How Do I Balance It All?

Updated on October 01, 2008
R.D. asks from Aurora, IL
58 answers

Thank you for the responses- the good ones. The judgements- well thanks, but no thanks.

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L.W.

answers from Chicago on

Wow, you got so many responses, and after I read through them I thought....gosh, these women really understand what you're going through. They should because they're moms too, and I have never met one who doesn't feel like they do it all or should do it all. I count my blessings, take a deep breath and slow down. You already know what you need to do.

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S.

answers from Chicago on

Hi.

I'm a working mom with 2 kids too, and main breadwinner to add :) My husband also works out of the home.

No advice, I'm no wise one. I'm just getting by myself.

Just want to say that I understand what you are going through. It can be stressful at times.

You'll find the right balance, it takes time. You can do it! Be proud of what you have accomplished so far and it will only get better.

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S.E.

answers from Chicago on

I am lucky enough to be able to be a SAHM but years ago before I was married a worked as a live in nanny. Have considered hiring a live in nanny/house keeper? Which would leave you time to do all you would like to do. Just an idea

S.

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S.C.

answers from Chicago on

I am in the same situation and just this morning I was asking myself in the shower "how am I going to do all this?" now that I have a 2nd baby on the way. My children will only be 20 months apart and although I'm thrilled I also wonder "what were we thinking!!!" Here are some tips for you. I've put some of them into play and others we plan to do in the future.

Cleaning lady - Excellent idea! If you can afford her, by all means let her clean! I also like the idea that a few other ladies had to hire a college student to run errands, do laundry, etc.

Commute - I drive 2 hours a day, roundtrip. This is my quiet time. I sometimes catch up on phone calls I don't have time to make at home, blast the radio, liten to nothing (my favorite) and I love books on CD. It lets my brain drift off into thought and I don't have time to read anymore so it's nice to do it somehow. Your library has them if you don't want to buy them.

Errands - As another mother suggested, run them on your lunch break at work. I have a tendancy to work through lunch so this gives me a mental break from work and I get something accomplished for home.

Food - Have groceries delivered or have prepared meals delivered. I honestly can't wait until our finances allow for this! I've tried the crock pot but get burned out making the same 4 things. Also, I'm no good at lasagna and haven't found a lot that I can make in big bathches that we will actually WANT to eat for several days. If you're any good at those things, go for it. Otherwise budget for delivery.

Schedule - Keep a family calendar in the kitchen or place where everyone can see it. That way everyone knows who's working when, who's taking who where, etc. Also, get your kids involved in play groups, after school programs, sports, crafts, boy/girlscouts, etc. You don't want them in something everyday but keep them busy so they're not thinking about you not being home yet by 6:30. Make sure they have their own life and schedule. Just make sure their activities are on days someone's home to take them and arrange with other mothers for picking up and dropping off so you don't have to do it all.

Personal time - What's this? I really don't have much of this anymore. My child is very young still so I'm not happy being away from him too much. Work takes me away enough let alone leaving him to go out with friends or something. I have maybe 1 day a month to do something for myself but that's because I choose for it to be that way. Like I said, my time is my commute time. Not that I really enjoy it but at least I can be alone, quiet time.

Date night - Very important! Set aside time weekly, or bi weekly, for the 2 of you to get out and do something. We go after our son's in bed so we're not taking time away from him and go to a movie, for a walk or just to sit and talk.

Be realistic - You're not going to get it all done! This is something that's taken a while for me to get. I like an immaculate home but I've had to give up making everything perfect and realize the mail will sit on the counter, I will not always be able to see my reflection in the kitchen floor, there may be dishes left in the sink, etc. Oh well. As long as we're fed, dressed in clean clothes and happy then I have to not care so much about how the house looks.

Laundry - Do 1 load everyday. This will help keep it in check and not pile up.

Childcare - Find a sitter or center that you LOVE. If you don't LOVE it then you're going to feel more guilty. Or consider on Au Pair if you can afford it. So that way your children are in the home being cared for.

Employer - They're going to have to understand that you're going to need time for your children (sick days, doctor visits) and if they don't, then talk to them about your rights under FMLA. Also, if you have a really good relationship with them, ask if you can work from home at all. If that won't work, then maybe you can take a different positon in the company that will allow it. Or just keep your position and make the best out of it.

Vent - Make sure you vent a little. If you go to the gym, go for a run, scream into a pillow or just need to cry, then do it. Let out some steam that helps you cope with it all. However that may be.

Well best wishes to you. Running a home, having children and being successful at work is VERY hard. Just take it one day at a time and don't overwhelm yourself. *hugs*

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B.A.

answers from Chicago on

I have 3 kids 7, 4 and 8months, work, take care of parents who have some illnesses and try to run their house it is hard. A website that may help for meals is 365 crockpot, it is a woman who decided to cook in her crockpot for a whole year. Cook ahead, plan a menu or utilize I think it's Woman's Day menu, or use Rachael Ray(quick cooker) cookbooks to make a menu plan and shopping list. Buy everything for 3-4 weeks at a time( I understand bread and milk will have to be gotten but that is a quick think hubby can do), cook ahead. I know you have a 90 minute road time everyday, if you take the train use this time for things you want to do, read a great book, take an telecourse(reading, studying). The other thing to consider is finding something closer to home for work. I understand most need to work so I wil not go there, but if you are concerned about the balance figure out what you have as priorities. If work is tops than stay where you are at and work on the home schedule. Get a helper in maybe to do the chopping, mixing and organizing your meals(college student who is majoring in foods?). Your get back in shape time is a great time to spend with your kids, it gives them the idea that exercise in needed to stay healthy and strong. You can make it a game of chase(don't know the age of kids), use them as weights for leg raises, arm press, put them in the stroller and walk or jog. Good luck, you'll do it, women always do.

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J.

answers from Chicago on

I can't believe some of these judgy responses about house cleaners! Jeez. We had a house cleaner for a while, and for those of you who think it's so luxurious - all it does is keep the worst of the filth at bay. You still have all of the daily tasks to do just like everybody else. Don't listen to those people - the last thing you need is to feel guilty and stressed by one more task to add to your list, and your family needs an organized, tidy environment while you go through this time of change. We eventually decided the house cleaning was more trouble than it was worth, but it was well worth it during the first year of work/kid. (and please, compared to the cost of child care, the cost is nothing. If it buys you a half-day with your family on Saturday - that's golden.)

It's hard to generalize because every family, household, and most important, job is different. In my experience, every year is easier than the one before as the kids get older and my job gets more flexible as I have gained experience and seniority. My kids will both be in school by next year - if I had dropped out of the workforce, I'd be going back to one of those jobs where you get no flexibility instead of having the very flexible job I have where I work at home several days a week and can leave early for school activity pickups. It's all about trade-offs, and there's no right way for everyone.

I don't have an answer about how to balance everything. I do think it gets easier and you get better at it. Your husband needs to be your partner, which can be difficult - it's not just about housework, it's about the mental stress of being the only person with all the lists in your head. Use a calendar/list system you share with him, and start giving him things to manage (he can be the "dentist" guy, for example, and you don't worry about that stuff.)

