how do you do it?

Well, my friends, returning to work is sort of kicking my ass. While I normally don’t like to drone on about all the things I’m doing instead of blogging, I’ll simply say that I am struggling to find time for much of anything.

I’m only working part time, about 25 hours/week or so — two full days in the office and two half days at home. But add a few hours in commute time to the days in the office, and subtract a whole lot of time trying to tend to Baby J at home and you’ve got a crazy schedule for someone working only part time.

At home, I’m essentially trying to squeeze hours of work into 20 minute increments. Which takes all day. Or I’m staying up late to put in some uninterrupted time. Time that I used to spend reading blogs and writing. Time that I’ve cherished as my own. Or I suppose I could get up earlier, but that is really not my preference after a night of baby care. If she’s sleeping in after a tough night, so am I.

So after just two weeks I’ve been struggling with our new adjusted schedule, trying to find time to squeeze it all in — to get my work done, to care for our child, to take care of myself, to try to stay afloat at home (though I have a lot of help there from M) —  just trying to keep up, to find some balance.

I’ve been so busy I haven’t even been writing my weekly letters to Baby J. Ever since before she was born, I’ve been writing to her every week — first as the hypothetical child we might some day meet, and later to document her birth story and all of the amazing things she did during the first six months of her life. I’m also fast losing track of her daily journal, where I simply note what we did that day or something meaningful (e.g., new tooth, or rolled over, or saw K, etc.) And the family blog we started to post monthly updates and videos of her has been neglected for a month too. We used to take hundreds of picture of her weekly, and now I’m lucky if I can document just a simple moment on the move. Never mind that I have a huge pile of things to put into her life book some day. That’s something I really need to do — not for me, but for her.

Every day she grows and changes and I feel like if I close my eyes or I’m gone all day that I’m missing so much. Yet it’s one thing to feel like I’m failing to document everything and quite another to feel like I’m missing out on tender moments because I’m trying to do something else when I should be enjoying her. I want to be really present when I’m with her, not worrying about what else I need to do the minute she becomes distracted.

So I ask you, dear friends in the box, how do you do it? If you work and you can leave it at the office, how do you make the most of your limited time at home with your little one? If you work from home and try to care for your children at the same time, how do you get anything done?

How do you find balance as a working mom?

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~ by luna on January 14, 2010.

20 Responses to “how do you do it?”

  1. Since my babies were born, it has been impossible to get any work done unless someone else cares for them, whether I’m working at the office (never more than a few hours per week so far) or from home (also rarely more than a few hours per week). Even with other people to care for them like friends or paid babysitters, mostly I don’t manage any work — sleeping, pumping, blogging/documenting their lives, eating, and maybe a shower take up almost all of the time that I get from others caring for the babies. Usually it takes an imminent deadline to spur me to do anything. FYI I’m not being paid right now, but still need to get certain things done.

    Short answer: I’m doing okay with the mom part, not so much with the working part.

  2. I struggled a lot for the first 8-9 months especially during the pumping, waking up several times a night. I’d often question my decision and wonder what I’m doing. It has gotten a bit better in the last couple of months only because I don’t have immediate deadlines and it is down time between projects.
    I’ve just gotten used to the waking up part 🙂
    Seriously I don’t know how moms of twins do it! Or moms with more than one child.

  3. Let me tell you how I do it . . . not nearly as well as I did pre-Mummyhood. I have had to accept that I am just not as sharp or dedicated or able to put in the hours I did prior. And that when I go on a biz trip, “guilt” is something that always finds it’s way into my luggage, no matter how I pack my bags.

    I have learned that sometimes I have to time my work emails (when I am working from home) with a certain program that Lil Pumpkin is going to watch on t.v. I know which programs hold her attention longer than others so I can dash upstairs and do my hair/makeup/get dressed. She is NOT watching gobs of t.v., mind you, but it does become useful sometimes. And I refuse to feel guilty about it – these are legit shows, with some value, and help develope her language and attention span.

    I could not live without my Palm Pre phone (my work phone) which is linked to my work email account, so I can constantly check my emails and respond quickly, thus making my bosses think I am johnny-on-the-spot even though I am a Mummy. And WiFi has become indispensible (at home, and at coffee shops!)

    Some days I think I am doing great, and some days I think I suck massively, at both (Mummy vs. work). Balance is always shifting, ya know, and requires lots of “balance checks.”

  4. I only work 20 hours a week – 4 hours/ day from home. I don’t know how people do it. I can’t imagine the chaos of two people coming home at 5 or 6 pm and making / eating dinner, playing with the kid, getting the kid into bed and prepping for the next day.

    That is very neat that you were and hope to take the time to write a weekly letter and note those important events. It has never been our forte and now we don’t even recall what her first word was. It is hard to do, but my goal is to at least enjoy the moment even if I don’t recall the details later.

    Good luck!

  5. “How do you find balance as a working mom?”

    It’s a mythical creature. More elusive than a hybrid unicorn/snuffleupagus.

