I’m a busy working mom with two busy kids and a busy husband, and I CAN’T do it all.
It took me quite a while to come to the conclusion that my expectations for myself were much too high. There are only 24 hours in each day, and I spend 9-10 of them working and at least 7 sleeping. There is only so much that can be done in those other 6-7 hours per day. So how is it that I can work 40-50 hours, my hubby works 50-60 hours and we shuttle two busy girls to over 20 hours of practice per week? We have built a village and learned how to outsource!
My two girls attend school approximately two miles from my job, but they need to get to practices that are way across town each evening while I am still working. For years, I drove myself crazy or spent $$$ for aftercare for them. Finally, I chatted with a fellow mom that I would see all the time, and I paid her to pick my kids up and drop them off to me on her way to getting her own kids. It was a perfect scenario; she needed extra cash and was basically already taking this route each day and now I covered her weekly gas bill and it was cheaper than two kids in aftercare. I bet there is a mom sitting in the carpool behind you willing to create an arrangement like this for you too!
I use that same theory when our kids’ activities exceed our ability to shuttle them there. My mom friends at my kids’ activities have been lifesavers so many times. We watch out for each other, pack extra snacks, fix ponytails, and carpool to make our lives easier. As an introvert, it took me a long time to feel comfortable asking for help, but two kids and a busy work schedule have forced me out of my comfort zone and actually helped me build some strong friendships for myself.
Chores and cooking are also a big time commitment, and I’ve learned to get creative here as well. We “meal prep” as in we make 2-3 meals at one time that usually consists of 2-3 proteins, veggies, and carbs to mix and match during the week. Some weeks I get fancy and break down the meals into individually packed meals, and other times they are all thrown in the fridge as a free for all. It also helps when my kids are being picky eaters they feel in control of their dinner so there is less arguing about eating. On a lazy week, I grab a Costco/Sam’s rotisserie chicken and other pre-prepped meal options to keep my family full and my schedule clear.
I also pay for help when I am overwhelmed. I am no stranger to Hampr when we finish a few crazy weekends in a row or after vacation; it is totally worth the money to get help catching up on laundry and having some extra downtime with family. We will also utilize a housekeeper when we can’t keep up or before hosting for the holidays. I would love full-time help but the cost of groceries and everything else don’t make that possible for us. If you can swing it, I highly recommend consistent housekeeping.
My biggest secret of all is literally not doing it all! I used to try to micro-manage our schedule, meals, school work, EVERYTHING, and the truth is that it just wasn’t healthy for our family. I have subscribed my family to live by the calendar; my husband, and 6- and 11-year-olds both know to check the calendar on their devices before asking any questions about a schedule. Once I share the information, I release ownership – if you have practice or competition, you know what needs to be done prior to that event. I no longer run off long lists of what is needed. I don’t manage breakfast or snacks anymore. The kids and my husband have complete ownership in making sure the correct items are purchased or added to the shopping list, and everyone knows how to get a meal that is healthy and acceptable. I will occasionally wake up and make a full breakfast, but 90% of the time they manage it and guess what? They do a great job at it!
It is so easy to get into the habit of doing everything and carrying the mental load of your family. Step back and see what you can delegate and then let it go! Your partner and kids may take a while to adjust but in return, they will get a happier mom / partner that is not stressed and not always stuck doing a chore. Take charge of your happiness!