Last but definitely not least - adjust your expectations and be kind to yourself. If you are like most of us, things won't be done to your secret inner standards. Forgive yourself, keep the big picture in mind, and prioritize. Take small steps, don't try to change everything at once. Good luck!

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L.B.

answers from Chicago on

Hi- I'm a single mom of an 8 year old girl & I work full time 30 minute commute each way. I don't have a cleaning lady or the money to spend on premade foods. Maybe you should ask yourself whether you can cut back to part time if you have the money to spend on extras like cleaning lady & premade food...wouldn;t it be better for everyone if you were able to take a pay cut instead of working long hours to pay someone else? I know that may not be an option for you, so the other thing I would tell you is to get organized.

What I do is commit every friday evening to cleaning the house & doing laundry. Start the laundry first right away so that its going while you clean. I clean the bathroom first, and run a bubble bath as my incentive to hurry up & finish the rest of the house. When I clean, I wear a housedress with big pockets, so that I can pick up what doesn't belong & have it in my pockets when I get to the room it does belong in. Use clorox wipes to get surfaces disinfected & clean. Anyway, since you have a cleaning lady this might be of no use to you but others might get something out of it.

As for cooking, its easier to spend one morning or afternoon making the week's meals & freezing them. It's easier to chop & saute 5 onions in one pan than it is to chop one onion each night for 5 nights, know what I mean? At lunchtime at work, plan your meals for next week. Make your shopping list too & maybe even do the grocery shopping on Friday at lunch time (keep a cooler in your trunk) so that you don't spend the weekend doing chores & errands. Make a schedule & stick to it. Once you have your meals cooked, laundry done & house is clean, the rest is easy. Make it a ritual where Saturday morning - one hour - is for you. Do your nails, have a facial (although I put on my facial masks while I'm cleaning - multitasking!) etc. Then you have the weekend to do stuff with the kids - like cooking with them! When you cook, portion out your foods into containers and freeze them.

Now you are ready for the week. When you get home from work, pop a meal into the microwave or oven. While that heats up, have the kids participate in exercise with you. Go for a walk, or do your treadmill, or a tape or whatever you like to do. Include the kids. It sets a good example for them, plus it gives you family time & its a good outlet for stress. Next commit to an hour a day to "tidy up" and get ready for tomorrow. If you keep on top of things, your house should remain relatively clean all week.

You can do this! If I can do it, anyone can!

Good luck!

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L.H.

answers from Chicago on

Hello, I am just going to tell you a little about myself. I am married with three beautiful daughters (16, 2 and 15 months). I wake up at 5 a.m to get myself together, then i wake the 2year old and 15 month old up at 6 a.m. I leave at 6:30 am to get the kids to the babysitter by 7 and then catch the train at 7:09 to get to work by 8 a.m. I get off of work at 4:30 pm catch the 4:45 train to pick up the kids by 5:30 pm and I make it home by 6 p.m. First off, I am not going to cook everyday, I tell my husband that if I work to pay bills and he work to pay bills, therefore you can do the same as me. But, when I do cook I make sure it is a meal that will take only an hour to cook. So therefore, I may finish cooking my meal by 7:15 pm. So while the cooking is going on I can play with the kids and chill with the husband before dinner. I put my little ones to bed between 7:45 pm and 8:30 pm, so that makes time for me my husband and our older daughter. One thing I have decided in life is that I have to take care of me first because if I don't there will be no me to help take care of my family. Trust me there is time you just have to make time.

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C.B.

answers from Chicago on

Whew! I went back to work when my son was 9 weeks old. I felt dizzy for the next year and a half! Finally, I've gotten my stuff together & hopefully things will stay a little settled by the time #2 comes around!

1) Good job on the cleaning lady! For day to day, do one load of laundry before you leave the house, put it in the dryer when you get home. Wipe down of bathroom if needed while you're preparing the bath for the kids. Wash dishes / load the dishwasher as needed & have the kids help you pick up toys before bed. That way you can keep up on the small stuff before the cleaning lady comes!

2) Make a menu for dinner!! I got in a chicken nuggets & mac n cheese rut for the longest time because my son would eat it & I didn't have to think about it! The menu makes shopping easier, and it's easier to remember to take out the frozen food! If your kids need entertaining while you cook, get them some playdough, arts & crafts, etc, so they can sit at the kitchen table & you can pay attention to them while cooking.

3) Spend time with your kids -- make every moment count since there are now fewer of them. Don't just count the minutes to bedtime because you're tired! Let them play at the park or ride bikes after dinner! Go for walks, make the weekends fun!

4) Time with your husband -- our time is always around 8:30 -- right after our son goes to bed. We watch shows, sit outside and talk, and on a rare occasion we go out. Call during the day just to say hi!

5) Time for you -- mine is in the shower! I take very long showers because that is my quiet / me time! Every now and then, I will call up a friend for girl time & we'll go shopping or out to dinner. As a working mom, that is few and far between because I don't want to give up time with my son, but sometimes it has to be done! A happy me makes a good mom, and if that means a night off, then so be it!

Take some deep breaths & you'll be fine!

Also, for outsourcing errands -- the woman who babysits my son owns a concierge service to help with errands, gift shopping, grocery shopping, etc! Might be worth a try!

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S.B.

answers from Chicago on

There are so many great suggestions on here already! The only thing I can add is just relax. Men do not stress about all that so why should we? It's awesome you can hire a cleaning lady so that is taken care of.

Cooking dinner - call someone with a Pampered Chef consultant and ask about a Power Cooking show. She will show you how to cook two weeks worth of food in an evening. PLUS, she will leave you with three meals in your freezer! That show was a life saver for me.

Spending time with kids - Um, spend time with them? =) Get changed out of your work clothes and hang with your kids. Play outside for a little bit. Play a board game. Institute game night or movie night (or both!). Make something simple for dinner even if it's soup and sandwiches. Read before bedtime and enjoy bath time.

Spending time with hubby - make a date night happen at least once a month. Nothing fancy either... just spend some time together. Every marriage counselor (one worth their salt anyway) will tell you that the marriage comes first, then your kids. You have to put energy and work into your relationship so 20 years from now when the last kid has left the house you know the person sitting on the other side of the table at breakfast. You do not want to wake up and realize you spent a significant part of your marriage married to your kids. Kids leave, hubbies are here to stay.

Time for you - every day has a couple minutes where someone does not need to be paid attention to. Hubby can sit and watch TV, kids are playing by themselves (a wonderful sight!), take that time for yourself. You do not have to entertain everyone all day every day. Everyone needs to learn how to 'play' by themselves.

Getting into shape - take the kids for a walk after dinner. True, you may not be walking at marathon speed but at least you will get some exercise. Get a 30 mins cardio tape and do that a couple times a week. Belly dancing is really great (if your hips can handle it) for losing weight and toning your muscles. Talk to the hubby about carving out 30 mins 3x a week for a workout.

