Monday, May 26, 2008

Finding the Balance

People keep asking me how I am lately, and invariable, this has been my reply, "I'm trying to find the balance."

I haven't worked a "normal" job since 10 days before I had Oceana. This wasn't so much a choice of wanting to stay home, as the effect of our situation. We were in college/uni when she was born, and were planning to move just 3 weeks after her birth. I knew there was no point in going back to my job because we planned to move to New Zealand about 6-8 weeks after her birth. When we came to NZ we weren't legally permitted to work, but we were doing the youth group. Youth group and the drop in centre only kept us busy on Friday and Saturday. We did have other stuff to do, but it wasn't anywhere but at home, and it didn't have deadlines usually.

And now I have a JOB, albeit unpaid, and it has deadlines, requirements, an office, etc. And I have a 2 year old that I don't want to put in daycare if I can help it. I "should" only have to work 20 hours a week. But what I'm finding unfortunate is weeks like this - where I have two enormous deadlines - in two days, and taking Oceana to the office is like taking my life in my hands.

I had no intention of taking her to the office yesterday, but after I started work, I realized I had (HOPEFULLY) saved the latest copy of the Magazine (6 weeks+ of work!!!) at the office - not on my laptop (either user) or my flash drive. AK! I looked and looked, and decided that since TUESDAY (yesterday being Monday) was my due date, I had better move it up to the office! When I got there Matt saved me one of the copies on his computer (it was on his, I work on his on Thursday), and I took it to go on my laptop in another office. In the meantime Oceana is making people help her sharper her pencils - yeah, people who have jobs - and screeching about everything. She had an utter meltdown about lunch and which food and spoon she was going to use. And I had the wrong copy. Matt was busy, so I couldn't get on the computer to find the right now until lunchtime - but thank goodness I did find it eventually. But here's what frustrates me - after lunch Oceana was losing it, needed a nap, etc. So I brought her home, put her to bed and got distracted (with a book that Amanda B sent me - THANK YOU! It's awesome!). When I finally got back to work I only had a half hour, and then I realized I was missing two more files that were DUE that day. Grrrr. And they're at the office. But I don't know where, or what they're named specifically, so Matt couldn't look for them and save them for me.

So here I am Tuesday - wondering what I should do. I know I'm going in at some point, as I have a meeting (at a general "sometime Tuesday") today, but I need to have some stuff finished before I go. So now what???

But in the midst of work, there's still Oceana, who I hate to ignore for work, or sit in front of TV. We're trying to cut down on the TV intake in our house, but it's difficult to do, because I need to play with her a lot of the time - and I can't if I'm trying to work. And the house falls apart if I don't clean every day. And there's still dinners to be made, laundry to do (with no dryer this is a daytime activity, unfortunately), people to see.

How do you balance? Do you have a schedule? Does the schedule ever change, is it flexible? Do you do a lot of cleaning late at night? Do you have to schedule play time? Do you hire a babysitter, nanny, or send them to daycare?

The issue with daycare is that since it's a volunteer position, there's no pay - so there's no extra to pay for it...

Let me know your thoughts. And please refrain from telling me to quit or something stupid like that. I like this job, I'm just learning to juggle.


  1. If you find the balance can you send it my way? I hear your struggle. As a sah mommy too I do hire babysitters on occassion to get some things done (both in and out of the house). Since that costs money, do you have any mommy friends who maybe you could trade with. So like two days/week you take her lo for a few hours and vice versa? Knowing you can get like 10x the amount of work done in that time, it might work well?

  2. a childcare co-op? or wrangle some friends to do a few hours here and there and then do the same for you? i'm sure others would be willing to share childcare with you free of charge?

