I like to say that I am a mom that works, not a working mom. What’s the difference? Priority. I feel like saying I am a mom who works says that my priority is my kids and I work because of them. Why lie? My passion is writing, my job is my source of income. Thankfully I have a pretty cool job. But, if I were born with a silver spoon in my mouth so I didn’t have to work and could spend time with my kids all day, do you think I’d be complaining?
No. But, I wasn’t. I do have to work. So I am a mom that works.
As a parent who works, trying to find a balance between home and work life can be very challenging at times. Often, the line between the two becomes blurred, and the roles do as well. This is true for mothers and fathers. For example, I can have a big project at work, the deadline may be tight, the executives may want things a certain way by a certain time, managers may have lots of varying feedback, stress can be mounting and before I know it, my work life will have flowed over into my home life. How? Because I can’t get everything done at work so I have to take it home to work on after the kids go to sleep, meaning I am not able to just relax with my family. It also means that I am going to sleep thinking about work, and waking up thinking about work which means I am not getting a good night’s sleep either. Speaking to other moms who work, I have heard them mention that they sometimes feel an added pressure to perform because they have kids and don’t want to appear less able than their peers with no kids. Did I mention the guilt associated with working more and spending less time with family? These factors only add to the layers of stress. This stress is not good and can, at times negatively affect my home life.
balancing is difficultBased on a study by the Pew Research Center, “For many working parents, balancing their jobs and their family obligations can be a challenge. Among all working parents with children under age 18, more than half (56%) say it is difficult for them to balance the responsibilities of their job with the responsibilities of their family, with 14% saying this is very difficult and 42% say it’s somewhat difficult.” Additionally, “Most parents, including at least eight-in-ten mothers (86%) and fathers (81%), say they feel rushed at least sometimes. But for many mothers who work full time, feeling rushed is an almost constant reality. ”
The best that we parents who work can do, is to continue to put our kids first, and remember that they are our kids, not out co-workers. I sometimes find myself having to remind myself that my kids are just that, kids. They are not my peers or even adults for that matter so I cannot expect them to make rational decisions. In those moments, I realize that I have forgotten how to just be a mom. I have to remind myself that my kids are not people that I fit into my schedule, they are the people I schedule my life around. They are the center of everything, and that is exactly what I signed up for.
Lately, I feel like I have gotten much better at balancing my home and work life. I have come to terms with the fact that I can only do so much in a workday. Burning the midnight oil will only alleviate some of the work, but it will still be never-ending, so there is no reason to allow my family time to be sacrificed. I give my all while I am at work, and when I shut down to go home, I shut down for the night. My middle daughter used to walk up to me, close my laptop, and say “No more work, Mommy. Play with me.” Hearing that was devastating, and I tried to justify it by saying that I was working so hard for them. I was right, but so was she. While true, there is still a place and a time for work, and it shouldn’t be at the expense of my time with my husband and kids.
These are some things I noticed as a result of the blurred lines between my home and work life:
-I was becoming short with my kids and not exercising enough patience.
– I was tired all the time and snappy as a result of being tired and cranky.
-I wasn’t taking time to be understanding when the situation called for it.
-I wasn’t being the mom I had always wanted to be.
Not being the mom I always wanted to be was the toughest part. When I realized I wasn’t being the mom I always wanted to be, I reflected on that and reminded myself about the mother I always wanted to be, and the fun I wanted to have with my kids when I had them. Choosing to focus on fixing this has made such a difference already.
I have talked to lots of moms who work like myself, who also struggle with the home life balance. Often times we find ourselves saying – why can’t our kids just do this? Or, why can’t they just do that? I guess the real question is, why can’t we be the ones to make the change? Especially with little ones. Kids will be kids, and they should be. It is our job to encourage that, not discourage it.
As moms, women…humans, there are times when we can be unnecessarily too hard on ourselves, and there are times when we need to be. This is the latter.
I know and understand the desire to succeed and grow professionally. For many, this plan was in place long before the thought of having kids, but the blurred lines that separate the home and work life need to be clearly drawn and identified. For me, this was very necessary. I felt like I was taking back a bit of the control by saying, I am giving my all at work during the allotted time, but the rest of my time and effort is for my family, and I am not sacrificing that.
I took the rest of the week off, following the 4th of July holiday, and have been having a great “stay-cation” at home with my family. While traveling to visit new places is nice, it is the people you are with who make it memorable. With little kids especially, you don’t have to try to hard to have a good time, you just have to commit to being present. My success cannot and will not be at the expense of family time.
The goal is to be the best mom I am capable of being.
The P.I. Mom
P.S. I did not wear my blue dress on the 4th because we stayed home in our swimsuits all day. But today is the day!