One of my favorite bloggers, Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo, is featuring a series this week on finding balance. She is interviewing moms who work outside the home, asking them how they find balance in their everyday lives. As a working mom, these interviews have touched me; they made me feel normal. These woman have different work-life situations, but ultimately, the message was the same: we make it work by doing the best we can, one day at a time. (Her interviews from last year, featuring moms who work from home, can be found here).
I’ve mentioned it before, but balance is something I truly struggle with. I tend to try and do it all, and do it perfectly. I have extremely high expectations of myself, have trouble asking for help, and find entirely too much joy in crossing items off my to-do list. I’m not proud of any of those things; if I was able to ‘let go’ a little bit more, I might be able to find more time in my day. I really really wish that I could ignore the to-do list at night, and just sit down and relax with my husband, but I can’t. I physically cannot enjoy myself until the toys and laundry are put away, the kitchen floor is free of crumbs and I’ve gone through the mail. Only after all of that is done, can I breathe a sigh of relief, pour a glass of wine, and relax. Unfortunately, most days, that doesn’t happen until 10:00.
I’m away from the house for roughly 12 hours a day. We are all up around 5:30 or 6:00 (yes, including my son), so I get an hour with him in the mornings. I leave by 7:00, and am usually home by 6:30 or 7 at night. We all eat dinner together at 7:30, and he usually goes to bed around 9:00. I know, it’s late for a 15 month old. But, it works for us. This schedule means that I get 3 hours a day with him. Thankfully, he’s not a good sleeper. If he was, he would be sleeping from 7am – 7pm, and I wouldn’t see him. This also means that I have to squeeze in daily house chores and time with my husband from 9:30 – 11:00. Just in time to crash, and do it all again the next day. It’s crazy, but it’s our life. I’m learning to embrace it, rather than fight it.
Needless to say, my weekends are really important to me. I get uninterrupted family time from Friday night through Monday morning. I hate spending that time doing “house stuff”, so I try to make an effort to do a little bit each night after my son is in bed. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to organize my life. I know, that sounds ridiculous. Just hear me out: I feel like I spend a lot of time doing things in my home because they were never organized to begin with, or because I left them for too long. What I wanted was to organize my time: create schedules I can stick to, make realistic goals, and have my house running the way I want it to. Take cleaning – if I spend 30 minutes a night cleaning, then I don’t have to spend 2 hours on the weekend doing it. When you look at it like that, it’s not crazy to organize my life!
We have a pretty good system in our house. My husband cooks, I clean. He takes care of outside stuff, I take care of inside. I find the bugs, he kills them. We rotate who does the grocery shopping, but more often than not, it’s him. He also runs my quick errands during the week – dry cleaners, Babies R’ Us, the bank – because he drives to work and can do those things at lunch. I also order 99% of everything online. Mainly because it is one less errand I have to do on the weekend. Diapers, gifts, toys… all online. It works for us, and means that I don’t have to drag my son from store-to-store on the weekends. Online shopping = more time to play!
I don’t have a lot of time to myself, but I’m ok with that. I find little things that make me happy: a good book on the train, indulging in reality TV after my husband goes to bed, or sneaking out for a pedicure on the rare weekend we are home. I wish I had more time to shop or to exercise but I wouldn’t trade time with my son for those things. Not by a longshot.
My favorite quote from Joanna’s interviews was from Jen Green (entire interview found here): “All in all, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that motherhood is manic. And messy. But also really, really fun. And funny! Never in my life have I laughed so hard as I do now. So maybe that’s my advice: when in doubt, choose laughter."
This Friday marks my one-year anniversary since coming back from maternity leave. It has taken me a whole year to find a good system for my family. I know there are things I can do to make our lives run a bit smoother, but for the most part, we’re doing pretty good. We have a happy, healthy baby. We are happy in our marriage, and feel respected by each other. We spend quality time together. We have a clean house (most days) and clean clothes, and food on the table. We find time to do the things we love...and, we are choosing laughter.