27 answers

Managing Time with Kids and Work.

Ok moms, you all have never lead me astray before so I thought I would through this one on you and see what you all think. I stay at home with my kids and also do work at home. I do advertising and marketing which is quite demanding and use no form of daycare or babysitting with the exception of a few days in the summer when I have a young girl in college come over and help.

I am so lucky that I can do my work at home and not have to deal with taking my kids somewhere every day and having a boss to contend with. However, here is the problem, I have three kids ranging in age from 1 year to 9 years. They are the absolute light of my life! What I am running into, especially since the third one came along, is being able to do work at home, manage the household, and rear three beautiful children. My husband works extensive hours in that he will work during the day, come home for a few hours at night for dinner and family time and then head out to work again until wee hours of the night only to start it up again the next day. I find myself struggling to get the kids to bed only to find myself working until wee hours of the night myself to get my work done. Basically I spend my entire existence trying not to flip out, I run on 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night, I never see light at the end of the tunnel, and I do not get out on my own very often. When my husband and I have spoken about it, he says that there are mothers everywhere that are able to work 40 hours a week and hold it together and does not understand why I cannot. I have repeatedly explained that those mothers have daycare and go to a job whereas I am at home doing 30-ish hours a week, where the house gets messier because we are there, the kids have constant demands so I cannot really concentrate until they are asleep and they have to eat, etc. I am getting to the point of massive frustration and feel like I am starting to take it out on my kids since my patience is thinning.

I never want my kids to feel unhappy or unappreciated by me. I would have 10 more of them, they are so wonderful. I just need to know that I am not crazy and if any of you are able to handle a lot of hours working, with your kids and household responsibilities at the same time. Is there a better way to manage this chaos without seeming like your going to have a nervous breakdown?

Thanks in advance!

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More Answers

T., first of all, please let your husband know that women all over the world do not raise three kids, work full-time in home, and keep up the house without help. I don't know how you have managed as long as you have. There's no big secret tip that I can give you except that you need to give yourself a break and get some help. You need at least a part-time (25 hours/week?) nanny/college student to help you. If that isn't workable, the little ones need to go to day care. If you aren't making enough money to make this worthwhile, I would think you need to reconsider working. I have 2 kids, work full-time. The kids are in day care and I can barely manage. Working at home would be impossible. Please don't look at day care as a bad thing. My kids learn a great deal there and I love the staff. Anyway, my opinion is that you need help, not criticism from your husband. Good luck with everything!

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It sounds like your hubby isn't being very understanding. My opinion though, I don't know him so I can't judge. Maybe you should look into more permanent daycare-even a few hours a day so you can avoid working to the wee hours of the morning. With both of you working such long hours, hopefully you can afford some outside care. That gives you time to work steady while the kids are at daycare. With you working while they're gone, hopefully you can get more accomplished & be able to spend time with the kids. You didn't say, but it sounds like neither of you get much quality time with your kids... maybe one of you needs to cut back on hours.

Hi T., I have an eight month old and work from home 3 days a week and have a nanny come in during those hours to take care of my son. Personally, I'm just going to lay it out there and say that I think your schedule sounds completely insane and your husband's expectations are absolutely unrealistic.. You are essentially a single mom (because your husband isn't around) juggling three kids and a full-time job without any help or childcare on four hours of sleep. Yes, if you keep this up, it will affect your patience for your kids and you will likely have a nervous breakdown. I have never met a woman who is trying to do as much as you are. Most women who work get care for their children, or, if they don't, they have far fewer hours, fewer children or older children. Even managing one 1 year old is a full-time job given they are into everything.

Either get childcare and help around the house, or, if you're not bringing in enough to cover that and you can make ends meet without your salary, quit your job. I can't imagine that in your situation you're able to spend the kind of quality time you'd like to with your children.

