Working Parent Guilt: Perspectives and Pep Talks from PSP Members

Working full-time, considering enrolling your little one in daycare, preschool, or a nanny, and contending with guilt about being away from them all day? You’re not alone.

Below, check out words of wisdom from working parents who have handled this transition—and if you’re not yet a member of PSP, join us today to connect with a support group who can help you through the ups and downs of work, life, and raising kids in Brooklyn.

One parent asks…


“I work full time as a High School English Teacher, and my husband also works full time. We have a 19 month old (Covid baby), and currently use a nanny for a variety of reasons. When I went back to work after my leave in Jan of 2020, I was super nervous about Covid and couldn't picture leaving my daughter at a daycare all day because of it. We hired a nanny and have been doing that for the last year.

Fast forward to now- my daughter got into an AWESOME 2s program, it's walkable to my home AND work (which happen to be walkable to each other). If she hadn't gotten into this program we would be keeping the nanny, mostly because of inertia.

I am excited about this 2s program, and know it is the right decision for her and our family. Or think it is? But I feel SO guilty! I already have guilt over working full time and being exhausted when I come home, but something about sending her to school at age 2 is just adding to that guilt.

Is it possible to get some perspective on this? Maybe I just need a pep-talk?”

 

Members advise…


School can be a wonderful experience for young kids.

 

“All I can tell you is that my kid has been in full time child care since she was 6 months old and it was a mixed 2's/3's class at school when she was 2. She loved it and learned so much and got so much out of the social skills and the play based pre-school learning that they did. She is now almost 5 and rocking early-reading and early math and all these skills that I don't think she ever would have developed if she had been home. She also showed a high social emotional IQ early - learned how to tune in to the feelings of others and her own feelings, learning to be kind and to share and what happens when people disagree and have (kiddie) arguments and really seems to have a good start learning to navigate the big wide world of people.

In short, school was the best thing we ever did for our kid and she is happy and thriving. Our kid would have been miserable staying home with us - we are boring and working during the day and could not provide anywhere near the structure and stimulation she received in school at that age.”

 

~~~

 

“I have a 23 month old and a 3.5 year old. During the height of COVID my husband and I basically shared child care responsibility while trying to manage 2 full time jobs.  It didn’t work…. We then got a nanny and she was with us for a few months. She was great and we still use her for babysitting but there were a number of factors as to why it wasn’t working.  Mentally I couldn’t work while hearing the kids in the house, I needed a separation. And our boys were longing for more interaction.  We ultimately decided to send our youngest to a family daycare and our older to a 3s program.  They are thriving -  both of them. They absolutely love their respective “schools” and it has made such a difference in my mental state too.”

 

~~~

 

“I have a 18 month old toddler and a 3 1/2 year old. I returned to the office 5 days a week as soon as my maternity ended in November 2020. I have a full-time nanny and my older daughter went into a 2s program at a preschool all last year. The amazing changes I saw in her educationally and socially made it worth the risk and she absolutely loved it.”

 

~~~

 

“Mom guilt is so real and SO powerful! What I can say is that our daughter is 25 months and  because both her parents are essential workers, she has been in daycare since she was 7 months old. I also feel tremendously guilty, especially since I also have a 1hr commute each way. 😭

That said, my daughter is THRIVING with the social interaction and ‘curriculum’ she gets at ‘school.’ We just transferred her in January to a daycare that starts age 2 so is more like a typical 2s program. (We needed longer hours than most preschools offer.) There were some tears with the transition, even with a whole week of ‘easing in’ but now she absolutely loves it and walks right in, often so excited we have to remind her to say goodbye to me!  When we preview the day at home and talk about going to school she gets this big grin on her face! While her prior daycare was great, she didn’t have this kind of reaction, and I really think it has to do with being around more of her peers. (Her previous daycare was an in home family daycare and had a small number of babies up to toddlers in the same space.)

Every child is different, and from other mom friends anecdotally, the transition can take a little longer with toddlers who haven’t been in daycare previously, but I hope this helps reassure you that 2 is not too young and gives you strength to get through the initial adjustment (for both of you!).”

 

~~~

 

“Our kids were so happy in 2s programs. If you have the right program, and even better one close by, nothing compares. They start picking and developing their own friends at that age and my 5 year old is still incredibly close with 2s friends who go to different elementary schools.  If you're close, it's easy for play dates and sometimes your kids find families where you make your own new best friends!  If it's a program where the kids can stay together for a few years, that's an extra plus.  Two is where they can start learning and exploring as a student.  It's so much fun to hear them share about their day!”

 

~~~

 

“I also agonized about sending my son to a 2s program during Covid. We’d pulled him from daycare at the start of the pandemic and had him home for 18 months.

But once we sent him, my only regret was that we didn’t do it sooner. He has THRIVED. The attention, the socialization, the activities, the learning opportunities - are all unmatched by anything I or a nanny could have done for him.

5 out of 5 stars would recommend.”

 

Thoughts on nanny vs. daycare.

 

“I do have to say, WFH and juggling taking care of a child with my husband, I've gotten to experience the world of nannies and I am forever grateful that I chose daycare.  He's learned so much and he gets to do activities that I can't do in my home (painting, crafts, etc). I also don't have to worry about entertaining him when it's cold, etc.  He's also learned songs and his language has exploded which I attribute 100% to daycare. Even though he's gone all day, I've started to cherish his early wakeups as a time we get to read and play together.”

NOTE: If you’re considering getting a nanny as a WFH parent, check out our Work-from-Home Parent’s Guide to Finding a Nanny.

 

Focus on being present during the time you do spend with your child.

 

“Focus on being present for her in the times you are home together - mornings, afterschool, weekends. It's really the little moments there that count, the quality time not necessarily the quantity.”

 

~~~

 

“Something that has really helped me with mom guilt is constant reassurance by my therapist that what really matters is not how much time you spend with your child each day, but the quality of that time. Obviously, stuff has to get done at home too, so we can’t be 100% present with our kids all the time, but carving out chunks when we CAN do that is ultimately what matters. So I’m very intentional that, as much as possible, I make sure she has a chunk of time each night where I’m just hers. And, when I’m not able to give her that attention, I articulate why (whether it’s making dinner, doing dishes, having a bad day and needing alone time, etc) so she doesn’t start thinking it’s because of her. This mindset has been a game changer for me. The mom guilt is still there, don’t get me wrong, but I can cope with it so much better knowing hat I’m doing ALL I can, WHEN I can to show her that she is so very deeply loved.”

 

~~~

 

“I feel guilty that I can't spend all of my time with him but I do think working makes me a better mom - I have more energy for him because I'm not spending all of my time with him.”

 

Final words of comfort:

 

“It’ll be okay and you rock. As the daughter of a working mama I can truly say that I always admired my mom and that she had driven me to be the professional and mother I am today. I never missed her with her working, though I understand now how much she missed me.”

 

Related reading on Park Slope Parents:


Dealing with After School Guilt

Working Moms Mental Health Check-In: Webinar Notes

Working Moms Pep Talk

Childcare and Work section

Work/Life Balance section

Working Mother Topics section


Print