1. Get a job
2. Add children
3. Hold on for dear life!
When you make the decision to be a working mom (whether it is for necessity or by choice), you know that your life will not be easy and rarely straightforward. When you have children, all of the predictability in life goes away with your two-seater sports car. Ironic really, when families with their minivans and their soccer practices are the ones with the reputation for being scheduled and boooring! But let’s face it, how many of you parents out there have been stopped in your tracks because a teddy bear went flying out the car window, someone got sick, or the dog got out? Add a job to the equation and it becomes far from boring!
Trying to accommodate children, a boss, and a husband (or lack of one) is exhausting. Even the most organized SUPERmom can get overwhelmed. Trust me, we’ve all been in that place where we feel like if that kid makes that noise one more time our head might actually explode this time. So how do you avoid being the screaming mom in the supermarket, the mom who never shows up to appointments, or the mom who no longer enjoys her kids? Here are some of the tricks I use to stay sane:
1. Figure Out Your Family’s Needs
It is near impossible to balance everyone’s educational, vocational, community, recreational, physical, and social needs (not to mention finding time in there to feed everyone and do the housework!) We try to pick activities that will meet more than just one of these goals and for more than one member of the family at a time. I won’t lie, part of last year we spent almost five evenings a week on the softball field, but as a family we chose that as our priority activity and it meant other activities had to go on hold during that season. If there is a school activity that conflicts with a sport activity, we had to figure out which need (educational or recreational) was more important and which value (work vs. fun) was our priority as well. When you have decided what values and priorities you wish to encourage in your children, it makes these decisions easier. Don’t forget to give them a choice, but only if you can live with the decision they are going to make. Just remember that you can’t do everything!
2. Take Care of Your Family’s Health – Even Yours!
You know how grumpy your kids get when they don’t get enough sleep or don’t eat properly? That happens to everyone, even you. Make sleep a priority, but remember to get up in time to eat something for breakfast. It doesn’t have to be a huge meal (us busy moms so frequently are not morning eaters), but even just grabbing a piece of fruit or a yogurt gives you more energy to start your day. Making sure your kids have enough to eat in the morning and at school will go a long way towards avoiding meltdowns in the car on the way home from daycare. Try packing an afterschool snack like an apple and a cheese string to keep them busy on the way home. This is good for their physical health and your mental health if it avoids the “MOOOOOOMM, she’s looking out my window” fight.
3. Invest in a good calendar – and check it!
Honestly, I don’t know how I would survive without my Blackberry. It is always with me, and whenever I make a commitment I immediately save the appointment on my calendar. This keeps me from double booking myself and it also makes a noise to remind me of things. I used to have a calendar on the wall, but I find I have trouble remembering to check it in the morning. Do whatever works best for you, as long as you remember to use it! All that aside, there will be time that you just need to go with the flow and not punish yourself for leaving work early because little Suzie is throwing up all over the daycare floor, and the calendar will just have to wait for another day.
4. Remember that nobody’s perfect
The person we tend to expect perfection from the most is ourselves, but it is so hard not to when other people walk around making life look so easy! Don’t forget that people show their best face to the public. Ever been arguing with your husband and the phone rings and you switch over to that perfectly pleasant “Hello?” It doesn’t mean that we are like that all the time, nor is the “perfect person” in your life always the way they present to the public. We all do the best we can, and you can’t expect any more than that from yourself.
5. Take time for yourself
As important as it is to make sure your children’s needs are met, you also have your own needs as a parent for quiet time or socialization with friends. Try to take that time, even if it means leaving your kids at their lessons for an hour and going for a walk when you would normally stay and watch, or dropping them off at daycare anyway on one of the days you have off from work. Sure you may feel a bit guilty, so pick them up earlier than you normally would and take them to the park. Trust me, they’ll be thrilled!
So in conclusion…how do you be a SUPERmom? You do it by doing all the things that you have been doing all along. Moms are the magic behind family vacations and Sunday breakfast, the hug goodbye at daycare, and the kiss goodnight. They are the alarm clock in the morning and the person the kids turn to when they are angry, sad, frustrated, happy, hyper, and exhausted. Moms are also cashiers, nurses, carpenters, politicians, lawyers, and police officers. We represent a significant percentage of the labour force, and are becoming increasingly SUPER every day with the support and encouragement from other moms like us.
For more parenting tips visit our website at http://www.myerc.ca/Content/Independence/Childcare.asp.
This article was written by career development practitioner Kirsty Peterson.