Working Mom – Ambitious and Exhausted

So maybe you are at the end of your rope

If you’re a working mom, maybe you have read some of my posts on time management and spending less time at the office and laughed at my naivete. I’m okay with that.

I have been a career woman for a long time, and I have had a lot of different jobs at a lot of different companies. I know sometimes the workday is a 16 hour one, and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it.

Maybe you are in a competition for promotion that demands hard work and long hours, and you want it so much that you can taste it and there are no shortcuts available, and…

I get it. Sometimes you’ve just got to make it work.

If this is you, first, I’m surprised you found me. I doubt you get onto blogs too often. But now that you’re here; I will do my best.

Give yourself a break

Odds are you spend a lot of time beating yourself up because you are not around enough. Let me let you off the hook a little. Your children will love you if even if you have to work.

When I was a kid, my parents both had their dream jobs. My dad traveled 185 days a year and my mom worked a 60 hour week.  When the media started to talk more about working moms, mine asked me if I wished they’d been around more. I was confused and told them that they were around, and I never really noticed otherwise. The secret was they were there when I needed it.

I remember Friday nights in the summer, my mom’s office closed early. She would pick me up and we’d drive to the beach and eat in the car and talk. This hour every week became a tradition when my dad wasn’t home. We had some of our best talks those nights. In the winter, it became late night shopping and dinner on Thursdays.

I remember my dad taking me to the beach on Saturdays when he was home and tutoring me in math by drawing diagrams in the sand. I doubt I ever would have figured out multiplication otherwise.

Parenting is not measured in hours per day; it is measured in moments. You don’t get to pick them, if you did, I doubt my mother’s would have involved KFC. So don’t be too hard on yourself. Make sure there is enough time to get to know your children and the rest will take care of itself.

Here’s my dirty little secret. I took some time off when my daughter was 5; after six months, she begged to go back to after school care.  She missed her friends and the activities they did. THe lesson I learned is that my child is just as happy with a part-time mom as she is with a full-time one. I’ve asked around and she’s not the only one.

Get yourself some help

Now onto more practical matters. There are only 2 or 3 things that only I can do for my family:

  1. Be there for my kid (see above). Be available when she really needs it, not necessarily all of the time.
  2. Maintain my relationship. Make time for dating my partner and for doing grown up stuff.
  3. Touch base with the important people. For me this is my dad and my 3 or 4 closest friends. For you it may be your parents or siblings or a friend or two, but odds are it does not exceed 10 people.

Everything else I delegate.

  • I get my kid to help, also neighbors, friends and family, whatever I have to do short of taking advantage. The child who helps out now will be better off when they grow up because they will already know how to be independent.
  • I hire help, as much as I can reasonably afford. Never be so proud, so independent that you shoot yourself in the foot. There is nothing wrong with having team Mom, paid by the hour. It’s how most people get it done.
  • I make myself a priority too. Try never to martyr myself, and make time for the things I enjoy. I am a better partner, friend, mother and person that way.