The catch-22 of working motherhood

Guest post by Amanda
By: CHRIS DRUMM - CC BY 2.0
By: CHRIS DRUMMCC BY 2.0

On any given weekday, it pains me to admit that I don’t spend a tremendous amount of quality time with my kids.

We’re usually awake by 7:30 or so and out the door between 8:30 and 9. That hour is spent getting dressed, getting breakfast, getting shoes together, etc. Not a whole lot of time for snuggles. (Sometimes they do sneak into bed with me in the middle of the night, which means extra snuggle-time early in the morning, which is lovely. It’s probably one of the reasons why I haven’t put my foot down to break them of this habit.)

I drop them off at daycare, work my eight hours, then return to pick them up between 5:30 and 6. We then typically go home where I cook dinner and they entertain themselves by tormenting each other and, oftentimes, me. After dinner (which is usually a nightmare and requires a whole blog post in and of itself), I bring them to the gym with me where they get to watch TV and color in the daycare room and I get to run my few miles and sweat out all the frustrations of my day. Then we return home and it’s bedtime. Sometimes there’s a bath first. Sometimes not. I get them in their jammies, read two or three stories, deal with the requests to go to the bathroom, and for one more drink of water, and one more hug and kiss, and mommy-my-feet-are-sticking-out-of-the-blanket and mommy-tell-him-to-stop-kicking-me and they’re usually asleep by 9:30. Usually.

Now what’s the catch-22? Typically, the kids are so desperate for my attention when we are together that they resort to whining and crying and just generally being awful in order to get that attention. Surprising absolutely no one, that kind of behavior only annoys the shit out of me and makes me irritable. Which means I’m short-tempered. Which does absolutely nothing for my ability to properly deal with their whiny behavior. Which means it only gets worse. Which makes me tell them to just leavemealone! And the cycle starts again.

But ultimately, I have no choice. I have to usher them out the door in the morning. I have to go to work. I have to go to the gym. (Ok, I don’t HAVE to go to the gym, but if I don’t, I’m irritable anyway and that does no one any good.) I could keep them up a little later in the evenings, but an overtired child is a nightmare as well, so that’s definitely not an option.

It’s a really difficult balance. I love my kids. I love spending time with my kids. But not when they’re acting like jerks. But they’re only acting like jerks because I’m not spending time with them. Aaaand we’re back to talking about that damn cycle again…

Sometimes it’s terribly overwhelming. When L asks “Mama, do you still love me when you’re mad at me?” or when Q exclaims “You hurt my feelings!” I feel like I’m the absolute worst mother in the world and that I just don’t even deserve these two sweet, amazing kids.

But then, sometimes, in those few fleeting moments we can squeeze out together, when Q drapes her arm around my neck and says “Mama, I love you so much and you’re pretty” or L says “Mama, I love you right in the middle of my heart,” I realize it’s really ok because I’m doing the best that I can.

Everything I’m doing, I’m doing for them. Even when I’m finding time for me, it’s for them, because I need to be the best person I can be in order to be the best mother I can be. And while they may not get it right now, and it may make things really difficult sometimes, they will get it someday.

They’ll understand.

Comments on The catch-22 of working motherhood

  1. You know what? They will understand. This sounds like a pretty normal life. Human beings were never meant to raise children with just one or two people helping out. We’re designed to have help, and we’re designed to be okay being taken care of by multiple caregivers. I know this must seem really trying – and as a grad student with two jobs and a two-year-old, I totally get it. But ultimately, your kids are probably more okay with this situation than you are.

    • You know what’s funny? My last blog post on here discussed this very thing: the fact that I’m beyond grateful for the community of people who pitch in every single day to help me raise my kids. Most of the time I am ok with it. More than ok, actually. It’s just once in a while I start to feel that disconnect from my kids and that upsets me. I’m glad to have such a great support system, both in real life and in communities like this one, that help me come to terms with my choices and help me be a better mother 🙂

  2. Have you considered doing your workout at home after they get to sleep instead of taking them to the gym with you? There are lots of good workouts you can do at home without expensive equipment, or you could get some secondhand equipment for not too much money if you have the space in your home. That could give you a bit more time with them if it worked for you. It would also save money on gym membership (unless the gym doesn’t cost you money because it is a university gym or something). I don’t know if it would be practical for you or not, but it might be something to consider.

