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the mommyhood memos: mom on a wire: finding balance and sanity in a home with two working parents

Thursday, September 9, 2010

mom on a wire: finding balance and sanity in a home with two working parents

By Micheline Ludwick, author of Flyrish Foibles and Other Alliterations  

{This post is part of the Moms Who Work series.}

{micheline and her family}

Many thanks to Adriel of the Mommyhood Memos for allowing me the honor of guest posting on her fabulous blog! I love her idea of a series on working moms because I feel like it's a topic I don't see addressed often enough. When Adriel approached me about contributing to this series, aside from being super excited to participate, I felt a bit overwhelmed with ideas. But I have to admit that the overwhelmed feeling is probably too common in my life lately. 

When I think back to, say, my life in college and remember what I used to call "overwhelming" (woe is me, three final exams in one day and then a house party to prepare for after?!), I want to laugh maniacally. Then, I want to cry while banging my head against the changing table because of 1) how long ago that seems, and 2) how wonderful that sounds.

But, this post isn't about my college/party years. This post is about finding balance as a working mom, finding sanity in the day-to-day existence of never being off the clock, finding a way to be simply "whelmed".

When there are two parents working outside of the home, this balance can feel particularly elusive, especially when our society expects moms to be both the primary caregiver of children and the primary caretaker of the house. So, after a recent argument discussion with T about how I've been feeling -- you guessed it -- overwhelmed with housework and Q duties on top of working full time, I realized I'm not the best person to give advice about this. Still, I wished someone had told me what NOT to do before I went back to the office. At this point, it's a work in progress for me. I'm starting to get to the point where I can wash dishes without wanting to hurl myself down the garbage disposal.

1) Do not assume that your already-working partner will simply take over some of the household duties once you're out of the house.
We've all heard the one about how assuming turns you into a donkey, so communicate!  Because unless your partner is Tony Danza from Who's the Boss (dating myself much?), he won't be dusting when you get home. Sounds obvious enough, but it's funny how we forget the basics of a good partnership during hectic times. And if you're someone who has a hard time letting go of control, one of those moms who feels she's the only one who does it the right way, suck it up and ask him to help you! You will be a better mom and a better partner.

2) Do not wait until you're at the boiling point, mopping the floor furiously, and your partner has disappeared (again) into the garage, to have said discussion.
Unless you're in the mood for a blowout argument. Also, don't make a list comparing all of the things you do to the things he does. It'll just make him defensive. Note: This did not take place at my home, but almost. Almost.

3) Do not turn on the TV as soon as you get home from the office in order to decompress. 
The news will probably be on anyway, and hello depressing! If you need to take a few moments to yourself before attending to your child, plop that babe in front of his favorites toys or in his highchair and pour yourself a stiff one. Oops! I mean, sit down with a refreshing, non-alcoholic beverage for a couple of minutes before starting dinner, doing laundry, changing his diaper, etc.

4) Do not discount some form of sleep training before you've done your research.
What turns an already exhausted working mama into a delirious lunatic? A working mama who's not getting any sleep! I never though of myself as someone who could let my baby cry, but after four months of needing to slap myself to stay awake at work, I actually read Ferber and realized I wouldn't be torturing my child. In fact, he would be ultimately getting more sleep (with the bonus of us getting more sleep), which is apparently healthier for him. It's not for everyone, but it's something to consider.

5) Do not spend all of your breaks at work fretting about your child(ren), about what needs to get done at home, running errands, etc.
Indulge yourself once in a while. Meet a friend for lunch, preferably at a non-child-friendly restaurant so that you can remember what those look like. Or my favorite, get a pedicure! These adult indulgences have saved my sanity.

6) Do not forget to make quality time with your little one(s) a priority.
This probably goes without saying, but I'm trying to show you guys that I'm not completely self-absorbed. It is about the kiddos, too! The dishes can wait, that phone call can wait, paying the bills can wait (but not for too long). Chasing my Q around the house and dissolving into a puddle of giggles on the floor with him has become a surprising stress reliever. And now you also know my idea of quality time. I'm not the crafty type, okay?

7) Last but not least, do not take your partner for granted.
After having the aforementioned disuccion with T, he's stepped it up. I realized that I wasn't giving him enough credit for what he does do for our family, so I've been trying to pay him some special attention. And... we'll just leave it at that.

Micheline Ludwick from Flyrish Foibles and Other Alliterations celebrates being a multi-faceted mama, one who loves fashion, music, decorating her new home, vegetarian food, and laughter. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Toby, their 20-month-old son Quincy, and kitty Elroy.

For further reading in this series:
Dear mommy-friends, are you the work-outside-of-the-home type of working mom? How do you cope with the demands of motherhood while also juggling your work responsibilities? What is your biggest challenge and/or your favorite benefit?

working hard,

P.S. Don't forget to check out Flyrish Foibles and Other Alliterations! 

    adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
    do not reproduce without written permission

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    At September 9, 2010 at 6:30 AM , Anonymous Autumn Skye said...

    Momeline, as someone who's not yet a mother, I think your advice applies to those of us without pint-sized dependents as well! Communicate, appreciate, take time for yourself...well-said, girl! Loved your guest post!

    At September 9, 2010 at 7:55 AM , Blogger flyrish said...

    Thanks, Autumn! And thank you to Adriel for allowing my long-winded tips list. It's great to be here on the Mommyhood Memos!

    At September 9, 2010 at 11:57 AM , Blogger Cameron said...

    These are all such great tips!! Lewis & I definitely talked a lot before I went back to work to make sure we knew what each of us would do. It's been a big transition, but so far we've maintained our cool & our sanity by just knowing what we each are trying to take care of. He is so helpful & I feel really lucky to have him!!

    I also agree that it's so important to take time for yourself. I have weekly girls nights with my best friend & we just get together & hang out after our kids are in bed. Tomorrow night we are watching The Vampire Diaries season premiere!! It's like an hour or two a week, but it's great for recharging & refreshing so I get some "me" time!

    At September 9, 2010 at 2:56 PM , Blogger Getrealmommy said...

    Dang Who's The Boss. What the heck was the premise of that show anyways? A lady hires a live in housekeeper, who is a man, and let's him move into her house with his teenage daughter huh? But wait I am missing the point of your post.
    I like your points. Can I add one? If at all possible, hire a house cleaner, once every other week. It has been a huge help for us and cut down on a whole heck of a lot of fighting. I know it is expensive, so not a solution for everyone but if you can make it work-DO IT!

    At September 11, 2010 at 10:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Michie this is so wonderful! I especially loved #3, you had me doubling over! Insightfully written and really entertaining to read! Ej


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