This Real-Life Working Mom Wants Some Real-Life Advice

Categories: Making Time, The Juggle, Working? Living?


mom-working-at-home.jpgI’ve been looking for advice, lately.

Summer is just around the corner, and that’s when my work-life juggle really ramps up. My body is telling me that I need more sleep (it lets me know by giving me lovely hints like a double ear infection and an inability to string three words together after midnight, which is usually one of my most-productive times of day — er, night). We’ve got some great things happening here at Work It, Mom!, and I want to spend plenty of time on them. My day job slows down in some ways — there’s rarely a ton of summertime news for a newspaper — but my department handles longer feature stories and summer is THE time for those. And our big kids are with us for nine or 10 weeks, so meals are bigger, groceries need to be purchased more frequently, and there are seven schedules to coordinate instead of the usual four.

But the advice that’s out there — especially advice for working moms — is so one-size-fits-all and obvious and, well, next to impossible for any working mom to actually do that I feel like it’s all a big joke, or maybe a spin-off of that old Monty Python sketch, “How to Rid the World of All Known Diseases”:

(Read in a breathless, cheery, newscaster voice) “Well, first of all become a doctor and discover a marvelous cure for something, and then, when the medical profession really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there’ll never be any diseases ever again.”

Ta-DA! Problem solved!

For instance, let’s take my first need: More sleep. The standard advice ranges from “Sleep when the baby is sleeping” (which does not offer tips on how to explain to my boss why I’m snoozing at my desk or how to get my freelance work done if I go to bed at 8 p.m. with the wee ones) to something along the lines of “Avoid alcohol consumption at night, stop all emotionally or intellectually strenuous activity at least an hour before going to sleep, and try to go to bed earlier” (Hahahahahahaha. Riiiiight. **Sips bourbon, resumes working on article, vows to be in bed before 2 a.m. if possible**).

So, fellow working mothers, I turn to you. I know I’m not the only working mom juggling career and parenthood out there. How do you deal with it? Or, rather, what do you do to stay afloat when you feel like you’re ready to sink blissfully to the bottom? Open up, friends… we’re all in the same boat here!

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8 comments so far...

  • seriously, just reading about your life exhausts, i mean inspires me!
    perhaps take like one of the blogs mentioned (nataly? too lazy to look it up) - and toss over money at it? Hire a nanny to coordinate schedules/purchase and cook food/shuttle children to various activities.
    Also insane portions of Zinc and vitamine C (i say as i hack and cough and sneeze with a ’spring’ cold!)
    i have actually been going to bed as soon as DS goes to sleep (ok sometimes that is like 9ish, whatever) because i can’t miss out on work and not doing that will certainly mean not being able to function at work. it’s been bliss, i must say, to get 8 hours of sleep 2 nights in a row. BLISS!

    Kate  |  May 22nd, 2008 at 8:27 am

  • I agree on the one-size fits all thing. We all know that generally speaking, what works for you may not (probably won’t) work for me. If there was ONE solution, there would be a lot of out of work psychologists out there (among other professions).

    The advice I’m tired of is the “prep for the week on Sunday” reel. Seriously, if I did everything that everyone says to do on Sundays to get ready for the week (pre-make dinner, set out clothes, organize the weekly calendar, and on and on) we’d be exhausted and wouldn’t get to enjoy the time saved during the week because we’d be making up from our 20 hour “prep” day!!

    At my house, we have learned to prioritize and actually let go of the lower priorities. So what if the laundry sits in the basket for a week? We have more than a week’s worth of clothes hanging in the closet after all. Who cares if we eat after our son goes to bed once in a while (okay, at least two times a week) because mommy didn’t get dinner pulled together after working late? I try to get the big stuff done and relax about the rest.

    I do have one “one-size fits all” solution to share though, and this is BIG. Hire a cleaning lady! I personally now look forward to Thursdays b/c my house is clean and orderly when I get home (not to mention I have my weekends back).

    Brenda  |  May 22nd, 2008 at 10:38 am

  • it does seem that all the good ideas cost $$$$ :(

    Kate  |  May 22nd, 2008 at 12:37 pm

  • Just ran across your blog, and have only read this one entry - but yeah, ouch, this working mom thing is tough. I’ve got a 2 and a half year old and a 4 month old, and I’ve been back to my full-time-plus professional job for about a month now (after a 12 week leave). Every single day I think I’m going to have time after the kids are sleeping to catch up on work, or *gasp* work on a personal project (of which I have dozens in the “planning” stage because I never actually get to the “doing” stage) - and then, every single evening, by the time both kids are in bed and the dishes are washed and I’ve got my prep done for the following morning, it’s 10 pm, and I remember how crucial getting some sleep is going to be, and I just go to bed. I’m up once or twice a night for breastfeeding, but that’s tolerable for now.

    Would LOVE to hire cleaning help, but daycare costs are killing us already, so that’s not gonna happen. I frankly think that there really ISN’T any solution and we all just sort of muddle through it as best we can, trying to prioritize according to our own values, and then one day your kids are grown up or self-sufficient, and ta-da, that phase of your life is behind you…

    Larissa  |  May 23rd, 2008 at 1:05 pm

  • Kate: 8 hours of sleep? 2 nights in a row? *swooon* Also… yep, it does seem like all the best ideas involve $$$$…

    Brenda: I’m with you on the letting go of lower-level priorities! I get the laundry washed, but I end up rooting through it during the week and then folding it and putting it all away at some point — usually just in time to wash it all again!

    Larissa: Thanks for reading! I hear you on the cleaning help, part — I did the math on what we’re paying our daycare/preschool each year and immediately wished I hadn’t added it all up, because man, that’s a lot of money. So I’ll be doing the cleaning for now — and making everyone pitch it, as much as possible — which is to say that the house is kind of filthy (by my standards, at any rate)!

    Lylah  |  May 23rd, 2008 at 2:57 pm

  • I hear you. Some days I feel like I’m just sprinting through the day. (And I only have two kids — not five like you — and mine aren’t babies, so they sleep a good 8 aor 9 hours.) But there’s still no time for laundry or cooking or cleaning (right!)

    I’m trying to learn to let things go, but it seems whenever I do, I end up feeling guilty. (I didn’t worry about laundry, so my son wears a dirty — mud-covered — uniform to Little league.)

    I forgot about paying my daughter’s school lunch in advance — so she got scolded for taking a milk she didn’t have the money to buy.

    Moms just can’t let anything go, it seems sometimes.

    bloggingmom67  |  May 24th, 2008 at 7:59 pm

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