I went from a working woman to a working mom eight years ago. The shift was challenging, but my husband and I were a team who made it work. Four years into that new gig, we happily added another child into the mix. But when my husband started traveling more with his job, we both overestimated my abilities. Balancing parenting, my work schedule, and the home responsibilities all by myself left me overwhelmed, exhausted, and resentful toward my husband. I enjoyed being a working mother but suffered from burnout. We signed up to do this together, and now I was alone more often than not.
My priorities in life are simple: raise two children who will become productive members of society, create a home life that is happy for my husband and children, and maintain and thrive in my career. I've always been unwilling to compromise these priorities and determined to overcome defeat, so I knew I had to make some changes. I wanted to not only make it through but be happy while doing it. Here's how I made it work.
- Plan it out. I order my groceries online (thanks, Walmart!). Each week I determine what we're eating and wearing for the entire week. This timesaver allows me to avoid long grocery lines. I can prepare and pop the food in the oven while I help my children with their homework, play outside for a few minutes, or simply rest after a long day at work. This little hack has also shaved 15 minutes off our morning routine, which, if you're not a morning person like me, is equivalent to about 20 years.
- Enlist Help. Once I realized that I couldn't do it all by myself, I brought in reinforcements. If my husband is traveling for an extensive amount of time, I call on my mom or his sister to help with pick-up, babysitting, or bedtime. Being the sole cleaner of the house also became too big of a chore, so I hired someone to help alleviate this burden. While I'll admit it was a little hard to let go at first, I now feel zero guilt about asking for help. The more help, the better.
- Enforce bedtime. At 8:30 p.m., I clock out as mom. Outside of emergencies, I tell my children to stay in their beds. They need to use the restroom, get a drink of water, ask their questions, or find the monster in their closet before last call. After 8:30, the night is mine. My ability to recharge, whether that means watching trashy TV, having a glass of wine, or falling asleep extremely early enables me to successfully navigate the next day ahead.
These small changes, combined with blocking off my work calendar to avoid meetings after 4:30 p.m., have helped me juggle my role as working mom and wife to a traveling husband. Of course, there are weeks when, no matter how hard I plan, things just don't fall into place. On those days, we eat takeout, leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight, or I may work from home to take care of a sick little one to minimize my working mom burnout. I take it day by day. Oh, and I also let my husband take the reins when he comes home. The kids are happy to see him, and I'm happy to see the inside of my eyelids.