Ahhhhh...the joys of being a working mom.
Like when you burn the shit out of your neck when you're running late while getting ready in the morning...no, just me?
This post is brought to you by me, a working mom who seriously feels like she's barely keeping her shit together 90% of the time so maybe I'm not the best person to be getting advice from...HA! But in all seriousness, here's what I do to try to keep it together as a working mom of two. Those of you with more than two are the real heroes here.
Before I start, I am in no way, shape, or form saying that I am busier as a working mom than a mom who doesn't work - we're all busy, just in different ways. I will say that I miss watching HGTV while my daughter napped on me during my maternity leave, but that is not even kind of an example of how a SAHM operates - that's just how operated while I was home with my daughter for five months. #runonsentencealert! That was awesome and I love all of those dang shows. I might take a couple of days off this summer just so I can stay home and watch HGTV!
I now bring you, the A-Z of being a working mom...
A - Attitude is everything (almost)
There are so many days where I wake up exhausted and cranky and I'm just not feeling it. If you follow me on Snapchat this is actually a fairly regular occurrence that I mention in the morning. Those are the days when I tend to put on the most ridiculous song I can find (Mr. Blue Sky usually works for me) and try to dance and put on a smiley face on my drive to work. I've found that if you force the smile on and try to just fake like you're happy, before you know it you'll actually be happy. So fake it til you make it!
B - Be brave
Don't be afraid to take chances, even when it may affect your family. You obviously don't want to quit your breadwinning job to become a circus performer (unless it's really lucrative), but don't be afraid to take that promotion, move across the country, try something new, etc. These are the times when you will learn the most about yourself and show your family what you're made of. Justin and I have moved from Alaska to Illinois to Massachusetts and now we're in Florida (for now). We've made awesome friends and had awesome times at each place and have had our struggles as well. Don't let that stop you, because it's those struggles that really show you how badass you are.
C - Cry it out
There are some days where I might be handling emergencies from everyone - my team, people from other teams, my kids, my husband, etc., and before I know it, it's already 9:30 and I haven't sat down yet and I just want to lay on the floor and cry. Sometimes I keep it together, but some days you just need to cry it out. I almost always feel better after a good cry, so don't try to hold it in and be tough. All that will get you is a shitty mood. And if you have a hard time crying, just start watching This is Us. That'll get those tears out, I promise!
D - Don't say yes to everything
I think as women we are often expected to just say yes to everything that's offered to us. I have turned down projects, promotions, and moves because I knew it wasn't what was best for me and my family. Does it suck to say no? YES - especially when it's a chance to finally get what you've been working towards for years. But you can't say yes to everything. And for God's sake, don't try to make a bunch of cookies on a weeknight when you're already exhausted and overwhelmed. Sometimes store bought is best when it saves you from a nervous breakdown. #justsaying
E - Entertain at your house
After working a full day/week the last thing I usually want to do is go out. While I do enjoy getting dolled up and going out or hitting up a restaurant for a meal every once in awhile, it's so much easier to just have people over. Especially if they're people who you know won't mind that your house isn't perfectly clean (mine never is). Get a bag of chips, some wine, and hang out with some friends who are just as overwhelmed as you are. I recommend playing Cards Against Humanity or Guitar Hero - no thinking required, and lots of fun to be had.
F - Sometimes you just have to say fuck it.
You know I couldn't have an A-Z without including the "F" word. In order to survive you just have to let things go. You aren't going to make everyone happy, you aren't going to be the most popular person on Earth, you won't be a perfect boss, your house is going to be disgusting sometimes and you know what? Fuck it. Do what you need to do to be happy for and with yourself and everything else will be fine, I promise you.
G - Be genuine
Give everyone else support and empathy without expecting anything in return. If you expect anything in return I promise you will be disappointed, however I've found that by being a genuine person who shows empathy, the universe will give it back to you...sometimes. Just don't have ulterior motives or an agenda, because I have never seen that work out for anyone. I believe that the reason I am good at my job is because I care and am genuine with the people I work with - they know I have their best interests at heart and even when I'm telling them something they don't want to hear, they know it's from a good place.
