Daycare Guilt?

“Mommy, please don’t leave me. I want to be with you…” tears running down his baby face, brown eyes glistening, pleading.

Never. Never did I picture this life for myself. The life of a single working mom.

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With guilt gutting me and work calling me, I spin around and grab the handle of the door. My son, my flesh and blood must be restrained so that he does not lurch towards me, arms forever reaching. Images of family separation at the border race through my mind. Shame that I picked a “not great” ex-partner that led me to this moment begin seeping in. Of course, most of all the idea that my son is feeling neglected makes my chest tighten, wavering on an anxiety attack.

Damn. How many of us have felt this way dropping your child of at camp, daycare, or even college?

We do our best to navigate the contrast of working for our children in providing for their needs while simultaneously (and inconveniently) being needed by them.

So if you are like me and often begin your day with a nice bumpy ride on the guilt train, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Kids Party Like Rockstars

Pizza parties. Birthday parties. Holiday parties. Seasonal soirées. Just face the facts, kids and teens never want the party to end. 

In fact, when they first arrived here as newborns they wanted to party through every single night and never sleep. That’s right, consider them to be on the level of College Julie who thought every drink was a good idea and calling your ex, after those drinks, was brilliant. On the list of bad influencers they are only second to grandparents who encourage their rowdy behavior with endless candy, late bedtimes, and perpetual devil’s advocacy.

It’s no wonder that if it was up to our little angels they’d be: jumping on the couch covered in stickiness binge watching PBS For Kids on day three of a Rager holding glow sticks. Yet alas, mommy must go to work (as fun as this does sound.)

Takeaway: Keep it in perspective. While your child wants you, a healthy and beautiful thing, they can not always get everything they want WHEN they want it. Chances are they reacted the same way the last time you told them no. The only difference here is that they want you.

2. You Are Not Responsible For Their Feelings

Ever had that boss. You know, the one that wants everyone in the staff meeting to feel the same thing as them? He’s furious and putting people down and now wanting you to be furious too?

Hit the brakes. Although your child may have come out of you like a slip n’slide of life it does not mean you must be emotional Siamese twins. Just because your boss is angry does not mean you must be angry. Just because your child feels upset for 90 seconds does not mean you must match that emotion for the rest of your day. Sure staring at the monitor in the lobby to watch them cope rips your heart out but keep moving forward. 

Takeaway: Give yourself permission to have your own individual feelings. Also consider that many emotions are a choice. Like the guilt train, often you can free yourself by choosing another destination.

3. Kick Some Arse

Perhaps the best possible option is to turn all those hot mess feelings into: FOCUS. If you “choose,” or “must,” or “want,” or “whatever you want to call it when you leave your home to work away from your children” make the most of the time by making it count. We are fortunate to have safe options for our children’s lives to be enriched so go get rich-er. Really think through the alternative, what life looks like if you do not work. Which do you prefer?

Das right. Girlfriend or boyfriend, you are paying a premium for childcare so you can work to take care of the most precious littles you call your own. 

Takeaway: Stop reading and scrolling and get back to work. You are an amazing parent because you care however time to kick some arse and make the most of this day. Don’t allow yourself to use mother/fatherhood as an excuse to not further your family through success at work.

Jennifer Magley is a former professional athlete, speaker, author, and High Performance Coach. More information can be found at and videos on YouTube.