Relax and it will all fall into place. =)

Good luck!

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M.M.

answers from Chicago on

I too have been and am in the same situation. It will get better, and the way you approach the home tasks will always evolve. My kids are now 8 and 5, but because time was so precious, we have been 'engaging' them in the family 'chores' as soon as they were able to help. (My 8-yr old can fold better than my husband!) Some of the things I do to stay ahead of the action: In the morning, first thing--early, put a load in the washer (sometimes I take a walk during the wash), and then try to get it in the dryer before heading out. Usually I'm folding clothes, sometimes encouraging the kids to help, while they're playing or reading...basically trying fold in the same room they're in. Meals are a challenge, but our main goal is to sit down together and eat, whatever it happens to be. Sometimes we have good weeks and bad weeks, but I try to have something 'fresh' at the meals. So sometimes it's frozen pizza with fresh fruit and veggies, mac and cheese...., and sometimes I get it together and get some meat out of the freezer before heading to work to thaw and marinate. We have a lot of grilled meat and salad/fruit/veggie type meals. The kids can help carry plates and silverware to table, get cans out of the cupboard, etc... The cleaning can be a challenge--you may want to check out www.justmommies.com; they have an interesting day of the month cleaning organizer...I try to follow that, but again, not perfect. Main rules: No laundry on the weekend, and try to get groceries during the week--keep a list, and I really encourage my kids to be independent and help--I bring them on many of the errands, because I think it's important for them to see everything that needs to be done, plus it gives us an opportunity to chat and have fun. It takes a family to make the house go. Just remember the process is always evolving, and it will get easier as you find the right fit, and more and more can be delegated as your kids get old.

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J.S.

answers from Chicago on

I think the key is to be organized and flexible. It's more work on your part initially, but I think things will go smoother for you.

Menu plan on the weekends. Buy pre-cut veggies. Use a crockpot. Double your weekend meals to eat during the week. Get your husband involved too. Throw a load of laundry in the washer before you leave for work. Put it in the dryer when you get home (then fold and put away that evening). Do one a day and laundry will never be overwhelming.

You don't say how old your kids are, but don't move their bedtime back just so you can spend more time with them. They need their sleep. Stick to their routine and schedules. If they are young and an 8pm bedtime is appropriate, you can spend time with your husband after they go to bed. Divide errands on the weekends. Make your menu plan and grocery list and only go to the store once (preferably on the weekend).

It will take some time to establish a routine, but you'll do it. And know that sometimes, you'll have to let things slide and that's okay. No one is perfect. I think it's important to get your husband involved too. Maybe he can be responsible for baths and bedtime? Or he can do kitchen clean up while you put the kids to bed. Either way, you are a team. The onus isn't all on you.

You'll be fine.

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S.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I know how you feel. I only have one kid but between commuting, working and all I feel like I'm going crazy too.

Your commute can be a wonderful thing. Get music you like, a book on CD, or relaxation CDs to help your frame of mind. Don't think of it as a negative, it's your time to relax before work and after work so as not to bring your stresses home.

As for meals.....the best thing I learned to do was to make a couple of meals or main courses on the weekend and then microwave during the week. Yeah it takes some time to do it but think about it. A couple of hours on a Sunday for less stress during the week. Casseroles, pork roast, chicken breasts (my husband grills on Sunday and under cooks it a little and then we microwave the meat during the week. Then just make like a rice side dish and some veggies. Easy, quick dinner. Now that it's getting to be fall, the crockpot on the weekend is a wonderful invention.

That also gives you more time with the kids during the week not having to worry about dinner. I don't know how old your kids are but bedtime is a great time because then it's adult time. Time for your husband. Do a special dessert, watch a movie or just chill and watch tv. Yeah you may have to do bills or balance the check book but that's not everyday. Go take a bubble bath once a week.

You are doing great. I go nuts with just one and he's only 2 1/2. Let me know how it goes and remember....you are a great mom and you are perfectly normal!!

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W.S.

answers from Chicago on

You ask the question that we all seek the answer to! What a great wealth of information in these replies - thank you!

I just want to add that you will never REALLY have it all, and you will drive yourself nuts trying to get there. I was a full time working Mom for many years - I truly believe the secret to harmony in this situation is KNOWING WHAT TO OVERLOOK. You have to delegate as many tasks as possible to whomever is available to you.

I did used to write out a menu and put it on the fridge, if my hubby got home before me it was up to him to start dinner, when the kids got old enough it was up to them. I hired my housework done also and when I couldn't afford it, sometimes the house was just messy. You have to loosen your standards a bit, if you want others to help you have to accept their way of doing things.

When you come home from work and hold your babies and there is laughter in your home, food in your kitchen and love in the hearts of your family - you have it all.

hugs,

W.

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J.A.

answers from Chicago on

I'm not sure if this will work with your schedule, but as far as dinners go, you could try picking a day where you make a couple of simple meals for during the week that you can freeze and then reheat in the oven or microwave. If your kids are old enough to help, make it a family thing and invite your husband to help. This way you get to spend time with your family and you have one less thing to do during the week. Maybe plan one day a week where you order in.

The rest of it, I'm still trying to figure out myself. I'm in school full-time and I work alot. Talk with your husband and let him know how overwhelmed you're feeling. He might be able to help you with time management.

Hope this helps!

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M.D.

answers from Peoria on

Is it possible at all to cut your work schedule down by one day or even an afternoon? I decided to go back to work part time after my daughter was born and it was the best decision I ever made! Of course we could use the extra money but I would rather make cut backs in our budget and keep my sanity. I also feel I am much happier which makes for a happpier family and marriage! I realize not all workplaces will allow you do that, but it is worth a try. FYI it really doesn't get easier when they get older. My son is 8 and is involved in many activities which means we are always on the go. My daughter is 3, not exactly sure what we are going to do when she gets involved in activities as well.
To supplement my income a little I became a Homemade Gourmet distributor. They have lots of freezer meal kit ideas you can put in the slow cooker and they have their trademarked concept "4 Meals in 4 Minutes". Most are very healthy and worth looking at.homemadegourmet.com/melissa21341

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C.

answers from Chicago on

Hi R.-
I found myself wondering the same thing and completely stressed out especially after the birth of the second child and returning to work. Here are a few things that have helped me:
1. Since I was working FT I decided that I deserved a cleaning lady at least once per month sometimes twice.
2. My son's daycare did a program for Dinner by Design but you can order yourself online and pick it up. They also have monthly specials.
3. I work out during my lunch and I take a very late lunch hour because I don't cool down during that hour (so I don't want to be sweaty for long at my desk).
4. I alternate with my husband picking up and dropping off.
5. I worked out a situation with my work in which I telecommute (work from home) one day per week and BOY does this make a huge difference. I get laundry done inbetween projects, I start dinner at a normal time so I am not rushing and I usually double the recipe and freeze the rest for the following week. You can also take your lunch break to do grocery shopping. Alot of companies are leaning towards letting people work from home more especially with the price of gas!!

