lately finding balance has been something of a struggle. for this girl who has always worked outside the home, not currently having employment has me in a twilight zone. home life now seems like it was easier when loads of laundry, kids homework and dirty dishes had to be squeezed into the wee hours of mornings and nights of full days where ongoing work projects and encroaching deadlines were priority.
i used to inwardly roll my eyes when i would hear a stay-at-home mom friend mention how stressed she was and how there wasn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. If she only knew….i would think to myself.
i was that judgemental working mom. now the shoe’s on the other foot and let me be the first to put my foot in my mouth. methaphorically, of course.
so may i offer my apologies to all stay-at-home moms, for being judgemental. i am truly and sincerely sorry.
how is it the minutes and hours whir by at a faster rate when “all you’re doing” is chasing a toddler around while completing household chores. suddenly chores i used to complete in my free moments went from mundane to monumental. add to that my on-going task of sending out resumes, scheduling interviews and maintaining the occasional freelance gig and you’ve got a full-blown reality show of epic proportions.
by the time the hungry husband and kiddos come parading thru the door in the evenings asking ‘what’s for dinner’, the toddler has bested me and won. she towers over me on top of the pile of clean (and still unfolded) laundry clearly proud of the exhausted heap she has reduced me to. i cannot even claim to be a disheveled mess, because that would require me to have been ‘sheveled’ at some point that day. I don’t think three-day old jeans, hubby’s t-shirt, no makeup and a messy hair topknot constitutes ‘sheveledness’.
it was the other night, after one such day of said episodes that i’d had it. dinner was finished, homework complete, toddler in bed and everyone else winding down their routines for the night. instead of crawling up to bed feeling defeated i decided to do something for myself and i curled up on the couch with a book. one of our teenagers walked in to the room and i may or have may not have growled at them and bared my teeth – a clear sign to all child cubs that momma bear needed some alone time. picking up tsh ovenreider’s book, 'notes from a blue bike', I dove in – mug of decaf coffee in hand.
i surfaced for air fifty-five pages later and had an epiphany. i put the book down and went to my desk. opening my laptop i went to work and promptly wrote up a shot list for the next day. (if you don't know what a shot list is google can explain it) just because i wasn’t getting up and leaving for work each day to where i was a master at time management, deadlines and details, didn’t mean i couldn’t infuse my time at home with those same skills. instead of my list looking like this:
8:45am P/U FLORAL & PERISHABLES
9:30am CHECK EMAIL / REPLY TO VOICEMAILS / CONFIRM ARRIVAL TIME WITH SITE MGR.
10:00am BOX PROPS FOR SET / TURN IN EXPENSE REPORT / MEET W/ MARKETING ABOUT
11:00am LOAD TRUCK
11:30am LEAVE FOR SITE / P/U LUNCH FOR CREW
my shot list looked like this:
9:00am CHECK EMAIL / FOLLOWUP RESUME INQUIRIES – SOPHIE MORNING SNACK
9:35am SWAP LAUNDRY OUT & FOLD WHILE SOPH WATCHING SESAME STREET
10:15am WINTER CLOTHES TOTES UP FROM BSMT – COATS PUT AWAY
10:50am REDO WEEKLY MEAL PLAN
11:10am LEAVE WITH SOPH FOR LIBRARY & MARKET
11:20am RETURN BOOKS
11:30am MARKET (SEE REVISED GROCERY LIST)
12:30pm HOME: LUNCHTIME (HAM & CHEESE ROLLUP, GRAPES)
12:45pm CHECK EMAIL / RETURN VOICEMAILS / CALL TRACK COACH ABOUT PARENT MTG.
1:15pm UNLOAD/LOAD DISHWASHER
i realize that this may seem over-the-top for most people. for me, however, this is all a new normal – this solo time with my toddler in which i need to find and then maintain a balance. i want to live in the present for her sake, and mine, by not squandering the days that ‘home’ is my job.
i can also give my family better, from the food i prepare and feed them to the way in which i handle myself while doing it. slowing down and making more of our meals from scratch, now that i have more time to do so, is a way i can create balance. intentionally holding off on household chores – knowing that i have it budgeted into the day for later on during naptime – allows me to spend time focused on the important things with my toddler, like play-doh, playing with lacing cards (and then unknotting them), drawing in coloring books and discussing the social lives of all of her stuffed animals.
eureka! i’m not “cured” but holy cow did the next day ever run smoother! and at the end of the day i actually felt ACCOMPLISHED as my shot list had been completed. my family also deemed my homemade eggplant parmiagana a dinner homerun! i fell asleep that night with my head nestled in the fluff of cloud nine.
while i must give some of the credit to tsh, i can’t overlook the fact that it was me, myself and i who took the first step to making a change for the better: by taking notice that i needed some “me time”. giving yourself credit when you do something good for you and good for others is a huge step in maintaining that ever tenuous delicate balance.
i have every intention of maintaining my daily shot lists for now. it’s worked for a couple of days now and while i don’t feel like my old self, i do recognize the woman i see in the mirror again. whether this stay-at-home gig is a long-term thing or something temporary remains to be seen. but i know the lessons that this time is teaching me are for life.
here’s to the on-going quest for balance in life, and to not judging each other as moms – whether we work solely in the home or not. we all work. cheers!