13 December, 2013

advice for working parents

I've now been back in the workforce for 8 months post-baby, and it's been just as hard as I expected - but, surprisingly, easier in ways I didn't expect. 

It's still hard to leave Charlotte every morning, especially on Mondays after we've gotten used to being together all weekend. But it's wonderful to be reunited in the evening, and to see how excited she is when I walk in - it gives me something to look forward to every day.

I've always been in awe of those women who seem to effortlessly balance work and family - I know that they struggle just as much as anyone else, but they're just better at hiding it. Right? RIGHT???

Uh, yeah. Like this, but sans the make-up and perfect hair.

Even before Charlotte was born, I felt as though there wasn't enough time in the day. Now that I'm a working parent, I feel it exponentially. In order to survive without my head exploding, I've come to a few realizations about how to make this shit work without losing my mind:

1. Lower your standards of cleanliness. 
Decide what absolutely has to be done to avoid losing your mind, and then do half of it. My house used to be immaculate at all times. I was a little crazy about it, to be honest. Now I see a tumbleweed of cat fur roll across the sticky kitchen floor, and I just sigh. There's just not enough hours in the day to keep my house clean, but I make time to vacuum now and then, and I keep up with dishes and laundry. That's it, folks. My house is one dusty, dusty motherf*cker. Here's hoping my kid doesn't end up with asthma as a result of my household hygiene choices!

2. Have a weekday morning/evening schedule, and try to stick to it. 
This may sound boring and rather uninspired, but it really does help - and routine is comforting to kids. And you can celebrate that today is NOT laundry day! ...because it's the little victories, really.

Tomorrow is NOT clean the litter box day! 

3. Don't try to multitask TOO MUCH on lunch breaks. 
There's no need to try to do all the grocery shopping and errand-running over your lunch breaks. That time is for YOU. Go have some adult conversations with coworkers, or take a nap in your car. Be selfish! It's amazing how rejuvenating even 30 minutes of me-time can be. Or screw it, run those errands over lunch. Who cares! IT'S YOUR LUNCH. Go smoke crack and steal cars, if that's what your heart desires.*

4. Ask your spouse for help.
Well, DUH. But it also helps if you and your spouse have an understanding of who handles what. As in, I make the bed in the morning and my husband unloads the dishwasher. Having assigned tasks is a ton easier than trying to do it all yourself - which, unfortunately, a lot of us over-achievers find ourselves doing. DO NOT TRY TO BE SUPERWOMAN! Your spouse doesn't mind helping, unless he/she is already a bit of an asshole - in which case, you've got bigger problems than a few extra chores.

5. There is no such thing as "quality time." ALL time is quality time.
Some time is more fun, but the concept of compartmentalizing how you spend time with your kids might actually affect how you treat your time with them. By thinking: "this is yardwork time; I'll have playtime with my kids later," you lose out on a valuable opportunity to let your kid learn some life skills - and they learn the importance of doing some routine (aka mundane) tasks. Hey, they have to learn sometime - right? I'll have Charlotte mowing the lawn and doing laundry before age 2, mark my words.

Dance for your dinner, baby! DANCE!

6. Remember that it's not forever. 
They grow up, they become more self-sustaining/self-entertaining. They move out (hopefully). They're only little for so long, so try to keep it in perspective. Is it more important to go to that evening seminar, or should you stay home to read some Dr. Seuss with your short people? And if it that seminar DOES happen to be more important for whatever reason, don't sweat it. You can always get up early and read Dr. Seuss in the morning.

*Except... don't.

1 comment:

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Great advice. It's definitely important for anyone juggling multiple tasks/roles to remember not to overwhelm yourself. And don't be afraid to ask for help.


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