On December 7, 1991, everything changed. Up until that point, my professional plan was to be a working mom so our family could enjoy the benefit of two incomes.
But then I held our first-born, Jojo, in my arms and DOINK! In that moment I decided the stay-at-home-mom life was for me.
Sure, there were some side-hustles. When my boss at the upscale interior design studio in Cincinnati couldn’t find a competent replacement for my office-manager position, he paid me well to dart down the hill a few hours a week to manage accounts and correspondence.
And for a dozen years I taught “group fitness.” Step aerobics, sculpt and tone, I like to move it move it—I like to groove it groove it classes. That kind of thing.
Imagine my annoyance when Jojo took her first steps with Tony Bear while I was “grape-vining with jazz hands” at the Bally Scandinavian Health Club.
For a year or two, I was a sales rep for a telephone company, dashing out to business meetings in the evening after supper.
In my mind though, working a few hours here and there didn’t really qualify me as a working mom.
As a stay-at-home-mother, I was always torn between the state of the house and the condition of our kids’ hearts.
Of course I knew the status of their tiny hearts and minds was the most important thing, but I still regularly fought the fear someone might stop by unexpectedly. The dreaded “We were in the neighborhood and decided to surprise you” scenario.
I also couldn’t help but worry that, when Tony Bear got home from work at night and surveyed the chaos the kids and I had created, he might think: “Guess this must’ve been day #698 of Diane reading Better Homes and Gardens while eating bonbons on the sofa.”
Even though that’s not the kind of guy Tony is. One day he sat me down, took my hands in his, and said:
“When faced with the choice—play with the kids or clean the house—always pick the kids.”
These days though, two out of three of our kids are grown and gone. And the third one, Junior Man, can drive himself to whatever workout, music practice, or Young Life function is on his schedule.
So earlier this year when a writer friend said, “There’s this newspaper and they need a lifestyles columnist and I think you’d be perfect. Any chance you’d be interested?” I said, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
As a result, I now have columns and blogposts to draft and edit every week, and foodie e-newsletters to send out each month. Plus, I’m supposed to be submitting my writing all over the place.
But there’s still a house to keep. Meals to make, bills to pay, laundry to fold. And a yard and garden to tend. Aging parents to oversee. And Tony Bear and I really should get back to dating. Each other. There are holidays to decorate for. Cars to get inspected. Kitties to take to the vet. Friendships to nurture.
Working Moms: How the heck do you get all your work stuff done AND your home stuff? Every day? Every week?
I’ve figured out a few things. For starters, I need to start grocery shopping on the weekends. Otherwise, the trips cut in to my writing time.
I’ve learned to do miniature versions of some things. Like exercise. My frequent 45-minute walks had do be whittled down to 20-minutes. And sometimes I have to settle for those 20-minute walks being up and down aisles at the grocery store.
As a person of faith, I find it helps to start the day with a “quiet time,” a half hour or so spent counting my blessings, saying some prayers, and reading my Bible. On Instagram, you can see where I made one of my favorite verses into a little prayer.
Some people believe meditation can have similar stress-reducing properties to prayer. Headspace is an app I hear a lot about.
A spare bedroom, but not in our house, would sure come in handy. Because when I work at home, I keep leaving my desk to change the kitty litter, fold the laundry, or empty the dishwasher.
You gals who are pros at juggling job and home tasks, which is more efficient? Running two errands a day or saving them all up for Saturday? But Saturday should be family day, shouldn’t it?
Do you clean your house once a week or once a month? Or perhaps hire someone to do it for you (If you’re blessed to be able to afford that.)?
The tension of the infinite to-do list versus the finite number of hours in a day is a serious tug-of-war situation. One which, most days, it feels like I’m losing. Honestly,
I have a sneaking suspicion that “work-life balance” is an aqua unicorn with a hot pink mane and tail.
Reading this awesome article helped a bit: “Is Work-Life Balance for Moms Total BS?” I especially like that it includes some crowd-sourced ideas for achieving more balance.
My conclusion, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that the best thing a working mom can do is:
Do the best you can today. And tomorrow, start over.