    • Hope this isn’t too off topic, but I do something like this, and the money I save on gym membership I spend instead on private personal training sessions for things I can do at home (I do yoga, but it seems like this would work for any low-equipment exercise). It’s nice that I get to do workouts on my own time, but I like even better that once every month or so I get to go spend an hour talking to an expert about my exercises. It’s really amazing the difference between having a video or a class teacher give a general overview and having a person who knows your body and its needs and strengths give a specially-tailored description just for you. I’ve often had teachers say “oh yeah, we tell everyone to do it this way, but because of x y and z, you actually need to be doing something totally different” – and then I try it the new way and it’s super helpful.

      Oh – I just saw down below how you’re training for a marathon-thingy. So some of this might not work for you. But applied to your situation, you could even see a running coach and talk about ways to run on a hill with your stroller that would be the most efficient preparation for your marathoning.

  3. This was so spot-on. I struggle with these feelings everyday but at the end of the night you know you shouldn’t doubt yourself soley due to the fact that you are worrying about this at all. You seem to have a good handle on things. Keep up the awesome job!!

  4. I’m not so sure, reading this, that your kids are acting like jerks because you don’t spend time with them. You spend as much time with them as I do with my girl and she doesn’t (consistently) act like a jerk. I have noticed that the times she *does* act like a jerk are when I’m with her, but I’m not as emotionally present as she needs me to be. I think the really difficult thing about being a parent, working or otherwise, is paying attention to our children through the myriad distractions of modern life. And by that, I don’t mean trips to the ice cream shop, zoo, book reading at bedtime or what have you. I mean, when we hear, “Mommy! Mommy! Look what I made!” do we really listen with all our attention? By no means is this a criticism, just something I’ve noticed about my own interactions with my child.

    • That’s a really really great point. I do notice that when I’m fully engaged, when I put away the phone and turn off the laptop and the tv, they are less likely to act out.

      But sometimes, let’s be honest, kids are just jerks LOL

  5. I learned very quickly that there is no satisfactory answer for people when you work. I went back to work quickly – mostly because I wanted to. The deal I made with myself was that while I couldn’t be there all the time, I could help find and build for my kid the best possible environment in my absence. For us, that was extended family care. For others, it’s finding a great nanny, or babysitter, or daycare, or friends, or anything else. I can’t be there all the time (and frankly, I don’t think it would be best if I was). But I can give my child a gift when I leave, which is a loving, nuturing environment that will help raise her into someone good. Which is how I’m come to be okay with working (and hopefully, go from being okay to be straight up proud of it).

    And you are totally right about “you need to be the best person you can be to be the best mother you can be.” for some of us, that means working – and there isn’t a thing wrong with that. I’m convinced that the key to raising good kids is being your best self. It gives them the command to be the same way. As for their occassional jerkish behavior, in my experience with kids, that will pass. If my sisters and I fought for attention, my mom usually would suggest a “group” activity like reading or something else, so everybody can get a crack at mommy, but that was just one way of dealing with it. It will all work out in the end.

  6. I’m trying really, really hard to not judge this. I am a 100% single working mom of 2 kids. I work the same schedule as the author. There is no way I would take over an hour every single night to get in a workout. You simply cannot slot that much “me” time and still spend enough time with your kids. Will they be “okay”? Probably. When you look back, will you wish you had spent more time with them? Probably.

    • You know.. I really don’t think there’s anyway to say whether someone can or can’t have whatever amount of “me” time they need. I have no idea what the author’s job is or what kind of stress it might entail — it could be better to work the stress out in the gym instead of putting it on her kids. Personally speaking, I know I have absolutely hurt my kid’s feelings before by snapping at him when I was stressed because of something work related (and I’m lucky in that neither of my jobs causes me huge amounts of stress daily) — it would have been better to just be like “Hey, I need to de-stress so I can be a better, happier parent to you” and figured out an arrangement in which he’d be happy and safe for 30 minutes while I read or did yoga or whatever I needed to do. It doesn’t always seem like the right answer, but there have definitely been times in my life that it would have been wiser to acknowledge when I needed a little bit of time for myself so I could in turn treat my son the way he deserves to be treated all the time.

