I’ll be honest with you all. I meant to start writing this blog three days ago. I had it on my work calendar that I use to keep track of client projects. The day arrived. “Write a blog about being a working Mom” my list said.
I sat down at my computer, pulled up a blank document, and wrote down a title. Then my twin toddlers woke up an hour early from their afternoon nap. So I closed my computer and went to get snacks and turn on Bluey. Then all of a sudden, my four-year-old needed something and then it was time to pick up my second grader from school, and… you can probably guess the rest.
Here I am three days later writing a blog about being a working mom while my kids are in bed. Which is actually a pretty good representation of what it’s like sometimes.
Let’s Talk About Mom Guilt, Baby!
I can’t wait for the day when Moms can talk about being Moms without the need to address the guilt that so often exists alongside it. It seems like no matter how you choose to parent your children, someone is telling you you’re doing it wrong.
Staying home full time? You should be out making money or taking more time for yourself. Working full time? You should be at home with your kids more, they won’t be little forever you know. Working part time or working from home? You’re just trying to have your cake and eat it too! (Honestly though, cake is delicious. I think all moms should get free cake.)
Currently, I work from home while solo parenting the four tiny humans I made. I’m also trying to make more of an effort to take care of more of my own needs too. I feel guilty about how thin I’m spread sometimes. I’ll probably always wish I had more patience to give my kids and more energy to give my work, but I’ve tried to embrace the fact that it’s okay to make mistakes and find the balance as I go.
Perks and Easy Moments
Thankfully, life as a working mother isn’t all chaos and guilt trips from strangers on the internet. There are a few things that my kids and I enjoy now that we didn’t get to experience when I was a full time, stay-at-home parent.
I’ve learned to trust other people with my kids more.
When I stayed home full time with my kids, they almost never had a babysitter. I frankly had a hard time trusting anyone else with their care. Now that I’m working, they spend time at school, preschool, and occasionally daycare. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that there are some really great people out there who my kids benefit from spending time with. Having other trusted adults in my kids’ lives has been a gift I never expected.
We’ve been able to establish boundaries and routines.
As my little ones graduated from hip-clinging babies to determined toddlers and sassy big kids, I noticed that we all do better with some healthy boundaries and established routines. Obviously, boundaries have to be flexible and meeting my kids’ needs always comes first. But I’m also learning that I’m not a bad Mom for instituting things like a quiet play hour, even if my kids don’t love it at first. At the end of the day, everyone is a little happier when Mom gets a few minutes alone.
Working from home means I can be flexible with our time.
I know not every working parent has the opportunity to work from home, and not every parent even wants to! But for me, working from home has given me the flexibility that helps to curb my frustration a bit when things don’t go according to plan. Naps get cut short, kids get sick, appointments have to be made. Being able to work around those things has allowed me to be more efficient with my time and give more of my attention to whatever I’m focusing on at the moment.
Overwhelm is Real
Working, parenting, and trying to be a functioning adult all at the same time can also be challenging. I often struggle with managing multiple, endless to-do lists. It can be hard to keep the “life stuff” separate from the “work stuff” sometimes.
Writing an email while thinking about what I need to make for lunch while also planning my afternoon errands in my head is a trap. I fall into more often than I’d like. When I do too many things at once, I’m left feeling like I’m not giving my best to anything.
There’s also the sheer amount of noise, movement, and mess that kids seem to have endless energy for. Especially for parents who have any kind of sensory sensitivities (shout out to my fellow ADHD parents), the constant stimulation can be truly overwhelming. Making my bedroom a toy-free zone has helped give me a calm space to step away and take a deep breath when I need to.
We’re Not Actual Superheroes: Please Send Cake
You want to know the absolute hardest part of being a working parent of four is for me? It’s the fact that I’m not, in fact, a superhero. We call Moms superheroes all the time. And they absolutely are when it comes to the impact they have on their children, families, and communities.
But the truth is, we actually don’t have enormous cosmic powers or the ability to move at superhuman speed. We’re regular people. We get tired. We have needs. We make mistakes and we feel guilty sometimes. Some days we’re on top of the world and checking off to-do lists like a boss and some days we’re just wishing we could take a nap. Or ten.
So maybe, just maybe, we could stop assuming that all the other moms have superhuman abilities and that we alone somehow missed the superpower sign-up day. Maybe instead we could celebrate our enormous contributions to our families, be proud of our achievements in our careers, and be willing to ask for help when we need it.
- Bethany Robin is an ongoing editorial blog writer for the Urban Infant
- Tags: parenthood