Hope this helps.

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B.K.

answers from Chicago on

Heh, too late for my response.. First let me mention the working out thing - I work out at lunch time. Yeah you have to rush and may be a little sweaty when you get back to lunch (I've figured out a way to shower quick) but it feels great and you won't feel guilty because you won't feel like you're taking time away from your kids.
I only read about 15 or so responses but I find it interesting that none of them mentioned hubby helping out at all. I don't know if this makes me a feminist, but hubbies should realize that if she is working full time, of course everything should be split more evenly, rather than her having to do everything she did at home, and go to work too. It's a phenomenon that is specific to our generation - lots of our moms stayed home and didn't teach their sons how to do housekeeping, cooking, nurturing etc. because they were the breadwinners, so that is our legacy. It just doesn't even make sense for one of the two to have to do all that. Yeah sure women are probably capable of it but don't we deserve to be happy, too? I was in a situation where I did pretty much everything at home, and worked full time, and it just made me feel exhausted and overwhelmed. and I'm by no means a neat freak either! Take turns cooking (even if it's pancakes), putting the kids to bed etc.
Hope this helps!

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C.H.

answers from Chicago on

One thing that helped me a lot is to plan menus and stick to them. It saves you the time of deciding every night what's for dinner. Use the crockpot - it's a lifesaver.

I don't have a cleaning lady so my house isn't sparkling, but it's clean enough. You have to prioritize - the dirty house will always be there, but the kids won't. Try to plan nights out with just you and hubby and get kids to bed in time to be alone with your husband.

I'm still working on the exercising part, so I can't you there.

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A.M.

answers from Chicago on

start kicking stuff off the list. Cooking - you don't have to cook all that much - lots of stuff is ready prepared, have hubby do some of it. Working out - yes it is good thing but maybe you will be taking break from it for a little while. This doesn't last for ever but the first few years when children don't entertain themselves are indeed fabulous and time consuming. Time for you - ask hubby to mind children for a bit each week. Also a babysitter now and then can help. I sometimes get one of my neighbor's children to come over on saturday for an hour or two while I go do the shopping - but you could just go for coffee etc. Remember, it doesn't last forever and you don't have to do it all.

S.J.

answers from St. Louis on

I ask myself the same question every day. I am a very busy attorney working 40 plus hours per week with a very busy 3 year old and a husband.

As far as dinner goes....I usually make lots of stuff on the weekends and freeze or refigerate it. For example, lasagna and other dishes that can be made on Sun night and then just thrown in the oven or microwave when you come home at 6 pm or so later in the week. Also, I utilize my crock pot often. Put a roast and some veggies in at 8 am before you leave and it will be ready when you get home. I also hired a cleaning lady and that helped tremendously. Sadly, I am currently unable to afford her (both my hubbie and I are new attorneys but still broke!!) so I am left doing the cleaning alone!

I do yoga and also run, either outside or at the gym. I can only usually go about twice per week , but I MAKE SURE I go. I notice a HUGE difference in my attitude when I do not work out for weeks at a time. I would make sure you have time for exercise. It will help you with stress more than you may realize, and will help get that bod back!

Lastly...If I am having a hard long day and I feel like crying, I do! I go into the bedroom and shut the door for 10 minutes and let it all out. I do not feel ashamed that I am stressed, and if it gets to the point that I want to cry about it for 10 minutes, then I will. I work hard and I deserve at least that!

My hubbie and I go out on dates, just he and I, at least once a month. That really helps.

I wish you the best!

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L.B.

answers from Chicago on

I was in your shoes 24 years ago. First, you need to prioritize. Figure out what really needs to get done, and close your eyes to the rest.
It really makes a difference to get all you can ready the night before (repacking the diaper bag, getting homework and permission slips, lunch money, etc. together). I'd try to get 2-3 loads of laundry done every night so I'd only have to do 4-5 per day off.
If you can get the kids to pick out outfits the night before, lay them out-with their shoes too!-where they're handy. Watch out for those shoes-they tend to get lost, at least one of them, all the time. The less time you spend in the mornings looking for stuff lowers your stress level lots.
Remember, there are zillions of moms in the same position as we are. Somehow, most of us make it through. Don't overstress on the stuff that doesn't really matter. Will you all be alive tomorrow if you don't dust today? Most of the time, yes.
We tried to make a routine (don't underestimate the importance of routine) for bedtime: bath, story, hugs, goodnight. Whatever works for you is right.
Good luck to you. My nearly adult kids are strong, independent young people, and don't fear new people and new experiences. Going to daycare sowed the seeds for separation for school, taught them to get along with other people (older and younger), and a host of other stuff.
Make sure you follow your instincts-if something doesn't feel right and you can't put your finger on it, don't ignore the feeling.
Again, good luck. Everything will work out somehow.

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A.H.

answers from Rockford on

I'm also a working mother of 2 with a 50 minute commute. Getting the cleaning lady is a great idea! Another thing I would suggest would be to get a cookbook that has ideas for the crockpot. I'll put in potroast or something the night before put it in the fridge and get it out before I leave in the morning and 10 hrs later when I get home dinner is ready. Also, give it some time to get into a routine and you won't seem so overwhelmed. Have your clothes and the kids clothes ready the night before and have your husband dress them while you get ready.

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T.S.

answers from Peoria on

It IS really really tough, and I wish that I had all the answers to share with you, but I can only offer a bit of advice on one of your dilemas. I freezer cook. Pick one day a week or a month and cook meals for the whole week. It can be as simple as putting together a quick marinade, throwing some chicken into the ziploc bag and putting it in the freezer. Then, all week long, take what you want for dinner out the day before. When you get home, it takes two minutes to pop it in the oven, and then you can relax with your kids for a little while it cooks. This has been a life saver for me as it keeps me out of the kitchen when my kids need/want me. Try "Don't panic, Dinner's in the freezer" it's my favorite cook book. And Good luck on everything else!

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G.D.

answers from Chicago on

Sorry to say it, but there is no such thing as doing it all. You have to choose. Do you want to stay home and be with your kids or go to work? I realized that this was the choice when I had my baby. You do one or the other, not both. As you're learning, it just won't work. I wish you luck...stay calm and do what makes you happiest!

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K.O.

answers from Chicago on

Hi,
First - you go crazy. You try and do it all. You beat yourself up and you stress out. Then you come to terms with the fact that you can't do it all, and so you just do what you can and try and learn to live in an imperfect world and ignore that nagging feeling to wash the dishes instead of playing with the kids or some otherwise fun activity. You have someone to clean your house so that is awesome. I think that will help a ton. I commute downtown myself and try and do some things that I can on the train - go through mail, pay bills, read (me time) or whatever. Same goes for in the evening. I work part time so on my days off, I try and cook larger meals in order to have leftovers on the days I cook. That's about all you can do. I also have a small home based business I run, which is another thing that keeps me way busy, but I just do what I can. My goal is to do my Shaklee business full time in the next year or so and that helps keep me going too. We sell a stress relief product if you're interested! :)

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K.B.

answers from Chicago on

Oh my gosh! You are SOOO busy. I just brought my first one home and have to constantly remember to pray. It reminds me of where my focus needs to be. Really, though, I can only imagine the future I'm in for.

