Posted on | December 4, 2013 | No Comments
(Fist bump to Montell Jordan for the title, amiright?)
Even before I became a single working mother, I always heard a lot of “I just don’t know how you do it” from women who worked from home as either a mother or an employee of this or that company. They seemed to think there was some magic juggling gene that was instilled in we working moms that made us suddenly able to accomplish the unaccomplishable with lightening speed. When I got divorced, there was a lot more of the same… a veritable chorus of “how how how do you do it” that seemed to follow me wherever I went. As if it’s magic. As if I somehow do it all with one hand tied behind my back.
In this world of instagram filters and selective sharing with the whole world, it’s easy to believe that someone is doing it all, being everything to everyone, and somehow doing it better and easier than you are.
They (probably) aren’t.
Here’s the truth… I struggle every day to balance my work life and my home life. Every day is a struggle of what gets done and what doesn’t. There is NEVER a day when everything gets done. The real and total truth is that I DON’T do it. I just don’t. Not all of it. Some days, not any of it.
Yesterday, our newest associate made a joke about how she would have to learn how to do it all … work, clean, make dinner… and that her sister told her she’d just figure it out. And yeah… it’s true, you do just figure it out. But it never hurts to have a little help.
So with that, here’s what I’ve learned/how I’ve learned to manage a career outside the home and a career inside the home and still have time to cry about how hard it all is:
1) Find your “thing.” It sounds silly, but everyone has a “thing.” One room, one item, one place that if that thing or place is tidy, you don’t feel so overwhelmed. For me, it’s making my bed. If I can just remember to make up my bed in the morning, I don’t feel quite so overwhelmed with how messy my house is when I get home. Of course, for me… once I make up the bed, I tend to straighten up the room around it, so maybe it’s just having a clean bedroom? I don’t know. But I know I can deal with dishes in the sink and crumbs on the sofa if I just have a made bed to crawl into at night. So find your “thing” and remember to do it every day. You’ll feel so much better.
2) Sundays are for cooking. Seriously. If you try to cook every night you will go bat shit crazy. Cook a big meal on Sundays. Make a lasagna that will last a few days. Make a pot of chili. Make two or three things that you can pull out and serve without having to chop, dice, stir, or puree. You will feel MUCH better about what you’re serving for dinner.
3) Don’t be afraid of frozen food. Yes. Everyone should eat organic. Everyone should eat fresh fruit and vegetables. Everyone should have a home cooked… blah blah blah. There’s great stuff in the frozen food aisle. I’m especially partial to the Bird’s Eye steamers… just broccoli or green beans, no sauce, that take five minutes to steam up into a healthy side dish in the microwave. Yes. Please. And. Thank. You. Take a little while and peruse the frozen food section then say a silent thank you to whoever dreamed up that gold mine. It will be your bestest friend.
4) Pack lunches at night. Just trust me on this. It’s a pain, but it’s MORE of a pain to try to do it in the morning.
5) Give up on doing everything. You can’t. Trust me. You can do some things. You might even be able to do most things. But you can not do everything. There will be days when the laundry mildews in the washer. There will be days when the dishes pile up in the sink because you don’t have time to unload the dishwasher. There will be days when “tidying up” consists of brushing breakfast crumbs onto the floor to make room for dinner crumbs. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay. Because at the end of the day, you just have to remember that to everyone else… you’re doing it all. To everyone outside, to everyone looking in and not seeing the moments when your trashcan tips over and you’re just too tired to pick it all up, or when you slip on dog pee and fall on your ass and scream out “I JUST CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE” … to all of them, you’re doing it all.
And they don’t know how you do it.