    • I suppose my question must be “why is the parent-child relationship any fundamentally different from any other relationship?” Most adults know that, in adult relationships, sometimes it is very healthy (and often advisable) to spend time apart – it can make the relationship better. Committing to spending as much possible time with each other, and you can risk losing your independent interests – and that breeds resentment and unhappiness even among the happiest of couples. But lots of people seem to insist the parent-child relationship is different (but they never seem to be able to say how). The author says that she is the type who gets in a rather bad mood if she isn’t able to work out (I’m the same way). Is it more advisable to get more time in with kids in a bad mood? It’s the old “quantity vs. quality” argument, which to me, always comes out with “quality” in the lead. And there’s always that thing known as “the weekends” – which is when most of my time with my parents happened too, and we are none the worse for it.

      • When you really think about it, you can’t compare adult-adult relationships to adult-child relationships. Children are completely dependent on adults and are not mature enough to make their own decisions. They are needy in a completely different way because adults can take care of themselves. And regarding whether a smaller amount of better-quality time with children is more beneficial to them than larger amounts of less-quality time, this article answers that pretty well: http://www.oprah.com/oprahradio/The-Myth-of-Quality-Time

        • With all due respect, I’d take your comment much more seriously if you had linked to a scientific journal or other piece with actual data. Your piece cites Schmuley Botech, who is a pretty well-known conservative rabbi. Google him, just for kicks. He advocates not allowing men to watch birth, since it can “damage” his image of his wife’s genitals as solely for sexual pleasure and also argues that women should not breastfeed if her husband feels it interferes with his sexual pleasure or gratification. So I’d suggest that if you are going to argue about child-rearing, perhaps you might want to search for some unbiased sources first with actual data behind them?

          • With all due respect, before judging Portland Mom’s reference too harshly, the Rabbi is not the first to coin the phrase, “the myth of quality time.” This Newsweek article quotes Columbia and Harvard psychologists, if that helps any. They certainly have their own biases, but this article has quotes from both sides of the issue, and does not let fathers off the hook. Not coming down either way on this but this article has some food for thought on early childhood development and time spent/needed but without laying too much guilt on single parents. We all do our best, and this thread has been an interesting discussion about that balance we all struggle with between maintaining our interests/identity when parenting small children. I think all the comments on this thread come from a place of wanting to help, after reading Amanda’s distress. Anyway, the article. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/1997/05/11/the-myth-of-quality-time.html

    • I think exercise is more than “me time.” Exercise can have a tremendous effect on mood and behavior. Some people use exercise to treat depression, which in my opinion makes it necessary. I’m not claiming that the author is depressed, but exercise lifts your mood in general. And in the long term being healthy is good for your kids and sets a good example for how they will structure their own lives and deal with their own stress.
      That being said, another comment above mentioned maybe working out at home could help save time. It depends how close your gym is, I guess!

    • This, to me, is the danger zone of talking about parenting – the desire to compare situations that simply might not match up. You say you have one thing in common with the author – you are a single working mother of 2 kids with a similar schedule. This doesn’t mean your experience is the same as hers, though. You know that you wouldn’t take that daily hour, and that’s okay, because you have evaluated your own time and decided what is best for your children.

      What you really have to acknowledge is that the author clearly did the same thing as you – she evaluated her life, her schedule, and her parenting, and she made a decision that she felt was best given all the circumstances. You are using blanket terms like ‘enough time’ with her kids. Truly, the only person who gets to decide whether she’s spending enough time with her kids is her. That’s it.

      I’m not even addressing the fact that we’re talking about exercise here, which is proven to have significant physical AND mental health benefits. Regardless of the specifics, the author sees the benefits in her own life, and she seems to be aware of the fact that if she didn’t take that time, it would end up working against her family. You really, truly can’t ask a parent to do any more than that.

