A Singapore mother of four shares her strategies for banishing your mummy guilt for good – and spending more time with your kids.

Get rid of working-mum guilt
Don’t beat yourself up, Mums! Here’s how you should banish that working-mummy guilt. PHOTO: Getty Images

The Mum: Andrea Toh, 37, a director of an HR-outsource company, and mum to four girls, aged 11, nine, six and five, felt guilty about not giving her children as much time and attention as she wanted to. This was especially so from 2007 to 2009, when she was working practically 24/7 to help her family’s new company take off.

She says: “I realised I didn’t even know what my daughters liked to eat or what their favourite colours were – yet my helpers did. When my kids called me at work, I had to ignore their calls if I was in a meeting. Or I’d feel frustrated, rather than happy, to hear their voices, if I was in the middle of something. Then I’d feel bad.”

But she realised that wallowing in mummy guilt wasn’t helping, so she pulled herself together. These are the strategies she used to do it:

Strategy #1 – Plan your work around your family
… and not the other way around, to help you regain control. “I now leave the office by 7pm every night, to be home for dinner with my family. This is my time to catch up with my kids before their bedtime at 9.30pm. I continue with work after that.”

Strategy #2 – One-to-one bonding time, once a month
“It’s a chance for my daughters to share what’s going on in their lives. During the school holidays, I take a whole week off from work to take the girls to the Singapore Science Centre, Bird Park or Zoo.”

Strategy #3 – Always keep score
If you haven’t had time this week to bond with your child, tell yourself you will make up for it – and make sure you do. “At times, when our family weekends are compromised, I make up for it by coming home earlier or taking a day or two off during my off-peak periods.”

Strategy #4 – Work with your helpers, not against them
“I’ve come to accept that in my absence, my helpers serve as the ‘mother figure’ to my daughters. I’ve learnt not to be jealous or to make things difficult for them. I’m glad my helpers work well with us to enforce the discipline we’ve put in place, even when my husband and I are not around.”

Strategy #5 – Family mode – on!
“I switch to family mode from Friday night to Monday mornings.”

Strategy #6 – Set goals
Where do you see yourself as a mother, wife and career woman? Recognise what your priorities are and decide if you need to make adjustments.

Strategy #7 – Don’t neglect your husband
He will be your best friend and support when work is taking its toll and you need help at home. “As I’m not always home to handle everything, my husband has also started to guide the girls in their schoolwork.”

Strategy #8 – Ask for help
Don’t be shy to ask for help if you need it. “My mother has stepped in to help me cope – she doubles as their tutor, helping them with all their subjects, except Chinese. They love her and can’t wait to visit her every week, even if it’s for tuition.”

This article was originally published in Simply Her September 2012.