And, BTW, families are a two-way street. It isn't up to you to hold everything together. If your husband wants things more clean and doesn't want to pay for childcare, he needs to be around so he can help out and watch the kids while you work. He also needs a serious reality check. If at all possible, find an excuse to leave him with the kids for a couple of days (visit family for a weekend) -- after all, if it's so darn easy to keep it all together, it shouldn't be a big deal for him to take them for a Saturday and Sunday, and he can just continue working while he has them for the weekend, all the while keeping the house spotless for your return.

I hear you. I am a single Mom and work outside the home. I subscribe to Flylady.Net. She has been a blessing to me in my life. My house has never looked better and by mid morning I can say to my 3 1/2 year old hurry and pick up your toys and then we go do something fun. It wasn't always like that, but taking babysteps I slowly got my house in order. It can be ready for company in 15 min. Even my MIL has noticed. Don't be overwhelmed by the e-mails from Flylady. Just do what you can when you can and before you know it you'll be flying and teaching your family how to help you. Maybe once your husband has some responsibilities at home and starts to help you he'll be more sympathetic to what it's like to be a "Stay at home Mom". Just because we're at home doesn't mean we're sitting around eating Bonbon's. I stayed at home for a while and it was the hardest thing I've ever done. You're never "off".
I also had a hard time leaving my son with a babysitter. I felt guilty. I now understand getting out helps Mommy stay sane. I work away from home and sometimes just getting away reinvigorates me. We live in a weird time when we are expected to do everything and not complain. It's impossible to be everything to everyone. Follow your instincts and take some time for yourself. Good Luck! Your kids are lucky to have Mom at home.

Hi T.,
I can see why you are so stressed, you have alot on your plate and an un supportive husband who makes you feel even worse! I would like to say you are ok, but pushing yourself like this is not good for anyone! Kids need a mom who is fully present when you are with them, not torn in five diiferent directions and exausted all the time!
First of all, just because you work from home does not mean you can take care of the kids at the same time. This is a myth, hire a nanny or put them in day care or camps for the summer. Yes it may cost more $ but no one is winning the way it is set up now( except maybe your husband who expects you to work full time, run your household and manage the kids, how fair is that?). Do you like your work? Does it fufill you and leave you feeling energized? If so make it work! And a nanny might help with the housework too, or hire a housekeeper! You are a working mom, you deserve some help! It doesn't matter that you aren't leaving your home, you are still working!
If you are not liking the work you could think about staying home( if that is what you really want). Just comb your budget and see where your $ goes, you'd be suprised at what you can cut back on. Downsize your home or drive used cars, no "commercial" vacations. The kids will enjoy a calm, happy mom without all of the "stuff" our society pressures us in to thinking we "need"!
Put yourself first in a healthy way! You can't be healthy emotionally and physically with 3/4 hours of sleep! You need some balance! And it's ok if you work or don't work, do what makes you feel good!
Are your kids doing chores? They may not do it perfectly but every little bit helps! We use love and logic ( books, seminars, etc. it works), our kids get an allowance set by their age, they have specific chores they each do on a daily basis, if they choose ( their choice) not to do it they pay me from their allowance. This works, don't cajo;e or remind, ask them once, be ready to do it if need be. They will do it though. And the 3 year old can: put toys away, unload silverware, clean room, help set table, lots of stuff!
And try the fly lady, she has good suggestions on house management. It's all about doing routines and doing thing's daily and not letting thing's pile up. There is a web sight and it is free! Hang in there, you just need some tools and some support!

T.,

I love the other womens suggestions and just want to also add that women who work full time, are full time moms, and keep the house spotless only do it with help. That "do-it-all" mom is a myth. If you have any more trouble with the hubby offer to switch responsibilities for a day. See how much he gets done one weekend with the kids around and you can be out of the house all day. Its a lot harder then people think! :)

(As a side note, I did this to my own hubby. I have an infant who likes to wake up at 4am so every morning, so when the kids go down for breakfast around 630, I take a nap. My hubby was kind of grumbling about it so I let him take the infant for the night. The next morning he was so tired and I got great sleep! He asked for a nap. lol.... He doesn't grumble anymore. :) )

You're doing awesome. Don't get down on yourself. Find a schedule that works and enjoy this time with the kiddos. Goodluck!

