Before kids I had perfect visions (through my rose tinted glasses) of how we would spend our afternoons doing homework together while dinner simmered on the stove. I’d have plenty of time to reinforce the day’s schoolwork, to talk about the highlights and lowlights of my children’s day and they’d be bathed, fed and content by the time Daddy got home from work. After a day at the office (for me) and school (for them), I’d tuck them into bed after a wonderful late afternoon of bonding and then I’d spend quality time with my husband for the rest of the evening.
What a blissful life, right?
Then reality set in.
The truth is I’d start looking at my watch from about 2pm every day in the office. I would calculate down to the last second what I needed to be doing in order to get to my daughter’s school on time to avoid the late fine penalty. From there we would zoom off to my son’s school, and then brace ourselves for at least an hour in traffic. While I fought the traffic, I’d have to play referee to the two hooligans in the back seat, while opening afternoon snacks with my teeth because one hand was on the steering wheel and the other was picking up “very important stuff” which the 5 year old had dropped. We’d get home and it would be a circus. My circus and yes, my monkeys. The hours of 5 – 7pm would be a crazy time of multitasking to get the general admin for any normal household done. By the time bed time rolled around I would be exhausted, highly strung and very irritable.
I could not see my life continuing at that crazy pace. I could not subject my children to Crazy-Mom every day. I knew I had to make some changes to make it work and to make the time I had with my children enjoyable for all of us.
Firstly I negotiated with my boss to come into the office earlier and leave at 3h30. I also trained my helper so that she could at least start dinner, if not cook the whole meal. If you don’t have a helper, I suggest cooking in bulk or cheat meals during the week that are not labour intensive – Google for delicious quick dinner options. My helper also lays out their pajamas and gets the bath going. While the kids have 20 minutes of free play, I already start prepping for the next day. Lunches get made, clothing gets laid out and bags are packed. After their bath, we sit at the dining room table and do homework. By which time Daddy is home and we have dinner together.
I believe the key to stress-free living when you’re a working mom is to have a routine/plan and to stick to it. Of course there is the odd day when traffic cannot be beaten or I’ve had to stay at work later than usual, but on the whole mapping out a plan beforehand usually gets everyone on the same page and all working toward a common goal. Also, don’t be so hard on yourself, skipping the bedtime story for one day or letting your kid eat toast for dinner is not the end of the world. Ultimately what makes for a happy home is a calm and happy mom and taking your superhero cape off once in a while is totally allowed, if it means your sanity is in check J