Trading in Juggling for Harmony

Work comes in many forms, and for some that means having responsibilities both at home and at a job. I only work part-time, but even that is enough to leave me Googling “how to balance work and motherhood” with bleary eyes at three in the morning while my little one thinks it’s play time. Sometimes I wonder if my late nights playing games on my phone while pregnant somehow predisposed him to being a night owl! Yet I’ve found that no matter how much I work, any time spent away from my son is heart-wrenching and requires a significant amount of planning.

This kitty is holding on to this blanket like I hold on to my baby before work

This adorable kitty is holding on to its blanket the same way I hold on to my precious baby before work

One of the first things I had to do upon returning to work was get organized. I don’t mean I had to keep my desk clean; I had to relearn how to manage my time and develop a system. Just as “location, location, location!” is the motto of real estate agents, “routine, routine, routine!” should be the mantra of every working mother. From the minute my feet hit the floor to the minute I walk out the door, every second counts. It helps tremendously to get into the flow of a routine. I can’t tell you how many times I do things without needing to think (making a bottle, packing my work bag) solely because I’ve gotten so accustomed to it.

Most mornings my eyes aren’t even fully open


I thought I was off to a great start after adopting a routine, but I learned very quickly that planning required pre-planning. When I get ready to start the week, I need to have a game plan for all the upcoming meals, both mine and my son’s. If I don’t make sure I have all the necessary groceries by Sunday, then I’m cutting into my time for Monday morning. A simple checklist can save me hours of busy work and wasted trips to the store.

It’s very easy to get behind if you don’t prepare!

Once I’m (finally) off to work, it’s hard to change gears. Motherhood is a switch I can’t turn off, and that’s okay. I still find myself thinking about my son and worrying if I remembered to tell the sitter his eating schedule. This is why good communication is key. Whether it’s my husband, mother-in-law, or sitter, keeping an open line of communication with them gives me peace of mind. Times my son has been sick, I’ve asked whoever is watching him to check in periodically so I know he’s okay. But when it’s business as usual, it’s understood that they would only call if it’s an emergency. Having an established communication foundation is comforting when I’m away at work.

I may or may not have done this...

I may or may not have done this…

The drive home can have its own problems. They say in deep sea diving, divers must slowly transition when returning to the surface in order to avoid sickness due to changes in pressure. This seems to be a strangely accurate way to describe shifting between Work Mode and Mom Mode. I’ve found a significant improvement in my stress levels if I allow myself a few minutes to “decompress” when going between work and home. A surprisingly easy way I do this is to listen to one or two songs on the radio in the car and let myself breathe before exiting. It works wonders!

Feel free to jam out while you're at it!

Feel free to jam out while you’re at it!

In the end, I’ve learned that there’s no “finish line” in life. Being a working mother doesn’t mean I have to play some impossible balancing act. It’s about discovering my rhythm and finding what works for me and my family. Once I let the pressure and expectations go, everything started to fall into place. Motherhood: it’s a work in progress.

Sometimes you just gotta take random selfies

Sometimes you just gotta take random selfies

This piece was originally published on Mamalode.


Mommy Wants A Nap

Do you ever have one of those days where you just want to hit pause? Let me rephrase, do you ever have a day where you don’t want to hit pause? Lately I feel like I’ve been trying to chase an unwieldy boulder careening downhill… while wearing a blindfold… and with one arm tied behind my back.

I’m not exactly your typical working mom. My “day job,” if you will, involves working with children facing developmental or behavioral challenges and that has me driving to schools and students’ homes. My other job – and yes I consider it to be a legit job – is writing and I can fortunately do that anywhere and at any time. Both jobs require using my brain and I can’t really go on auto-pilot. Well, I could, but the outcome probably wouldn’t be great.

homer simpson job fail

“Just gonna check Facebook for a minute and – WHERE’S THE BABY?!”

Sometimes I wish I could just “check out” for a minute and not think about anything at all. I tend to be a tad neurotic and over analyze things, so when you couple that with being a working mom, you have the perfect recipe for a mushy brain by the end of the day. But that’s just the thing – there really isn’t an end of the day for most moms, working or otherwise. There’s usually not a beginning either, just a continuation of whatever chaos preceded the momentary silence. I could be a bit biased, however, since my toddler still isn’t sleeping through the night. No, that’s putting it mildly. He refuses to sleep through the night. He abhors bedtime. Perhaps my son was a Welsh poet in his previous life?

Renamed "Ode to a Toddler's Bedtime"

Renamed “Ode to a Toddler’s Bedtime”

Work becomes at best a hiccup and at worst a reprieve from the routine of the day. I don’t ever want to treat work as an escape from motherhood nor do I want to resent work from tearing me away from my son. It’s a conundrum and not just a maternal one. My husband similarly knows this back-and-forth game as well. He works a full-time, physically demanding job and usually has weekends off. He occasionally is jealous that I get, as one could call it, our son’s “best” hours. For the most part, I’m the one that has him during the fun, play time of the day while my husband is there just as Max is waking up or getting ready for bed. As the old saying goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Or as parents say, “How come the baby never cries when he’s with you?”

This might have something to do with it

This might have something to do with it.

I often think, “If I just had more ____, then I could breathe easier.” Whether it’s sleep, time, money, help, etc., I’ll convince myself that it would be the miracle cure to whatever happens to be stressing me out at the moment. Yet my biggest realization about motherhood is that I can’t control everything and micromanaging is rarely the answer. Yeah, sure, I had the realization, but that doesn’t mean I acted on it. Despite my repeat viewings of Frozen, my Type A Personality prohibits me from letting it go.

Grumpy Cat gets me on so many levels.

Grumpy Cat gets me on so many levels.

Like most working parents, I wear many hats in a 24 hour period. I’m an employee, a mother, writer, wife, sister, friend, and the list doesn’t end there. I’ve found it’s healthy to complain, sometimes I should say no, and asking for help is never a sign of weakness. There are huge life lessons I’ve learned and growing pains I’ve gone through in adding “mother” to my résumé. Yet with all the soul-searching, usually the answer to my problem isn’t some grand sentiment that you’d find in an”inspiring quotes” Google search. Sometimes the solution is quite simple: Mommy wants a nap. Who’s with me?

"So that's 1, 2, 3, 4... 957,015 in favor?"

“So that’s 1, 2, 3, 4 ….. 957,015 in favor?”