H - Have fun & don't take everything so seriously
You spend so much of your day at work and it's so important to have fun. It's obviously not going to be a blast all the time, but take time here and there to do something ridiculous. One of my coworkers and I have a witching hour around 4 when we will usually get up and start doing something ridiculous for a couple of minutes. Crack some jokes with a coworker or prank someone (as long as you can do it without getting fired). Life is too short to be serious all the time.
This doesn't just apply to being at work - make sure you goof off and have fun when you're home too. I have absolutely no problems doing something ridiculous to get a laugh and can often be found dancing around the living room with my kids to a Disney movie or messing around while at the store to make it more fun...
I - Invest
Invest in yourself, in your clothes, in your hair, and in your shoes. Take time to learn more about your job or enrich yourself in one way or another. I had zero insurance experience when I began my career but have since earned 3 insurance designations (one of them earned me a free trip to Hawaii). In doing this you will become a better worker and will also provide a good example for your children.
As for the clothes/hair/shoes - dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Even when I was 9 months pregnant I refused to come to work in leggings and flats. In order to do this I actually subscribed to letote, which is essentially a clothes rental service. They have an option for maternity clothes, which is the only reason I looked decent during my pregnancy because maternity clothes are expensive AF. And now that I'm in-between sizes I have started the service back up, since it ensures I have decent looking clothes that fit me. Also be sure to take an extra 20 minutes to make sure you look like you care about yourself since I have always found it to be helpful in my life to look put-together (even when I'm a hot mess on the inside - fake it til you make it, people!).
J- Just ask for help
Maybe this is just because I'm a type-A control freak, but I never ask for help with anything. I'd either rather do it all myself since I know if will get done right when I do it or I don't feel I should have to ask for help and people should just know because it's common courtesy. Take it from me - don't do this. Ask for help if you need help. I've recently starting asking for help at work whenever I'm drowning and you know what, people are happy to help, just as I'm happy to help them. Just let it go and let someone else take care of it and I promise, you'll feel better for it (lots of promising going on here!). Teamwork makes the dream work!
K - Kick up your feet and take a moment to yourself
Unless I'm studying for something, I spend my entire lunch break on my phone with my headphones in reading, watching funny videos, or doing something else entertaining. And I literally kick my feet up on a chair while doing it. So take that lunch break and take the time for yourself. This also applies to 4pm when your witching hour hits you - don't be scared to put on a horse mask and run around the office trying to make people laugh. (Unless it will get your fired...do something else if it will get you fired).
L - Leave work early...
Take a half-day off and go home when no one else will be there. Kick off your shoes, take off your bra, and take some time to relax in a quiet home without anyone there. Sure, you may just end up cleaning the entire effing time, but at least you got to clean without anyone else there to make messes after you. This is something I do several times a year and it's required for my sanity - without it, I literally never get a moment to myself where someone isn't relying on me for something and it's something I need to survive.
M - Make time for yourself
This is my workout time every morning, 6 days a week. Yes, it requires me to wake-up at an ungodly time, usually after only 5-6 hours of sleep, but it's an hour or so that I get to myself, for myself. I think I would be a raving, certifiable lunatic without it. Like for real.
Oh that's right, I'm already crazy...
N - Never stop learning
I truly believe in being a lifetime learner and I'm always working towards a new something that I want to learn about. For the past few years, I've dedicated myself to learning more about the insurance business. I also take a lot of time and try to learn as much as I can about fitness and nutrition; I've thought about becoming a personal trainer and/or a registered dietitian. Right now I'm contemplating going back to school and getting either my MBA or my Masters in Human Resources. And I've always had plans to go back to school when I retire and get a degree in literature, since I love reading so much.
O - Open yourself to criticism
This works in your personal and professional life. I promise you are not a flawless, perfect human being, since none of us are. To err is human (right? Isn't that how that phrase goes?). Take the advice/criticism that you get from people and learn from it. Some of it might be unfounded, but you can still learn from why it happened and become a better person when you do.
