Recently, I spoke with several friends who are also mothers. It seemed like each one of them was complaining about the same thing: They were running around like headless chickens who were tired and worn out and they had no time for themselves.
As working parents we are often pulled in many directions and bombarded with multiple demands at the same time: Your boss wants the report in ten minutes, a child wants a treat now, the laundry basket is overflowing, and we badly need a haircut. The list goes on and on.
Whether you are a working parent with one, two, three or more children, or even the parent of a special needs child, the demands on you and your time seem endless.
Many of us find it difficult to prioritize our own needs above those of others. And sometimes it feels like we are losing ourselves in the process.
While it is important to take care of others, it is essential to take good care of ourselves first. Like the airlines remind us: "Put the oxygen mask onto your own face before helping small children and others". If we can't breathe or function, it's impossible for us to help others.
Taking good care of ourselves has to be a priority! Whether this means going for a run, doing yoga, meeting with friends, or just taking a few minutes to sit down and relax.
Make these rituals ruthless priorities! They help us feel better and stay sane. Plus, your children will benefit by learning and appreciating that taking good care of oneself benefits everyone. Remember: It is not selfish, it is self care.
Copied from Facebook with permission
This Facebook post sums up working parenthood in a nutshell ...
Submitted by Zoe Withers
I had so many plans, but they all went by the wayside when I got sick (and I mean really sick) recently. As a co-founder at ThinkBaby.org, I regularily devote time to writing and cultivating articles for our readers on a wide variety of topics related to children including baby gear, feeding babies, and recipes. Readers appreciate that we provide thoughts about a lot of things which you can see when you scan some of our most recent stories which included thoughts on things like healthy toddler sleep habits, toddler play, and comparing free-style vs. forced parenting.
Being sick was no fun, and I hope I'm never that sick again, but some unexpected good did come from it.
It turned out to be a good opportunity for our kids to bond and interact with both sets of grandparents who were nice enough to swoop in and take care of them whilst I was completely out of action, and my husband was working. I'm grateful that they were willing to keep our house together and our kids fed, bathed, nurtured and loved during the last weeks.
Thankfully I'm feeling great again and am back at it; managing the kids, the house, the web site, and the work. Check out my latest story: Infertility & TTC: Why Self-Love is the Most Important Thing.
Pointer to research results published by ScienceDaily
When our kids were in school, we knew a couple who were highly respected parents. Imagine my thrill when I learned that they limited their very smart and very talented son to two (or was it three?) extracurricular activities at a time. While other parents were bragging about the hours they spent shuttling their kids from activity to activity, these parents confidently let people know that they thought some reasonable limits were best for their son.
Their confidence set the example I needed to let go of any concern I had that my own kids might be falling behind because they weren't overbooked and in constant motion. It was really helpful and comforting information during a time that I needed more help and comfort!
If you would appreciate knowing that your kids don't need to be booked 24/7, look no further than this article published by ScienceDaily: Are your children overdoing it? Too many extracurricular activities can do more harm than good. It summarizes results from a small study in England and points out that "a busy organized activity schedule can ... potentially harm children's development and wellbeing." It may provide the info working parents need to better manage their time and protect their sanity.
Originally Published: May16, 2018 | Last Updated: Jun 11, 2018
Submitted by The Mama Politic
My husband and I both work. I'm an academic researcher. He's a sociologist. We have a daughter who recently turned one and older children from my husband's previous marriage.
For now we're prioritizing my career, although neither of us is slacking on the job. His strong support is enabling me to advance in my dream job as an applied research faculty member at a large university. I feel lucky to have his backing along with somewhat flexible work hours. We also have great daycare which we appreciate. Our caregiver is wonderful, and our daughter appears to be thriving. Lots of things are going really well.
Still, it isn't easy. One of the things I find hardest about being a working parent is balancing career objectives with this feeling that I need to "do it all". And look fantastic doing it! As the sole cook in our family (long story), I need to get dinner ready each evening. Given my food allergies, this takes some extra effort. And to make things extra challenging, my daughter just started becoming incredibly fussy when we get home at the end of the day. Trying to make dinner and keep her happy is starting to feel like a losing battle. Between my Type A personality that has me wanting to make a great dinner and her unabated screaming, feelings of frustration and uselessness often take over. Hopefully this is a temporary phase.
