These days working a typical 9-5 seems anything, but typical. Many overworked and overtired moms don’t have the luxury of a partner who has a predicable or controllable workweek. My husband, like many, works one of those demanding, undetermined work weeks. So, I don’t have someone to tag me at the end of a long day with my toddler. (Do I get bonus sympathy points for also being pregnant and working part time?) It seems we’re all spread a little too thin, but if you’re in a position similar to mine, here are my tips for how to parent when your partner works crazy hours:
- Accept that it takes a village. Listen, you’ve already been told you can’t pour from an empty pitcher, so don’t try to do it all by yourself. If you have trustworthy family nearby, I probably don’t have to tell you to allow them to help out with childcare (seriously, let them help for crying out loud!), but if you’re truly on your own, seek out childcare in its many forms. Babysitters aren’t just for date nights. You can find a good one by way of referral, by sites like Care.com or local Facebook neighborhood moms groups, through your place of worship or through your partner’s workplace (their coworkers surely have teenagers or know one.) Some moms feel guilty for hiring help when they’re a stay-at-home parent because they feel like the entire burden of childcare is their job, but raising a child isn’t exactly the same thing as clocking in and out for a paycheck. You are shaping a human being and doing so in an exhausted and resentful state will only lead to bad things…for everyone involved. Getting some time to give back to yourself is vital for being able to give everything you can to your children.
- Take a break. When the other parent is available, take some time for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes. I get it: your partner isn’t home very often and when he is, you want to spend quality time together as a family, as a couple, or allow him to blow off some steam after an arduous day. You need to prioritize real self-care, meaning you need to develop a daily routine that’s yours and yours alone. Spa treatments are nice, but I’m talking about more. I’m talking about something within reach for every mom, no matter her financially status. You are more than a mother, and you can’t be a good mother anyway if you are not healthy physically, emotionally, and otherwise. Whether you spend your time reading, journaling, meditating, exercising, or combinations of things, just do it. Every. Day.
- Delegate/Outsource other tasks. No one else can parent your child the way you guys do, but someone else can do your grocery shopping for you. Someone else can clean your house, do your taxes, and groom your dog. If you have any wiggle room in your budget, consider paying for these services. It’s time that you can’t get back, whether that’s time spent with your child, recharging your own batteries, or reconnecting with your spouse. Cut the cable, brew your coffee at home, and thank me later! Don’t think of paying for services as indulging in luxuries. Think of it as buying yourself time.
- Make the most of the time together. Even if it is just hanging out at the house watching the Minions movie for the hundredth time on the couch, family time should be cherished. Sometimes it really is the little things that bring a smile to your face. Especially if dad is at work way more than he will ever be home spending time as your family unit doing, well, any family thing can be a much needed reconnection.
How do you manage to make the most of your limited family time?