Today was supposed to be a “writing day”. I had four glorious hours to focus solely on writing. Next to caring for other, writing is my passion. It is my release. I need no muse, the mere thought of sitting with a cup of coffee and a laptop is inspiration enough. Enter my toddler: “Mommy, I’m dizzy”. This was not said with the glee of having just been spun in circles by an adult. It was said in that tone that only children have when they don’t feel up to par. It is part disbelief that her little body wouldn’t function perfectly, part fear, and part confidence that mommy can make it all better. Sure enough, she had a fever so no school for her and no writing retreat for me. While snuggling her on the sofa during a Caillou marathon, I did have some time to think up a list of policies, intentions, and goals for the working mother.
- Stay ahead of your hunger and their hunger. Hunger brings out the ugly in all of us. Many people don’t realize they are hungry, they just feel shaky, nervous, irritable, or fatigued. Have snacks on hand and eat them between meals. Make sure you are also eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Set one or two realistic goals for work and home each day. The goals should be SMART goals. Achieving a goal will grow your confidence. It will give you a sense of control which will bring some calm. The goal can be as simple as making your bed. Have a checklist and physically check off the goals at the end of the night.
- Engage your child. Children as young as 18 months can “help” with chores. Until the age of about 20 (ok, maybe 10) it may slow you down and create more work but it grows your child’s sense of efficacy, helps them understand they have a role in the family, and is quality time with them. It is also good life training.
- Elastic waist pants are ok.
- Dresses are even better—-one outfit, already pre-made, matches, looks sharp.
- 80% is Perfection. I learned this saying from some Chinese medicine book I read while trying to conceive. Essentially, if you can do anything 80% of the time, that is enough. Therefore, you do not need to be “present” all the time, validate emotions all the time, always write the best reports or give the best presentations or whatever you do for work.
- Wake up with gratitude every morning and set a positive intention. I literally thank the universe when I awake, it is not a given and knowing that keeps me in check.
- Pick one thing to outsource (lawn care, shopping, etc). If you are tight on funds, see if you can swap with a friend. Maybe you babysit her kids two nights a month and she mows the lawn twice a month.
- Time is an abstraction. You may feel that there is never enough time for the kids, work, your interests, your marriage. The reality is that there is and there isn’t. You may need to pick up different balls to juggle at different times, but all the balls are there and patiently waiting for you.
- You are enough. You are not failing. You are winning an impossible race. More on that in next week’s post….
Sharon Fisher, PMHNP-BC is currently accepting clients at her practice.