Balance

The PAIL Monthly Theme post topic for December is about balancing life, work, and parenthood. Finding the right balance to make sure you’re taking care of all of those areas…it’s an ongoing process, and it’s one I struggle with every day. Sometimes I feel like we really have things dialed in right now…and then sometimes I just feel UGH.

Life.

In this category, I consider taking care of myself (physically, mentally, emotionally) and my husband (namely, our relationship and marriage as a whole) as the most important parts. Honestly, I’ve often been often failing at this particular category for the past year. I feel like the “life” part of the equation is the first part I let slide, which basically means I quit working out and eating well which gets me down on myself, and partly because of that and partly because of a lack of positive effort on my part, I start nit-picking at my husband, which in turn puts a strain on our marriage. UGH. I need to make taking care of ME a priority, because when I do, I also take better care of my husband and my family as a whole. Health – physical, emotional, and mental health – is so crucial to a good life. Health and faith.

Work.

I’m currently working 35 hrs/week (4 days outside the home), and it’s working out okay. I like my coworkers, and I like the flexibility of working just three minutes from home and daycare. I don’t love that it’s not my dream job. I don’t love that I’m not making much money, and that contributes to me feeling at times that I’m borderline working to pay other people to raise my child. At the same time, I don’t know if I could do the full time SAHM thing. It’s a tricky balance. I actually accomplish more at home now that I’m back at work – somehow knowing that I only have “x minutes” at any given time to do 18 things gets me motivated to check as much as possible off the list…where on my days at home, I tend to think “I’ll do that during her next nap…” and suddenly it’s 5pm and I haven’t done half the shit I meant to. I’m really not sure I could stay home all the time and (1) feel like I’m properly educating/entertaining my daughter, (2) get housework stuff done and still feel fulfilled, (3) not go nuts without adult interaction.

Parenthood.

Phew. This is something I have been working at every day, and I think I’m doing pretty great at it. The problem is that I almost always prioritize my parenting above my work and life…and that’s not really balance, and I know it won’t work out for me in the long run. I need to have a strong marriage and sense of self, not to metion feel fulfilled in my work and daily life, in order to model those hopes for my daughter!

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So… on to the prompt questions and my thoughts.

  • Are you working outside the home with little one(s) at home? How do you balance the two? Does your partner work outside the home as well?
    • Charlie and I both work outside the home out of financial necessity (he’s gone 6am-5pm Monday through Friday and I’m gone 8am-6pm Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri). I wish I could stay home more, but I know I also need to appreciate that I have a 4 day work week and still get 3 full days at home with Stella. When she was teeny tiny (8w old when I went back to work), I was able to visit her every day at lunch and nurse her, and that helped me a lot to feel more balanced about the whole thing. Also, it helps that I’m glad she gets 2 days/week at daycare – I think it’s great for her social skills, and Miss Jen is amazing. If I hadn’t gone back to work, I would definitely still have a much harder time letting go. That being said, I was supposed to send her today (Wednesday – my day off) so that I could get some bookkeeping done that I’m behind on, but instead I’m writing this during her nap and planning on hanging out with her the rest of the day instead. Oops. Overall, I think the WOHM balance is going pretty well for us. There are days I wish I could just stay home and snuggle and play with Stella, but for the most part, I really enjoy being around adults for awhile and I’m constantly amazed at the things Stella learns at daycare that it never would have occurred to me to teach her. I think KEY to the balance working for us is that I am VERY happy that we were able to find an at-home daycare that has just a couple of other kids and that the other two days of the week she is watched by my SIL and my MIL. It’s a great balance for Stella for sure!
  • What factored into your decision to stay home, work from home, or work outside the home?
    • Finances, #1. Feeling “fulfilled,” #2. For me, I wanted to be still making some money (for both reasons 1 and 2!), and I wanted some adult time. I’m a very social, outgoing person, and I was afraid of being home with Stella nonstop. Don’t get me wrong, I LOOOOVED those first 8 weeks at home with her (and if I lived in a country that gave us a full year maternity leave and we could afford it, you’d better bet I’d have stayed home the entire first year!)…but that being said, I’m glad I’m back at work. We’ve talked about what a second child could/would do to that balance, and I think I’d probably go back to staying at home during the day, but pick up some bartending shifts a couple nights/weekends. I’d effectively bring home the same net amount of money since we wouldn’t have to pay for daycare, I’d still get that social interaction that I crave, plus I’d get more time home with the kid(s). I think it’s easy for me to see going this route because I’m not currently in my dream job (I live in a town of less than 1,000 people, so you kind of work whatever job you can to survive around here).
  • How did you find the balance that works for you while being a SAHM/WAHM/WOHM?
    • Trial and error!!
    • I’ve learned to prepare diaper bags and lunches and bottles the night before so that mornings are less of a rush and more of me hanging out eating breakfast with my daughter before work.
    • During the weekend I plan out the meals for the week to make dinner prep faster so that I have more time to just enjoy hanging out with my family in the evenings after work.
    • I use my lunch breaks to do one of the following things depending on how I feel that day: (1) visit Stella,  (2) run any errands that are needed, (3) work out. It helps me to feel productive so in the evenings I can just chill.
    • Charlie does the majority of the nighttime routine now. THIS HELPS SO MUCH. I get the morning routine and special time…we both hang out with her from 5:30-7 (cook/eat dinner and play)…then Daddy does the bath/pjs/books part of the routine for about 45 minutes, and then I go nurse her to (almost) sleep by 8pm. Probably 5/6 nights out of 7 he does that, and it gives me time to clean up after dinner, check some blogs, work out, or just SIT for a bit while he gets bonding time with Stella. This was key to our nighttime balance that we have found!
    • From 8-9/10pm is the time that Charlie and I spend together. We talk, watch one of our favorite shows, or try to find the energy to be intimate. That time is so necessary for us to reconnect as a couple, and it’s something we are trying harder to do.