      To sum up – respectfully, it isn’t your place to tell her what she can’t do, any more than it is hers to tell you. Doing your best is just that – your best.

    • There is totally another side to this beyond the stress and emotional health aspects. Diabetes and heart disease are no joke, and for single parents being healthy as you and your children age is even more important. As kids get older its much easier to spend time being active together, but when they’re little your fitness requirements may not mesh very well. In some respects it could be seen as a trade off between less time now, but more time later in the bigger lifetime sense. Also, I think teaching by example is very powerful and this woman is being a great role model for her children to be physically active and to value exercise.

    • Working out is banking future time with your kids because it takes care of your health. So you will be alive for them.

  7. Clearly I missed the guidelines for commenting, I can see I was remiss. I wasn’t 100% supportive. What I read was a mom who worries that she doesn’t spend enough time with her kids . Looking at her schedule, it looks as though her kids spend 75% of their time with other people caring for them. That’s a lot. An easy fix was to omit a few workouts per week, or work out at home after they’re in bed. So, while I am judgey and bossy , okay, I get that. But I think 1 hour with your kids a day isn’t enough. I’m an adoptive mom, 2 kids no dad- no weekends off with kids at dads house. The trade- off for working full time, with kids in after care? Giving them your evening, and taking time for yourself after they are in bed. So, go ahead and slam away, but I think there is a kernel of truth in what I say.

    • On one level, I don’t disagree with you, in that the authors choices are not all the choices that I would make. On another level, I totally disagree with you in that there is no objectively correct way to parent. Do kids do better with a stressed out mom who isn’t getting in her workout or with less time with a less stressed mom? Who knows. There are a zillion different variables that go into having kids “do well” (and a zillion different ways do measure what that means anyway).

      Ultimately, I think that we all try to do the best we can with what we got, and all our kids will partially thrive and partially survive.

      My question for Amanda is a truly unbiased one: are you happy with the way you’ve struck your balance? Are you looking for advice about how to try to find more “quality time” (as you put it) in your working day? Or ways to try to break the cycle of bickering-together-time? Because I think that a lot of working moms work things in lots of different ways, and people might be able to offer suggestions that you might find helpful. But if this was more of a “this is how I do it and it works for me” post, I think that’s great too. Frankly, I think that the whole “quality time” thing is a myth anyway, and as long as your kids know that you love them more than anything, everything else comes out in the wash.

    • I think part of the pushback against your comment is, at least in part, because while you might be responding solely to this particular case, your words are applicable to many other people. Like, say, for example, a parent whose job requires a great deal of travel and who might not be home for stretches of time. Would somebody advise that parent to get another job? What about parents in the military, who can go for months, maybe even over a year, without seeing their kids? My dad was rarely home when I was young – because he was an athlete who trained and competed constantly. But for my entire life, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful relationship with my dad. That is because when he was home, he centered everything on his kids. I grew up respected, and loved and valued. Physical presence doesn’t translate to that- action does.

      And quality does matter. Let me give you an example. I’ve been involved in cases in the family court system that involved child abuse. Parents home all day who were abusive – physically, emotionally, mentally – towards their kids. Some of them were just cruel. Others felt trapped by parenthood and lashed out because of it. But that’s neither here nor there. But what I would question would be this – if I could have offered those kids in that court the chance to stay with the parents they had – who had plenty of presence but little parenting ability – or trade them for one hour a day with a kind, loving parent, what do you think they’d choose? Yeah, it is a trick question, because we both already know the answer.

      • Just to clarify, I mean “quality time” is a myth in the way that people feel like they need to be doing something “kid centered” with their kid or the time doesn’t count. I was folding laundry with my daughter the other day, and that was great. Sometimes our time together is when we’re cleaning her room. It doesn’t have to be apple picking and finger painting to enjoy being together. Any time together can be quality time, and, when time is limited, it should be.

      • I actually disagree with this premise. Having worked as a crisis counselor and with foster youth, by and large, they ALL wanted to be with their abusive parents than with strangers. I even had one student who had been adopted by a lovely family, but kept running away and prostituting herself because she hoped she would find her “birth mother out there.” Sure some kids would choose stability, but they want their parents to be the stable ones, rather than just leaving…at least that’s my experience.