  3. Being a Mum is great - we all love it right? But sometimes we need more - like a 'real job', adult conversation, time to ourselves etc etc - I totally get that, and have learnt that that is ok, and NORMAL - no guilt needed (although I am a juggler myself!)
    Re the washing...
    I grew up in a house where you hang washing out in the morning and get it in before it is damp again (never, ever over night!!)When we moved to this house we didn't have a clothesline, so clothes racks it was. Initially a real frustration (drying sheets on a teeny little rack?!) but also kind of freeing - you don't need to wait until morning - do the washing when you can/ need/ remember, hang it on the rack and either put out in the sun, or in the corner of the room (or the middle!). I could then move it around to follow the sun, or avoid the rain, without actually having to peg it out over and over - sometimes its nearly dry by morning - yay! Maybe you do this already, but if not - I have to tell you - life changing! As for the TV - we are also guilty of way too much - but it has kept me sane and probably out of jail on more than one occasion - when you get through this really busy time, you will find time for more playing - my motto - which I have to remind meself of often - there is no such thing as a supermum!! (another thing I remind myself of often - Mum's lie - to themselves and each other, usually we don't even know we are doing it!!)
    Thanks again Susie for being so open and honest, and helping me remember that my messy, crazy life is normal! And good luck with those deadlines.

  4. I was thinking the same thing. Maybe you look after someone's child for a few hours and then swap. It is beyond amazing the things you can get done when you don't have a 'helper'
    Another thing is that you mention a lot "I need to do the washing, I need to do the dishes, I need to do X, Y and Z" which begs the question: what is your husband doing? Surely you could wrangle him into doing some of the work too. We have a policy in our house that whoever cooks doesn't do the dishes and my husband is hopeless with sorting laundry and hanging it out so I do that but he brings it in and puts it away. We have a cleaner now but before that we divided up the chores and made saturday cleaning day and we just did our sections. It's soooo much faster with two and heaps more fun because we would put on music. Oceana could help too by picking up toys or having her own feather duster
    Just some ideas :D

  5. Would any of the youth you oversee be interested in being a mommy's helper as needed? Can you ever go to the office in the evening, when the youth girls could watch Oceana?
    I'm a SAHM too and it's a good day if I get the dishes done while keeping my 2 young boys happy & safe, so I'm afraid I don't have much advice other than to seek some help. I am almost 100% sure some of the youth would love to give back to you and your family as a ministry on it's own, free of charge. You could always "pay" them with a meal or dessert etc. Good luck! Balance is something I long for as well.

  6. I *love* routine and have set up a schedule for myself. I stay home with my 7 month old baby and also work part time from home. It took me several months to find a balance that allowed me to focus on my baby when he was awake but still be productive at my job.

    My typical day looks like this:
    7/7:30am get up
    7:30am nurse baby
    8:15am have breakfast and feed baby solids
    8:45am playtime with baby
    915am get baby ready for nap
    9:30am clean up from breakfast, shower, check work emails for urgency, house-work, personal calls and personal computer stuff
    11:30am get baby up and dressed
    12noon nurse baby
    12:45pm have lunch and feed baby solids
    1:15pm playtime with baby
    1:45 get baby ready for nap
    2pm clean up from lunch, housework, respond to urgent work needs
    4pm nurse baby
    4:45pm playtime with baby
    6:45pm start baby bedtime routine
    8pm dinner
    10pm work
    12midnight my bedtime

    I run errands when my husband is off from his job - he keeps the baby and I leave after the noon feeding. 3 hours at 'mom-speed' is plenty to get things done.

    I like to think I am flexible but I find that if I disrupt my baby's sleep schedule we all pay for it. It took several weeks to get him into a predictable rhythm that worked for me so I have accepted that my time is somewhat limited for the next several months.

    Establishing our schedule was very tiresome and difficult at times but my gentle consistency with the baby has paid off.

    Good luck!

  7. Hi, I'm a SAHM as well who for a short time ran my own online gift basket business with 3 children at the time, I know how crazy it is and how you are struggling. Right now I am back in school and have 4 children and it can get even more crazy at times. I suggest that you keep a list. I use lists for every thing. It sounds like maybe you are a little unorganized and a list might help you keep track of what you named a file and what computer you were using. I know at the time we think we have it stored in our brain, but I am queen of putting things in a safe place so that it doesn't get lost and I have lost the safe place. Maybe a chart listing wether you are at home or the office and what computer you are on and what article is due when can help you see first thing in the morning what needs to be done.

    Good Luck!

  8. I don't have much to say except that I can sympathize. I have a one year old who's very busy, and can't stand to use the tv as a babysitter, although sometimes I'm guilty of it. I seem to be able to get laundry and dishes done, but not much else. We've also had some really ugly sleeping issues, but he's sleeping much better now. I can sympathize on not having a babysitter also. We moved here a few months ago, so everybody we kid-swapped with is 2 hours away. The only thing that's worked even remotely is making a list of priorities to help myself stay on track. Doesn't always work, though. I don't ask my husband to do alot of housework because he works very hard to keep us at home. I know he'll help if I get in a huge bind, but I see our home as my job, not his.

