Sound familiar? Whether you are a stay at home mom, work part or full time out of the house, you are working. The amount of hours in the day are never enough, there’s always dishes to be done, laundry to be switched and folded and the never ending, ever growing list of to-do’s.
Ugh, I know that rumble very well at this stage in my personal life; a house, significant other, dog, two adorable little girls. What people don’t talk about is how much work it all is. SURE, you hear “it’s a lot of hard work” and then they finish the statement with something along the lines of “but it’s all worth it.” It so very much is, but being a mom, a professional, and a wife is really hard and we lose sight of ourselves. This brings me to why I am talking about this in a blog. The balancing of motherhood, work life (whatever work that may be) and home life is so delicate. I will admit I am NOT an expert in this. I struggle with this very real reality myself and often misplace my own personhood in the process; so yes, I stumble. I have read during the ages 0-5 parents are in the trenches. With a 2 year old and almost 1 year old in tow I’m very much in the trench area and learning. In this blog post I want to take off the “expert” or “therapist” hat and share what I do know and what I have found helpful. Let me embrace my humanness with you and share what I find as a human first.
When I think about this area I think about home chores. Write out a list of chores to be done for the week and ask your significant other “Could you please accomplish these things by Saturday afternoon?” Maybe one person in the house is in charge of the dishes, the other is in charge of bath time. Ask if a co-worker can pick up a part of a project. Delegate where you can.
Ask for help
Reach out. Grandparents or an aunt or uncle super excited to spend time with the little one? Great! Hand them over with a diaper bag, a couple bottles and maybe those adorable PJ’s you plan to put him or her in and go have a couple hours to yourself or with your partner. Hire someone to help with house work. Trade off with a fellow mom where one will watch the kids for a couple hours while the other goes grocery shopping and to a hair appointment and then return the favor.
Give yourself permission to not do everything
There is only so much time in the day. Set the timer on the microwave for 15 minutes and clean. When those 15 minutes are up be done for the night. You can do this during a nap time and again at the end of the day. You can do this as a family too. I’m sure it’s comical to watch my husband, my oldest and I rush around for 15 minutes picking up. But when that timer dings, I finish what I am doing and tell myself “this is good enough”.
Place boundaries with the office
I would love to say “leave work at work” but sometimes it’s not that easy. Deadlines are daunting. Do all that you can at the office and if you absolutely MUST, again ABSOLUTELY MUST do work at home, schedule that time in where it does not hurt time with family (which may be after the kids go to sleep for an hour). When at the office and fresh first thing make a note of all the tasks you need to accomplish… then break it down to what you can accomplish in that day. When you write it out it takes all the intangible stuff that you are thinking about and ruminating over and puts it into something tangible. You can see it. It’s concrete. It is more manageable. I can’t tell you how reinforcing it is to check off a task and when you check off the 5 or so items you’ve given yourself that day to accomplish, stop.
Spend time with your partner
Grab a pint of Oberon, a glass of local wine or cup of hot tea and sit outside on your deck or porch. Heck, even on the couch – use that time to talk. Even if it’s as long as it takes to savor that beverage of choice you are connecting. Date nights aren’t possible for everyone, so what do you do? Gym dates might be an option. Utilize your membership and the gym babysitting; you are working out, boosting feel good hormones and spending time with your love. A little “you time”, a little “we time” and utilizing one of the most underutilized anti-depressants – exercise. Love to play games? Pick out a board game to play after the kids go to bed. Chess, checkers, Uno, Dominion, Settlers or if AGE on the computer or Halo is your jam – FANTASTIC! Do that!
You time is important
Scheduling time in when you have a list a mile long and a bunch of responsibilities is challenging. Steal a couple minutes for you. Whether that’s standing in the kitchen with the first cup of coffee when it’s still hot, standing under the shower head for an extra moment just enjoying the water or a hot cup of tea with a chapter in a book. Steal moments, not just chunks of time. Perhaps a struggle with time is figuring out what to cook during the week – meal plan on Sundays or dust off that crock pot. Maybe Monday is “Brinner night” (you know… breakfast dinner), Tuesday is tacos, Wednesday is left overs, Thursday is crockpot… whatever makes your life simpler.
Lastly, slow down
This is something that I struggle with personally and professionally. I want to do it all. But the reality is I can’t do it all. I have spent many years over stretching myself and since having my second child I have realized the importance of slowing down, enjoying moments and not worrying about accomplishing every task or desire I have.
This is just a snippet of the things I am exploring as I balance home, work and this motherhood gig. I am not the expert mom and am learning from my friends and colleagues who are veterans in comparison. It’s challenging but doing less allows for so much more… and that is worth it.
Heather Lettow, MA, LPC, LMFT serves individuals (age 10+), couples and families. She focuses on identifying individual or family goals and strengthening self awareness to facilitate change and to meet the goals set; utilizing mindfulness, CBT and solution focused problem solving techniques.