So there ya go…our pseudo-ever changing balance. So far it works for us, but we will see what tomorrow brings. :-)

Stella came with me to my work meeting this morning - AND enjoyed her 2nd real time in a convertible carseat. :)

Stella came with me to my work meeting this morning (yes, on my day off! but at least they like when I bring her with) – AND actually enjoyed her 2nd real time in a convertible carseat. :)

Check out everyone else’s great submissions to this topic here!

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18 comments

  1. Great post adn good insight.

    I am on the same page, I feel like life and my stuff comes second to the parenting. I always said I would make sure my marriage is super healthy before anything else, but that is easier said than done.

    We have a similar routine, I am the morning person and then we hang out together when we get home but 7:30 on is Ray.

    It sounds like you have it together . . . .for now!!!!!

  2. May I ask when Charlie started doing most of the nighttime routine? My daughter is almost 6 months old and I would love for my husband to take over more during this time, but he is very reticent. He doesn’t feel comfortable giving her a bath (I’ve never figured out why, but I think he is anxious about keeping her safe and doesn’t trust himself not to do something ‘wrong’ and hurt her). Any tips? Thanks!

    1. It was probably right around 6-7 months, because that’s when we started solids and she was getting so messy at dinnertime that we started giving her nightly baths as part of the bedtime routine, which also helped her to wind down and sleep better. Honestly, I kind of had to FORCE him to do it in the beginning (he was also anxious about it I think)…but within a few days of doing it, he started to really enjoy it. It’s fun to him now that she can easily sit and crawl around in the tub and SPLASH (Daddy taught her that). It’s become a great time for them to interact together every night one-on-one. Occasionally I’ll go in there as well and Charlie and I will sit and talk and play together with her, but usually it’s just Daddy!

      Also – it generally goes better when I was NOT in the room – otherwise I’d catch myself “correcting” how he washed her hair or brushed her teeth, and that definitely led to needless bickering between us instead of him just enjoying his time with her.

      1. I so second letting him try it on his own. Especially for me as a SAHM, I’m obviously always right ;) and it’s hard to step back and stay back. Once he gets into a groove, you can head back in with him sometimes and even surprise yourself when you realize he’s figured out a better way!

