I’ve decided to start a new segment devoted to balancing the various roles of motherhood and working a full time job. I know I’m definitely not alone on this one – have baby, short maternity leave, back to the office WAAAAyyy too soon! So, how do you make it all work. For starters, I’m no expert. Seriously, I have a four year old and a four month old (in 4 days!) so while I’ve had some experience, I can hardly say I am a wise old sage when it comes to this balancing act.
Here, on Working Mommy Wednesday, I want to share the things I’ve learned as well as my frustrations. Maybe I’ll learn something from YOU guys and maybe you’ll learn something from me.
First up on WMW: “Mommy, You Live There”
Direct quote from my three year old son as we drove past my office. “No, Mackenzie, I don’t live there. I live at the house, with you and daddy.” (This was before Spencer) To which Mackenzie immediately responded: “No, you live here, but you visit me at the house.”
Wow. Kids I tell ya. They really stick it to ya.
Now, I know that Mackenzie also thinks that his grandma lives at the highschool, his other grandma lives in her car (she drives a lot for work…), etc But that line really struck me. He thinks I merely “visit” him? Jesus. At the time, I worked 9 blocks from home and I felt that we had a really good family life – home on the week nights, adventuring on the weekends, but dang, I “visit” him??
Mackenzie is four now. He said that to me more than a year ago and yet I still remember it – and often.
Obviously, I can’t change the fact that I need to work (unless I win the lottery – but being honest, I’d probably still work). So what can I do to improve my son’s outlook on both mine, and Nick’s careers??
For one, I think it’s important that I don’t complain about work in front of him. I think complaining about work will only make him resent my job (and likely, me too – for giving up time with him for something I HATE – think about it). I also want him to understand that I’m proud of my work, proud of the things I accomplish there and that someday he will choose something where hopefully he feels that same pride in his work as well.
Secondly, I can spend quality time with him. This one is harder. Not because I don’t like spending time with him – how could you not like hanging out with this dude?
The hard part is in
finding making time for everything else. Dinner, workouts, grocery shopping – all the daily grind stuff that we so easily let come between us and our children. Sometimes, it seems like I’m playing drill sergeant from (pre)dawn until bedtime. Wake up, get dressed, pack breakfast, put your shoes on, out the door. Then coming home from preschool: go potty, can you color while I’m cooking, play trians while I’m helping Spencer, go clean up your trains while I get this done, eat your dinner, pick up your dirty clothes, brush your teeth, put on pjs, read a book, go to bed. None of that is fun.
Am I seriously that busy?
Of course, I can’t just stop making dinner and stop working out – stop having a LIFE of my own until both our kids are grown. So…
Make the menial daily tasks FUN.
Mack almost always helps me in the kitchen. I make it a project, a game. “What spice do you think we should add to the spaghetti sauce?….. Hmmm, cinnamon? How about Basil?” Mack loves it. And laundry: Mack loves to put the soap in the washer and to put the clothes in. Nick and I always do the grocery shopping together, with both kids - as a family.
Why not make the daily stuff, that crappy stuff you have to do fun by making it a family activity. Why not make it a time to spend with your kids rather than more time away from your kids?
During the summer, combining a workout and quality family time was easier – we could all go to the park for a run/bike ride, go to the track for football and running, or we could all go to the pool together (sneaking in some water aerobics while splashing with the kiddos).
But now that its cold and dark out, rather than working out after he’s gone to bed, or before he gets up – I’m now working out while he’s up – sometimes he mimics the moves I’m doing (we have some awesome videos of him “doing his exercises”) and other times, he contents himself in an activity – knowing that I’m right there in the same room with him.
Not to say that there can’t be quality kid activities too – you better make some time for that too! Trains, watching their shows (not just turning it on and walking away…), art projects with them rather than as a diversion tactic for you to get your own stuff done.
I’m definitely still working on all of this. I still find myself acting like that drill sergeant, getting caught up in the daily tasks – stressing out about getting this and that done. Truth is, the laundry will wait (and wait is does). My kids are only going to be kids for so long. “It won’t be like this for long.”