There's this point each night when my husband comes home and I have this adrenaline surge/ minor anxeity attack because he and baby both need to eat. Really you just can't do it all. There will always be dishes, diapers, dinners, etc. (especially with a job, too!!)

Way to go on hiring a cleaning lady!! As for the working out, I get mine in with 2 minute increments. 50 to one hundred crunches or leg lifts between stirring the meal, or after brusing my teeth; whenever I can squeeze it in! It can seem kinda compulsive, but it also offers a quick break and makes the overall daily workout seem less strenuous.

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A.W.

answers from Chicago on

I haven't seen the other responses, but whoever is judging you for going back to work is crazy. Glad to see you realize that.

Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know that you'll be fine. I am a SAHM right now, but was a working mom with two little ones for seven years. You will survive and will become more efficient. You also need to make it clear to your husband that he will have to pick up some of the slack. You can't be expected to make dinner every night when you're working full-time. Excellent call on the cleaning lady--so worth it. Although the quantity of time with your kids will be less, you'll find that the quality will be better. Because you have less time with them, you'll be more focused during your time with them and you'll never take your time with them during the week for granted as many of us SAHM's do.

One thing that made life easier for us was to get a nanny. For less than the price of two kids in daycare, we got a great person to take care of the kids, do laundry and light housekeeping, and even cook dinner. Just a suggestion. With or without a nanny, you'll learn to make it work. The first month will be the trickiest, but hang in there.

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J.H.

answers from Chicago on

Thanks for asking! I'm about to be going through the same thing. I really like the getting everyone involved suggestion. I'm a single mom of a 2 month old and 8 year old living with my parents. I've had to ask a lot of my 8 y/o in recent weeks. She's "made" meatloaf a couple times for the family... ok well she put the love (mixing with her hands and shaping) into it. I also have rediscovered crock pot cooking. #1 fix it and forget it! #2 you're just about guaranteed leftovers! Freeze the leftovers and when you're feeling overwhelmed... pull them out of the freezer and throw it back in the crock pot! Dinner is DONE!
My mom and I have dishes agreement, I cook while she gets Grandma time with the baby (i usually get to eat during Grandma time too) and while she does dishes I get additional time with the kids (homework/bath time).

I hope you find some great advice... Hugs!

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C.M.

answers from Chicago on

I ran errands on my lunch hour, then ate lunch at my desk while working.

Try the Schwanns truck. They sell frozen fully prepared meals. Nothing to do but heat it up.

When you get home from picking up your kids, don't do anything else but just hang out with them for a while (don't start dinner, don't look at the mail, etc.). This little bit of pure Mommy time will satisfy them so you can do what needs to be done.

Also, skip worrying about a clean house. Go to bed early, so you can stay up late the next night with your hubby.

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J.B.

answers from Chicago on

Girl, you are in desparate need of a support system! Find a mom's group in your area to bounce ideas off of, exchange childcare, keep your sanity in check, etc. A good site is www.meetup.com - I'm in a mommy group on that site and we get together regularly and you wouldn't believe what a help it is to talk to other women in the same position as you are. Best of luck, and feel free to send me an email if you just need to chat.

PS, kudos to you for the cleaning lady. Why waste your precious time on such mundane tasks if you can afford to have someone else do it. That gives you more time to spend with your kids or making dinner. Also, check out the Dinner By Design type places where you can make up to 12 dinners ahead of time and put them in your freezer. Then you can pull them out when you need them, and all you have to do is let them thaw (some of them you cook straight from frozen) and pop in the oven. It's a great time-saver. I know there are a bunch of different places like that too.

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L.B.

answers from Chicago on

Congratulations on making all those hard decisions. I envy you going back to work as much as I thank my blessings for being able to be a SAHM (I feel like I've lost me being a SAHM). I think you are heading in the right direction with hiring a cleaning lady, although if you are like me(whose house is too messy for a cleaning lady)and most people, the house still has to be clean before the cleaning lady comes in. I use a crock pot with meals because there isnt' always time to make a good meal with all the extra activities the kids have. I've heard that cooking meals ahead of time and freezing them works well, but I haven't tried it because I don't want to spend the weekend cooking. I have 3 kids (6, 5, and 3) and two of them just started full time school, but until now, my house is a mess and I don't know where all the time goes. I do have to admit,with my husband's busy work schedule and the kids soccer, ballet etc. does put a little dent in our lovelife, but we try to find things that we enjoy doing together, even if it's just watching TV and movie after they go to bed. You have 2 full time jobs, I would suggest trying to make time for yourself and yourself and your husband because I think parents do sacrifice and lot for their kids and try to balance everything. When I had my second child someone gave me the best advice (although it could've been the worst since the house is out of hand)... she told me to cherish ever moment with the kids and don't sweat the little stuff. So what if you eat McDonald's once a week, so what if you don't shower or brush your teeth till 3pm. Everything can't be perfect and hopefully no one expects you to. My mother worked night growing up and she would forget to pick me up from school because she fell asleep. I'm a perfectly fine and adjusted adult. Just try the best you can. As for the getting your body back, I have no idea and when you find out please share, I'm lucky to get to have a quiet cup of coffee. Remember that you husband loves you for you and you gave him those kids and sacrificed your waistline. May not answer all of your questions, but I hope it helps you to not stress yourself out.

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A.H.

answers from Chicago on

Consider your self lucky that you can afford a cleaning lady. You can spend time with your husband and your babies and get fit at the same time by walking with them or playing in the yard. You can have your kids sit in the kitchen while you cook so you can talk to them at the same time. For meals choose simple things to make. Trader Joes has some great simple things you can make. Most take less than a half hour. At one point I was working full time, going to school had 3 kids and no cleaning lady. Just know that the house doesn't have to be perfect and have a good time with your kids. They will remember that much more than having an immaculate house.

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M.C.

answers from Chicago on

You will need to enlist the help of your husband. Since you are adding to the family income he should take over some household tasks. Make quick meals, and most of the meals kids like are quick meals. Give yourself 6 mos to make this adjustment. Lower your standards where you can. The long commute can be your time for you as you listen to tapes, sing along to your favorite songs, etc. If you communte on train you can read, sleep, do puzzles, talk to friends. Give up something that has past its time of usefulness that you do in the evening. Try to find work closer to home. Or, you can look into being a home daycare provider, earn a nice income and be with your and some other's children all day, and even do a few household chores.

