Feeling Guilty

If you're feeling guilty because you get tired of playing with your preschooler or being a parent all the time, you're not alone. Everyone needs a break.

My new work arrangement makes it possible for me to spend more time than ever before with my daughter. Three days a week—four every now and then—she’s at the sitter’s for a full day. The rest of the time, she’s home with me, and I fit work in during the evenings and nap time. It’s wonderful—everything I’ve been wanting, actually. But lately, I find myself feeling guilty.

Because lately, that extra time feels like a blessing and a curse. My 3-year-old is cute, sweet and smart. She’s the love of my life, and I mean that.

But she’s also three. She’s not old enough to go off by herself outside the house, so she needs supervision pretty much all the time. She’s got that selective 3-year-old hearing. I find myself repeating the same simple requests over and over until she rouses out of lala land and decides to go along with my program. And then there are tantrums. Not all the time—thank God we seem to have avoided the terrible twos for the most part, but when the fireworks hit, wow are they a pleasure to experience.


Mornings usually are the best times for me and Little One. When she’s home, we always get out of the house. We go to the library or the park or out shopping. We get home in time for lunch, then she goes down for her nap and I get on the phone and computer to focus on work for a couple of hours.

When she wakes up, that’s when the drudgery sets in. It’s usually too late to go anywhere – Dad’s coming home soon, and I need to start dinner. But the minutes and hours until he walks through the door really drag. This is when Little One decides it’s time to empty a box of rice all over the kitchen floor or demand to dress up in footie jammies, even though it’s 90 degrees out, and play “baby,” which entails me giving her a bottle and feeding her applesauce waaaaay after the charm of the role play has worn off.

Sometimes I feel like a babysitter whose job never ends — and then I feel guilty, because that’s part of the basic definition of being a parent, isn’t it?

And then I feel guilty because I know others would kill to be in my position. I also feel guilty because I know these days are fleeting. Most of the time, when I’m starting to feel really weary, she will do something so funny or amazing or endearing that it will jolt me out of my ennui and remind me to enjoy all of this while it lasts. Still, I have to admit there are times when I just want to run away and leave the responsibility to somebody else. On my “office hours” days, that’s what I do. And then, I can’t wait to go pick her up at 5 p.m.

I guess finding a balance can be a challenge no matter what your arrangement, huh?

If you're feeling guilty because you get tired of playing with your preschooler or being a parent all the time, you're not alone. Everyone needs a break.

10 thoughts on “Feeling Guilty

  1. Mama Luxe says:

    Cool post! I “Loved It” on Sk*rt.

    I totally relate to that afternoon drag. Everyone is just tired by that point! Sometimes i just mix it up with a nice walk or something.

    You do seem to realize how great it is that you can work AND stay at home. I work from home all week…and I also sometimes feel exhausted and guilty–but it is great, isn’t it?

  2. I think it is a matter of being caught between. I had some similar feelings when I worked a job that was sort of from home. I had 15 hours of meetings and the rest was per telephone. But I was on call and crises never end in the foster care system! And I always felt torn between the two…

    This is just me, but it is difficult to strike a balance between two things that want more of you, if that makes sense. And transitions are hard when you are making them all the time!

    I’m glad you have those moments to pull you through.

  3. Working Mama says:

    Your post made me smile. I have a 3-year old as well and have similar feelings. I especially like the “selective hearing” comment. So true!

  4. Sara, I just appreciate your honesty. Sometimes it helps just to hear that you’re not the only one who gets annoyed, tired, bored, etc. by the daily grind of motherhood.

  5. Exactly and well said!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I work from home as well, with my 3-year-old boy in daycare three days a week. I find I have to relax for at least part of his afternoon nap, rather than work. If I work through his nap, I feel drained in late afternoon and count the minutes until my husband gets home.

    If I instead take 40 minutes to savor kid-free, I am recharged and much more likely to play a game or launch a fun project. I don’t think a person can go a whole day either working or running after a kid every minute without dragging in the end.

  7. I’m with you. As I wrote in my Work It Mom “Speak Your Mind” Entry:
    I don’t work for the money. I work outside the home for other reasons, including:

    – The opportunity to pee when I have to without talking out loud, reminding my daughter that “mommy is almost done and will be there in a minute.”
    – The chance to eat lunch in the middle of the day, as opposed to when it is convenient.
    – The interaction with other adults – despite the fact that many of them are less intelligent and way less fun than my one-year-old.
    – It is less work than being at home.

    I couldn’t be a full-time SAHM. I love my daughter, I really truly do more than anything, but mommy is a person too.

  8. My Minivan Is Faster Than Yours says:

    I’m a SAHM but I have such respect for you because just starting my blog as my new obsessive passion in life is about to push me over the edge! I think you rock!

  9. SapphireLizard says:

    Thanks for the gentle reminder that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I have a 3yr old and a 2yr old. I’ve been suffering from “afternoon drag” since my oldest was just a few weeks old. Yes, I do miss my kids sometimes…especially the days when my son asks me “Mommy, is it stay-at-home day?” BUT…mommy has needs too. (despite what the rest of the household seems to think)

    Some of the perks of my job:
    ~Eating lunch at my own pace, and not just b/c I finally have a moment to shovel something in without hearing the words “I’m hungry” for the umteenth time that day.
    ~Being able to use the ladies room (almost slipped and said potty!) without my 2yr old cheering me on.
    ~Not having to answer the question “why?” all day.

    Just found your blog tonight, and I love it!!!
    (sorry about the deleted comment…forgot to proofread before posting!)

  10. I think that sometimes we tend to envision motherhood as being this really amazing thing ALL the time. But on days when the kids are having meltdowns, and we’re tired, it’s definitely not the glamourous thing that fairy tales make it out to be. I can be a pain in the butt. I say it’s great if someone wants to have children but if not, that’s great too. I have two boys and there have been days when I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. Fortunately, those days I can just send them to school and go to work so I can get some rest!

    Don’t feel guilty. I’m sure you’re a great mom, and kids need to learn that it’s not always all about them.

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