I grew up with a stay at home mom. While she worked for a bit after I was born, the years that I remember she was home. She made our lunches, volunteered in our school, was home for us after school, and attended all of our events. I longed to do the same when I had kids, but the reality of having a husband as a teacher doesn’t afford that possibility. I am fortunate to have my summers off and be home by four o’clock most nights, but the balance still isn’t easy.
When I was pregnant, I had in my mind that I would be able to do it all and dedicate myself to my job and my family. I would have dinner made most nights, the house would remain clean and I would feel accomplished each day at work. I also believed I would still have moments to myself to relax. I quickly realized when I went back to work after twelve weeks, how impossible this reality would be. Most days I don’t even sit down to relax until it’s time to go to bed and start the day over again.
I’ve been a working mom for only a short time, but the stress of this balancing act has already gotten to me. I honestly feel like I’ve lost my mind most days, and I can’t focus long enough on a single task to get anything accomplished. The laundry remains in piles or half folded on the basement floor, while another load is waiting to go in the dryer, and I have clean clothes sitting in a basket upstairs that I get dressed from each morning. The dust is piled up on furniture and the bathrooms haven’t been deep cleaned in who knows how long. Our guest bedroom has piles of stuff to go to Goodwill and paperwork to be sorted through, and toys are scattered across the living room. Embarrassing, I know, but it’s the reality at this point in my life.
My work pulls me in one direction, and my home (husband, child, housework) pulls me in another. Each place and person requires 100 percent dedication, but I can’t give 100 percent to both. I rush to work in the morning, but all day my mind is on my child. What is she doing at daycare? Is she being good? Did she take good naps? I rush home in the evening to be with her, but at night my mind is on how much work I have to do the next day.
As my child gets older and is nearing the end of the baby stage, I keep telling myself that things will get better. My house will eventually be clean, and I won’t feel like I’m trying to divide myself in a million different pieces to get things accomplished. But the opposite is true—as my child gets older things are only getting worse. I come home from work and dedicate every moment to spending time playing with her until bedtime. Cleaning doesn’t happen and dinner barely gets made some nights. By the time she gets to bed I’m exhausted and want to sit on the couch and relax. The last thing I want to do is spend time cleaning bathrooms and putting laundry away.
Is there a solution to my situation? I’d love to know if you have one. But to me I’d rather spend every moment with my daughter since I spend eight hours a day away from her. The cleaning, laundry, and bathrooms can wait at least until she’s off to college, right?