Writing this particular blog is a bit of a departure for me, as I'm not usually one to talk so openly about my life. In order to understand why, you need to know a few things about me. The first is that I'm a rather private person who prefers not to admit things aren't going that well because (a) I don't like to sound like I'm complaining and (b) I don't like to admit I don't have everything under control. The second is that I don't like to ask for help (refer to previous point b). I'm also a bit of a perfectionist and I'm used to succeeding at most things I try.
Not too long ago, Katherine mentioned to me she'd be interested to know how I'm balancing work and the new baby. Unfortunately, the best answer I have right now is "not as well as I expected."
A few weeks ago I blogged about my regret in not taking a true maternity leave and in that same blog mentioned it was because I was vying for a new job. Well, I got the job, which has been bittersweet for me. The job is wonderful. It's finding the time to do the job that I've having trouble with. Though it's getting done and done well, with a new baby in the house, I'm finding it very difficult to make time for work.
If you're one of the women who still believe we can have and do it all without sacrificing anything, it's probably a good idea to stop reading now. If you get uncomfortable when you hear someone admit that the tips for fitting it all in as a work-from-home mother don't always work, it's time to move on, too. There are some wonderful tips out there. Laureen Miles Brunelli , a colleague at About.com who writes about work-at-home moms, talks about the art of working during nap time and learning to multi-task effectively. All of the advice is sound, but it just isn't working for me.
And so I have struggled to find solutions and workarounds to this dilemma. When Stacy wrote about the study that found working moms' self-esteem is at risk when their partners are competent helpers, I read with interest and pondered whether this is true in my case. It may be, but I have to ignore it because that is one of my workarounds. I'm lucky enough to have a husband who truly loves to be a father and is very good at it. He also values my need to have an identity beyond "mom" and has recently rearranged his work schedule to provide me with a few hours in the morning dedicated to writing.
My other solutions?
- I've broken down and asked for help. My mother watches the baby for one day a week so I can work.
- I'm learning to let some household things go. The laundry is clean and folded but it's piled in baskets, not put away.
- I've decided that another half an hour here and there of computer time or video games isn't going to corrupt my 7-year-old to the point of no return. After all, the kid is way ahead in school and has the conversational skills and vocabulary of a forty-year-old.
- I'm walking the line between giving up and giving in. My teenager's room is an absolute pigsty and it's going to stay that way. I don't have the time or energy to fight about it or clean it myself.
Only a few of these solutions actually give me more time to work and none of them address the fact that taking care of the baby takes time--time well spent--but time nonetheless. What they do is take away some of the need to multitask and be perfect. For now, childcare is not an option, so I think it's going to be an ongoing struggle to find ways to work and be mom. So I ask you readers, how do you make it work?