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I'm just a girl in the world.. that kind of likes to write. Mom of 2 teen girls & work as Talent Attraction & Marketing professional. Oh, & I'm addicted to my phone, Social Media, HR/Talent Marketing & Caffeine... you can learn more about me at www.linkedin.com/in/theonecrystal

The “Momsters” & Balancing the Parenting Juggling Act

Part Two of the “I Don’t Know How She Does it Series

I’m pretty sure I would have made a really rockin’ Momster.  For anyone whose not familiar, it’s the Parenting Version of Bridezilla; but instead of being a complete hot mess?  The “Momster” is perfect in her bitchiness.  It’s not just her attitude that says, “I’m better than you” – it’s her actions.. her perfect baked goods… her complete dedication to working towards negative numbered clothing sizes… She throws the best dinner parties, is in every committee possible in the PTA/Junior League and she always beats you in tennis.

Here’s the part you don’t see, though.  The Momster?  Is not a working parent.  That’s not to say she might not be busy; but it IS to say that every “Momster” I met?  Had help balancing the Parenting tight-rope in the form of a Parenting Partner, child-care provider, and often?  A housekeeper of some sort.  I don’t begrudge the help they have one bit… well, at least not until the “I’m Perfect-er Than You” (1) attitude comes out to play.  Because like it or not?  Busy or not??  It’s NOT the same.

For me, I juggle two active teenage daughters, a full-time career,  social life, (2) dating, (3) and various developmental projects.  I’m the only adult in the house so I’m responsible for doctor’s appointments, teacher conferences, activities, friends, homework, disciplinarian, counselor, and buddy duties with the girls – all of which I’m happy to do – but this obviously takes a lot of time.  My work? Demanding; but whose isn’t??   The movie relates the balance of all of these activities to juggling; making us [me] jugglers.  That’s okay; but the truth I learned a while back is that unlike a professional juggler??  Our “Acts” don’t end after a few minutes or an hour.  Our performances are pretty much non-stop; which means we HAVE to learn to be okay with balls dropping now and again.  Or losing our sanity… take your pick.

I’m not going to pretend like I have all the answers for this – my kids/parents/friends will absolutely attest that there are times where I suck all the fun straight out of the room when I’m stressed.  That said, I’ve picked up a few tips along the way that I thought I’d share.. helps keep my balls in the air, for sure!

1.  Food – The easy answer for this is to just do take-out/eat-out dinners if you’re running short on time/have too much to do.  It’s easier; but hard to keep healthy & certainly more expensive than home cooking!  Alternatively, look to these time-savers:

  • Crock-Pot Meals:  My crock-pot is a G-dsend; seriously.  I pop something in it in the morning & my kids eat healthy at night! 🙂 Great recipes can be found here:
  • Seven-Day Cooking – the thought here is that you take a block of time (2-4 hours) on Saturday or Sunday and cook all your meals for the week.  You then package & freeze them; taking them out each day and going to town.  I loved this for a LONG time.  Learn more here
  • Give yourself a break – look at your calendar at the beginning of the week and on the busiest day?  Allow yourself to order-out without feeling guilty!  I let my kids pick – which means it’s usually Subway, Sonic, or pizza – and I’ve learned to be okay with that.

2. Quality Time – The thing I hear the most – and have experienced myself – is guilt from feeling “Not Fully Present” wherever we happen to be.  At work, we’re thinking about the kids; at home, we’re trying to cram in more work.  We lose the quality time & hope “More time” will make up for it.  Newsflash?  It doesn’t, thanks to the reality of diminishing returns.  When I was newly engaged for the first time; years and years ago… my former Grandfather-in-Law talked to me about scheduling “quality time” with my future spouse.  I’m not going to lie, I thought it was a little dorky at the time – after all, wouldn’t ALL our time together be quality??  Ah, the idealism… 🙂

These days, I realize that concept for the universal sanity-saver that it is – I schedule time in each of my life-buckets to make sure that it’s getting the “Quality Time” it needs.  Take time to consider if these tips might up the quality of your juggling game:

  • I have a “Mommy-Daughter” date with my girls at least once a month to ensure we’re getting quality FUN time, bonding together.   We all love it. (parenting)
  • I build in 15-20 minutes a day of one-on-one time to talk with each of them so we’re getting quality connect time individually.  (parenting)
  • I schedule one night a week where I -know- I’m going to need to work late and that’s what I make my take-out night and have the girls occupied in their own endeavors.  We’ve talked about it as a family & all respect it. 🙂  This allows me to focus.  (work-time)
  • I schedule 15 minutes of “down time” each morning to just chill before the madness of the day sets in & 5 minutes to listen to a fun, pumped-up song to kick off the day!  I call this my “Pampered Princess routine” but it brings much zen & happiness to my life!   (self-time)
  • I block off two nights a month for date nights during the week.  Not going to lie, I often break them in service of something else; but when it’s important?  That time is there.  (dating)
  • One day/night a week is set aside for social outings, etc. to hang with friends.  (social)

3. To-Do List –  Not much to say on this except every busy professional should have a “To-Do List.”  Mine is a spreadsheet and is updated daily & is also a droplist that syncs on my iPad.  I LOVE it.  #sanitysaver  First step to a good list?  Prioritize.

  • A – “MUST DOS – got to get done that day” – I assume that if it’s in a ‘named’ category, it’s an “A Priority” for the day.
  • B – Things I want to accomplish that week.
  • C – Stuff that I don’t really want to do, but probably need to do that week… or at least be mindful off.
  • D – Short-term goals/commitments.  I don’t go longer than the month.
  • Long-term goals – try to keep a running list of what I want to accomplish each quarter.

For me, the following categories are essential:

  • Work
  • Family
  • Household
  • Self
  • Call-backs
  • Meetings
  • “B Priorities”
  • “C Priorities”
  • Long-term goals
Don’t forget to check off what you’ve completed … or go my route and scratch that sucker clean out.  It feels good & is a visual reminder of what you accomplished!!! 🙂

4. The Communication Plate – That’s what it is in our house, anyway.  Each day, I put the “First Thing” the kids need to do when they get home; because in our home?  We all pitch in with chores.  They put what’s important to them for the upcoming day on it – events, fun stuff, whatever.  It’s the communication hub of our house & has been responsible for starting more than a few interesting conversations in my family.

If you’re not one of the “Momsters;” what are some of your favorite ways to manage your time & the balls you keep up in the air??

(1) Bet the “Momster” would have better grammar, too! 😉  This is NOT all stay-at-home parents; there are several I know that are busier than I am as Chief Executive Officers of their family hearth and home!

(2) Which I’m fortunate enough to be able to weave my passions/hobbies into #timesaver! 🙂

(3) Which I guess could be lumped into my social life but I sacrifice dating for “friend time” pretty frequently; so, I opt to keep them separate.

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