If ten years ago you asked me if I thought I was going to be married, work at various jobs, start various business’, have three kids of my own and foster over 24 kids by age 31 I would of laughed and thought you had lost your mind! But as I look around that is exactly who I am! I don’t think any of us plan the madness that one day becomes what we call our lives. I can guarantee we’re never told how to balance it either! But as I assess my life and the crazy hectic schedules and deadlines I am actually pretty at ease with just taking things one day at a time! (That sounds like a recovering alcoholic doesn’t it!?)
Coming out of high school and entering college I had a set path that I was going to accomplish in regards to my career. I knew it all and no one could tell me otherwise. I had it all planned out : graduate, be engaged by 23, married by 25, have two kids, and be on my way to living the dream. Instead I was pregnant by 19, couldn’t graduate, married someone else at 24, had three kids and started foster parenting! It’s crazy that through the years my career and my responsibilities as a wife and mother have ebbed and flowed and changed almost with the wind.
We as women put pressure on ourselves to be great everything’s to everybody. We think we can have it all, do it all and be all. The hard part is that somehow our physical bodies and mental endurance don’t always match up with that ideology. In my early twenties I was on committees, in groups everywhere, doing it all until one day I burned out. The bitterness, anger, frustration and depression easily set in. I wasn’t living up to this standard of being the awesome domestic wife like my grandma, the sweet patient mom like my mother, the sexy endless energetic wife like some of my no kid having friends, and the awesome achieving career women like some of the great women leaders I knew. Something had to change because I was sinking.
Whether I was waitressing part time at a restaurant , starting a new non profit / side business, or managing large financial services transactions- my career always seemed to be off track. The old fashioned pick a career and stick with it for 30 years just didn’t seem to fit into the juggling act. How could I decide what I was going to do in between morning sickness, baby diapers and dirty laundry? There came a point where I had to embrace what was…in that moment. There came a turning point where I had to just realize that what I was doing in that moment mattered. If I was to be polishing a baby tooshie nice and clean from a dirty diaper, making monotonous phone calls at work or scrubbing a toilet- thats where I was needed and that was ok. I couldn’t obsess about work when at home, and I couldn’t obsess about home when I was at work.
I had to get organized. I broke out all the various responsibilities I had and assigned each large category to ONE day per week. Being a master at delegation is key too, don’t find yourself doing anything you can get a kid to do, your husband to do, or pay someone to do. Time is worth more than money. The one thing a day sounds strange but it didn’t matter if I was scheduled to work or not I may only have a half a day to work on my category but none the less I had clear direction for each day of the week that became my routine. This helped me not be useless on several different categories at once everyday of the week. I needed the uninterrupted time to truly accomplish things.
- For example
Sunday: Family & Church Day (goal: Spend time together as a family, church, read more scripture, pray more, and just slow it all down)
Mon: Planning Day: (Get everything mapped out for the week like meals, appointments, carpools, meetings, shopping, due dates, etc.)
Tuesday: Business Day (get everything for my side business planning worked out until the next week, run errands, email people, set up appts etc) Wed: Me day! ( My time to catch up on things, read, write,guitar lesson, lunch w/ friends, book club, listen to music, and maybe just be alone! If I’m lucky a massage)
Thursday: Foster care admin day (do all my reports, appointments, meetings etc),
Friday: Cleaning & Date Night (get the house cleaned up for the weekend and go out! Kid free….ooo laaalaaa)
Saturday: Relaxing kids day (maybe a park or a picnic and usually ended with a movie)
I had to learn to make space for me, my God, my friendships, my hobby’s, my husband, my kids, AND my work. Seems daunting but like all things just working through whats in front of us one day at a time makes all the difference! Being grateful and truly enjoying each moment no matter how stressful or challenging. Getting the family set up with routine charts for chores, responsibilities, built in homework time, etc helped a lot of the nagging and wasted energy on my part disappear. Delegating and making it all a family affair relieved the tension on me as a working mom! I try to frame everything that stresses me out in the framework of a challenge. If its annoying and stressful I try to see it as a contest and get it out of the way ASAP! I love being able to find the balance of madness and busyness with relaxation and relationship. We as moms have to fill ourselves up or we will be empty and bankrupt, unable to give anything to anybody. We are women, we are wonderful and we can win at life without being left in the shadows….