Ok, here is my two sense. Until just recently I worked full time during the days and my husband worked full time during the nights. This was a very stressful situation. Because I would work full time and would have to come home and be a full time mom. The way we made it work, is we each had our set of chores. WE would usually not do any chores until the weekend, but on the weekend that was our time to clean, cook and get caught up. I cooked enough meals for the week on the weekends, and froze them, so we would not have to worry about cooking. My husband helped out a lot. HOwever, this was not good on our marriage. We lived like this for 7 years. Although only 2 out of the 7 did we have a kid. We never saw each other, and when we did we were both so busy wanting to get things done, we forget each other needed time to do stuff. Just recently my husband got a day job. This met we had to put our kid in daycare. It broke my heart so so much to put him in. One day, after dropping him off, I went to work just in tears. Not to mention the money that we are now waisting. This was so hard, it cut down on our budget so much. This being said, our marriage is a lot better then it use to be, my son is not so shy around other people, he has learned more social skills, plus we can give him more attention when we are with him. If there is a possibilty you can put your kids in daycare, I would try it for a little bit. If it does not work out, you can always go back to your regular schedule.

Just adding another two cents' worth... I'm at home with a 2 1/2 year old, trying to work VERY part time. We're also spending between my husband and me probably 20 hours a week helping his elderly mother. My house is a disaster, I need to work more to help make ends meet... but my daughter is happy. I told my husband, we're just not going to have a nicely organized house for a couple of years, because I would rather have it that way than put our daughter in daycare. I'm having teenagers come in during the summer to play with my daughter, and that's helping me get more work time in, but I'm not sure what I'll do once school starts. Anyway, just chiming in to say, I am amazed by how much you are accomplishing. Anyone who's never done it (male or female) just cannot understand how impossible it is and needs to be kindly and gently educated to appreciate what you're doing. Good luck!

wow you have your hands full. I would have an extremely hard time working from home. I work part time outside of home and I like the time away and I can focus on the job. If I worked from home I would be just like you and finishing everything in the middle of the night (your only "free" time). If you want a suggestion I think you might have a more "normal" life if you worked maybe 30 hrs outside of home. When does your hubby go to work? Maybe you could work from 6a-10a or 7a-12p. and just have a sitter for a few hours in the morning. You could focus on work only during those hours and have the rest of your time for yourself and family. I think by working at home some people get in the mindset of constantly working and you are always thinking about what needs to be done and when/how you will do it. there are too many distractions at home! Just divide your time up and stick to it. And think about doing your work away from the house. Good luck!

I work at home with my three kids, 7, 5, 2. The older two will be in school this fall, but still my "baby" at home. Here's what I've learned: I can go back to work later, I can't go back to my babies, they grow up and aren't babies anymore. So, I do my work around my children, not in reverse. There is no way to maintain the schedule you are trying to maintain and still keep up your sanity and health. I had to make decisions about my priorities in life. I quit my full time regular job to raise my kids, so I want to BE there for them. There is a difference between spending time with them and spending QUALITY time with them. It sounds like you are in the same boat, you aren't able to concentrate on work or children. I have come to the conclusion that I must focus on work during work time and kids during kid time and house during house time. That means that I hire a sitter more often that I thought I would have to. In your case, you may have to give up some work hours and/or go with daycare p/t. As far as the house, www.flylady.net has been my saving grace. Her partner page www.savingdinner.com has saved my sanity on many nights before dinner.

Good luck and please feel free to PM me. I'd love to hear how it goes.

