It’s back to school time, kids! Most parents I know just feel like this:
I love that commercial.
Sorry. I needed a minute.
The truth is, yesterday was Max’s first day of KINDERGARTEN! I cried a little, I’m not going to lie. But the rest of the time. Oh, the rest of the time, I didn’t know what to do with myself.
That’s not true either. I made lists. Lots and lots of lists. Lists of monthly goals around the house. A list for the week for work. A list for the week for household stuff. A list of phone calls to make. All day long, more items kept popping into my head.
But that is all of what I could do versus what I was doing this summer, which was basically keeping both Max and Andy fully occupied as much as possible so they didn’t kill, harm, violate or scar one another. Many people in my real life have asked me how I do it, which is often short for, “How do you do it all?”
The truth is, during the school year, it’s not super difficult. My office is a gated off corner of the playroom, so whatever child historically has been with me during the day has an area to play while I work sort of normal hours while I occasionally get interrupted by a little person who has gotten stuck in the jumpy gym. Coworkers.
So in the spirit of lists and helpfulness, here are some of my tips and tricks and wisdoms for those stay at home working moms. Or outside working moms. Or moms. (Basically, all ya’ll.)
Be a morning person. Okay, not really. I am NOT a morning person. But morning is the best time to get stuff done. Partially because Andy is still napping in the afternoon, and partially because morning is when energy is better. In the summer, I’d work very early in the morning before breaking to get everyone clean and dressed. If we didn’t have an activity to get to, I’d work again while they played, as much as I could, until lunch.
Be mobile. This means if you have a laptop, take it wherever. I often worked outside this summer, while the boys rode their big wheel and pushed their toys up and down the driveway. If you have a project, take it where the kids are, as best you can.
Be ready for a working lunch. And dinner. And breakfast. Think about it. The children are occupied with food, and hopefully sitting. There is a table perfect for a laptop. You’ve got at least half an hour (or if you’re the parent of Andrew, an hour. That kid is a sloooooow eater.)
Be a planner. As in, during the summer I planned an activity every day. Park, play outside, zoo, lunch with dad, playdate, trip to store. Whatever, just something that occupied them and got some energy out before lunchtime. In the afternoon, I would plan something close to home for Max while Alex napped. Again, with play outside, work on a puzzle, bake some muffins.
Now that Max is in school that has shifted a bit. I still plan something for Andy to do every day, but not as elaborate. I get more one-on-one time with each child. It’s kind of nice.
Be a lister. So yes, plan an activity, but don’t schedule out every moment of your day. You will just end up disappointed, I promise! Children make you go with the flow, so I prefer a list. I have a monthly list of things to get done (usually house related things), and then a weekly list I make each Monday. (I also will do a daily list for work, or another task I have a deadline for). I will cross off as I go. And yes, I totally will do the dishes, go back to my list, write it down, and cross it off!
Be prepared for interruptions. Unless you’re on a call, you can and will have your concentration broken. Andy fell. Max stole a toy. The sun is too bright. Whatever these two throw at me. It takes time to mentally shift your work mindset to “it’s okay. The work is still there. I can go back to it in ten minutes.” Some days I still totally lose my shit, though. I have been known to lock myself in my bathroom to finish an e-mail. Maybe.
Be accepting. As in, cut yourself some slack. There is not always going to be balance. Sometimes your children will not get the attention they want. Sometimes your client is going to wait a few hours before you respond to their requests. Almost always, your house is not perfectly clean (unless you hire a service). It’s okay. Everyone is still growing and breathing and happy.
So there you go! I hope this was helpful.