Do you ever feel like one day you’ll become the latest headline – “PTA mother of four goes berserk in Target.”
I’ll be honest. Mom-life is no cake walk. It’s the equivalent of wrangling a herd of feral cats and trying to teach them the alphabet. I’ve told my kids, more than once, that I do not have a book full of instructions on how to do this thing called parenting. Every time, they look surprised. Do they think a manual just appears? Am I suddenly imparted with parenting wisdom upon their births? Is there a magical fairy godmother that leaves unicorn tears on my pillow at night that seep into my brain while I sleep so that when I wake I am wise? Who are kidding – I don’t sleep.
No. Instead, I drink inexplicable amounts of coffee and just get. shit. done. And isn’t that what parenting really comes down to – figuring out what needs to get done and making it happen. Coincidentally, so is teaching. The similarities between the two are endless.
Many people know that teaching is beyond a full time job. They are sympathetic to the demands teachers face.
Parenting is beyond a full time gig as well and also garners sympathy from others. But, imagine, you are a teacher and a parent. Are you burning the candle at both ends? Are you also expected to be a wife or father? And a friend? And an individual….? Last time I checked there were only 24 hours in a day.
I often find myself hating these women I see on Instagram that work out every morning, have perfect hair, have well-adjusted children that are clean and getting along, that volunteer at their children’s’ schools, bake yummy dinners… And work?! I ask myself HOW? How are they doing this? I’m a pretty savvy gal, I can handle quite a lot. But these women, we’ll call her Debbie, are all amazing and rock starish… Damn it Debbie!
Then I start to think I’m not trying hard enough, maybe. Or, perhaps, I just need to prioritize better. Or maybe I’m just crazy to think I can do it all. When does the balance of career, parent, and self happen? It feels like no matter what, to get one thing done, I’m sacrificing something else. Then, in a blink of an eye, five years have passed. Wait – What???
It seems to me that if Debbie is going to be this total rock star, she’s going to have a kick-ass work ethic. This work ethic will be for her career, but her personal life as well. She’ll need stability. The stability her career provides, but a stable schedule and routine she keeps at home for herself and the kids. And, most importantly, she will need the confidence to back it all up. Confidence that she is doing a great job. Support that no matter how frizzed her hair is or how bra-less her outfit may be – she is kicking ass and taking names.
This trifecta of work + parenting + self mandates a strong work ethic if you’re going to get anywhere. You can’t spend an hour on Pinterest looking at mug cozies then wonder why the laundry didn’t get done. Life just doesn’t work that way. You have to be strong and get the priorities done first. Don’t ask me if I follow my own suggestions – I’ll just lie to you and say I do. Added bonus – If your kiddos see you do chores first and fun second they too will (eventually) pick up on that and follow suit. Parenting (and often teaching) is predicated on setting a good example for kids to follow.
Life can be chaotic at times. Plans may fail miserably. Kids may have meltdowns. Shit happens. Incorporating as much stability into your life as you can will help mitigate the issues that pop up in life. Schedules are one way that can really gum up the whole operation. One kid has track, the other has theater. You have a meeting. And everything needs to, of course, happen at the exact same time. One trick to help this is to minimize surprises. Keep a detailed calendar so you you know in advance when you’ll desperately need carpool help from other parents, or you’ll have to tell your boss you’ll be late to that last-minute afternoon meeting. Make sure the kids know what the schedules are also. That way they can take some responsibility for being ready on time. Rushing and being late can really mess up the works. It adds stress which creates tension and makes a simple thing into an odyssey of epic proportions.
Above all, having the confidence in yourself to accomplish all of this is most important. Anyone can get their kid to soccer practice. But, getting your kid there without drama so that they feel like they can be successful is a skill. Like any other skill, it takes devotion and practice. To be the best you that you can be means acknowledging where you are amazing and where you need to adjust a few things. It takes confidence to look at yourself and identify areas that need some work. It’s far easier to be blissfully ignorant and not ever get any better. Sadly, this rubs off on our kids and everything else in our lives.
So, what are the three things you can do now to start working on having a better life balance?
- Strong Work Ethic
- Stability of Routine
- Confidence to Always get Better
I know you can do this. So, like Debbie, I will continue to try and fit it all in. I’ll work out a few days a week, try my best to get up in the mornings so I have time to get ready, and allow my kiddos time to get ready too. We’re in this together moms, dads, and teachers. We are people who need to make sure we schedule time for us to keep in touch with our individuality.