  8. Hi Amanda! I think you are doing a great job and being mindful of our limitations as working moms can be really tough. Thanks for this post. I think it is important to acknowledge that parenting is a really hard job, especially for moms in today’s workforce. Having babies is so glamorized in some ways, right down to the ads for diapers that makes motherhood look so sweet and fuzzy. Things lose their fuzz pretty quickly after maternity leave, I’ve found! I think it is really unnatural to have to be away from our babies so much, but on the other hand it is the responsible thing to do. . . there is no easy answer. Please know that you are not alone and that there are so many other working moms out there who struggle to balance it all just like you. Big love from another working mom of two!

  9. Ahhh mother guilt! Every one of us experiences it at some point. I don’t work full time, but I study full time from home and work part time. I often feel that my afternoons are so busy that I have forgotten about ‘quality time’. It’s in the door at 4.30, quick cuppa, get some housework done, get dinner on, try and study for a bit, eat, then straight into wind down time which usually involves my daughter doing something by herself in her room while I have play on the internet time (or study some more if I have an assignment due).
    Life is busy and we all need some time for ourselves. I don’t need an hour at the gym but I do need some video game or chatting with friends online time which probably amounts to the same thing. In the afternoons I am often tired and that makes it hard to be ‘super engaged and fun Mummy’. I try and make up for the lack of time during the week by making small moments special. In the car I make a point of talking about stuff she wants to talk about. Dinner time is family time and she often helps in the kitchen while I’m cooking. An extra cuddle at bedtime and a few more kisses takes 5 minutes and reminds us both how much we love.

  10. Hmm. But I’m only commenting on this one particular mother’s post. If this was a post from a mom who was struggling to make ends meet, working 2 jobs and lamenting that she couldn’t spend more time with her kids- who could question that? That’s a terrible spot to be in. This blog writer stated that her kids were acting out and tormenting her because they didn’t see her enough. So, to rectify that- see them more! I think that an hour of exercise a day sounds awesome, but isn’t practical for most people. I’ll give you this- I don’t have the whole backstory. Does the kid’s father have them sometimes? If so, that right there is quality time for yourself, time that I never have. If she worked out every other day, that would be a vast improvement, and I doubt she would find herself more cranky, especially not if the kids were getting what they needed from her and weren’t as needy. I do not judge single moms who are scraping by. I’m one of them, I have to work full time. My kids are both high need, special needs- and I don’t have the option of leaving them in more outside care than the 2-3 hours afterschool. It simply isn’t an option, because of their challenges. I see that this mother does have some options to open up more time. That’s all. This particular situation, not the army mom and dad, etc. And while I appreciate working with high risk families, and the challenges they face, if you’re one step away from abusing your kids because you didn’t get enough down time- that’s a whole separate issue, and an issue that is very far removed from this writer- who sounds to be quite loving.
    Okay, sorry, I’ve used up enough space here, so I won’t comment further. Besides, what do I know?

  11. Wow! So I stepped away for a bit and come back to quite a dialog here!

    I want to start by saying I appreciate everyone’s input. I also want to clarify that I wasn’t really writing the post to seek advice. It was more of a confessional of sorts. Just a piece to say, hey, this is my situation, it isn’t ideal, but I’m doing what I can.

    I realize that I can easily sacrifice many things in my own life in order to spend more time with my children. But I made the decision from day one that I was never going to LOSE myself in motherhood. My mom did that. I love her dearly. And she was wonderful to my sisters and me. But she is and always has been a martyr and she lost herself. Now that we are all grown, she has nothing for herself except work. She’s bored. She’s depressed. It’s sad.

    I think Leah’s comment is what I most have to take to heart. I have to be more engaged when I AM with them and that will lessen their need to act out. I fully admit I have a tendency to multi-task in my downtime. Chores, Facebook, TV, etc. I have to disconnect from everything else in order to fully connect with them. That needs to be my goal here.

    Oh! One last thing. For those of you who are curious, I’m training for a half marathon. So I have to go to the gym in order to run. I have a jogging stroller, and would jog with them outside, except I live on top of an enormous hill which pretty much makes running impossible (well… at least at my skill level right now LOL) Also, it’s not every night of the week.

