Probably one of the MOST frequently asked Q’s since Olivia entered stage left was, “What’s your schedule like?” and also “How do you get it all done??????” Oh, sweet friend…I don’t.
Simple as that.
One of the hardest, quickest truths as a work-at-home parent is that something has ALWAYS gotta give. Initially, I had a totally naive, glorified version of work-at-home parenthood in my brain before actually becoming one. I thought HOW GREAT, I can run my business AND run my household AT THE SAME TIME without missing out on anything!
I probably thought I could learn to play bagpipes and churn butter while I was at it, because I was in unicornland.
Here’s the thing: You CAN do it all.
But you can’t do it all at the same time. Or, you can’t do it all at the exact same level or expectation + committment that you might have done previously, or that you might’ve otherwise thought you could.
For the first 2.5 months of Liv’s life, she was in the hospital, so my life was very much in transit and I essentially missed a typical newborn period. Then we had a period of her being home but not yet mobile, so that’s one bear because sleeping through the night might not yet be a thing. THEN you transition again because they sleep through the night BUT become mobile and curious creatures, so everything is suddenly a hazard (because Lord knows that they can have every Fisher Price toy under the sun and STILL want the freaking coffee table coaster instead). Having kids is one transition after another, and riiiiiight when you think you’re comfortable with a given routine – it changes.
Now, it’s been harder. Olivia is SO FREAKING ACTIVE and adventurous and curious and fun which is all INCREDIBLE, and she’s juuuuust about walking, which means all hands on baby deck whenever she’s awake. And that’s not at ALL a complaint – it’s just reality and it totally changes what’s possible during a single day.
And I’ll be honest (as always)…I’ve been struggling.
Like, really struggling.
Mom guilt is so real – or maybe just guilt as a woman in general? If I spend no time on my business one day I feel guilty, like I’m not doing my job, am a bad businessowner, or am not serving my audience (you guys) as I should be. Alternatively, if I try to multi-task or work more, I’m giving up family time in some capacity. It’s this constant back-and-forth in our brains – and granted, it’s a blessing to even HAVE a back-and-forth mental battle in the first place, I know!
But it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you’re just not good enough at wearing any of your hats. I’ve had to let go of a LOT of expectations that I had set upon myself, and disappointing yourself is sometimes the hardest disappointment to overcome. I didn’t go into it consciously realizing my own expectations, I don’t think, but in analyzing my personal disappointments, I’ve felt like a crappy mama anytime I’d have my computer out around Olivia, or a crappy wife anytime J was coming home to a tornado path in the house.
In reality, if you’re a work-at-home parent, you have to realize that you have TWO full-time jobs under the same roof.
Both are battling for your 9-to-5 attention and then some.
It is physically and realistically IMPOSSIBLE to perform each at the same level you might have been used to before adding a second to the mix. Because while you have a second job on your plate, you do not have a second set of 24 hours.
And I think obviously parenthood in GENERAL is hard. Being a stay-at-home parent is hard. Being a work-at-home parent is hard. Being a working parent in general is hard. But I think that working at home in particular is especially challenging in the sense of having ALL of your responsibilities under ONE roof, and not getting a break or separation from any of it ever. It’s a constant internal AND external battle for attention and time, and you get constant physicial, visual reminders of what’s not getting done
So. That’s a bit of word vomit, but here’s a sample day of what life is like together at home. It changes pretty regularly depending on so many factors, but it’s what we aim for as a “routine” at this point.
A sample day:
5 am – I wake up, workout, do my morning routine and get to work. This takes SO MUCH discipline and sometimes I lack it, but I’m really trying to make it a habit because it’s essential to the productivity of the rest of my day (+ the overall sanity of my mind??? Ha!).
7 am – Olivia wakes up. Hangs out with J + I while we get ready.
8 am – Olivia has breakfast!
8:30-ish – Down for a nap. She’s still taking two naps USUALLY, although some morning naps are a lost cause and girlfriend is a ball of energy straight through lunchtime. So it’s a day-by-day thing! Her morning nap time can really vary in length anymore because of that, too, so what I’m getting done during it REALLY depends. Sometimes I’m using that time to quickly get ready and dive into work (usually writing + my inbox). But either way, I plan things that require more brain power for the morning before the afternoon sleepies kick in!
