Dear WholeFamily Counselor, I am a 27 year old mother, worker and full-time student. I have a little girl who is three. My question is: How do you balance all of these things without one area lacking? (Especially my daughter and school work?) Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
It's not every day that I think about my children while I'm at work. It's every minute. Almost. I'm sure that my colleagues are sick of hearing about the cute / brilliant / awful thing one or the other of my kids did or said, but I will still not hesitate to share these stories. It's every bit as important to my daily work ritual as is my first cup of coffee, and believe me when I tell you that coffee is important to me. I enjoy collecting the things my kids say and do because it keeps me in touch with them. It's like a psychic paper clip, in a way. As long as their names are on my lips, they don't feel so far away. Even though I am certain that my kids are happy, safe, stimulated and loved, my hungry motherhood mourns that it's not me doing all of it.
When my first child was born 15 years ago, I phoned my editor at the Elizabeth Daily Journal where I had worked as a staff writer and said, "Rich. I just can't come back." He understood, expected it even. I began freelancing at home, working part time, fitting my schedule around my kids' needs. "If, as many women, you feel guilty and feel you have to overcompensate for the time you are not catering to your children, you should probably be working on that rather than how to fit everything into your daily schedule.
When my friend, Ruth, landed a full time job after 15 years as a free-lance writer and at-home mom, seventy percent of me applauded the new move. The other thirty percent felt like it was in an elevator that had disengaged and was falling through a hundred story shaft. "Maybe we should talk about what my new job means for you," she had said, noting my poorly disguised bewilderment. "Oh, I'm sure there are going to be some major adjustments in your household," I answered, neatly dodging her overture by turning the focus back to her.
"I just can't seem to get a handle on things," says Donna, a full-time mother of three and full-time assistant manager at a popular restaurant. "It seems as though every day is harder than the next. My day goes out in all directions, nothing pieces together and every day is a crazy mess. I need help getting it together." Donna is not alone. All across the country, millions of people are trying to juggle parenthood, career and homemaking at the same time.
I have been working only part-time (15-25 hrs. a week) since my little boy was born. He is now five years old, and I am going back to a full forty-hour workweek. He is, of course, in kindergarten for a couple of hours in the afternoons. Daddy will be taking care of him during the day--I won't be home until 5:15 PM or so. I have so many fears that he will be missing out on all our great times together (painting, sleigh riding, baking cookies, playing in the leaves, etc.
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