    Anyway, I’m really enjoying the dialog and appreciate all the advice and support!

    • One of the things you can do, if it would help solidify your resolve to focus, is research the problems with multitasking. There are all kinds of studies out there that show that multitasking, especially when the internet involved, is really really bad for not only the tasks you’re trying to do, but also your cognitive functioning and ability to focus in general. Like, it actually rewires your brain in various ways so you are unable to focus as well even when you try. I’m not good about this stuff – I end up multitasking way more than I should – but I’m trying to get better, in part after reading about how truly serious and difficult of an issue this is.

      This article has a couple of good sources for further reading, and I’m sure some quick googling would find even more info, as it’s a hot topic these days:
      http://www.wgbhnews.org/post/our-multitasking-romance

  12. Thanks for speaking your truth. It isn’t easy to be a parent and tell your story. It seems like every move you make is a controversial one. You know you and your family the best, so keep doing what you can with what you have. Your little people love you and you are one rad single mama.

    • Thank you so much!

      And can I just say? I think the adjective “rad” is totally underused. It definitely needs to make a comeback 🙂

  13. I was raised by a single mom that was going to school full time and working, and then working full time. I didn’t get a lot of her time for many years, but I did get the absolute best her that she could give me. I have no doubt that I had moments of frustration and maybe even resentment when I was a kid and didn’t fully understand why her attention was divided. But I knew, without question, that she loved me and that she was doing all she could for me, both in the immediate and in the long term.
    And now I look back and realize how difficult it must have been, and have tremendous respect and gratitude for her and how she raised me – divided attention, limited hours and all. I have no doubt that your kids will, if they don’t already, recognize your dedication to them.

    And for what it is worth, I think it is great that your kids see you working out every day. I think it sets a fantastic example for them, on multiple levels.

    • They actually get a huge kick out of watching me work out. The daycare room is open on the top, so they can see me when I stretch or do my ab workout on the upper level of the gym.
      They ask lots of questions about what kind of exercise I’m doing. And they love to show me how they can do push-ups and crunches and running in place (which is hilarious, because essentially that’s what I do on the treadmill.) 🙂
      Physical activity was not a huge thing in my house growing up. I really want my kids to get in the habit early, so it’s not such a struggle as an adult like it has been for me.

  14. Yeah, I agree with some of the other commenters I read: Toting the kids along to the gym every night seems like the area that should be reconsidered in the daily schedule first.

  15. I was actually having a little cry today about being a working mum. I’m happily married but it doesn’t really make it any easier being away from my baby. I work to support my family. I work because I worry I’ll become a hermit and never leave the house if I don’t. i work because I went to uni for 3 years and ran myself into the ground to get my degree and I’m not wasting it! Everyone will always have an opinion on what you should be doing and how you should be doing it. I’m not sure exactly what the ‘perfect’ amount of time with your kids is but for me I find a minute or two between study and full time work and the very selfish ‘me time’ (which for me is probably facebook! far less good for me i know!). Sometimes because of shifts it can be 48 hours between when i see my daughter but shes always happy to see me.
    I do find it interesting that most dads I know do things after work such as the gym or going to the pub and yet no one had ever said that their kids might turn out wrong or have a bad relationship with them?

  16. I know you are not looking for advice but are your kids old enough to help you make dinner? I used to love helping my mom in the kitchen and she would chat with me about my day etc… Nice way to multitask – get dinner ready *and* spend time together. Good luck!

  17. It’s so interesting to me how commenters immediately dive into advice-giving and judging what you’ve written as the whole and complete story of everything ever. I’m willing to bet that this challenging balance you’ve described is just as much filled with beautiful moments and experiences with your kids as it is with difficult ones, probably even more. It seems like this happens a lot in the Offbeat Families section and is way out of control on other parenting forums. That’s what can often make it too hard or scary to share the daily grind of parenting.

