I've realized that I like writing. And I tend to do it when I'm going through something personal or as a way to organize my thoughts. I recently just wrote a post for an organization that I hope will post this coming fall. But in the meantime I remembered that I wrote a post well over a year ago for our local parents association on balancing motherhood with working. I wasn't going through anything significant in my life other than wanting to share my voice on being an imperfect and happy working mother. I figured I'd post it here for posterity.
Disclaimer: I let the laundry pile up (clean or otherwise.) I’ve taken to naming the dust bunnies and brambles of dog hair that collect in our house (they’re like family!) I’ve adopted the beauty experts advice on washing my hair less frequently (just keepin’ it real here) And I should probably visit the gym.
I’m what I like to call “human” and I’m a mom.
I also happen to have a full time job outside of the home and our little boy goes to daycare (school) 5 days a week.
I’m hardly a spokesperson for time management. But life is good. We have a healthy, happy little 20-month old, a nice home, jobs that keep us afloat and also happen to keep us fulfilled.
But there are a few things - both philosophical and tactical - that have helped us balance life. I don’t suspect these are new to anyone. But if you’re like me, it’s nice to know that there are others out there doing the same things. We’re all working to figure out what’s best for each of us. As mothers and fathers I think we need to eliminate the judgement that comes with the working/non-working parent debate. They’re both difficult. Some of us choose it and some have no choice but it doesn’t make any of us less of a parent. Just different.
So here’s what we do and think about that helps us.
Be present and in the moment.
A coworker gave me this advice when I was pregnant. It seems so so obvious but I really do have to stop myself when I’m looking at my phone instead of interacting with Grey. I don’t get to be with him all day long so those hours in the morning, evening and weekends are precious. I also make sure I do this at work. When I’m focused and dedicating my time, energy and thoughts to the people in front of me I feel better about myself and I don’t miss things. I’m not perfect at this but I think about it constantly and check myself.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Yes it’s the title of a corny self-help book but it really is true. Hence the disclaimer above. I’m not Type A but I do get panicky when things start to pile up or I spend too much time on Pinterest. Does it mean I love my son more if I craft homemade farm animals from dryer lint? Or less if I let the laundry go unfolded? That’s when I take a deep breath and think about what’s important to me, what’s realistic and it helps me let the little stuff go.
We’re going to get progressively more tactical here...
Ask for help.
I’m not too proud. When I need a break to get my nails done or I need to sleep in I ask for it. I’m not super human. And when I’m not taking time for myself I can honestly say (and my husband would agree) that everyone else suffers! I’ve even asked for help in public when it’s just the two of us. I’ve had kind strangers hold Grey in the locker room at swim class so I could quickly get dressed. I’ve flown solo with him so I’ve had to rely on others to help folding his stroller in the security line. And I’ve found that more often than not people are happy to oblige. The saying “it takes a village” is so very true.
I was not born yesterday. I’m fully aware that online shopping is not a new concept but this one choice was probably the smartest one we made.
We use Honest Company for diapers. They show up automatically every month. They’re good for his skin and the environment. They’re cute. They don’t cost much more than regular diapers. And the small amount they do cost more is worth it. We never have to worry about wipes or diapers. Ever.
The lesson that we learned here is that any time we can outsource the mundane and potentially time-consuming we do. This certainly doesn’t bode well for my online shopping habit or ‘living in the moment’ but hey - I’m a work in progress.
Yo Gabba Gabba.
One thing that I also try to do is stay realistic about our life and parenting choices. If I’m too ashamed to admit it in public then I probably shouldn’t be doing it. So here goes... We let Grey watch TV. There are really only a couple of shows we turn on and only for a little bit each day but it works for us. The kid loves dancing and music and when he sees Muno or Brobie shake their oddly shaped furry, bumpy bums he gets such joy from it. And we almost always watch as a family and engage while it’s on. Honestly it has given us reference points when we’re trying to teach him things like hugging and sharing. And truth be told, when we’re getting ready for school and work in the morning, it keeps him happy and distracted while I pack his lunch, toss on some clothes and make coffee for myself. But it’s never a full blown babysitter.
I could probably continue to pontificate about this forever. There are a lot of things that shape my perspective as I learn more, have new experiences, and engage with other parents. But I think we can all agree that parenting is a constant juggling act whether we stay home with our children or we work full time. And in our family we’re doing the things that we believe will help our little boy grow up with confidence, creativity, a sense of humor and kindness.
And PS - it should go without saying, but I also attribute my ability to balance working and parenthood with the respectfully filled glass of sauvignon blanc (just in case I haven’t opened my kimono enough already.)