I wanted to post this last week, but I was at Legoland with the kids and couldn’t get to my computer (see: I was busy riding roller coasters and eating apple fries and needed a few hours away from work).
As an adult, do you ever feel like you’re on the show Survivor? You spend all day working in some capacity so you can maintain shelter, find food, and fight off whatever comes your way (illness, parent/child drama, house problems, etc). Your mental and physical abilities are constantly put to the test. Parenting is survival mode every day. And as my friend, biz colleague and fellow mom Julie put it, we’re also expected to be “kind of fun” parents in the process.
I am the fun parent. There is no doubt about this, my husband would agree. He’s the fun sundae, but I’m the cherry on top. I am spontaneous and easygoing, and I LOVE traveling. I do discipline, but he does it more consistently. I am a super intense person about my business, and at home I am the opposite with my kids. BUT, and not to state the obvious, I am exhausted ALL the time and being fun isn’t always easy when all you want to do when you’re not working is snuggle with the baby on the couch and watch tv and you have a business to run on top of it all. My patience runs low and my temper runs high all too often. My older two talk and move nonstop, so it’s a constant battle to get them to slow down and me to speed up to their level of energy. I’m no spring chicken anymore. So what’s a parent to do?
What I’ve come to realize is that it isn’t about the quantity of the fun, it’s about the quality. I’m trying to remove those pesky grey areas like from 4-7 after school. You know the times where we’re at a park but really checking email on our phones? Or the days where we’ve moved our laptop outside so we can watch the kids swim? That’s not good enough. That needs to be kid time, they have homework, they are hungry, and they have stories from the day to tell. On the other hand, I’ve moved bedtime earlier because I need to make up work hours from 7:30 on, while also having just a minute of couple and/or “me” time (see: watch Real Housewives). I’ve also started planning my work travel schedule in a way that allows my family to travel with me, whenever possible, so it’s part work and part play. I even stop checking emails on Fridays after 5pm and my husband and I don’t do date nights on Fridays, so every Friday night is a guaranteed family night. When I’m with the kids my focus is them, and when I’m working my focus is work.
But what about when you can’t be in 5 places at once? It’s 5pm and baby needs to be fed and put down for a nap, mom has a deadline to meet, dad is sick, kids need to be taken to a birthday party. It’s really simpler than you think…you need to ask for help. A trusted family member or friend, or hire help. In my case, I had to hire help because I finally admitted to myself and everyone around me that I can’t do it all, and when I try I don’t do anything as well as I could. Two weeks ago I washed everyone’s clothing in the baby’s Dreft because I was focused on a call I was taking while doing laundry. No, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s kind of annoying, and it’s my fault. I should have asked my husband for help. Two nights ago as I was drifting to sleep around midnight I suddenly realized that I forgot to wash the baby’s bottles that night because I was too busy catching up on emails and eating chocolate on the couch, alone, in peace. Not good because it meant the next morning was chaotic! Oh well, we both survived.
My recipe to survival is a no brainer: I accept that I can’t be everything to everyone every second. Ya see, there is no such thing as balance. We all accepted this the minute we had children. We can’t be great parents and great employees/employers and great to ourselves ALL of the time. That’s called perfection, and it just doesn’t exist. I do the best I can, and WE ALL survive each day and laugh a lot in the process (even if it wasn’t always pretty and my hair has been in a messy ponytail for three days straight). What survival tips do you have?