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B.V.

answers from Chicago on

Mom I:

This is real life for most of us. I think you just might be panicking. Once you get into your routine, you will master it as long as our partner helps out. I don't know what I would do w/o his help. My commute is also 45 mintues each way. Sometimes an hour depending on traffic. I have a 1 yo, 2yo and 7 yo. Both Dad and I have different work schedules. He leaves at 5:00 and I have to be at work at 9:30 a.m. I drop off the kids in the morning at the babysitter then run to drop off the 7 yo at school and then I'm of to work. Dad picks them up after work and he will somewhat tidy things around the house. He'll do like dishes or get a headstart on giving the kids a bath. I come home at 6:00 p.m. & begin to cook. I try to do 1/2 meals. example: fish w/veggies or salad; Chops w/mash; soup; frozen pizza; sandwiches w/chips. I do most of my "gourmet meals" on weekends. Do homework w/7 yo and try to have the kids in bed by 8:00/8:30 so that we have some free time to tidy up again or watch a little tv, walk, etc. We both have weekends off and that is when we shop for groceries and spend time all together. Hang in there, try to figure out meals ahead of time.

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J.F.

answers from Chicago on

Plan, plan, plan. I have a family of six. You are on the right track with the cleaning lady. Take one evening a week that is Mom's night out. I used to attend a Weight Watchers meeting with my mom and then go to the movies. Before hand, I run some errands but there is time if I wanted to get a massage or get my hair/nails done, pop in a store to look for a new outfit, etc. Let that be the night you order pizza for dinner because you won't be home to eat it. I would just have a small popcorn at the movies or you can sneak in your own healthy snacks - with WW, just count your points. I hired a college student to come in one day a week to pick up my house, change our sheets, and do our laundry. In between loads, she would take my shopping list to the store and come back and put it all away. This has been a life saver. Some cleaning companies will do laundry while they clean your house too. You have to take advantage of help. There are also some retired folks looking for extra income that might be interested in helping you. Just know that we all go through it. Lean on your support system when it all gets too much. Good luck.

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J.K.

answers from Chicago on

I think there are a lot of great suggestions by the previous posters on tactical ways to help balance everything. My thought may be a little more philosophical in nature but the idea is to take a longer term view of balance - a weekly, or even monthly view often helps me.

I've got a 22 month old, a full-time consulting career that can require long hours and travel in addition to two business that my husband and I started that my husband now runs full-time.

To be honest, there are some weeks where I'm either working late or in need of some 'me' time that I spend relatively little time at home cooking, cleaning and I see my son and husband for a view brief moments a day.

Then there are other weeks where I'm at home every night and on the weekend spending time with the two men I love most in the world and catching up on the clearning and making the family meals.

I usually try to ensure that after periods of time away, I have periods of time at home. Or if I know that work and travel is upcoming, I try to prepare by spending a lot of quality time at home and focused on my husband and son. All in all, as a whole, I think my life is relatively balanced - and most importantly, my son is balanced.

I know that I don't have to tell you this but balancing a clean home, time for yourself and quality time spent with your husband and children on a daily basis is nearly impossible so you find yourself just frustrated or exhausted by not being able to get everything done. Looking back at the past week or month and finding (albeit short)times of joy with you children, times of intimacy with your husband, times of peace for yourself and(probably even shorter times)a relatively clean house and heathy meals is a lot easier than trying to do so on a daily basis.

Best of luck to you! Be good to yourself.

JMK

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S.W.

answers from Chicago on

well, there are certain no easy answers here. Its very hard. Do waht you can in the evening so you are not rushed the next morning. Perhaps on the weekend you could go to simply homemade and prepare your meals for the upcoming week. My friend decided to hire a teenager for 4 hours a week to go grocery shopping, do laundry and cut up her fruits and veggies, help with the kids etc to help lesson her stress. After dinner perhaps you could go for a family walk. A great time to bond. Once a month or more hire a sitter and go out with your husband. My husband and I had neighbor watch the kids after dinner on occasion and just went for a walk. And I am not sure where you work but I used to walk on my lunch break. Have faith if you have that you can do anything. Good Luck!

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L.P.

answers from Chicago on

You have a TON of great suggestions and advice. As for trying to get back into shape while balancing everything else...can you work out at lunchtime (gym nearby?) or even just take a quick walk at lunchtime? We have a gym at work, so I always try to make time for that during lunch hour. Other option would be to get a treadmill or do some workout video's at home when kids are in bed. Though it may seem like work at first (when you would much rather relax in front of the TV or go to sleep) it becomes part of your routine and will eventually relax you and may only take 30-minutes!!

Just some thoughts...I agree that once you get in the swing of things and get a routine down, it may get a little better. Take time out for yourself first!! I sure hope you find a balance!!

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B.B.

answers from Chicago on

Can you flex hours or go part-time?
Maybe you can go to a "fix your meals for a month" sort of places and cook freezer meals by the month?
Peapod for grocery shopping...

Sorry you are going through this. I have been considering going back to work also after 4 years at home.....these are the questions that keep me on the fence too....

As far as time with husband and kids, remember QUALITY of time is always more important than QUANTITY as well.

It's so hard being a mom. You don't hear the dads pondering these questions.....

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A.

answers from Chicago on

I sympathize... I have the job, the kid in daycare, a husband who works 50-60 hours a week, and no house cleaner. Thank god there is a minimal commute...

I find we are most successful when I plan ahead. Have the meals planned out and whatever prep work I can done ahead of time. (I used to go to Dinners By Design, but I decided it was too expensive and the owner of our local one was an a**...) I chop the whole onion at once, cook extra chicken to use another day, deliberately make double to have leftovers, etc, etc... I have also learned to relax about cleaning - if I'm given the choice I choose playing with my kid every time. I take my daughter for walks after dinner, and after she goes to bed I sometimes do exercise videos or play WiiFit... Much of my "quality" time with my husband is spent cleaning or planning the week out. Not glamorous, but we have learned to adapt. We try for a monthly date...

Good luck. I firmly believe that everything works itself out in the end, and that everyone in the family lives a richer and healthier life if they have something (work, school) that is all their own.

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G.Q.

answers from Chicago on

Mom I, I'm a newer mom as well of a adorably 7 month old girl. My husband and I both work and so we both split everything. Tuesdays and Thursdays he's in charge of dinner and I am Wednesdays and Fridays. Mondays are leftovers from the weekend. We also have the rule that we do one load of laundry every day which helps not to get overwhelmed. We don't have any family close so we lien on our church family to watch her for an hour or two while I get a pedicure or do something for myself. I would also recommend taking the girls with you on a walk everyday for your workout. As they get bigger that is a great workout! But in general, you're married, the TWO of you should be figuring this out together. Not just you!! Good luck and God bless those little sweeties!

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D.F.

answers from Chicago on

Hey Mom I,
I just went back to work from a break, married with two kids. I'm still learning, but the three things I could tell you is: cook your major healthy meal on Sunday(leftovers until tues./wed.), wed./thur. have hot dogs or fish sticks or grilled sandwich with salad, fri. is treat day(Wendy's, McDonald's or frozen pizza, take them to the park 1 or 2 days after work. I try to straighten up daily and clean up on weekends. My husband and I try to split up chores...sometimes it works. Also, we try to do one load of clothes a day. No matter what I drop everything once I get to the house and spend time with the kids. Once they go to sleep I try to spend one hour going over work from my job. It will get better, just hold on.

