One morning as I arrived at work, I was rummaging in my backseat for some documents when I stopped to take a quick assessment of my car. At that moment my makeup bag sat in the center console next to a hair brush. My morning coffee was in my son’s car seat cup holder (yep, you read that right) and there was a paper plate from my morning breakfast sitting on the passenger seat. Two pairs of dress shoes rested on the floor and an outfit change was draped over the backseat.
Apparently, I had started living out of my car and didn’t even realize it. This vision stifled me. My car was clearly a hot mess but the reason why was even more startling. This wasn’t a one-day snapshot. This is my life; I am a working mom and getting ready in my car is apparently Nouveau Maman (it’s a thing, I’m making it a thing).
As a working mom, sometimes life has a way of feeling like one big, hot mess. There are days that I can get my son out the door without a hiccup in the routine. On those days, I may as well be an Olympic medalist. But then there are other days when I’m walking out the door with mismatched shoes or underwear that is on backwards and inside-out. Or curlers in my hair . . .
I am Type A+, meticulous to the tee. I have been following the same morning routine since I was in middle school and I assure you, none of my routines involved doing my makeup in the car visor mirror. Once I threw a child into the mix, everything predictable became unpredictable.
The evening routine isn’t quite as harried as the morning, but it still involves a lot of preparation. Coming home from work doesn’t mean plopping down on the couch to watch TV and unwind. Instead, it’s a choreographed dance of packing lunches, washing sippy cups, pulling out clothes for the next day, making dinner, and getting everyone to bed at a decent hour.
This routine OWNS me. Most of the time I deal with the monotony but sometimes it can be very frustrating. I worry about how much time I get to spend with my son, how much time I get to spend with my husband, and how much time I get to do things for myself. Most of all, I wonder when does this get easier?
My husband recognizes my frustration and will regularly make suggestions to help alleviate my stress: “Why don’t you go and get a massage or spend some time shopping?” “How about a night out with your girlfriends?” (Seriously, I hit the jackpot). He thinks the best medicine for me is to spend time alone and reset, but the truth of the matter is that I really don’t want to take any more time away from my son. I feel like the time I spend with him is fleeting anyway. After all, I’m dropping him off at daycare 30 minutes after he wakes up and then only have two and a half hours to spend with him at night. The time that we have free from work, I want to spend together as a family.
I love my job and I’m unwilling to compromise my status as a full-time working mom, BUT I’ve also realized that somehow I need to find some peace-of-mind rather than letting the schedule dictate each day.
Here are a few of the little things I’ve focused on to help me reset when I’m feeling overwhelmed by our day-to-day routine:
I have become very picky about what we commit to and what we turn down. As much as I would love to join a monthly book club or plan a night out with friends, it means I’m sacrificing time that I know I need with my family.
Sit down at meal time
I have gotten in the bad habit of standing at the counter to eat during meal times. In the haze of the nightly prep, it makes a huge difference to sit down at the table and eat. It slows me down for 20-30 minutes of my night so I can reflect on my day and connect with my husband and son.
Listen to a book on tape in the car
It’s important for me to remember to participate in my hobbies and do things I enjoy. Since I am more likely to fall asleep reading a book on the couch each night, I started listening to audio books during my commute. Reading relaxes me and helps me feel accomplished.
Eat breakfast at work
I need to start the day off on the right foot and the best way to do that is to fill my belly with a healthy breakfast. As much as I love my morning Starbucks, eating scones and pumpkin bread is not doing me any favors. I started packing oatmeal and orange juice in my lunchbox and eating breakfast at work.
Eat lunch with my coworkers
Lastly, since I’m eating breakfast at my desk in the morning, I’ve started to eat lunch with my coworkers in the employee lounge. This gives me a relaxing break in the middle of my day and an opportunity to socialize with friends and co-workers regularly.
These small changes have made a big difference in my mindset as I tackle the day-to-day. It’s not easy being a full-time working mom but I wholeheartedly believe that I’m doing what is best for me and what is best for my family. Working momma’s, You ROCK!
If you have any tips or tricks, we would love for you to share.