I know where you're coming from. I also work from home, and have kids underfoot. Mine are a bit older (10,8,6), but you might be able to adapt this to you:

Create a schedule. Know exactly when you're going to work and when you're going to eat and when you play with the kids and when you do the tidying. I have a weekly schedule that have every 1/2 hour for the week, Sun-Sat, 6am to 11pm. I do it at the beginning of each week - first put in my faith/church obligations, then my family obligations (things that must be at a certain time) and then I plan the hours I can work my business. After that, I will write in the play time and the housework (I even write which housework, like laundry or vacuum). Make sure you include meal time in there too. I heard one woman say that she writes down what they're having for dinner in the 4:00 time slot, so she makes sure to get it ready in time (for her family's 5:15 dinner). Once you've planned your week, stick to it. At first it may feel constraining - you will not see a lot of blank spots and it might feel restrictive. But I found that when I stick to my schedule I feel a lot more free. When I'm working I'm not so worried about what needs to be done in the house or with kids, so I work more efficiently. When I'm playing with kids, I'm not worried about the work I "should" be doing.

Get your family involoved. Put a copy of the weekly plan on the fridge. My kids remind me when I'm supposed to be doing something else, and when it's their time. And your kids can help with the cleaning. The 3 year old can probably pull laundry out of the drier, and help you fold towels and stuff. He can even help unload the dishwasher. The 9 year old can load an unload the dishwasher, help with laundry, vacuum, dust, etc (it may not be as perfect as you doing it, but it's done anyway). They can both put their toys, and even clothes, away as well as help with the baby's things. You'll have to teach them how to do it all, but then it'll take the burden off you.

When the college girl comes to help, close yourself in your office and make sure she understands to not disturb you except in an emergency. You can take advantage of those hours to work very efficiently so you can do 'kid' stuff more when she's not there. (I'm assuming that she comes to help with kids, not as an office assistant). Delegate as much as you can to kids and helpers.

The best thing about working at home is that you're your own boss. But that can also be the worst thing - there isn't the accountability that you would have at a 'regular' job. So become a very strict boss for yourself, and honor your work schedule as much as you would for any other boss. You do have more flexibility with your schedule, and you're available for emergencies, but don't let yourself get distracted over the little things.

Hi T. - the other moms are exactly right. You cant do this without help. Friends I have who work full-time all have daycare and they all have some kind of cleaning help. I'm amazed that you and your husband have been able to keep up with this schedule - it's not the norm. Does your husband always have these crazy hours? I encourage him to take a hard look at his priorities - work is important but his family is moreseo.

I dont know what your financial situation is but I encourage you to find some help with at least PT childcare and a cleaning service. I know from personal experience we can only burn the candle from both ends for so long until something wears out or until circumstances force you to slow down. I've been doing that for years and years and now my body is rebelling. Trust me, it's been downright hard pulling myself out of this hole I've been digging myself into. It's also forced my husband to make a lot of changes and take on a lot of responsibilities at home. I thank the Lord that he is a wonderful man and has stepped up wonderfully.

Take a look at your budget and see what you can outsource. Since you are working full-time from home, I would encourage you to find some kind of childcare for at least 15-20 hours a week so that you can do the majority of your work then. You might find that you are more efficient without the interruptions and dont need to work a full 40. That was my case. You also need some help with the housework. I hired a service to come in once a month and do a deep clean for about $100 - they will come in 2x a month for $180. That alone changed my world.

To keep costs down on childcare, consider asking a relative to watch your kids or asking around at church. My sis-in-law watched my kids for a year for $75 a month. When she couldnt do it anymore, I found out that one of the preschool teachers at the school at church watched kids in her home PT. I pay her $4/hour per child.

It will require some changes and some "sacrifice" from your husband but you and your family are worth it!

All the best!

Just wanted to say, I am amazed you can do as much as you currently are! Somehow, I agree a better balance is needed. Just see if you can't find a way to "temporarily" try that out and see how it works. Maybe a temp suggestion would give you some ideas. Good luck and take care of yourself!