One way I am staying motivated is by training myself to say, "Screw that!" to a lot of things. I didn't puree my daughter's food when she was younger, I don't make bento boxes, and right now I just feed my daughter everything we eat - spices and all. She has slept in her own crib since day one, and I never breastfed because post partum depression required me to take a mood stabilizer. Sometimes I feel like I can't possibly be "enough" at home. Interestingly, many things seem to come more naturally to my husband than they do to me. Maybe it's because he has older children and has done this before. Still, I feel like I need to do it all, or at least I want to do it all. These feelings and challenges are helping me learn the value of prioritization.
As I ponder the way we negotiate this life, I think about my need for my husband to support my career goals and understand my need to go to work every day. We are far from perfect, but he definitely has my back professionally. This may be difficult for some couples to understand. Maybe the fact that we both had working moms is why it feels right to us.
Some friends who don't get it give me flak. They warn me that I'll regret not putting our daughter to bed every single night, and they're concerned that I've never cried when I've taken her to daycare. When our daughter was six months old, I changed jobs so I could spend more time with her, but some still seem concerned for me.
My husband and I take this all in. We also know that our daughter is healthy, happy, and developmentally on track. She clearly loves us. Because we need our work to feel fulfilled, we truly believe that we're making choices that are best for her, our marriage and our family. It just feels right.
Submitted by Susan Sarate
As a wife and mother to two kids, I've always wanted the best for my family. I was raised by a strong mother and great father and feel so thankful that I grew up in a happy home. My mom, who raised me back in the 70s, convinced me that when a mom worked the kids lost out and the mother would eventually be filled with regret. I believed her. Why wouldn't I? She was a great mother and full of fun. She made our lives fun. The thing is, back in 2006, just as my own family was taking shape, she died. She didn't live long enough to answer my questions, understand my family dynamics, or witness the changes that have occurred over the last ten years.
Submitted by Jon Thorne (The New Papa)
While I was in the expecting stages of becoming The New Papa, a wise father told me that a man could never truly know fear until he has a child. Now, this father was similar to me in that his son was born to him in his mid-40s. What was different was that his son had severe health problems, needing surgery and intensive medical care. At that time, I simply played off the idea that this father had had a rare experience and his ideas of fear came from a unique place. His experience was his own and mine would be totally different. I wouldn't fear anything. Of course, I was totally wrong.
I was very fortunate that my beautiful baby boy was born very healthy. Yet, that idea of truly knowing fear came at me fast and furious, even before my boy was born. During my wife's labor, as she lay on the delivery table waiting for her water to break, a sudden alarm came blasting through our phones. This was followed by a 6.6 magnitude earthquake. Now, I'm from California and am quite experienced with earthquakes. I can usually brush them off pretty instantly. Not this time. My heart sank. I froze in terror. I was waiting for everything to come crashing down, being on the fifth floor of the hospital. All my golden dreams of the picture perfect family turned into a bloody mess of carnage underneath the rubble and dust of a flattened building. Obviously that did not happen. The doctors came in and were quite reassuring, but I still asked if I could have my own epidural. My legs shook the rest of the day, even after the delivery was over and I was at home finally trying to get some sleep. It kept running through my head: such a fragile creature I just created. How the hell could the human race have survived this long?!? It was the first of many sleepless nights.
Even now, after my seasoned fatherhood of 11 months, that fear remains. I'm still waiting for it all to come crashing down. New fears now dominate my thoughts: is he eating enough, did I proof the house enough, is my wife too stressed, am I holding him too much or not enough, what's that new rash on his leg, shouldn't he be walking by now, is he crying all day when I'm at work, what if I lose my job, is my health strong enough to do this, what if I die? The weight of it all is immense. I haven't yet learned how to shake it completely off, but I do have some ideas on how to manage it all.