    Just a lot of scaling back.

    It does get easier. Yahoo for kindergarten!

  6. I am bracing myself for this issue. I feel stretched thin sometimes as it is.

    Reading responses and taking mental notes here. 🙂

  7. I dunno. My old job still hasn’t found someone to do the job I was doing and my friend jokes that they’d hire me back in a second. I couldn’t do it though. It’s a remote job, and I can’t see putting him in daycare right now.

  8. For me going back to work (full-time) also kicked my ass, but after the first month it got a LOT better. I became hyper-organized and efficient, both in and out of the home, and had to just realize what could and couldn’t be done in the amount of time I had. It helps that I love my job, and really did want to go back to work in the grand scheme of things. It also helps a bunch now that we have little A in an amazing daycare, and I know that she is having a blast and being well taken care of while we are at work. It will definitely get better over time.

  9. I don’t ‘do it’. I suck at all aspects 🙂

    But I keep getting out of bed in the morning (or evening if it is a nightshift) and do it again.

    I think that’s the secret.

    g

  10. This is a really, really tough one. I basically work from home (as a writer and academic) and I tend to plop my little guy on a boppy wedged between me and the desk and write while nursing. Believe it or not, I am able to think better now than when I was expecting. Sleep deprivation be damned.

    I think it’s really, really hard to find a balance, and like all tricky things in life, it takes practice. Meaning that you’ll get better and better at doing what you need to do quickly and efficiently, and letting all the extra bs fall by the wayside.

    Can you afford or find some home help, like someone to clean? Use a laundry service every once in a while? Just whatever you can manage to take the pressure off you, so you can focus on parenting and your job exclusively.

    That’s not within our abilities, so I just neglect a lot of house stuff when I have to to be a decent mom and a sane woman.

    My heart goes out to you, and here’s to an easier road ahead!

  11. Having just gone back to work part-time two weeks ago, I can SO relate to this post (see my own neglected blog as evidence). This line, especially, is what I’m struggling with: “feel like I’m missing out on tender moments because I’m trying to do something else when I should be enjoying her. I want to be really present when I’m with her, not worrying about what else I need to do the minute she becomes distracted.”

    So, I have no advice for you and do appreciate the helpful words of the other responses. And I can tell you that as you’ve described your situation, I am impressed. Though this juggling act is a messy struggle, you ARE keeping all the balls in the are, and Baby J is thriving.

    Best wishes to you!

  12. Ohmigosh, you read my mind. It took me 3 days to write my post.

  13. Oh, a friend of mine (mother of two young kids) said she hasn’t slept properly since 2006.

  14. This is my life–I work part time and I do it from home and you’re squeezing the minutes around being present for the child(ren). I have a general policy of when I’m “on,” I’m fully theirs. They don’t compete with work. They go to school for two hours a day. Once I add in food shopping and the commute and now I want to do a workout, the time is over. And then, I’m back to working at night or on weekends. I work very quickly–I can sometimes write an article in an hour. But I still never feel like I get enough breathing space to sit back and relax and have my “me” time. I’ll read blogs in five minute increments or write a post on the fly, jotting down most of it on post-it notes that I keep in my pocket while I also play Barbies.

    I don’t have good advice on how to make it work better. But I wanted you to know that you’re not alone.

  15. “Only” 25 hours sounds like an amazing load to me — I’m so impressed with how you’re jumping in and getting back in the saddle. I am terrified of how I’m going to do it myself. Especially considering I work in a very family un-friendly industry where anyone who works a 9-6 day is seen as a slacker. Is it too late to change careers?

    Feels like women bear so much responsibility for trying to create balance in the family. Such a hard job. My respect for anyone (especially women) who’s ever raised kids has gone up by a million-fold since having a kid myself!

    Anyway, no useful insights, but just wanted to say it sounds like you’re kicking ass. And I struggle a lot, too, with the momento thing — never feel like I’m taking enough photos, yet feel also like I waste valuable time away from my baby going through/saving/editing/archiving all the zillions of digital photos. And the letters and babybooks… ack. I guess it helps that my mom never did any of that for me, so anything I do for Coleman seems like a real improvement!

    Thanks for posting about this — it’s so interesting and helpful to read the responses.

  16. I too share your struggle! My daughter is now 12, time flies. I went from weekly letters to monthly letters to annual letters on her birthday. I keep an electronic jounal and at the end of the year review it and include as much as I can into her annual letter. I dreamed of home schooling, but my outgoing child wanted to attend school……I put my dream aside and allowed her to flourish. At twelve, our conversation is different as she knows how hard mommmy/daddy work to keep a balance in our lives. While we have a strong work ethic; God, family and others is important too. Sophia is learning that if her home is in order and her family is balanced together we can find time to participate in civic and volunteer opportunities. Finding balance is not always easy…..we love Saturdays and relish the days we can stay in PJ’s until noon. I want time to slow down, before we know it she will be off to college! 😦 Live, Laugh, Love

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