Guilt. The ultimate theme of parenthood. If you’re a working parent, there’s guilt about not spending enough time with the kids. If you’re a stay at home parent, you may feel guilty about your financial contribution to the household or feel unfulfilled with the title “just a mom/dad”. But what if we could turn those feelings around in a more positive way?
I have a great job that allows me to work from home. It’s a demanding job, most of the time, and during our busy season, I find myself working after the kids go to bed or while they nap on the weekend. I also have to worry about shopping, cooking, laundry, pets, gardens, chickens, maintaining a relationship with my husband, maintaining a relationship with myself, and occasionally seeing family and friends. I think I feel guilty every day. The house is a mess, we’re having takeout again, I haven’t worked out in weeks, I just want to cuddle on the couch with my husband, and I am so overdue for a girls’ night out! But mostly, I worry that I work too much.
When my daughter catches me working in my office “after hours”, the very first thing she says is, “Mommy, no working!” Then she goes through my desk drawers and throws a bunch of stuff all over the floor. Then the guilt hits; caught again making my job a higher priority than my kids.
We used to have a nanny, so I would see my kids often during the work day. When my kids recently turned 2 and 1 years old, we wanted our daughter to start socializing with other kids and found an amazing daycare provider. They don’t take younger kids, and financially we couldn’t do daycare and a nanny, so my son is at another daycare facility. My daughter’s daycare is amazing, but they take a lot of time off, mirroring the local schools’ vacation calendar (including taking the whole month of August off). So, we’ve been considering moving her to the daycare my son attends. But although he is safe and happy, the learning environment my daughter is experiencing is so much more amazing and holistic. We want my son to have that same experience next year. So my husband and I discussed prioties: do we take more PTO and enjoy our young children while they have an amazing early educational experience, or do we prioritize our careers? Because of our privilege and hard work, we can actually choose option number one. And shouldn’t we use that luck to give our kids the best we can?
Most families require two working parents in this economy. Personally, we could adjust our lifestyle and my husband or I could stay home with the kids. Although we’re not the “live to work” types, we do get a lot of satisfaction from our jobs. I think a lot of people would like to “have it all” – career, family, friends, comfort. Struggling every day to find a balance is normal.
So when my kids demand I stop working and just be with them, I want to stop feeling guilt. Instead, I want to just put the work aside and be in the moment with them. And I want to feel fulfilled by that, having no regrets. Life is short, tomorrow is not promised (add your own cliche here), so I’d rather be laughing and playing with my kids. Soon, they won’t care so much about hanging out with me, so I better enjoy it while it lasts!