some of our best moments are spent at the dinner table together or in the car, laughing and joking with one another. Focusing on quality time together can help to navigate nurse practitioner mom guilt.
Make time with kids a priority.
I have found that if I spend time with my kids BEFORE I do the work or house chores that need done, it helps both of us! My nurse practitioner mom guilt often worsens when I have a long list of house chores to complete. I already feel guilty for being at work all day but when I get home and have more tasks to complete, I feel overwhelmed.
I have found that prioritizing time with my children always pays off! If I can spend 30 minutes with them before the house chores, it helps all of us feel more connected. And then I make my kids help me with the house work =)
Work on charting.
The leading cause of a lack of work-life balance is excessive charting. So many times nurse practitioners have to stay late at the office or bring out charts home, disrupting the work-life balance. I encourage nurse practitioners moms to implement the charting and time management tips I teach through The Nurse Practitioner Charting School.
Live in the moment.
As nurse practitioner moms, we are constantly bombarded by life. There are so many distractions both at work and in our personal lives. Our minds are constantly jumping from one task to another. Then add on the continual distractions on our phones.
I often have to remind myself to remove these distractions and live in the present moment. When I think about some of the best times in my life, it’s the moments enjoyed with family and friends. So if you are struggling with nurse practitioner mom guilt, put your phone on silent, turn off the TV, and be present with your children.
Set realistic expectations.
It is easy to set the bar high and create high expectations in our personal and professional lives. I have to remind myself if the laundry does not get done, it’s ok, my kids can wear a half dirty t-shirt. If I forget to sign the school paperwork, it’s ok, it’s not the end of the world. I have worked a lot on overcoming perfectionism throughout the years. I have to remind myself that nothing is ever perfect and if I want to navigate the nurse practitioner mom guilt, I have to create realistic (not perfect) expectations.
Use the dang PTO (and don’t feel guilty).
I don’t think I need to explain this one! But seriously, if you have paid time off, please use it! Make it a point to use PTO when your kids are off from school and spend time with them. Or use the PTO to take a personal, self-care day. Your healthcare facility will not crumble. Your patients will understand. Your coworkers can pick up the slack. Actually using PTO can help nurse practitioners get more time with their kids and help manage the mom guilt.
Complete self-care activities.
We cannot pour from an empty cup. As nurse practitioner moms, if our energy is completely depleted, there is nothing left to give our families. We have to do the self-care activities that fuel us up. We have to put our needs first so we can care for others. One important tip when navigating nurse practitioner mom guilt is to first take care of ourselves.
Eliminate outside expectations.
A source of nurse practitioner mom guilt may be coming from external sources. Is there a family member, spouse, or coworker that sparks the feelings of mom guilt? Do other people make comments about how you are not a good mom because you work as a nurse practitioner? Do they make you feel bad for not spending enough time with your kids?
Identify where your feelings of nurse practitioner mom guilt come from and eliminate any external expectations. Acknowledge that the other person’s comments are likely coming from their own internal insecurities or feelings of jealousy. Realize that you have no control of their thoughts or comments. But you do have control with how they make YOU feel.
Show your kids hard work.
The nurse practitioner mom guilt can feel gut-retching every time we leave our kids to go to work. But I do love that I can show my kids the power of hard work. My kids know I go to my job to care for patients and help them feel better. My kids understand that I go to work to provide for our own family. I want my kids to see me work hard towards a goal/dream. I want them to see me work hard for something so they can learn they can do the same. While I am not able to spend all my time with my kids, I am able to teach them life lessons.
Seek emotional support.
Nurse practitioner mom guilt can take a tremendous toll on our emotional health. The feelings of not feeling good enough as a mother can consume our minds. Finding emotional support is something nurse practitioner moms really need to do.
Join The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner Facebook Group which is full of equally burned-out nurse practitioners, ready to support one another. Join a group of other working mommas who can relate to the challenges you face. Talk with your colleagues and acknowledge how hard it is to be a working nurse practitioner and mom. Surround yourself with the supportive people that provide you the emotional support you need!
Give yourself grace.
We should show ourselves self-compassion. Being a mom is tough. Being a working nurse practitioner AND mom is even tougher. But showing ourselves self-love and compassion keeps us from criticizing our own lives. Give yourself grace. Give yourself credit by focusing on the obstacles you have overcome. Acknowledge the good things you do for your kids (especially focus on the small things). If we don’t get it right as a mom or as a nurse practitioner, it is ok. Give yourself grace and understanding.
Additional resources for nurse practitioners
I hope these tips to navigate nurse practitioner mom guilt are helpful. As I mentioned, I have struggled and still struggle with nurse practitioner mom guilt. I am constantly reminding myself of these tips and acknowledging how hard it is sometimes. But the one thing I need to remember is I am not perfect. And my kids don’t need me to be perfect. My kids just need me.
If you are a nurse practitioner struggling with mom guilt and/or nurse practitioner burnout, check out Burnout Resolution for Nurse Practitioners. This online course teaches NPs the framework and mindset shifts to empower you create a better work-life balance and resolve the burnout. (CEU hours also included).
Don’t wait to be beyond burned-out.
Overcome the nurse practitioner burnout and navigate the nurse practitioner mom guilt today!
For time management and charting tips, check out The Nurse Practitioner Charting School– The one stop for all documentation resources created specifically for nurse practitioners. Learn more at www.npchartingschool.com
**Full disclosure, this blog post may include affiliate links. I do receive a commission if any of the affiliate programs/services/supplies are purchased. This is at no extra cost to you but does allow me to continue to provide content as The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner! Thank you!