10 am – Wakes up, plays + reads with her until lunch!
12 pm – Lunchtime. I give Liv lunch typically while I’m eating so that we can have a little lunch date. 🙂
1-3 pm – Afternoon nap. Also varies in length – girlfriend has been teething for awhile which affects things so much, as well. If I’m lucky here, I get a chunk of the afternoon, where I’m trying to get into a solid work swing.
3-6 pm – Playtime! Once Olivia wakes up from her afternoon nap, we have a snack together and then head downstairs to our basement, which we have set up like a little playroom. It’s also where we have my piano, and Liv loveloveLOVES when I play and sing with her. So we play games, build things, and jam out until daddy gets home.
6 pm – J gets home and takes over by giving Olivia dinner. We WANT to get everyone situated to eat all together as a whole family, but it’s been complicated up to this point since we eat different things and she’s on a pretty consistent, strict bedtime routine. So she’s been doing dinner with him to bond before bathtime around 6:30 and then bedtime at 7.
7 pm – Once Olivia is down, we make our Home Chef for the two of us (total lifesaver, can’t recommend it enough – my code ERICAL80 will get you $80 off your first 4 boxes!) and hang out. Typically I have more work that needs to get done, so I crank out as much as humanly possible from 6 pm when J gets home until dinner is ready (J is a bombdotcom cook and likes making Home Chefs for us anyways!). That way, we can eat dinner undistracted together and then have some quality time to just chill or catch up on our favorite shows until bedtime!
More often than not, the “work day” ends and I’m lucky if I got 1-2 things crossed of my list – sometimes things as simple as “send so-and-so an email.” So more often than not, I’m a *wee* bit stressed out by the time J gets home, because I’ve got a full day’s worth of work and then some to cram into maybe an hour, unless I want to sacrifice time with my husband or sleep then, too. And so begins a pretty unhealthy cycle if I’m not careful. So…that’s where the struggle comes in across the board, in constantly choosing what thing can get less attention in that moment (which feels much more like living a reactive life instead of leading with intention, but it is what it is right now!).
I definitely don’t have it all “figured out” and am constantly changing + evolving + trying new things as Olivia grows, too.
At this point, we’re on a very active hunt for help. I’ll save that spiel until I’m somewhat on “the other side” of it and adjust a bit to HAVING help. Because truthfully, I think as working parents that in and of itself is a struggle. I’ve known I’ve needed help for awhile now and just felt downright guilty or bad accepting that sometimes.
Because it can make us feel like failures as parents. Like we SHOULD be able to “balance” both, or like if we’re going to “give up” something, it should be everything else for our child. But that’s not necessarily right or true or realistic or healthy.
We can’t all give up our jobs when we have kids – and we don’t all WANT to give up our jobs when we have kids. I loveloveLOVE my job. I feel so dang blessed to be even able to CALL this my job. I don’t WANT to completely give it up!
Am I “in control” of my schedule given my job? Sometimes yes…but sometimes no. There’s an ongoing list of must-do tasks, should-do tasks, will-do-in-the-future-if-and-when-I-have-more-hands tasks…and my jobs comes with deadlines from the folks who pay me and responsibilities to truly serve my audience, who is always my priority here!
So we’re in an ongoing search right now – we’ve been looking into either an in-home nanny or The Goddard School for a few days a week. I realize we SO VERY BLESSED to even have options like that to consider, so there’s a part of me that just feels stupid for even feeling crappy in the first place (I also realize I’m doing some soul-spilling right now, so just bear with me ok???). We toured The Goddard School yesterday and while it was good, I also just had SO MANY MIXED FEELS once we got home and cried to J about how I just want to be able to do it all.
But I can’t.
And neither can you.
And it’s OK to ask for help.
Because at the end of the day, you need to be taking care of yourself to be able to take care of them.
And we’re human.
So that’s that. Not sure if this was “helpful” for anyone out there, but my hope is that it was even if in the sole sense of being able to relate with some of the feels and knowing that you’re not alone if you’ve been feeling those feels, too?
Are you a work-at-home parent?
Or even not working at home – but working parent in general? Would lovelovelove to hear your thoughts and/or how you’ve structured your days, too.