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C.B.

answers from Chicago on

I completely sympathize with you. I am an attorney with one child who went back to work when he was 3 months old. There are certain things I do that help make our schedules a little easier. First, I make approximately three meals a week in a slow cooker. I throw all the ingredients in before I leave for work and dinner is ready when we all get home. There are normally enough leftovers for a few days. I also try to run all my errands during my lunch hour at work so I do not have to at home. We try to plan our outfits for the week over the weekend. Hang in there--it will get better. It is a VERY tough transition, and there are many nights when I am overwhelmed. My husband also watches our son a few nights a month so I can go out with my friends and relax! That helps a LOT!

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C.N.

answers from Chicago on

You are going to find your balance, it will take some time. And you won't get to do it all, unfortunately. Have you tried the crockpot? We make a lot of double meals and eat lotsa leftovers-even breakfast foods like pancakes. Maybe make family time a walk or a bike ride. Have you tried Weight Watchers on-line? I lost 40 lbs on that- might be worth a peek! I didn't work out during the program either(it confuses me to work out and diet). Good luck!

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S.H.

answers from Chicago on

My advice: Read all the advice here (well, almost all of it; ignore the judgemental stuff) and talk to other moms and then do what works for your family. There are lots of suggestions: cook, clean, shop on weekends; hire some help; keep lists; enlist your kids to help with chores; and much more. Lots of families make it work; do what works for you and your family.

I would add -- cut yourself some slack! Don't beat yourself up about not being able to "do it all". Doing it all is a false concept that most of us humans cannot possible achieve.

I am a working mom (about 50 hours per week) with two kids (almost 12 and 9 years old) who have been in day care since their infant days. They do wish that I worked less and could spend more time with them -- and they talk about that and I encourage them to talk about how they feel and I don't take it personally. BUT (big BUT here), they have an extremely close relationship with me. They talk with me, share their thoughts and hopes, are very affecionate -- we're very close in spite of the time that I'm away from them. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for not being a stay at home mom. Lots and lots of kids are happy, well-adjusted, and have great relationships with their working parents.

Our family decided to live near my work (at a University) and with the kids in school nearby, I can leave work for a short time to attend their school programs, parent-teacher conferences, sports contests and choir concerts, etc.

As I said, I have a great relationship with my kids, but I do want to warn you that it actually gets a bit harder in some ways when they get older. While kids might cry when you leave them when they're little, older kids are very vocal about you not being with them when they want you to be. Again, just keep the communication lines open, be honest about what you can and cannot do, about what activities or school programs you can and cannot attend.

It will all work out with good communication, planning and organization, and doing the best that you can!

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T.

answers from Chicago on

First, take heart in all these posting that you’re not alone. We’re all trying to figure out how to make it work for us. Second, as written by a few, stop trying to do it all. The sooner you lower a couple of non-essential standards, the quicker you gain back some of your sanity and get back to enjoying every day.

There were a lot of good suggestions in here. I echo the crock pot. Best thing I ever bought. I use it all the time and make enough so that we have leftovers for a couple days. Huge timesaver and I still get to feel like I’m making a healthy dinner for my family.
Online shopping has saved me a lot of time. Peapod (online grocery shopping) has been a lifesaver for me when I just can’t handle one more thing on my list of to-do’s. It’s a little bit more expensive, but having an hour back to my day makes it worth it. I also do online shopping for diapers, wipes, etc. Amazon and diapers.com are the best prices I’ve found anywhere and they get delivered right to my door which means one less store trip for me to take.

I will say, at least the first time I scanned through these – the one thing I didn’t see was about redefining what “Quality Time” means to you. All children really want is to spend time with you. It doesn’t always have to be about toys or books or what we, as adults, would consider playtime. Try getting your child involved in some of the chores. Not only will they love spending that time with you, but they also will learn that they have a part to play in taking care of the family. My daughter started helping sweep the floor with the swiffer when she started to walk. We shortened the handle to make it more her size. It made her feel like a big kid. She also helps (sometimes) to clear the dinner table.

With respect to grocery shopping, I will admit, I avoided taking my daughter to the grocery store with me like the plague. One weekend, I had no choice and I brought her with me. She loved it! She loves riding in the cart and was totally entertained by all the people and the packages. We play games where she has to look for letters – which keeps her very focused. She helps out by putting stuff in the basket. I even use going to the grocery store as a reward for some exceptionally good behavior. I still use Peapod from time to time, but the experience helped me redefine playtime.

Hope that helps

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W.P.

answers from Chicago on

Wow, clearly everyone has to find what works for them. When I went back to work fulltime I found it overwhelming and I felt the quality of life for my family and myself went downhill fast. I immediately began to plan for a different life. I cut my hours and went back to school so I could change jobs eventually. What that did for me was enable me pick my child up so they weren't "in the system" until 6 pm which made me extremely uncomfortable and I could actually cook real meals and spend some time with my kid. I was not ok with feeding myself or my family a bunch of prepackaged food, etc. But clearly some people are. So I guess it's a question of what is most important to you. Eventually, after you do it a while you will begin to see what makes the most sense for you and your family. For me, I only had one child, and I couldn't stand the fact that I only saw him for a couple hours before bedtime, and that our time was rushed and slightly hysterical with homework, etc. That didn't work for us. Alot of moms keep their kids up late because they work. (most of my kid's friend's parents). That also was not a viable option in my opinion. I think kids basic needs come first.
I would suggest you really pay attention to what your deep feelings are about this all and follow your gut in terms of what your priorities are. Of course, if you can you must enlist the help of your mate. ALl the luck to you, you will work it out!

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S.A.

answers from Chicago on

I'm probably dating myself but I grew up when they had a tv commercial showing a lady in a sexy business suit singing the "I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan".

All I can think now is what a joke the feminist movement played on us. Those that touted such nonsense had no intentions of having kids and families.

It really isn't possible. You will have to sacrafice somewhere. You will need to decide where your priorities lie and then make hard choices. But you can't have a clean house, time with your kids, time with your hubby, time to cook nutritious meals and time to get into shape while you commute 90 minutes a day and then work eight. Think about it. You spend 9 and 1/2 hours of your day involving work.

So when do you sleep? How long does it take to get your kids ready for bed? How long to get them ready in the morning....you can't count that time as quality time.

I would say mom's of the world have been duped. Unless your hubby is willing to take a major role in all of it, then I wish you luck.

I would seriously consider how much you spend just getting to work, eating out, buying clothes for work, daycare in the summer...and then add the time you don't get to do what you would like to do....and then see if it is worth it.

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J.

answers from Chicago on

Hi - sorry to be blunt, but you'll probably have to give in and realize that you can't do it all to the level you're wanting to and cut yourself some breaks - and make choices.