    • For real – it’s SOOO out of control on other parenting forums/sites. But I find the “no-drama” commenting policy as well as the moderators here have it *much* more under control. As for the advice giving, I think it’s human nature to share our experiences when someone describes their situation as difficult. If I post something online detailing an experience I’ve had with something, I expect advice from strangers. I choose to take or ignore the advice depending on my own values.

    • We as readers need to view these posts as a glimpse of someone’s life- not even a chapter, but maybe a paragraph or sentence in the whole book of a person.

      And we also need to remember that the comments we read are a reflection of that person’s own experiences and perceptions. We offer advice because we’ve put a lot of effort and thought into similar situations. Of course we all want validation our life choices, but the comments would be really boring if they all consisted of “Yay, good for you!”. Conflict arises from people who made two different choices based on what they consider important! Revealing the decision making process in a non-judgemental way is helpful to everyone on both sides. What I like about this site in general is that the comments are thoughtful and personal. I think it’s ok for there to be differing opinions, as long as those opinions are framed in a “I did A based on B and C because B and C are more important to me than Y and Z.”

      The best comments are those who explain their reasoning for a different opinion and offer an alternative view while at the same time acknowledging that they don’t know the whole story, and it may not be the only answer for the situation!

    • Truth! I really love that the editors have separate posts that are for advice (surrounded in big blue boxes!) and then the non-advice seeking, story telling posts.

  18. When I read this it totally had the gut-punch-ring-of-truth for me, even though my situations sounds fundamentally different. What I think I resonated most with was the feeling of rushing…those mornings where we have a GAZILLION things to do otherwise every other part of the machine falls apart (how often have I just run a brush through my snarly hair on the way out the door, and I only have ONE kiddo!). The coming home, slamming food in our mouths, my heading to yoga or to lead a class, or even try to get in some facebooking or talking on the phone or blogging (I’m introverted ya know!), and it feels like this pit of rushing in my belly.

    My kid doesn’t react well to the feeling of being rushed, probably because he’s picking up on my anxiety about it. So, I’ve started to do a few more ‘mindful’ things in my situation (because I’m NOT giving up coffee dates with friends or yoga or all of the other really good ‘me’ time). For example, instead of freaking out at daycare pickup about traffic, getting home, getting dinner on, etc (which leaves my son crying in his carseat on our commute for the 45 minutes), I have picked him up and before we get in the car we sit on the bench and snuggle. We have a snack. It feels like FOREVER, but it’s really only 5 minutes of connection. These small mindful moments have helped SO SO SO much. Other things I’ve done: crockpot recipes (some turn out horrible, and then we have pancakes) and loosening up my definition of what ‘dinner’ needs to be. We rarely do fast food, but yes breakfast for dinner happens, as does peanut butter crackers and a random assortment of ‘snacks’ that get the food groups in. Maybe I’m not Betty Crocker, but I get to bend down and play with him or snuggle and it doesn’t feel as rushed.

    I also wonder, since they are loving watching you through the glass, if there’s a way to incorporate them into your workouts even if from afar. A chart of how many “situps” they did while in gymcare? Could you also register for one of those cute Kiddie 5k’s where they could feel like their time in the gymcare is contributing to your overall family time, rather than just watching you do ‘me time’?

    I also want to respond to your understanding that not having gym time creates a cranky mom. And also your understanding that you not being around creates cranky kids. You’ve solved your problem, by doing me time at the gym, to make you less cranky…but that’s hard when it seems to be at odds with what your kids need to not be cranky! I think doing some of those small quality things in a non-rushing manner might help? At least it did for me…

    And sometimes kids are just jerks.

    • oh!! A kiddie 5K sounds like a great idea! I’ll have to look into that.

      This morning, I made a concerted effort to focus on them as I was getting out the door. Like really listening to the little questions they were throwing my way… and taking the 30 seconds to peel the apple they wanted for breakfast instead of just getting upset that they weren’t eating breakfast as quickly as I would have liked. I noticed a DEFINITE difference in our stress level overall. It was a much more peaceful morning and we actually got out the door about 10 minutes earlier than we usually do.

      It’s the little things that make the big difference. I just have to remember that.

      oh and PS. “Breakfast for dinner” is a staple in my house. 🙂

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