T.,
Your situation sounds pretty similar to mine, but I have only 2 kids - 1 and 4. I also have a young girl who comes over a few days a week in the summer -- and then preschool in the school year to cover some of the time I work. My husband has also voiced the same thing -- the 40 hour working mom who holds it together. To be honest, they aren't holding it all together. Most of the ones I know personally are stressed and surviving on little sleep as well. The few I know that have it "all together" have spouses that contribute alot to taking care of the house and kids. Here are some things I use to keep the chaos in check:
1. Regular schedules. This one is very important. Especially a specific work schedule. Otherwise, work will take over all your time. There are specific times that I play with my kids. There are specific times when they have to play on their own while work. The 4 year old knows this, the 1 year old is learning it. There are also specific times for chores like laundry (I do it all on one day, taking breaks from work to fold clothes and put them away), vacuuming, dusting, etc. If you like to work late in the evening, then schedule a couple of hours of your work time for then -- that should free up some daytime hours to be with your kids. I also try to work while my 1 year old takes naps. She is the one that needs to most attention, but I can clean house and give her attention, while I can't work most of the time and give her attention.

2. Cleaning the house is a family affair. I know sometimes all I want to do is play with my kids, but they help make the messes, so they help clean them up. Even the 1 year old can put away her toys. Granted, it probably takes twice as long to do it this way, but I'm spending time with my kids teaching them things and the 4 year old and I talk alot while we are cleaning up. Plus I try to make it fun for them. I never imagined my 4 year old would love cleaning windows and dusting as much as he does.

3. My husband knows that if he wants to complain about something not being clean that he is welcome to clean it. I guess I am lucky in this regard -- he hates cleaning so even though I know he doesn't like it messy he won't say anything.

4. Weekends are family time. (Except for this weekend, since my DH left on business, so we took some work time this week to play -- so play time today is work time -- yuck!) Because my husband works long hours and is pretty much working even when he is home, we go and play on the weekends. From Friday night through Monday morning it is family time and we try to keep work at bay.

Finally, relax your standards a little. A bit of chaos sometimes is ok. The spotless house is one that isn't lived in, and yours is (all day long). Remember to cherish the time with your little ones. They grow up way too fast.

Hugs!

well you do have a lot on your plate. I have a system which typically works for me. In the morning the kids and I have about 2 hours of cartoons, games, and breakfast. Then I have 2-3 hours of work where they play with eachother or watch a movie. Then we go to the park or some other outdoor activity for another 2-3 hours, Then I get 2-3 hours and they entertain themselves for awhile. Then we make dinner together with everyone helping somehow and after we have 1- 2 hours of play time then bed time routines and off to bed and I finish what I need to get done and that is how I keep from going insane during the summer months.
Good luck

You are not crazy. And people who work 40 hours per week outside of the home and who have kids also have less than perfectly clean, organized homes. And, like you, they have no personal time. Been there, done that.

Welcome to our precipitously decreasing standard of living, in which taxation and invisible taxation through inflation requires three incomes where it used to take one to support a family.

You are definitely not crazy, even though I know you feel crazy. You have a lot on your plate and not enough support. You clearly love and enjoy your family and it is also chaotic and overwhelming.

I am a huge advocate of self-care and of questioning the "shoulds" that are ruining women's lives. Who are the people that decided women should do it all (because it has become alarmingly clear that that just isn't true!)? Who thought it was okay for men to not be more involved in housework? Why is it "selfish" for a women to have time to care for herself and be a person outside of the roles of mother, wife, daughter? When are we going to realize that women's health issues are directly related to the unbelievable amount of stress we have allowed?

I know that you must be running on empty by now and it will only get worse. I see women all the time that are depressed, angry, overweight, and sick because they are doing the kinds of things you are doing and the years will eventually take their toll. I really believe as women we need to start supporting each other in letting go of the destructive belief systems in our lives. This is why I love Mamasource, because it is connecting women so that we can see the harmful patterns and help each other break out of them.