I feel that in order to manage fear, you have to be able to understand where the fear comes from. For me it's pretty simple, I'm a control freak. I've said it before, I've always had a basic lack of trust in people. This has led me to avoid accepting help from others, the prideful vanity of doing everything on my own and my own way. I've noticed the fearful thoughts are the loudest as I'm on my way to work, from the moment I step out of the house. It's at that point I give up all control and the symphony of worry begins. It generally lasts all day until I return home and pick up my son. It's a horrible way to spend the day. It causes me to make many decisions based on the fear. I can't go out for a coffee after work, I need to get home immediately. I can't buy that new bag for work, all my money needs to be saved for emergencies. I can't complain to my wife about anything because she's already stressed and tired. It's not healthy, and not what my son or wife needs.
Thus, another lesson for The New Papa to learn: you can't control everything all the time. I have to believe in my wife, that she has the power to be an amazing and caring mother. I have to believe in my son, that he has the power within him to grow strong and independent. I have to believe in myself, that I have the power to truly put my thoughts and focus on the areas that I can and should control. I cannot make another decision rooted in fear. Only sorrow and misery will sprout. I want my family to be surrounded by trees of hope!
Another wise friend (really lucky to have so many wise people in my life) once wrote that the lack of peace in most people's lives comes from living in fear of a future that may never even happen. It's time to start living in the joy of a future that will eventually come true!
Being a parent is hard sometimes. Being a parent with a job outside the home doesn't make things easier. And being a working parent with a special needs child often feels downright overwhelming.
As a working parent with a special needs child, I recently found myself so exhausted and heartbroken that I was confused. I didn't know whether I was feeling challenged by parenting, my special needs child, or my work environment.
So I did what I usually do when I am confused: research. I turned to Google and searched on "parents struggling with special needs children". I got a lot of results. There are tons of great blogs and articles from special needs parents, organizations, and medical institutions. It was unbelievable.
One blog entry from a mother of a special needs child was especially comforting for me. It said something like this: “If you have come to this blog because you Googled 'struggling with special needs children' you must feel very exhausted. Let me tell you: you are not alone. And believe me, what you do day in and day out is truly exhausting, and it is incredible! You are a Superhero.”
That helped me so much. Instantly. I felt validated, understood, and knew I wasn't alone.
Whether we are parents, working parents, or working parents with special needs children, what we do is important. And most importantly: we are not alone in our struggles, fears and feelings. There are others out there who feel the same way we do, and they can offer comfort, encouragement, and even inspiration.
So next time you feel worn out and tired by all of the challenges you face as a working parent, remember: You Are a Superhero!
Submitted by Jim Haselmaier
Managing personal and professional obligations is a challenge on a good day. When unexpected complications pop up it gets even harder to keep everything and everyone on track. You probably know what I mean; a meeting that runs late, a call from the school, realizing that you've got two different colored socks on as you prepare to meet with your customer, or, a family member that gets sick.
When someone gets sick at home, the challenges can mushroom into even more problems if other family members end up with the bug. And being sick yourself is often the worst because, in addition to feeling lousy, you start to fall behind at work and at home as the ratio of "doers" (aka "parents") to those needing attention (aka "kids") gets out of whack.
Submitted by Laurie Steele
My boys were born when "working mothers" were sort of a new trend. Back then I felt grateful to get six weeks of maternity leave, and there was no concept of paternity leave. My mother-in-law brought me home from the hospital after our first son was born because my husband needed to go back to work the next day. There were no cell phones or Internet communications back then. And ... the thing I am most bitter about: there were no drink holders in strollers.
My husband worked in the field. Literally. He was on an outdoor construction crew and worked from sun-up to sun-down for nine months of the year. So when it was time for me to go back to work, he was leaving home at 6:00 am each morning. That meant that before I went to work, I was on my own in terms of getting the boys ready for and delivered to daycare every morning. After my full day of work, I also had to pick them up. My husband got home between 5:00 and 8:00 pm every night, but there was no way of knowing exactly when he would pull into the driveway on any given evening.
Fast forward to the day when our youngest was a toddler. He came down with a violent 24-hour barfing bug, and I had a serious deadline. I begged my husband to call in sick because I really needed to be at work that day. He acquiesced, and I left him with a barfing, pooping toddler, and a honey-do list that included installing a kid-lock on the knife drawer.