Posts Tagged ‘Stay at home mom’

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.

This is my cute planner. I realize I should add something to this cover.

This is my cute planner. I realize I should add something to this cover.

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.

My office for most of the summer.

My office for most of the summer.

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!

Ah, my list. As you can see, my plot to create this blog on Tuesday failed, as it's Thursday. :)

Ah, my list. As you can see, my plot to create this blog on Tuesday failed, as it’s Thursday. 🙂

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.


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20140205_085303A few weeks ago, I was calmly eating a stack of pancakes with warm maple syrup, enjoying my second cup of coffee as I peered out the window to an icy, icy day. It actually was quite beautiful. There is something peaceful about seeing the trees all frozen, much like a morning of fully-blanketed snow.

This quiet morning was the antithesis of my previous day, which made me laugh in hindsight, because I’m sure there are people who wonder what the life of a working-stay-at-home-mom (WSAHM) looks like. Here we go:

It’s 11:00 p.m. on Thursday night, and I’m in bed with my husband, Ned, aka Ned/Thor/Gunnar, aka NTG. This is early for me, but I’m not pumping tonight, and I’m exhausted from both kids waking up in the middle of the night the previous evening. And I have a giant proof to work on in the morning.

To ensure at least five hours of sleep, we’ve put the baby to bed rather late (around 10:00 p.m.) and nursed him twice in two hours. That oughtta do it.

At three thirty in the morning, I hear my eldest son, Max, begin to stir in his room. Thirty seconds later he’s in the hallway crying. NTG is up and out of bed, in his underwear, and I’m dragging myself out from under the covers. This is how it works, always. My brain wakes up and my bladder, which is processing about 100 to 120 ounces of water per day (breastfeeding momma), screams “I GOTTA GO!” So I go.

I get into the hallway and Max is lying in the doorway of his bathroom, NTG hovering over him going, “I dunno what’s wrong.” When Max sees me, he gets up. I pick him up and immediately am hit by the wall of smell: puke. I call to NTG, “Ned, he smells like vomit.” This also, is how it works: the kid wants mommy, so daddy has to go on puke patrol. Ned checks Max’s room and his bed, but there’s nothing.

So I get Max changed and calmed down and back to bed by 4:00 a.m. NTG cannot go back to sleep, so he camps out in the spare bedroom with his Droid. I, like most moms of young children, am asleep in seconds.

And then the baby wakes at five fifteen. I linger ’til five thirty, and then I spend the next half hour changing and nursing. I fall back into bed, and am re-awakened by the sound of Max getting up, seeing everyone else is asleep, and scurrying downstairs to make trouble. When I check the clock, it’s not quite eight.

So I drag myself out of bed and to the spare room to wake Ned, who I know has a conference call at 8:30 a.m. (Yeah, yeah, I’m Wife of the Year.) I go downstairs to check on Max, who still smells faintly of vomit, and try to get him to drink some water as I stumble around a full sink of dishes trying to make coffee.

And then, I feed the cat.

Max loses it. It’s his newest threenager move: he freaks whenever I’m feeding Andrew cereal, or the cat his breakfast/lunch/dinner. Terrible really, I totally don’t get it. I deal with that hot mess for about ten minutes until NTG comes downstairs to take over, and I go up and get the baby up. Again. I make a note while I’m in the bathroom to refill the soap dispenser.

Once Andy is settled into chewing a blue elephant rattle, I get to work stripping Max’s bed and throwing in a load of clothes. I, of course, have a load of dry laundry yet to be folded sitting in a basket, as well as a full dry load of diapers in the dryer. The morning starts to blur. NTG showers. I draw a bath for Max, finish folding all the laundry. NTG leaves for work and recaps the nights events saying, “I don’t know what that was.” In my head I say, It was puke. Just because you didn’t find it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The only thing in the world that smells like puke is puke! I go downstairs to gather up Max and give him a bath. The baby starts to fuss that he’s done for the morning and I leave Max to play while I nurse Andy to sleep. I swap out the washer for the dryer and throw in another load. Max is dried and dressed and refusing to have his nails trimmed. I turn off the light in the bathroom and make a mental note to refill the soap dispenser. I decide to take a shower when my stomach begins to urgently insist I do something about my no-breakfast. It’s ten thirty in the morning.

So I go downstairs to grab a cereal bar, and Max follows me, ready to eat. So I give him juice and water and dry cereal, and pray he keeps it down. Max follows me back upstairs when we’re done eating. I turn on the shower. He protests that I’m running water. I explain I have to get clean too. He’s not buying it.

I proceed to get “ready” for the day and crack open my laptop to check my e-mail. It’s now 11:30 a.m. Nothing urgent, so I enjoy a segment of The View and have a serious discussion with Max about why screaming in the room next to where his brother is sleeping isn’t a good idea.

I get downstairs to sit at my desk, which is in a gated-off part of our finished basement, and actually start working. I make one phone call and turn on the monitor. The baby is awake. *sigh* I trudge back upstairs to change his diaper, and end up changing his outfit because he’s leaked a bit, swap out clothes from the washer to the dryer, curse that I still haven’t remembered to fill the soap dispenser, and mentally decide to not take both boys out for a quick grocery run and make NTG do it instead. I get back downstairs to my office and as soon as I walk into the playroom, I can tell Max has pooped.

