Arnold Schwarzenegger Says It Was ‘Painful’ Watching His Kids Cry While Balancing Governorship

Arnold Schwarzenegger recalled the most “painful” part of becoming governor of California in the early 2000s — and subsequently missing time with his kids.

“Clearly there [were] sacrifices,” Schwarzenegger, 76, said during the Monday, October 9, episode of the “On Purpose With Jay Shetty” podcast. “What do you think it’s like when you run for governor, and you promise the people that [they] are going to be my No. 1 priority? Now, you win. Now you have to do the work. But now you come home, and your kids are crying at the dinner table.”

Schwarzenegger, who was the governor of the Golden State for two terms from 2003 to 2011, remembered the disappointment on his kids’ faces when his political life came first.

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The Terminator star shares daughters Katherine and Christina and sons Patrick and Christopher Schwarzenegger with ex-wife Maria Shriver. (Schwarzenegger is also the father of son Joseph Baena, whom he welcomed with his and Shriver’s former housekeeper, Mildred “Patty” Baena, in 1997 while he was still married.)

The former politician remembered during the Monday podcast that his children were upset that he missed dance recitals, football practices and school drop offs while he was governor.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Recalls His Kids Crying When He Put Governor Role 1st

Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegge, Maria Shriver and their four children at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Novemeber 17, 2003 Lucy Nicholson-Pool/Getty Images

“That is devastating when the kids are crying and complaining and you say to yourself, ‘I promised the people they are my No. 1. But I also promised my family. I promised my wife when we had our first child that they are going to be No.1,’” Arnold said. “There’s a dilemma.”

Arnold confessed that he “had to make certain sacrifices when it comes to spending time with my family” and Shriver, 67, “had to pick up the slack” in their household.

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“There were sacrifices made that are painful sometimes. When you see your kids crying, that’s painful,” he acknowledged. “You know it’s your fault. You put yourself in the situation. You had a choice to run for governor or not run for governor.”

Arnold noted that he missed out on a lot when he was in Sacramento and his family was home in Los Angeles. However, he eventually shifted his work schedule to try and make it easier on the kids.

“I [initially] spent four days a week in Sacramento and three days a week in Los Angeles. I decided to spend another day in Los Angeles to go to a school recital or to go to sort of a practice session [for the kids],” he told listeners. “It didn’t take anything away from my public service. But it gave a little more facetime for the kids.”

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The retired bodybuilder added that Shriver was “the powerhouse in the family” during his governorship because she was there “80 percent of the time” while he “did 20 percent” of the work.

Arnold confirmed that without “good partner” Shriver, he “couldn’t have done it” and succeeded as governor.

Despite working as a team while he was in office, Schwarzenegger and Shriver called it quits in May 2011 after his affair with Patty, 62, came to light. Their divorce was finalized in December 2021.

Arnold, however, insisted that even his divorce from Shriver was made easier because of teamwork. “My wife and I were really good at working together so the kids really didn’t feel a bump in the road,” he explained. “We were very happy with the outcome. We’re very, very proud of our kids. They’re extraordinary.”

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