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Working + Motherhood = Two Full Time Jobs

Baby in the bath on a less stressful night

Workin' 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'
Barely gettin' by, it's all takin' and no givin'
They just use your mind and they never give you credit
It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it

-Dolly Parton

There’s a commercial for a new Samsung phone that extols the benefits of nighttime. It says that nighttime is more fun, more adventurous and sexier. Every time I watch it, I think “That commercial was not written by a working mom…”

Working Moms Have Two Full Time Jobs

In the working mom world, especially for those with your children, nighttime is where the real work begins. We arrive home after working a full day and the question isn't what fun will we get into. Rather, the question is, do we have anything left to give to our families...

You see, we completed 8-10 hours at the office and we are damn tired. That doesn't matter though because it is time for the second shift. On that shift there are no meal breaks, bathroom breaks, or smoking breaks. The second shift requires our complete attention or someone might die by eating a marble, putting their finger in a socket, or falling down the stairs.

There are also no substitutes forthe second shift. Indeed, it is all mommy all of the time.

Dinner time (note the paper plate)

Nighttime Can Be Stressful

The thing is, as Dolly Parton and Katy Perry sang about at the ACM Awards, working 9 to 5 is no way to make a living. Many jobs, even the professional ones, are soul sucking black holes that take the best of you. They require you to give the best of yourself. If you're not careful, your family gets what is left over and that ain't much.

(I am not even going to mention the other tasks that seem to fall exclusively to moms like coordinating snack day at the school, buying birthday presents, and planning family vacations...)

One of the hardest part of being a working mom is not succumbing to that feeling and allowing yourself to feel like your family is an imposition. Most working moms want their family to get the best part of them, but their tank is empty when they get home and what they really need is some time to replenish themselves. It is not a question of love, it is a question of energy.

Me and my daughter one day after work

Real talk, the most stressful time of my day used to be bath time. Because by the time it rolled around I was spent. However, I made a decision to do better. If I was not with my kids all day, then I was tired when I was with them, what message would they get about work, about me, and my feelings about them???

Commit to Giving Your Kids The Best of You

So, I decided to smile. I encourage you to commit to smiling when you get home regardless of what work throws at you. Our lives are a series of memories. And the memories you create with your kids become their lives. You can determine whether those memories are positive or negative. Remember, if you make it fun, they'll find it fun. Below are some tips.

How Working Moms Can Make Nights More Special and Less Stressful

  1. Admit That You Need Help: One path to burnout is to try to do everything yourself. There are lots of ways to get help. Some cost a lot, some cost a little, and some are free. Any money you pay to help you with organizing your life and becoming more efficient is money well spent because you get more time with your kids.
  2. Create a Routine That Works: Some of us are in denial about how our lives changed once we went back to work. Know that it will never be the way it used to be and that you have to do things differently. Try getting up 30 minutes earlier. That time, when nobody else is up, can be used to clean, make dinner, exercise, etc. You may be a better woman than I am, but I recommend not taking your kids with you to run errands. Shop during lunch, early in the AM or at midnight. All night grocery stores may have been created for working moms.
  3. Enlist Help The Help You Need: If you are married, you are probably under utilizing your husband. If you both work full time, you need to change that model immediately. He can and should do things at night to make your life easier. Marriage is supposed to be a partnership after all. Some, say it's 100/100 and not 50/50 theoretically.  However, dividing the housework equally is a practical way to reduce your stress. 
  4. Find an Energy Booster: There are women who get by without caffeine. Then, there are the rest of us. If you need it, use it.
  5. Exercise: Some working moms manage to have gym memberships where they attend spinning classes and work out on the elliptical. I've never been able to get that together. However, I do park far away from the stores when I go, take a walk after the bus gets my daughter on most days and take my kids on walks on the weekend in jog stroller. Exercise energizes me. If you need an incentive, buy a FitBit to count your steps. Also, there's an exercise program called Exerly that specializes in one minute exercises. Any working mom can fit that in!

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