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What my kids taught me about guilt

Emma Grey

There was a time about a decade ago when I used to feel guilty for working when my girls were little.

I pulled out of a Masters degree a third of the way through so I could spend more time with my kids on weekends. When I did that, my then 7-year-old (who’s now on her gap year and intends to volunteer on an archaeological dig in Peru) crumpled and said, ‘But Mummy! You can’t give up on your dreams!’


Taking this photo on the weekend and seeing the look of pride on my 6-year-old son’s face when we spotted the first copy of our new book in a REAL bookshop was another reminder that parenting extends beyond what we do ‘for’ our kids.

It reaches into our careers too, and into our volunteer work, and the way we take care of ourselves and the way we have fun with our friends … a big part of ‘how to parent’ is modelling how to be an adult who is fully engaged in life — valuing ourselves and our time and treasuring our own dreams. After all, isn’t that exactly what we want for our children when they grow up?

It’s about liberating ourselves to enjoy all of these things. The more satisfied we are in our lives, the nicer we are to be around, the more energy we have and the more space we can devote to deeply loving the people around us.

We’re meant to be convincing little people that it’s worth growing up. Adulthood isn’t all about responsibilities and bills and mortgages and worrying about global politics.

Adulthood brings exhilaration and love and achievement and resilience and joy, if we let it. And when it does, let’s shout that from the rooftops!

I Don’t Have Time is available now.


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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