I was skimming (always skimming, never thoroughly invested - am I right?) my Facebook feed last week (I'll be honest with you, while pumping because I'm a multitasking champion) and came across an article titled: This Is How Real Working Mothers Are Managing (It’s Not as Complicated as You Think). With a title like that I stopped skimming, put my thumb on hold and clicked through.
If you've got time, read it. If not, here's a summary: Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and more recently, I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, analyzes time logs from working mothers. From her most recent research she's concluded the following: there are 168 hours in a week. If you work 50 and sleep 8 per night (56 hours per week in total), that leaves 62 hours for other things.
In short: if you're a working mom, there's time in there to have what matters AND work full-time.
Seems simple enough and I enjoy definitive statements so I posted the link to her article on Facebook to later find some worthwhile comments from friends. And rightfully so... this is an important topic. Some agreed and some didn't.
I commented back that I've recently been thinking about my work/home balance. After taking a new job and completely revamping my entire schedule (not to mention starting Natalie at not one, but two new daycares, acquiring a new car, phone, and computer) I've been testing out different morning/evening schedules, routes to work, and trying my damnedest to get my new calendar and email synced at work. With a good chunk of my life in transition you can imagine why this topic is currently relevant to me.
For a hot second, I really considered taking the 'stay-at-home-mom' route. Seriously! I'm surrounded by many happy friends who commit themselves full-time to their families and are very good at what they do. I see them scheduling play-dates for their kids and making time for coffee with friends and even spending time at the gym. They make delicious meals (complete with photographic proof on instagram), spend time at the park, and their houses seem pretty well maintained too.
I love a clean house and coffee conversations so the full-time mom gig sounded pretty awesome. And with Jeff totally on board with whatever I wanted to do, it seemed like a path with very little resistance - there was nothing keeping me from being: Nichole the mom/wife extraordinaire!
But then I remembered that I get a kick or a high out of using my talents in production management. I enjoy it. And I'm good at it. And if I weren't doing that on a regular basis I would feel like something is missing.
To reach my optimal level of happiness, I want to be all things: wife, mom, producer, friend, homemaker, party planner, blogger, circus act - ha, just kidding.
But seriously, someone somewhere wants to be a circus act. That makes them happy just like friends of mine are happy being at home full-time. I realized that no matter what side Laura's article took, there is someone who disagrees that 62 hours is enough time.
But for me, it is.
And perhaps while the typical working mother spends 50 hours a week at the office, I'm teetering at the back of the pack closer to 40. That's 40-ish hours of enjoying work each week and 62 plus enjoying life at home.
And so... back to Laura's article and managing the balance of work/home life... how am I managing? So far, it's been a try and see process. I've learned that crockpot meals are the bomb.com. I prep the ingredients (if that's even needed) the night before and hit start before I leave for the office in the morning. When we get home, dinner is done, we eat and I get to spend 2-3 hours of uninterrupted time with my family before Natalie goes to bed.
Side note: I've recently decided I'm going to put together a notecard system of crockpot meals that I can select and take grocery shopping each week. I'll let you know how it goes. It's efficiency-solutions like these that get me going!
Another lesson learned is asking/hiring help when I/we need it. Because both Jeff and I work full-time, it's become really important for us to reserve our nights and weekends for family and fun. A clean and tidy home is important to me but not more important than taking a family walk to the farmers market when the weather is nice.
And one more lesson to share, I take at least one day a week to work from home. It's my one day when I don't have to leave the house showered and ready. Jeff takes Natalie to daycare and I stay back and make myself a cup of coffee. I hole up in my office in my pajamas answering emails and then I take a quick second to write that thank you note I have on my to-do list. I make lunch by myself in the kitchen with only my mouth to feed and it's on this day that I take that 20 minute shower and don't feel bad about it.
And so (at least for now) I'm feeling happy and settled. At least until the weather changes anyway!
If you're a working mom (or even a full-time mom) and have advice about how you manage your calendar, food prep, housekeeping, and overall work/home balance... I'd love to hear your advice. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.