I often get asked how I juggle motherhood along with a career. I respond ‘with six hours of sleep, swearing in abundance, shots of caffeine and a cabinet filled with wine.’ Fact is, regardless of whether you have a special needs child like me or not, most modern working mothers (aka all moms minus superwoman) go on the quest to find that elusive work-life balance, only to find out that it really doesn’t exist. The best perhaps we get to is a work-life integration. Balance would mean trying to equate the two: four hours solving a complex logic at work and rest four getting slime out of my one year old’s hair (it took an unbelieve amount of time as I didn’t want to chop of the few hair that she got). Rather I try to integrate: joining a Skype call on mute unless when I have to speak and feeding my two dragons at the same time.
So how can we get better at integrating?
Planning and then Improvising. Planning is the only way I reduce my stress level. I obsess and plan my weekly, monthly, quarterly schedule very carefully in my head and on my phone as it gives me a vision of what I can do, how much I can manage and later allows me to go back and see what all I still didn’t manage to fit in. And usually I am four or five steps behind in my game as I tend to see myself as a brand new Mercedes whereas in reality I am a Fiat! But having the vision in front of me allows me to improvise so that I can catch up somehow. Usually this translates to me not managing enough work hours in the day, so staying up at night to finish my work. Lucky for me, I work from home.
Prioritising. Come rain or shine my mornings are reserved for my children. This is important for me because firstly I need to do regular exercises or physical activities with my four year old who has cerebral palsy. Secondly it helps me feel less guilty of not doing enough with my children. A colleague once told me that the worst part of juggling work with being a parent is that you always feel guilt of either not doing enough with your family or not giving your work a hundred percent. By prioritizing quality time with my children in the morning I feel less guilty doing other things the rest of the day. However prioritizing also means you cannot have it all each day every day. So often I do not manage to shower every day (but my kids do get theirs!), I lag in replying to mail; and the last time I had a garden, it turned into a forest pretty soon!
Simplifying. I love ready meals, I allow my four year old screen time . I throw out every possible item that I do not need in my house as I have no time to deal with any chaos or clutter. I buy same clothes for my two daughters so that I do not need to think twice on what to make each wear. I buy as much as possible online. I give my children joint baths and I don’t sweat the small stuff: Its okay if your bed isn’t made every day!
Multitasking. The biggest mom hack ever is multitasking. I try saving as much time as possible by combing things. This means I usually do my children’s hair or put on their shoes while we are commuting. I work in my children’s playroom when they play. I have even mastered posting on Instagram, browsing on the latest treatment option in cerebral palsy, while feeding my children and talking long distance with my parents at the same time.
At the end of the day though I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love looking after my children and raising them exactly as I want to. And I love my work: it is meaningful to me, I enjoy it and it gives me the intellectual stimulus that Peppa Pig doesn’t necessarily provide on a daily basis!
So tonight I raise my glass of wine to all moms (working fulltime, half time, part time no time), it isn’t always easy, in fact its bloody difficult as there is nothing called being a part time mother!