I too suggest you start looking at the overall picture and see where things can shift. It won't be easy and you will definitely need support. Cheryl Richardson has written an amazing book called "The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time." I highly recommend it as a place to start. It may also help to realize that you may talk to your husband over and over and he may never get what you are experiencing. It is important that you get it and start making choices that support yourself. We really do teach others how to treat us by how we allow them to treat us and by how we treat ourselves.

I have found that self-care, rather than being selfish, has been my saving grace and is what allowed me to be a better mother. I encourage you to take a step back and really look at what your situation is (as opposed to what it "should" be). Listen to the amazing women on this website. If you find yourself reacting strongly to what someone says, that is the place to start for you. Even if you disagree strongly with what they say, that could be the place that is filled with "shoulds" and self-judgement and would be a great place to get curious and wonder why you are reacting so strongly.

Hang in there. Being a mom is the toughest job on earth, let alone adding work, household, husband, etc. Best wishes, T..

I don't know if these tips will help but they might be worth a try.
*Use flylady to help get your house organized and do only the essential household routines, 15 minutes at a time.
*Set a timer for 15 minutes tell your kids that they need to play quietly til it goes off. Have the 9 year old entertain the younger ones. Then when it goes off set it again for 15 minutes and do something with the kids. Keep repeating this through the day.
*See if a neighbor would swap babysitting a couple times a week. If they could take your kids for several hours in the morning then you could have their kids in the afternoon. When your kids where gone you could concentrate on work and maybe be more productive.
*Have the college girl come more often, or get a young teenage girl to come play with the kids afterschool for a couple of hours each day.
*Go to bed when the kids do but then get up early and use the morning hours to work.

I don't know if any of these things will work but good luck to you. I don't work outside of the home but I do a lot of volunteer hours and I know life gets very hectic. Just remember don't let perfection get in the way of doing what needs to be done. Just step up and do what you can. I know I get overwhelmed when things are messy and chaotic and just don't even know where to start so I ignore the messes and then they just get worse. So just jump in there and do what you can.

T.,

I don't know how you are doing it! I would definetly get help, even if that means no vacation and not contributing to college savings until the 1 year old is in preschool.

You are an integral piece of your family and you are getting stretched too thin. With help your husband and kids will see a happier mom which will lead to a more productive mom which will lead to more time for everyone (eventually). If you are not careful you could wear yourself so thin that you will get sick easily, slow down in productivity, and feel so tired that being civil with your husband after having to be patient with kids all day will be too much......Especially when he thinks it is easy because you are home.

If necessary I would leave your husband with the kids for 2 + days and let him bring them to a dr visit (well-child back to school visit) or two, and buy school supplies, while you are gone as well.....
Then ask him if he thinks help would enable him to sleep more than 3-4 hours a night and have time for life activities in general. I doubt he can say after that experience that he could keep the house clean, be patient and civil with the kids and you, play with the kids/read etc, and get his "career" work done all while getting more than 4 hours a night of sleep and keeping himself healthy.

This is just a short period in your life, it is better to spend the money for help now, so that you can enjoy your life now.

Hello,
I would suggest if possible to hire someone that can help you in your office part of the day along with help you out around the house the other part of the day. OR just have them help you out in the office the whole day, which would give you time to do your house chores & spend some time with the kids.

Good luck.
C.

Hi - your situation sounds very similar to my daughter's. In her case, she has three ranging from 2 months to 8 years. Same situation, though. It might be a good idea to get together with a mommy partner who is willing to take your kids for a few hours a day in exchange for the same consideration. That way, each of you would get a few hours of concentrated time for work. But, the thing that struck me about your situation is that you are getting so little sleep. You need at least 7 hours to function. Less will do bad things to your health, including weight gain.

