Working full time with kids used to mean that you went to your workplace, and left the child(ren) with someone else for full days at a time. As if that was not challenging enough, now you might be leaving them with someone else, but in your own home, while you are still there. (Or for some, you are now the daycare and the working mother - all strength to you if this is you!!). Being a working mother in a pandemic sure looks different and comes with a full set of challenges. Some of them are exactly the same as I had when first going back to work after having my daughter in 2019. And some brand new ones that come with an ever changing world. Either way, being a full time working mom is not always easy. I don’t have any answers on how to make this balancing act a successful one, but I do try and it all comes down to daring to put me before my kids at times. And either you are a working mother or not, putting yourself first is a habit worth reminders and practice!
One of the most common questions I get is “how do you balance working full time with having kids?”. And the answer is, I’m not very good at it. I guess it is the little things, we try not to be on our phones in the short amount of time we have with the kids during the weekdays for example. And I sometimes have lunch with our daughter if it times right. But other than that, we are winging it just like most of us. Below is an insight in how I handle my days, working full time for the comfort of my own home, while there are 2 kids and a nanny at home as well.
7.00: “Wanna get out! Wanna get out”. Toddler clearly ready to be rescued from the crib so time to wake up and make breakfast. What now, we cannot go into baby brother's room because he is still asleep?! First toddler melt down of the day.
7.15: Baby brother is now awake due to the screaming and ready to be fed.
7.45: Whole family downstairs eating breakfast together. Eggs EVERYWHERE, leaving it for later (meaning might still be on the floor 4 days later)
8.00: Getting dressed and brushing teeth, what I cannot let the faucet run on my sleeve while we brush?! Toddler melt down number two.
8.30: Nanny arrives to take the kids as I (still obviously in my sweatpants and messy bun as my toddler looks stylish in her Swedish clothes and smells fresh with her newly brushed teeth) get ready for meeting number one.
9.00: Meeting number one.
11:00: Snack time. I try to sneak out of my office into the kitchen. “Mama’s here!!”. Yup, here I am sweety. Quick hug. Baby is asleep so nanny can distract toddler and I can sneak back into the office.
1.30: Lunch break. Toddler awake so take the chance to eat together.
2.00 Another meeting.
2.15: Gentle knock on the door. Baby is hungry, can I feed him now? Still in a meeting but I can multitask, feed the baby while on a call.
3.15 In the middle of meeting. Door opens. Toddler enters, very excited and also very aware that mom is working. Nanny comes in, moths “I’m sorry”, takes toddler outside. Toddler melt down number three.
4.30: Time for a snack. No use in sneaking, toddler was right outside the door ready for a hug. Quick hug, aiming for the fridge. Nanny about to put baby brother down for a nap. I know the struggle with putting him down while having a toddler around and offer to hang out while she puts him down.
4.40: Reading some books and coloring with toddler.
4.45: Baby asleep, time to wrap up work before end of day.
5.00: Nanny leaves, baby wakes up and toddler gets a super boost of energy and starts jumping on the couch. I have to use the bathroom but that will have to wait, where is hubby? Need to split some tasks here. Like right NOW.
5.30: Everyone is calmer and sausage is being fried and macaronis and being cooked. Another gourmet meal about to be served (3rd night in a row now?..)
5.45: Ready to sit down to eat. Baby looses it. Hungry as well. I feed him as toddler and hubby eats.
6.10: I sit down to eat.
6.30: Toddler starting to fade, resulting in another round of jumping on the couch and me and hubby gently reminding her that couches are for sitting on. 500 times. Toddler melt down number 4? Or 5? Lost track at this point.
7.00: Bedtime routine for the kids and they both go down. Not without a fight from baby brother, but still.
7.30: Should probably pick up the eggs on the floor from this morning. And open the mail on the counter from last week. And throw in a load of laundry. Decide to instead eat a spoonful of peanut butter, open up a box of chocolate covered raisins and head to the TV.
8:00 Sit down to write a blog post.
9:00 Watch an episode of something
So what’s my point with telling you all of that? Some days are better than others. Some days everything just flows and some days everything falls apart, all at the same time. But most of the time it is somewhere in between bliss and chaos. These are my bullet points of advice:
If you want to work because that makes you a better human - then work! I love my children but I also love my job, working with others and having a career. Do I feel guilty at times for not spending enough time with my children? Yes! But is it still worth it? Yes! You do you. If working makes you happy, let that be a priority.
If you need to work to make ends meet but you don’t love your job and would rather be with your children, consider a job change if possible. This one is harder but if this is your scenario and you are not really choosing to work, you need to get creative to find balance. It might take some time and energy to look for a new job, but it might be worth it in the long run!
If your children are in your house during the day and so are you:
Get sounds cancelling headphones.
A door/divider with no windows (maybe with a lock) to your office space. For your kids it makes you “out of sight, out of mind”. And for you, it decreases the urge to go out to help when there is a melt down going on.
Accept that your house will be a mess at times (most of the time). Food on the floor, dust in the corners, dirt in the sink. If you choose to spend most of your free time being present with your children or sleeping to catch up on energy, that’s fine!
Remember your partner. On all levels.
Remember to share the responsibilities around the kids such as drop off and pick up, bedtime routine, bath time. If there are two of you, split the workload!
Praise them and let them know what an amazing partner they are! If you are exhausted then I can almost assure you that your partner is feeling the same way. A boost and a compliment can go a long way.
Find quality time for just the two of you. This is the one I struggle with the most because all I want in my free time is sleep at this point in our life. We have taken to childcare during the weekend to solve this at times. Evenings are just not the most present quality time for us right now, we need precious day time to hang out. Do we feel guilty handing our kids off to someone on the weekend when we could have spent time with them instead? Yes! Is it worth it in the long run? Yes! You are only as good as your team.
I can probably write a whole book on this topic as there are so many nuances. But this is a start and a shout out to other working mothers out there. I see you! I feel you! You are doing great!