P - Prep your meals ahead of time
In order to be firing at all cylinders I have to eat well. Eating well means not going out to eat every day for lunch (and that's expensive AF). To make sure I have food all week I always plan out and try to prep as much of my lunch as possible. I will do a full post on meal prep later, since the internet obviously needs more of those, but for now I just say plan it out and try to make your meal at night before you go to bed. This way you can grab it on your way out the door and you know you'll get a nutritious (ish) meal. This week I'm having BBQ chicken from Trader Joe's, rice mixed with pureed cauliflower and either asparagus or broccoli. It's yummy and easy and also leaves me more time for kicking my feet up on my lunch break since I'm not out running around getting food somewhere.
Q - Quit feeling guilty
I don't know about you, but if I let it happen I can feel guilty about everything all the time. I'm not a good enough boss, I can be a better mom, I suck at being a wife, I'm a bad friend, my house is a mess, I don't spend enough time walking the dog, the litter box is dirty, we ate chicken nuggets for dinner for the 3rd time this week...
Try not to let those thoughts overtake your psyche - constantly feeling guilty is no way to live. You are good enough. Your work is (mostly) done, your kids are fed, the really dog doesn't care, the cats will bite your fingers to show they're annoyed but they'll get over it, etc. Whenever you start to beat yourself up just remember that you're doing the best you can and that's the most important thing (and if you're not doing the best you can, then push it until you are).
R - Rest
Take time and rest. Even if it's just 30 minutes after everyone is down for bed and you can plop down on the couch for a bit and watch something dumb on tv, make sure you do it. Even if the laundry isn't done. Because you need that rest way more than those clothes need to be folded. If they end up wrinkled just throw them in the dryer for 20 minutes when you need to wear them #thatshowthismomirons
S - Share your knowledge/expertise
If you are mentoring or training someone, make sure you share all of your best tips/tricks/workflow so they are set-up to succeed. This isn't a competition and we should all be lifting each other up instead of trying to knock each other over. Do good stuff and good stuff will happen to you. I promise.
T - Take time to enjoy the small stuff
Almost every night my daughter curls up against me and wraps her little arm around my neck as she's falling asleep. This morning my son gave me a hug as I was running out to my car and told me to have a good day. He's 13 people - he still hugs me! Someone on my team at work always takes the time to thank me for helping them meet a goal that they struggled to meet for years. That's what it's all about - make sure you take the time to enjoy it.
U - Understand that it's not all about you
Someone might be snippy with you one day - don't take it personally. Your boss might have their door closed all day - it's probably not about you. Your kid will tell you they hate you - it happens to all of us. Take a deep breath, shake it off, and move on.
V - Variety is the spice of life
This is especially important at work. If you find yourself getting bored, find something new to do. Look for a project you can help with or even ask for more responsibilities - I've done both! Don't let yourself get bored and stuck in a rut - that's when complacency happens and then it's a quick slide into lazy-town.
W - Wine.
X - Extend yourself, but don't overextend yourself
It's fine to be uncomfortable in life; shoot, I think it's important and a good thing. The more uncomfortable you make yourself the more you'll put yourself out there and try new things. I always try to do new things and try things that make me uncomfortable since I know those are the best experiences you can have for growth - except bungee jumping or sky diving. Those experiences will never happen.
That being said, don't overextend yourself. And for the love of Pete, don't sign your kids up for every sport under the sun while also expecting them to have straight A's and keep their room clean. Let your kids be a kid and let yourself chill sometimes (which is impossible if you're carting your kids to a million different practices each day after already working a full day).
Y - You
Be you, take time for you, and don't forget who you are. Sometimes you do need to be selfish and take time that you need (which is what I do when I exercise). But by taking that time for you, you're better able to be the you everyone else needs too. Which sounds like something Dr. Seuss may have written, so if I plagiarized, it was not intentional.
Z - Make sure your zipper is zipped
I used to have these work pants that would always unzip themselves. Talk about embarrassing. Now I only wear dresses. Lesson learned.
I hope you're all having a great day. Do any of you have anything to add to the list?