It might be a good thing to place some restrictions on where in the house the kids are allowed to play, keeping the messes in one or two areas, and getting the older children to help you pick up at a certain time of day. You could reward them with a treat. When the one year old is walking, they can help too - my daughter used to love to help fold towels and pick up her clothes and toys when she was young. You could have some special music you put on to indicate it was "clean-up" time.

I don't know if you have already done this, but you might also take a look at your work and see if some of your tasks require more concentration than others, and then organize your work between the mundane (can do with the kids in the house) and the creative (when you need time to yourself). Breaking your day down to 15 minute increments may also help. Spend 15 minutes with the kids, 15 on work, 15 on household duties (involve the kids), and 15 on work. You will be amazed how much you can get done in 15 minutes. Also, I would take some time every day to take the kids outside for a walk. You need the exercise and they do too. Get some fresh air and clear your head.

Above all - believe in yourself. Be positive. There is always a solution, but you have to be open to finding it. If you want to discuss this more, I will be happy to help more. I raised three kids while working outside the home, and I believe in what you are trying to do. They all turned out fine, but I think their childhood would have been better with a parent who was always there.

Good luck T.

Honey, I applaud you, but nobody can do it all without taking care of themselves and getting help. Its a myth. Your sanity is worth bringing in a housekeeper at least every other week or even weekly. Get the laundry washed, let them fold it and put it away. You pick up the kitchen, let them do a deep clean and scrub the floor. You pick up the front room, let them dust and vaccuum it deep down. You tidy the bathroom counter, let them scrub that bathtub & toilet. You also ought to consider bringing in a neighbor teenager to watch the kids for a few hours at least one day a week so you can leave the house, run a few errands, sit in a park and breath deeply for a little time alone. If you don't know any teenagers, look in the paper. There are lots of churches that run drop-in day care to the public for a low fee as a service to moms. Taking care of *yourself* will allow you to take better care of everyone around you.

T., First I would like to congrat. you on your patients at being at home and working full time. I feel what you are missing is that interaction between adults and a little fun time with the kids. I'm not sure what you all do every day during the week since the kids are not in school which seems it might be a little easier during school time. Have you thought of maybe hiring a part time person to come in and clean while you are home and maybe do an activity with the kids so you can concentrate on your work but not disrupt the kids from home? Say maybe from 1-3 mon-fri? or a time frame like this? That way you have a break but the kids are still at home. And because it sounds as though your husband is working his butt off maybe plan 1 day a week he has a little extra time to help make dinner and eat as a family or go out as a family with no work.

T., I am a former advertising and marketing director so I know exactly the kind of job you are trying to do. And I'm amazed you're doing it in 30-ish hours, let alone with three children in tow! I'm at home now, doing freelance website development and maintenance and sometimes find one two-year-old interruptive. Anyway, here are my thoughts:

1. If you can afford to cut back clients, try it! Take it from me, learning to scrape by isn't the worst thing in the world. It's actually one of the best things I've ever done. If it turns out that it isn't for you, you can always return to your current workload. (Also, with a better work/home balance I find I have the energy for more sex - I'm just saying it does wonders for my peace of mind, and my husband's! haha)

2. Look into outsourcing some of your marketing work to one of those college students everyone keeps mentioning. An under the table P/T employee. They are hungry to prove themselves and to gain experience before looking for their "real jobs." Even more so in this economy.

3. Perhaps the 9-year-old can help out around the house a little to earn extra allowance and learn responsibility. I would imagine that even one or two major chores a week would help you out immensely. Straightening up the kid's bedrooms, washing the dishes, giving the 3-year-old a snack, vacuuming or doing his/her own laundry for example.

I hope this advice helps. YOU AREN'T CRAZY.

By the way, when I was a marketer I worked 40+ a week and had my child in daycare. It looked to everyone else like I "held it together" but only my family knew how stressed (and eventually unhappy) I was from trying to stick to a ridiculous standard. Society tells us "You can have/do it all," but many of us moms learn the hard way the second part of that statement: "just not at the same time."

