Ladies! Remember when we were young, freshly graduated and (most probably) childless? I do, although this memory is becoming more and more vague each year. That was the time when we were making Grand Plans for our future life. Mine was: “I’ll have two beautiful kids, an amazing fulfilling job, and some extraordinary time-management skills to successfully combine both, together with caring for a Scandinavian-style house, and maintaining 10 niche hobbies, such as knitting”. Where did I get this idea? First of all, I always liked to aim for the sky, not bothered by unimportant details, such as feasibility of my dreams. Secondly, and most importantly, this was the image of a so called “successful woman” which I was bombarded with everywhere I went.
Internet, TV, all kinds of advertising (at least in Poland) were full of happy women in high heels and spotless makeup, with their hair always done and not a gram of unnecessary fat on their fit bodies. Those women usually held designer briefcases in one hand while walking their perfectly dressed happy children to school. 😀 And I swear I am not exaggerating here! Obviously, the twenty-something me took this glorious image in and made huge life plans revolving around it 😉 (I’m laughing now, but damn, this is toxic and wrong on so many levels).
Fast forward 12 years and here I am, plus 3 kids, a full time job, and a life that (although amazing in general) looks NOTHING like the pretty picture I painted for myself as a fresh graduate. There are days when I feel like a sailor who forgot how to swim and then was promptly thrown overboard, desperately trying to stay afloat while the sharks gather around 😀 Graphic, but true. There are also days when I feel like I’m on top of the world. My life is a balance of both.
And don’t get me wrong, I am really good at planning, organizing and time management (not trying to boast here, it’s just that this is something I’ve been studying in depth for a very long time), but in my years of experience as a mom and an employee, I came to one simple conclusion: you can have it all, but it won’t be perfect. And another one, which is actually a quote from a Polish time-management guru (Ola Budzynska), who once said that: ” ‘Done’ is better than ‘perfect’ “.
Still not sure what I’m on about here? Let me list for you some things which I included in my grand plan, versus what is actually happening (because I don’t have time, or energy, or both).
I will wake up every morning at 5am, and clock in a workout, a quick shower and a full makeup routine before the kids wake up. I will fix their breakfast while they sleep and prepare lunchboxes to have everything ready right on time for the school run at 7am.
I usually wake up between 6 and 6:30 and spend a couple of minutes overcoming an urge to go back to sleep. I skip the workout. I manage to shower and put on mascara while the kids are already awake, because they don’t give a rat’s ass about my schedules. Kid One insists there’s a bug in his granola and refuses to eat it, demanding “bread with jam” instead. Kid Two screams bloody murder because he wants to eat porridge at home, while he’s supposed to have his breakfast in the nursery. Kid Three, who escaped hubby’s sleepy supervision, complains because he senses that I’ll leave the house soon and he doesn’t want me to go. I throw last night’s dinner leftovers and random cut up fruit and veggies into their lunch boxes. Our lifesaver, Nanny J., arrives, scooping up inconsolable Kid Three to provide him with a much needed distraction. I leave home with Kid Two only, because Kid One has zoom classes and doesn’t go to school anymore (thanks a lot, Covid). When I reach the car, I realize that I accidentally took hubby’s car keys instead of mine (don’t laugh, this is a true story! It’s either this, or forgetting to pack something super important, like my phone or a face mask). While waiting for Kid One to bring the correct keys, Kid Two runs off to a nearby playground, throws a tantrum when I try to haul him back to the car. Security guard watches, probably feeling sorry for me. I’m sweaty and my black work pants have shoe marks all over them. I drop the kid at the nursery, realizing that yet again I forgot to pack his change of clothes they’ve been asking for. I arrive at the office, 20 minutes late.
I will return home from office at 5:30pm sharp, prepare a healthy and nutritious meal for the kids and complete a full bedtime routine for each child while hubby cooks delicious dinner for us to enjoy on a at-home-date, while the kids sleep peacefully in their rooms.
I run through the door at 6pm because I really had to finish that one important task at work. Apologize to the Nanny, who was supposed to go home 30min ago. Change into sweatpants and cruise into the kitchen. Kid Three cries because I don’t allow him to grab kitchen knives. Kid Two complains because he wants to be given a pack of crackers – not to eat, but to crumble all over the floor. Kid One insists he is going to “starve to death” (his own dramatic words!) if he’s not served his food immediately. I quickly throw some veggies in a pot to cook, while hubby texts that he’ll be home late. Phone rings, it’s my boss calling to grumble about how our Head Office is annoying him again. We chat while I serve chicken with parmesan rice, carrots and sweetcorn to the kids. Kid One doesn’t like chicken. Kid Two doesn’t like carrots, Kid Three doesn’t like chicken AND carrots (even though he gobbled them up with delight only two days back). Thank God for rice and sweetcorn, the most versatile of all foods. 😀 Hubby arrives while I’m changing kids to their PJs, takes over kids Two and Three while I read kid One his bedtime story and bid him good night. While preparing bedtime milk for kid Three, kid One comes out of the bedroom stating that he forgot to brush his teeth. He will come out once or twice more after that, to pee and/or drink some water. Kid Three had his milk and is sleeping peacefully (this one thing we can always count on 🙂 ). Kid One is finally in bed. Kid Two decides that NOW is the perfect time to get engrossed in some random activity and refuses to go to sleep. 15 minutes later, he is finally convinced. Hubby takes him to the room, tucks him in and leaves. We throw ourselves on the sofa, preparing to eat a delicious meal cooked at a nearby restaurant. I pick up a fork. Kids’ bedroom door opens and out goes Kid One shooing a very displeased Cabbage the Cat, who apparently planned to spend her night there. It’s 8:30pm, we have approximately 2h of adult time before we get too tired and starting dozing off while watching Jimmy Fallon’s show on YouTube.
I will spend a productive weekend with the kids, doing educational activities, baking and meal prepping for the upcoming week. I will also organize the junk drawer / kids closet / bathroom cabinet / toys (select the relevant). I will then relax and enjoy the rest of my day.
I make pancakes for breakfast & the upcoming week, which exhausts me before 9am. I lie on the sofa scrolling through social media while the kids watch Cbeebies and play with random toys creating a horrible mess around the house. I have enough patience for one short educational activity (and possibly one of the extra activities for Kid One’s school – he’s doing them to collect points and earn rewards). I take half day to organize one small thing around the house while kids are running around screaming and stealing stuff that I’m supposed be organizing. We pack everyone in the car and let them do the same (running around screaming), but outdoors, so at least they breathe some fresh air 🙂 I end up exhausted and decide to spend my “adult time” eating donuts and watching Harry Potter.
Ok, now that you had your laugh 🙂 take the above with a grain of salt – my life is not always THAT hectic, but everything I’ve mentioned above happened to me at least once in the past week 😉 You get the point.
What I’m trying to say here is this: do not beat yourself up if you feel like you’re doing a lousy job combining motherhood and career. YOU’RE NOT. You’re doing your best and that is more than enough. The problem is that most probably you’re trying to live up to an unrealistic standard (which is these days additionally enhanced by all the “perfect” influencers on social media, and their supposedly “perfect” lives). Always remember to feel proud of yourself and your achievements 🙂 Have a wonderful day!
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