  9. I don't have any practical tips but I found this a while back on someone's blog and it might help to talk with Matt about priorities.

    "Here is a chart that my husband and I got when we attended a couples conference 19 years ago. It is used by permission and is copyrighted so please honor that copyright. It is best to have 2 copies, one to be be filled out first by you, the wife, who answers what you THINK your husband has as priorities for you. Then your husband fills it out with what his priorities really are. You then get together and discuss. It is a great way to open communication on how to better minister to your husband's desires. It is always best to know what they really are first!"


    Determine your husband's priorities for you.

    Rank the following in order of importance:

    ___A clean house
    ___Well prepared meals
    ___Time spent with your children
    ___Time spent with others
    ___An attractive wife
    Other: ________________________

    Define what this means to your husband.

    A Clean House:
    -clutter picked up
    -no hair in the tub
    -no toys in the driveway
    -no dishes in the sink
    -spotless house
    -living room/kitchen clean

    Well prepared meals:
    -flowers and china on the table
    -dessert every night
    -meat and potatoes every night
    -never paper plates
    -never hot dogs or quiche or ?
    -hot dogs on paper plates
    -order out for pizza

    Time spent with children:
    -home education
    -quiet times together
    -play time
    -outings: library, park, etc
    -memorizing Scripture

    Time spent with others:
    -social time
    -time to share the gospel
    -getting encouraged
    -making disciples
    -building friendships

    An attractive wife:
    -attractively dressed
    -happy, rejoicing
    -wears makeup
    -strong character

    Other ________________________

    (c) 1988 Great Commission Inc.

    You could change some of the priorities as needed based on your life. I pray this helps.

  10. Hi Susie,
    I have been reading for awhile, but rarely (if ever) comment. But this post was begging for a comment from me. =)

    I work full-time from home, and I have a daughter who just turned one. At first, I thought it would be the ideal situation- still earn a paycheck, while not "missing" anything with my daughter. Then she started to move. She was walking at 10 months, and work has not been the same since!

    I do not have many tips to give, that have not been said. I use a lot of conference calls rather than attempting to take her with me to the office. I also do the kid-swap, if absolutely necessary, with my sister-in-law or a friend. I know you do not like Oceana watching much t.v., but an occassional video never hurt anyone- my daughter loves Baby Einstein videos, which last about 20-25 minutes...just long enough for me to accomplish some task. Truly, I just try to be flexible. Some days I can accomplish more than others. If I can get a good nap out of her, I can work really hard (and really quick!) for a bit. Other days, it seems I can get nothing done-those are the days I normally end up staying up a little later at night, trying to catch up.

    It is tough, but I feel it is worth it. Keep on keepin' on, and hold your head up! Not many people can multi-task like the working Mom. =)

  11. As a stay at home mom of three, homeschool mom and one who runs a home business I totally understand your frustration. I have learned often to let things go. I am also blessed with a husband who is willing to help with laundry, dishes and watching the kids so I can get things done - as he has time. As they say the kids are only young once! I happen to be a late night person so I do a lot of stuff late at night but need to back off a little because hubby misses me going to bed with him! I happen to be an organizer freak but do not do well with hour by hour schedules - I have a general idea of a schedule. I tried to schedule laundry days but that doesn't work - with 5 in our family I do a load every other day anyway!

    One thing I have done and I'm not sure if it would work for you. I have befriended some of the youth from church - one in particular is a teen girl. She often comes and "hangs out" with the kids, plays with them, etc. At times I have her do things for me as well. I know you are in a new area but I'm wondering if there is a teen girl or two you could get to come and just hang out and play with Oceana and then as she and you get comfortable you can leave them alone. That may only work if they are homeschooled or it would have to be an after school thing. I have been blessed because of my Avon business I pay her with "credit" to buy Avon products and of course I may pay her $20 with Avon but it is only $15 out of my pocket. Of course that won't work have a way with material and I'm wondering if you could do something with that!?!?!? If there would be something you could make for her!?!?!?

    Just my two cents...

    Love ya, PAM IN PA