I COMPLETELY understand what you are going through! I have 4 children, work from home & have a husband that works out of the house. I do not have any help with my kids and they range in age from 10 months to 6 1/2 years. I found it was easier to do my work when my oldest was at school because I had a schedule with the younger children.

The only advice I can give is schedule your work time during the time your younger child(ren) are napping or going to bed at night, then schedule a certain time during the day when you can do work and have your oldest care for the younger children. My 6 1/2 yr old daughter is GREAT at watching her brothers and sister for about an hour so I can do some additional work, if necessary.

When you are cleaning, get your older 2 children involved. Give them chores to do and maybe even set up a chart for each of them so they can get rewarded for doing their chores. Good luck!

Make it a GREAT week!

S.

T.-I hear you and I feel your pain. Know you are not alone!
Here's my scheduel and what I do to make it the best life it can be for my family (and me)

7:00am up and in the kitchen for coffee
I must have 15 minutes to myself in the morning to get it together. (in the fall I get up at 6:30 so I can get the kids to school in time)
7:15 start waking children
7:30 start dragging children
7:45 kids dressed-me dressed
8:00 quick breakfast
8:15 shoes, hair, lunches-out the door
8:30 WORK (I own my own business adn can take my children with me-nice)
6:15PM leave work
drive home talk about day...
6:30 kids go play, ride bike, etc..I start dinner
7:00 dinner (I try to do crockpt as much as possible)I encourage the kids to help me with dinner so I can spend that extra time with them.
7:30 kids play,homework,evening bike ride, walk, read book w/kids...
8:00 showers-they lay out their clothes for tomorrow
8:30 start pushing to bed...
9:00 bed
9:30 throw easy stuff into lunch boxes for tomorrow-juices,packaged item/snacks/treats. WIpe down kitchen, start a load of laundry, pick up living room, take my shower, do a quick pick up of the master bed and bath while I'm watching tv and relaxing. Feed dogs, cat and head to the bed...

Tricks I like best
- making the most of the time I have with my kids, but I also think it teaches them a lot when they know I have to work.
- Each of my kids(2)have five chores that help a bunch! putting shoes away, watering plants, emptying bathroom trash cans, keeping their rooms clean...easy but way helpful. I even have a list for my husband- five easy things, but very helpful to me. I don't expect them to mop the floor or vacuum, but easy things like dusting kids actually find fun!
- a schedule seems to help me..I do it the same way each night- I get faster and the kids get better at it.

- doing everything the night before after they are in bed. lunches, clean up, prep for tomorrow.

It does sound to me like you should look into someone coming in for a few hours to help out (maybe a high school neighbor from 3-6 what a big help!)If you're always stressed out your children can feel it and that's not going to make great "mommy memories" down the road.

It sounds like you are a great mom and you want the best for your children...but everyone needs a little help to keep their sanity.

Please feel free to email me if you want to vent. I totally know what a crazy life is like. Best wishes. I hope this helped a little. H.

I do not know how you do it all. I am sorry your husband is gone so much.

I only have one son who is almost two. I work part time, but I get to take my son with me. I also work at home part time, but I have made that very part time so that I still have time to go to the library for story time, and keep the laundry rotated. I found "Fly Lady" helpful when it came to learning how to clean a little here and a little there so cleaning the house did not become all over whelming.

My husband is a full time student(BSU) and works part time. But he is home on Sundays and we have a family day, no work or homework for either of us. And when he is home between work and school he helps with dishes, laundry, and cleaning the bathroom, not a lot but enough I do not feel that I have to do it all.

If you could get a college student to come 15-20 hours a week. You could do more in less time, and be with your kids when you are with them. It sounds like you have been doing a good job with that already, but some times you just need to concentrate and can get more done with work, and have time when it is just you and family.

good luck
S.
mother to Kai
www.HomeWithKai.com

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