Between my new nonprofit, Big Hearts Big Soles, and the four to five short blogs I write for Thirsties each month, I wouldn’t even say I qualify as working very part-time, but I am a stay-at-home mom full-time. Given that I barely have five minutes in a row to sit down and write during the day without Cooper wanting to show me something, requesting food, stubbing his toe or a whole myriad of other possible events that require Mommy’s attention, I really can’t comprehend how some parents work real jobs, from home, with their infants and toddlers at home too.
Today for instance, I had a list of things I needed to get done–including to get a blog written and uploaded for Thirsties, to go to the bank to deal with a fraud issue on my account, tracking down new shoes for three teenage foster boys for Christmas (and trying to get some Denver Nuggets or Broncos gear donated to them as well) when I got a call at eleven this morning from Kate’s school saying that she had a bad earache and needed to be picked up. Now I find myself with two children at home (so now Cooper has someone to fight with–I mean, play with) and instead of doing anything else I need to do, I am waiting for the doctor’s office to call me back so that I can drop everything and bring Kate in whenever they can see her. I am only able to sit and write this because I have the trusty “TV aka Nanny” keeping the children occupied momentarily. This hasn’t however, stopped Cooper from calling out “Mommy!” every few minutes, even if it’s just to tell me something funny he’s just seen on Scooby Doo.
Children aside, there are so many other things that distract me while I am trying to work at home–namely housework. It’s very hard for me to sit and focus on anything else when I have dishes sitting in the sink, crumbs on the counter or a pile of laundry that needs to be folded and put away. I find myself hopping up to help Cooper with (insert anything here) and then thinking “I just heard the washing machine stop–I really should just go throw those clothes in the dryer and get another load going.” While I am in the laundry room, I notice the cat litter has to be scooped, the trash needs to be taken out and before I know it, I’ve left “my work” and have done random, non-urgent tasks for 30 minutes. I have a very hard with time management because it seems that nothing, and yet everything, needs to be done first.
I found myself thinking the other day, how lucky parents are who get to leave housework behind and go give 100% of their attention to their paying jobs without trying to do everything all at once. And then of course, I thought about it from a work-out-of-the-home parent’s point of view and realized those parents might be thinking “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could throw in a load of laundry right now since I am sitting here waiting for X and then I would have less to do when I got home.” Sigh. I guess, the answer is, there is no such thing as “easier” when it comes to being a working parent. The old adage, “The grass is always greener” seems to apply. Working parents wish they could spend more time at home and stay-at-home parents wonder why they never realized how hard staying at home can be. I’ve come to the conclusion, yet again, that being a parent, whether working at home, out of the home, or just doing housework and parenting at the same time, is really, really challenging and a lot of us feel like we’ve always got to neglect one thing to give our attention to another. We’re doing the best we can. Now you’ll have to excuse me…Cooper is heading up to “poop” which means I’ll hear “Mom, I need you to wipe my butt!” in three minutes, Kate needs some more Tylenol for her earache and I think I hear my phone ringing. It’s probably the doctor’s office. Proofreading this blog will have to wait.
My plan seems to be improvise, wing it, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. But it always feels like chaos and I end up feeling like I am doing everything at once and yet doing nothing well. How do you balance your time between working, parenting and doing dishes? Do you clean the house first or ignore the dishes and do your paying job first? How do you stay organized and how do you manage the kids and everything else–all at once?