So all the way back upstairs to change a diaper (we cloth diaper, so trudging upstairs to our diapering station is a must.) I make another mental note to fetch the liquid soap from under the kitchen sink and refill the damn soap dispenser. Why is my stomach rumbling? It’s lunch time. I’ve not gotten a lick of work done. I decide to write this blog instead, because if I don’t, it’ll be 5:00 p.m. and I’ll be ready for a nap and a glass of wine. Or both.

I somehow get through lunch, another nap for the baby, a dozen emails regarding the font size of my latest book project, Max having a good twenty-minute door slamming fest, starting rice for dinner (cashew chicken, yum), getting the baby up from the nap, two more diaper changes and waiting for NTG to finally get home.

But he doesn’t get home. It’s the worst time of day, really, the witching hour for babies. By 6:00 p.m., I’m prepping food for Max, cereal for the baby, and prepping the meal for NTG and I so when he gets home, all I have to do is cook. In French they call this preparatory cooking mise en place. I call it the calm before the storm.

Max manages to keep himself busy enough while I feed Andrew cereal mixed with formula (because I didn’t pump last night, so I don’t have enough breastmilk to mix in). He doesn’t mind. We’re a little more than halfway through the feeding when Max climbs into my lap to whine about said feeding of his little brother. And … he smells. *sigh* Where is your father? So I quickly finish up the baby, wipe his face, carry the baby upstairs to his crib, come back downstairs and carry Max upstairs (’cause he’s still not over that whole Mommy-carry-me-I-still-want-to-be-the-baby thing). As I’m changing Max, Andy is crying. Max has leaked a little from his diaper, so I decide to just put pjs on him. Andy’s revving up. Where the eff is your father? I get Max set, and he wants me to carry him back downstairs. I call to Andy, “Mommy’ll be right back,” as if that will placate my non-speaking infant, get Max to the kitchen table and his dinner, tell him, “Mommy’ll be right back,” as I climb back upstairs to a now-screaming baby who just. Wants. To. Sleep.

Ned/Thor/Gunnar walks in the door just as I’m getting Andy to latch on.

I finally get to my proof once both children are sleeping. I finish writing this blog at 12:44 p.m.

And people wonder, what we moms do all day at home. I hope I was able to clear that up. We forget to fill soap dispensers.

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Normally this would be called: “The Stay-at-Home Mom versus the Working Mom.” We all know this one; it starts on the message boards during pregnancy. The women planning a life as a SAHM form a group on one side of the room, while the WMs roll their eyes at them from the other side.

I am a bizarre hybrid of the two: The Stay-at-Home-Working Mom. It isn’t that far of a jump really, I actually have gotten to know tons of moms like this. We long ago shod our high heels and casual work outfits for weekdays spent in our home offices, typing, taking conference calls, and checking email while juggling laundry and dusting the furniture.

And then we got pregnant.

This jump from being a self-employed, work-from-homer turned into a question of what I was to become once the baby got here, maybe not a SAHM at all, but something else entirely. I remember so many people would say things to me like, “It’s so nice that you work from home, how convenient.” Or, “That’s great that you’ll still be able to work after the baby comes.” And I looked at these people like they had six heads. Are you crazy?

And yet.

Back in January, I began to take on projects again. And although I’m technically working part-time, add part-time job (which does require brain power/functionality/decent sleep) with full-time job of Mom and I’m peering over to the other side of the room, a little envy for the WMs with their smartphones and their carpools and their ability to spend their work hours focusing on work, not jumping from diaper changes to taking a call to temper tantrums and trying to finish some billing to changing your shirt from spit up and then back to the keyboard.

I am thinking about this lately because it is bit of a conundrum. I believe that the overall consensus (or opinion of the world) on SAHMs is that they are lucky ducks. You are so blessed you don’t have to work. Getting to stay home and rock the baby, play with the baby, takes naps with the baby tsk! There should be no complaining!

Yet I watch friends on all sides, SAHMs, WMs, part-time WMs, and SAHMs with side-projects, all trying to figure how to balance life, and figure out what our value is now, post-baby. Some moms don’t feel recognized enough by their spouse or former coworkers or family members because they are not the hunters that go out and chase down the money. Some moms carry around a giant chunk of guilt during the day, wondering if it’s worth it to give away half their paycheck to a daycare.

It makes me think about our foremothers; the ones that fought to get out of their kitchens, forgo their aprons and transform our reality to that of “working families.” It makes me wonder about what my days would be like if I didn’t work at all. It makes me worry about how my workdays will change when it’s time for a second baby.

The truth is right now, I feel that extra satisfaction and pride even, that my son needs me and clients need me and my own writing career needs me enough to try and juggle it all. (It also totally could be just part of my Gemini personality.) But in the meantime I’m carrying around a new awareness about respecting all moms, and their family’s choices.

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