Monday, September 8, 2014

On Working and Mom-ing

I've been a working mom since 2007. In those 7 years, I've just now finally gotten my ish together. And really, getting it together falls under the kind of category.

I feel like there are really no good resources out there for work outside of the home moms to lean on each other or to figure out how to make it all work. And seriously, I am not saying that working outside of the home is harder than staying home. I AM NOT and if you try to make it that in the comments, I will delete you and put a hex on you (maybe not the second part). I am, however, acknowledging that if you're in your house in the evening and it's messy and then you leave for eight hours, guess what? It's STILL messy when you get home--and that kind of sucks.

For two glorious years, I had a cleaning lady and I seriously skipped through my school years without a care in the world, but my cleaning lady no longer cleans and the thought of finding a new one is daunting.

Despite honestly having far more responsibilities this year than when the boys were babies, I desperately wanted to keep it together this year. When the boys were babies, my only goal was to get home and nurse them and kiss them and that was it. Now I have NJHS and department chair and curriculum builder on my plate. Plus, Luke goes to karate three days a week. It's not easy--or rather, I long for the days when I thought I had it hard.

So, it's tough. And I know that people say a happy house is a messy house and blah blah, but I'll be straight with you: I feel happier if my house is clean. Not spotless, mind you. I don't care about the baseboards most days, but I need to feel like I wouldn't be embarrassed if someone stopped by unannounced. THIS is my goal from this point forward. So I've been trying this year, really trying. When I get home, I'm tired. I have a job where people talk at me all day and I just truly want to shut myself up in a dark room with a drink and pretend that the world doesn't exist.

But wait.. if I do that, my house gets even messier?! Crap. So I made myself a chore list. Yes, for me. Every day, I clean a different room or area. One day, I might clean all the bedrooms. The next, the bathrooms. I try to do laundry every couple of days because really, is there anything worse than piles and piles of laundry staring at you? And I always put laundry away before I go to bed--and if it's not dry, I do it at 6 the next morning. I also vacuum the living room and Swiffer the kitchen every single day. Why? These are high traffic areas. If I hit them daily, they aren't as daunting. I'm thinking of investing in a steam mop, like the Shark. Suggestions?
My chore list covers all the days of the week, but it's broken down in a way that it doesn't seem like that much. Clean the bathrooms? Okay, I can handle that on a Tuesday because on Monday, I cleaned all the bedrooms. And I can certainly do it before I have to take Luke to karate or before I have to sit on the floor and play cars with Tommy.

In the past, my weekends were spent yelling and crying and cleaning. Guess how fun that was? JUST GUESS. Now, when I get to the weekends, I've cleaned all the major rooms. I only have to do the main level and do laundry. That's it. I have time for my kids, for my husband and for me. I can't do 20 chore Tuesday or any of the other internet memes that go around about cleaning because at noon on a Tuesday, I'm in my classroom. But what I CAN do is five chore Monday. Five chore Tuesday. Five chore… well, you get the point.

For our students with disabilities, we talk about chunking assignments. Do the first five questions on one day, do the next five another day. Basically what I've done is chunked chores and it works. Are there sacrifices? Sure. I get up at 4:15 in the morning to run so I'm not spending 45-50 minutes an afternoon running. And sometimes I really, really just want to sit on the couch and stare at the wall, but it's a lot easier to fight that urge if I think about how I only have to do three things that night. Oh, and lunches… I have to make lunches every night, but I've started making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Sunday. If you ziploc them, the bread actually stays soft, and then, I just have Luke and Tommy pick their side items and throw them in a lunch box. It works, you guys! Try it!

Is this one-size fits all for every working mom? No, probably not, but it's sure made my life a lot less crazed this year.
What do you do to make things easier around the house? (Working mom or not, I'd love to hear from you!)


Anonymous said...

You have no idea how much I needed to read something like this today. I'm a first time mom to a 5 month old, and I'm really struggling. My husband is a great help, but he doesn't see the needs that have to be done everyday. (Husbands are usually blind to things like that.)

I realize that staying at home would present with its own struggles, but man, I would love to be able to spend more time snuggling with my little boy rather than dropping him off to have someone else do it all day.

I feel like I'm rushing around from the time I get home until I go to sleep trying to get everything done, and not near enough time taking in his babyhood.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm glad to read that someone that identifies with me. Thank you!

InTheFastLane said...

As my kids have gotten older, it has gotten more and more important for me to plan ahead for the week. I make a weekly meal "plan" and then go shopping to make sure I have what we need. I make lunches at night. And now I make breakfasts for my son who has early morning cross country practices. With all the activities and places that we go in the afterschool hours, sometimes it feels like all I do after work, is get ready for the next day. But if I didn't, then it would just be chaos. But, on the other hand, I LOVE seeing my kids enjoy the things that they love. Even if that means that my "relaxation time" is reading a book at TaeKwondo while dinner cooks in the crock pot. Oh, the only other way I survive is using the heck out of my crock pot.

