Pick a song lyric from Doc McStuffins or Frozen II and that’s what I hear on repeat all day every day with the exception of about an hour and a half for naptime. My 3-year old now has a “clinic” for her toy patients and a cape for when she is Elsa. My 15-month old is a budding artist who believes any surface is her canvas (be it the walls, her feet, or the rare piece of paper) and her super power is finding that one crayon or marker her sister forgot to put away. We are in the midst of some serious hands-on parenting while also trying to pull our weight at work. It is hard. It is constant. It is exhausting.
My new-normal workday is no longer a linear 8 to 5 day but neither is my kids’ average “school” day. At first, I created a schedule based off of their school schedules. It had screen time stacked with parents work time. In a perfect world, this was the ideal schedule. But my kids quickly (like within the first few hours) reminded me that this was not the solution. So instead we have a check-list of a schedule these days:
- Get out of PJs
- Eat breakfast
- Play outside if possible
- Get an APS Grab & Go lunch
- Eat lunch
- Snack time
- More outside play time
Screen time is sprinkled in; some days more than others. Art, reading, cleaning, and more are all in there somewhere. Water and/or fresh air tend to help our family with regulating our moods.
My partner is the Director of IT for his organization. He has timely projects and is on-call to trouble shoot computer issues for his team. We are now aware of each other’s schedule when planning meetings because one has to be on parent-duty at all times. We also rearranged our guest bedroom as an office. So now, we have a work space to go to for chunks of time where we can “go to work”. Then its cram time…
As a working mom, (with lots of mom-guilt in every direction) I originally felt like there was something to prove. “See I can be an amazing full-time parent AND get in 40 hours a week of work… all at the SAME TIME” That mindset is a fast-track to burnout. It is boundary-less. And it was shortening my fuse as a parent. I was quickly reminded this is going to be a marathon; not a sprint. Now, I give myself permission to have wonky work hours and to lean in for my kids. We are all happier that way. For work, I create a list of deliverables I want to accomplish every week and try to compete those when I can instead of watching the clock. I recognize that I am lucky in this aspect that my schedule has that added flexibility.
What Brenden said is true, it’s about communicating to your partner about your work-needs to be able to balance with your family-needs. Remember sleep gives us our superpowers. We tend to be better humans and can handle a bigger load when we are well rested.
Be well. And don’t be too hard on yourself… none of us could have prepared for this.