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Dealing with Guilt as a Working Parent

By Carey Snide

In 2017, my husband needed surgery and would be out of work for at least a month. We lived paycheck to paycheck and could not afford to have zero income. I was already working part-time and homeschooling my boys. We barely were making it as it was and I went into full panic mode, I got a second job. Practically overnight my world flipped, I nearly fell apart with the guilt and missing my boys. I wondered: Do my kids know I love them? Can I do this? How can I do it all? I have learned a lot in the last few years about being a working mom and finding that not only do my kids know I love them but that they have admired the work I do. I have learned to choose my battles with my house, batch cook, lean on my support system, and make time to spend time with my family.

Choose your battles” does not just apply to parenting, it applies to life too. Learning to choose the cleaning hills I was willing to die on helped. Sometimes laundry piles up…it is okay, you are not a failure. Some tips:

  1. Make a cleaning schedule

  2. Recruit the other people in the family to do their part

  3. Don’t cry over overflowing laundry baskets

It was an adjustment, especially when people did not do things the way I would. For example, I had a particular way that dishes were washed and stacked in the dish drainer. I had to stop myself, “does it really matter if the cups and plates are washed ‘out of order,’” or is it more important that they get done in the first place? Plus, a side effect of letting go is it helped with the anxiety I had around the need to control everything in my life.

Batch cooking! Let me tell you, I have learned to LOVE my freezer. I can spend a few hours a month chopping, cooking, and freezing then have wonderful meals that can go in the slow cooker. I have recently begun experimenting with my InstaPot too. I also batch bake. One thing I used to do was make all my kids’ snacks and bread. When I am making something like cookies or muffins, I double the recipe and freeze in small batches. Then I can pull them out slowly; it is like I just baked them.

You are not alone! Learning to lean on my support system has helped a lot. I married my husband so I must have trusted him, so I can trust him to take our kids to the doctor. Also, side benefit…their relationship grows the more time they spend together! Call on friends and family to make time to laugh. Laughter is good medicine, trust me!

Quality over quantity. I will not see my boys all day long like I did when I homeschooled them but I can hold tight to the times I do see them. We have breakfast together daily where we play games. Then there are movie nights and lazy Sunday afternoons.

Kids do not always tell us, “I’m proud of you mom,” or “Boy I see all the hard work you do, thank you.” But they are thinking and feeling it. One day I was feeling particularly down about being busy when the leader of their youth group told me that my boys shared with the group the work I do and how proud they are. I cried.

A few years in and seeing my boys grow up, I still struggle a lot with that guilt but what I am learning is quality over quantity is real and my kids know they are loved. Working may mean that the surface looks a little rough, but the things that matter (our relationship) is stronger than ever. What I want all parents to hear is that you are enough, you are amazing, and your children see you that way.

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