Lyndsay W said...

I tried to do that "little bit of cleaning everyday" system, but then it felt to me like I was ALWAYS cleaning. (But I hope it works for you).

My kiddo assembles most of her lunch now the night before. Sometimes I need to help with the 'main meal' portion, but the fact that she's taken on a lot of the responsibility really helps.

I also do a weekly meal plan and shop for the week. Often I do a second shop, but it's usually very quick - for fresh fruit or an item I forgot.

Amara is doing more hours of dance this year but I actually expect it to be easier as she has cut out other activities. So tonight - yes she has 3 dance classes in a row, but they're all in the same place. So I can watch for a while, go home (3 minutes away) and walk the dog, and go back later to watch the end.

Another trick for cleaning up the clutter is trying to make a game of it for Amara - thankfully she young enough for me to suck her into it. I'll ask her if she thinks she can find 20 things out of place (and then put them away).

Barb Ruess said...

I break up the cleaning by day. I meal plan religiously and use my crock pot multiple times a week. I have the kids put away their own laundry.

I also assign weekly chores to the kids. That way things like dusting & windows & emptying trash cans are off my plate. Do they dust as well as I do? No, but they do a good enough job that I don't feel the need to do it instead of hanging out with them on a Sunday afternoon.

Does this mean I get to spend nights with my feet up & a glass of wine in hand? Well... it at least opens the possibility of it happening sometimes. :)

It's a tricky balancing act and one that we all have to readjust from time to time. I hope this year goes more smoothly in your house!

jaime said...

I've just recently started doing more laundry mid-week. You can imagine how fun it is to do 7 loads of laundry on the weekends. It's definitely helping.

I REALLY need to take your advice and split my chores up per day. I try to do so much on the weekend, but I still just don't have the time (and sometimes I'd rather nap or read a book during Lucas' naptime!)

One crazed mommy said...

I truly, truly, truly feel your pain! I come home most days wanting to relax, and find myself staring at the same mess that was there when I left...if my husband works from home, sometimes worse (he's not a good all!!!) I do laundry almost daily and just save the weekends for sheets and my work clothes (I won't wash them with anyone elses We used to have a housekeeper too...til the economy hit and we had prioritize, and that was the first thing to go...sob!!! I'm struggling now because when I get home my kids need help with homework - so the cleaning gets pushed to the side, and then it gets too late and I say screw it...then repeat the next day. I do make sure the dishes are switched out of the dishwasher every day...I don't like dirty dishes in the sink - however, I will still come home sometimes to dirty dishes in the sink (hubby working at home...hello...) We've been trying to get the kids to help out more, and they have their weekly chores...however, with homework it's hard to maintain them during the we try to get them knocked out early Saturday. That way at least we can enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Theresa Mahoney said...

Honestly, I went to work for my husband 2 years back after staying home for 8 years. It SUCKED! Working moms do have it so much harder (yep, coming from the sahm!) Not only do you have to work all day, you still have to come home and get everything else done that us sahm's do. I was cranky, tired, and found I had NO time for myself. Thankfully, it was only a 4 month job!

I take one day a week (Mondays) and do the entire house. The rest of the week is spot cleaning. 5 minutes to wipe down the bathrooms, maybe 20 in the kitchen. I sweep and mop my floors daily as I have 3 dogs and 2 kids and 1 messy husband, it needs it. That's about 10 minutes. It's so much easier to spend a few extra minutes wiping things down quickly than letting it all build up to one big mess.

My girls are old enough to keep their own rooms clean, and they have to do 2 chores a day (weekends they get off). Easy things like take all the laundry to the basement, vacuum the upstairs floors, feed the dogs. Little things, but it adds up to less time that I have to spend doing them.

As for the mop. I have a Home Right Steam Mop that I really like. It doesn't have a big cord so that's a drawback, but other than that, I love it. I had a Shark before and the damn thing broke after a few months use. Then again, I do have 1800 square feet of hard flooring, so it could have been pushed to its limit after that kind of daily use.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Ugh. We tried doing three things a night and failed already this week.. Whoops. I do meal plan a month ahead so that makes grocery shopping and dinner happen easier. I also bake muffins or a baked oatmeal on Sunday's and keep it for the weeks breakfast and freeze extras. I try to pack lunches ahead of time and clean the fruit ahead of time. I want a cleaning lady. Bad. A housekeeper would be best. Off to do the mountain of laundry....

kar said...

Love the shark! Cleans great and fast. Thanks for the tips. I have been struggling this week with the working mom thing. Going to try out these tips to make the weekends less crazy.