      2. Thanks so much!

  3. Great post, lady! Your routine is very similar to ours and just like you, I left “LIFE” slip before work and waaaay before parenting.

    It’s all about balance. I’d love to be able to reduce my hours by a day, but for now, I think we have a good thing going. Now, if baby #2 ever happens, that may be a different story!

  4. I wish I could be half as balanced as you. This is what I was hoping to find in this theme. Help to figure out how to balance with other’s experiences. It sounds like you guys have a working plan that is easily modified. I like having balance but I need it to be flexible. Maybe having Babe do the night thing would be helpful….right now we take turns, you clean up dinner, I’ll do the bath and tomorrow we’ll switch kind of thing. Being home with her all day, sometimes I really like him to take that time so they have bonding time. I really encourage that when he has a long trip coming up.

    1. Yeah, I’ll do bath myself on occasion if he has friends over or something, but for the most part, it really is his one true time of the day to just CONNECT with her. I get all day, three days a week to do that (and mornings)…so I’m glad that it has become a “daddy” thing to do in our household now.

  5. “I actually accomplish more at home now that I’m back at work.” This is SO true. When you’re home (whether you’re a SAHM or the time you spend on the weekends), you just always seem to find other things to do. I was SUPER efficient with the finances, bills, appointments, etc. when I was working. Now, I’m lucky if I get the phone bill paid on time (I use that as an example because your post reminded me to go and pay it!).

    I think you’ve got a great handle on the balance. I need to focus on B more. Your post has helped me realize that. Maybe I’ll jump his bones tonight. I mean, I did shave my legs last night in preparation for my ultrasound today. HA! ;)

    1. Hahahahaha. This made me laugh at my desk!! I always shave for my ultrasounds/scans too! Haha. Nacho has actually picked up on it and thinks that means sexy time! ;)

  6. Wow, you really have the schedule down. You seem to have really good balance, and even some alone time with Charlie. I also think I’ll be more productive when I go back to work. I used to worry, how will I do it all, but I’m way more productive when I need to get out of the house early and juggle many things at once. If I am stagnant (like I am now) not much gets done. In fact, it was 1 pm before I got into the shower today. :) Enjoying the time relaxing during maternity, but I know I’ll feel much more myself when I am running around getting things done, and then the downtime is so much more treasured.

  7. Awesome post. It’s hard being a working mom. Well, it’s probably just hard being a mom.

  8. I wish I took better care of myself. I try but with such limited time, it’s always the first thing I push back. Great post!

  9. [...] Josey @ My Cheap Version of Therapy talks about how hard it is to not let the “life” ball fall when so much focus goes into Parenting and Work in “Balance.” [...]

  10. I love how so many of the dads do the night routine. Stan does ours as well as long as he’s home. It’s a special time, for sure, and the days when i do Sofi’s bath she always says, “dada?” Makes me smile every time!

    I think it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good balance going. You certainly have the priorities set out and know where you might be lacking. That’s the first step, for sure!

  11. I love the way you’ve examined the different areas of your life, and that while you know your priorities, you’re also trying to keep the neglected areas afloat. It’s so hard to take care of ourselves, but you’re absolutely right that it’s important!

  12. Love your post especially the beginning where you say sometimes you feel like you’ve got it and other times…ugh…I totally feel that way too…balance is such an ongoing thing, isn’t it? :)

  13. That awkward moment where SRB thinks she already commented on this post, and then realizes that she…did not.

    ANYWAY. Yes, you nailed it – being home all day, for me, absolutely means “doing it later”. And then it is four o’clock and now the baby is awake and the house is a write-off and dinner is expected and I cram it ALL into one hour and stop using commas. I suck at time management when all there is is time.

    I have taken cues from you and shifted most of the bedtime routine to BJB, and we are working on spending “quality” non-screen time with each other. He is even doing his HB prep without me having to harp on him. I like that you ended your post this way, as I think taking the time to really connect with our partners is a big key to at least *feeling* like things are more in balance. :)

Virtual Hugs (FYI - your comment may be held in moderation for me to approve if you have never commented here before - I try to approve as quickly as possible!)

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