For us, dinners work best when I can plan ahead: Monday - chicken w/rice, Tues - spaghetti, Wed - stroganoff, etc. When I can, I put the meal together the night before, or in the AM and leave a note for my husband (who picks up our son) when to put in oven at what temp. I try to do grocery shopping on Sundays. We have a cleaning lady every other week, but have to keep up on vaccuming (2 dogs) and basic kitchen/bath upkeep. Have your husband start laundry or have a load ready to throw in when you get home at least every other day (otherwise it gets out of control FAST). After dinner we try & play together as a family. Most weeknights, I don't sit down until after 9PM, and then I usually am too tired for much - my husband & I try to get out 1x a month. As far as intimacy during the week - I fake it and chalk it up to another chore. Friends, I'm sorry to say I probably see every other month. Working out I try to do on weekend AM, and maybe walking in evening. Time for me - I occasionally get a half hour or so if they go to the park, otherwise, it's a sick day (1-2x a year) from work with my son in daycare. I also stay up a couple of hours after they go to sleep - that's "my" time.

This probably wasn't what you were hoping to hear - but if any other Moms out there have some routines that work, I'd love to hear them too!

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M.K.

answers from Chicago on

Hello- I feel your pain! I have 5 year old twin daughters and a 19 month old. I work FT (40-50 hours a week) and communte 90 min each way. Most days I leave at 7-730 am and am not home until almost 8-830pm.
The most important thing I have realized over the last 5 years is to adjust expectations, it is really difficult to have the perfectly clean and together house, and spend the quality time with kids and husband and stay sane.
I would recomend talking to your hubby and asking him for assistance (or more assistance than he might be giving). I get through this by ensuring that my hubby assists me with meal planning and cooking dinner for the kids. He also can assist with laundry (even if the kids cloths never get folded or put away by him, it still helps). I also struggled with metime or work out time and committed myself to an hour M-F (the reason I get hom after 8 instead of 7), and this helps keep me balanced and sane!

Try doing a bit of tidying up each night after the kids are in bed and leave the rest to the cleaning lady. Then take the weekend for your kids. I always try to have some thing planned so that they know they have my full attention when I am there.

I have worked since my girls were born and feel that the time that I will need to be home and watching them is going to be when they are older, and can get into more trouble.
Good luck and feel free to email me if you want to vent or have further discussions at [email protected]____.com.
M.

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D.B.

answers from Chicago on

I have a 13 year old, only work part-time with a 15 minute commute and it still seems like there's never enough hours in a day. My biggest savior has been Dinner by Design. (there's also Magnificent Meals and a couple others out there) You can either spend a couple hours once a month going there and assembling your meals or pay a little more and have them do the assembly. Ours even delivers! I get 6 full size meals a month and we easily get 2 meals out of each for the 3 of us. I don't think it's that expensive at all when you figure in the cost of all your ingredients, your time and it's all natural with no preservatives like the prepackaged foods out there. On nights where I have a little more time I'll cook something on my own or have my hubbie cook on the grill. On weekends we usually eat out. As far as the rest goes it definitely is a struggle, but I've found even an hour or two a week of "me" time really helps charge my batteries. Maybe find an evening yoga class one evening a week. It's a great destressor! Take a deep breath and hang in there!

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S.G.

answers from Springfield on

I went back to work for State government and realized after a month that it just wasn't worth it at the stages my kids are in now. I didn't enjoy the "rat race" and truly wasn't ready. I know that many moms work full-time outside of the home and many work full-time inside the home, so you really have to find what works best for your family and it is really tough to indeed find that "balance". In regards to your question, though, I guess my advice would be to try to devote one day over the weekend for family time and have "hubby" time after you have put the kids in bed. If you are still having trouble finding time to exercise, maybe walk on your breaks at work (if you have any) or try your lunch hour. You could even hire a sitter through the week and take your hubby with you for the grocery/Wal-mart runs...doesn't sound very exciting but you would be alone together and maybe could even stop for an ice-cream or a quick bite to eat beforehand. As far as the alone time for you, maybe devoting one evening a month as a mom's night out? Try to make a weekly menu for meals so you aren't scrambling at the last minute to come up with dinner...and every night doesn't have to be a 5-course meal. If your housekeeper doesn't do laundry, try to keep a load going each night, if possible, so you aren't overloaded on the weekend. If all else fails and you can get by financially, maybe look into doing something part-time or wait to work outside the home until your kids are a little older and more self-sufficient. After all, you never will get these years back. HTH!

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R.K.

answers from Chicago on

That amount of discombobulation suggests that you might consider a few sessions of life coaching, as the purpose of life coaching is to address the issues that you are writing about.

R. Katz, Psy.D.

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M.P.

answers from Chicago on

If it makes you feel any better, I'm a SAHM and I don't seem to have any time to do anything either. My husband travels alot so I'm on my own most of the week with my two kids. I don't have a cleaning lady or a babysitter. Just know that if you were at home, it's not like the house always looks perfect or there's always a roast in the oven. You'd be just as exhausted and frustrated and trying to do it all too. Doing it all is a myth, or the ones who can have live-in help that clean, take care of the kids, house, pets, etc. I used to nanny for a family who always complained about their long hours but literally didn't have to do anything but go to work. They couldn't even bother picking up their towels after a shower! She said that she did it all. She was wrong, she was fortunate enough to afford me to do it all for her. So the moms that seem to have it all, probably don't. You will figure out a good balance for your whole family and what works for you.

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P.K.

answers from Chicago on

You have the most difficult job in the world. Realize that. And give yourself a huge pat on the back for everything you do! When I was going through the same thing, I wrote out meal plans for the week on large index cards. I put all the ingredients I had to buy on the opposite side. I kept them all, and after a few weeks, I could just pull out a card and re-use it. Also, if you cook "large", you can use the leftovers for another meal. I usually cook large on Sundays, and am set for most of the week. A crock pot is a helpful tool. If you live near Hoffman Estates, Multiform Fitness has a 40 minute exercise program to get you back in shape, fast! P.

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E.R.

answers from Chicago on

Hi Mom,
I am in your same situation, and I would like to hear from other mom's out there. I just had a baby I went back to work about a month ago I commute about 30minutes a day, cook and clean and take care of all three kids. I am in bed at least by 12:00 every week day. So after doing this for a month I just don’t know what else to do or to make it better.

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J.L.

answers from Chicago on

Hang in there...I am in the same boat by choice...I have cleaning ladies that come in too...I made a career change that at least I work 7:30-4:00 with a 20 minute commute. Can you change jobs or locations....Try to plan meals on the weekends in advance for the week so you don't have to put energies into cooking when you get home. Make it about your kids when you get home...Go for a walk and undwind! :)
Not every woman can stay home fulltime...A dilema if I decide on a third child down the road...Daycare is expensive. Just to do do some small planning in advance. Get errands done at lunchtime...Sorry for the rambiling on. But I know exactly what you mean. YOu are doing the best you can and you can't expect anything more than that. God Bless.

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