That was a question posed to me by a fellow working mom. She's re-entering the workforce part time after having some time off and her kids are the same age as mine. It's funny everytime I get this question, because my answer is always, "I don't". And that's the truth. I don't do it all, and I've done a whole lot of work around reframing what I need vs. what I think I'm supposed to do.
This is what I need:
- At least 7 hours of sleep
- Downtime at the end of the day
- Gym/bike at least 4 days a week
- Talk to S
- TV! Currently I'm watching Supergirl (guilty pleasure), The Mindy Project (sad it's the last season), and The Americans
- Escapism movies - Comedies, Sci-Fi, Superhero...basically anything that doesn't remind me of the shitshow that is the current daily life of 'Murica.
This is what I think I'm supposed to do:
- Make a healthy meal that everyone is happy to eat each night (ha)
- Sit down for 20 minutes with X for homework
- Teach the kids to pick up clutter and spend 10 min every night picking up to keep the house neat
- Volunteer to be on the PTA Board
- Volunteer more at X's school
- Learn Spanish
- Read more books
What actually happens:
- Most nights during the work week I get 7 hours of sleep. Some nights better quality than others. Weekends are more, but not much considering the 2 kids who bounce out of bed at 6:30am
- I wake up at about 4:45am and go to the gym like it's my religion. (it might be)
- I pick up the kids almost every day (S is the morning parent, I'm the afternoon parent)
- I get home with the kids around 5:30pm, make dinner for the kids and work on S's and my dinner at the same time. They get mac n' cheese, fish sticks, meatballs or chicken nuggets and a vegetable. Z whines, but then eats it. X refuses to eat any vegetables except corn, so I ask him to tolerate whatever else is on his plate. Half the time, X throws some kind of fit and ends up making toast with sunflower seed butter and jelly. (unless it's mac n' cheese or cheese pizza or a local Italian restaurant he likes. He won't eat spaghetti I make, just the spaghetti these guys make). There are too many issues surrounding food that are currently stressing me out.
- At the end of dinner, it's between 6:30pm and 7:00pm. I'm usually tapping my foot impatiently wondering how long of a workout S is doing that night. (He works out about 3 days a work-week, so I know I don't have much to complain about, it's still sucks though)
- There's usually some kind of meltdown around 7:00pm that leads to herding the kids up to their rooms to get ready for bed. Sometimes, they are fine until 7:30pm, but lately it's been a bitch. (I blame the time change)
- S and I alternate getting them ready most of the time. However, if one is melting down then it's usually a split effort between the two.
- Kids are usually asleep by 8:30-9:00 after multiple rounds of "quiet time" and "lights out". I should say Z is usually asleep by then. X falls asleep much faster these days.
- I attempt to get ready for the day on my nights "off". Get the coffee ready to go, make my lunch, pack my clothes, lay out my workout clothes....
- At 9:00pm I think, "crap", I have to go to bed like now. At 9:40, I'm usually in bed.
- At 4:45am, my alarm goes off and it's rinse and repeat.
- One day a week, both kids have swimming lessons. I leave work a little early and pick up Z. S picks up X. I get Z to his lesson, S drops X off for his lesson then hits the gym and usually is back to retrieve X at the end and I swim with Z during X's lesson. Which worked fine until they decided to close the pool to anyone not taking a lesson, and S decided he needs a longer workout.
- OH, and on those swimming lesson days, dinner is typically of the fast-food burger variety
- There's also the therapy that occurs at night occasionally, which also tends to lead to dinner of the fast-food variety. We are parents of the year among the upper-middle class white parents. *sarcasm*
I guess what it all comes down to is that I'm not doing what I THOUGHT I would be doing. Most of the time, I just want the picky kid to EAT SOMETHING. I keep trying to introduce new foods and he won't get it anywhere near his mouth. It's how it's always been. When he was younger, I read something that said it takes like 15 tries before they'll take to a new food. So we tried. And we tried and tried tried tried...he actually lost some foods transitioning from baby to kid. No more bananas or sweet potatoes or peas or carrots...but I digress.
Mostly, I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. I just want to sit down and read, but instead I'm getting ready for the next workout. I want to walk the dog, but I'm too wrapped up in planning/doing/sleeping. (S usually takes her on a walk, but I feel like a shitty dog-mommy). I want to help X with his homework, but he melts down and refuses to even sit down to do it. (there's a need to monitor based on what we've seen of his grades so far this year)
I am volunteering more this year, and it's adding stress. I helped with the directory for the school and when I found some errors in my part of the directory right before it hit the print shop, the shame spiral caught hold. They got fixed, it was fine, and I'm trying to be ok with what happened, but it's really hard. Especially because I checked it twice and still had errors! I'm leaving work for a long "lunch" to volunteer at "Pie Day" at X's school to celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day I have a doctor's appointment and then the first PTA meeting I've ever attended, so there goes that day. I keep making all my appointments for stretch and ART and therapy and doctor and facials and hair during the week so that I can have weekends free to be more present. It makes me feel like I'm not putting in enough work-work, even though I'm keeping up on my projects and got a good performance review recently.
There you have it. I don't do it all. I prioritize. I fail. I succeed. That's all that I can do.