Finding the Balance, by Jaime Gardner.
Jaime writes for Novitas and at her site, Juggling Normal. This post was first published here, and is reproduced in full with permission.
I’ve written a few times about my move back into working again after basically being a Stay at Home mom for the last 5+ years. As I ramp my business back up, I love being a productive member of society again! But, I am struggling a little bit with finding the balance and making sure that I’m not going full-tilt in the other direction.
Work/life balance is the biggest parental challenge.
When I am busy, I tend to be more productive at home, too – I keep moving all day, picking up and doing laundry or dishes as I go, and juggling all the things.
With my kids in school earlier this year, when I was not really working yet, I didn’t get as much done around the house during the day because I had all this extra time. I wasn’t efficient. When I am bored or have time on my hands, sometimes I waste it.
Do you have that challenge? Finding the balance between relaxing when we can, and getting all the things done at home while also getting all the things done at work is always hard!
I absolutely think that women deserve to take time for a good book when we can, to take naps on a Sunday afternoon if there is nothing else happening (how often does that happen?), and to treat ourselves to a pedicure as often as possible!
We all deserve down time, whenever we can get it!
We all struggle with how to find the best work/life balance. There is never one single answer that solves the problem for all of us. I wish I could say that I had that silver bullet solution, but my answer always comes back to you knowing yourself and finding the best balance for you and your family.
Right now, as I am getting back into working again – while my kids are home for the summer – finding the balance that fits our new reality is hitting me hard. Re-training my kids in basic telephone manners (why is it that they leave dad alone when he’s on the phone, but they interrupt me EVERY TIME?). Getting them to recognize that I can’t take them to the pool or have friends over to play every single day. That sometimes, mommy just needs to get things done…these are my challenges.
This is not to say that we haven’t had the same challenge for years! I know all of you can relate – we did just make it through the craziest year ever. Somehow, even after the lockdowns and challenges of the pandemic, my kids seem to have forgotten basic manners that I know they used to have. Is it because they are almost completely back to normal?
They are living their best summer lives and have the freedom only kids in the summer can have. I want my kids to have that summer life – to have the freedom and joy of summer days where their only cares are regular meals and playing with their neighborhood friends.
With my kids having their best summer lives, I try to be the chill mom. I don’t always succeed.
I also want to be able to get some work done and feel like I’ve accomplished something in the adult world.
As I contemplate my summer choices, I probably should have hired a teenage helper to take my kids to the pool a few days a week. Luckily, the middle is big enough that he can go most days with his friends and their older siblings. The little is not, but we are tag-teaming days at the pool with her as much as we can – and thankfully my husband is working here in town more now than he has in years.
At the start of the summer, I knew I would be working more, and I had a talk with all of my kids about that. I asked the teenager to help me out, since she was recovering from knee surgery and not taking a regular job – and she agreed. And she has been helpful, especially more when dad and I have both had meetings at the same time, or the few times we have traveled without the kids.
I have worked from home with kids for years, at every stage of their lives. But, my little especially has not known “working mom.” My oldest is ecstatic that I am working again (as promised, I took her on a shopping trip to celebrate getting paid). She understands the benefits of mommy working – including both the pay, and how much happier I am doing something for myself.
These are the things we juggle at home – not counting what else we all do outside of home.
Our kids pay attention to what we do and how we handle things. That includes stress –work does not usually stress me out at all, but I explain to them often that I need to be able to finish a project sometimes before I can go have fun. At the same time, I ask them to do the same thing. Read a book for an hour before going to play with friends. Clean their rooms before they can have friends over. Clean up toys already out before getting new things out – that one is a work in progress.
Aren’t we all a work in progress? Finding the balance between work and home, between Being the Strong Mom and the fun mom, and making sure they eat all their veggies before sweets. None of us are perfect!
I love being able to work from my home office and juggle all the things. It works for me! Some days are better than others, and no matter what, something does give at different times. If I spend a whole day cleaning the main floor of the house, it is a guarantee that upstairs probably looks like a tornado hit. If I am really pushing through on a project, laundry and dishes are probably piling up while the kids continue to make messes and eat all the food.
Finding the balance in our lives doesn’t mean that we are on an even keel at all times. It just means that we give and take in ways that work for us, and hopefully within each week or month we manage to get all the things done for work or school that we need to, while also keeping up with the basics and making sure our kids are having some fun and getting some of our attention along the way. And it is a continual goal that we all strive towards – keep going, mamas! We’re all in this together.