Today's guest poster in the What I'd Like For You To Know series is Shalee, of Shalee's Diner. I know that many of us are either stay-at-home moms or work-at-home moms, and I asked Shalee to share a little about her experience as a mom working full-time outside the home.
Ironically, Shannon requested that I tell you what I know about being a working mom as I search for new employment. I’m actually enjoying this extended vacation as a coffee-dates-with-other-women, laundry’s-all-caught-up, house-actually-looks-good, cookies-in-the-oven, home-for-the-kids-after-school SAHM. Let’s pretend that I’m in the normal mode of working outside the home, and all this will go down easier, okay? Thanks.
So I’m a working mom. In addition to my 40 hours/week job, I keep house, raise my kids, am a great wife, volunteer to help others and find “Shalee” time. But what can I say that will hold any weight with you people?!
I mean, what about ‘I’m tired!’ is all that thrilling? That’s what I thought. No sympathy from you on that front…
Let me give you a typical schedule for me:
4:30ish – awake, read Bible, blog, read another book, do household cleaning
6:30 – wake everyone up
8:00 – 5:00 – work, shop/read over lunch, pay bills
5:30 – 8:30 – make dinner, help kids, answer a bajillion questions, talk, play, baths
8:30 – put kids to bed, date Mr. Right (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
10:30 – fall into bed, trying to turn off my mind
11:30ish – sleep
Busy huh? I know it can be exhausting, but I love this life of mine. I see the results of what I accomplish. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me/us.
I have been asked questions over the past years from SAHMs:
• Shouldn’t a woman’s first priority be to her family and staying home?
• How on earth do you stay sane and find time to work, read, blog, cook from scratch and have dates with Mr. Right as well as family time in a single week?!
I think God intended for us to be working women, whether it’s working as a homemaker or a career woman. Look at Proverbs 31. This passage honors the woman who bought a vineyard from her earnings, made garments to sell/trade and governed the fields that she purchased. She worked from morning to night, inside the house and out, all for her household. Therefore, working supports putting family first. Not being idle for the benefit of your family is exactly what God planned.
I’m employed because my family likes to do this little thing called “eating”. Funny how they want clothes, heat and water too… I know! They’re so demanding!
I’m not putting a career before them. I’m putting them before my desires because, if I were to be completely honest, I would much rather stay at home living the life of luxury like you do (*wink*) than spend half a day in an office and dealing with people. What?! You don’t eat bon bons and watch soaps all day? Hmmm, to think that I’ve been misinformed all these years… *grin*
Sometimes I’m glad to have an escape from the daily grind of parenting. Knowing that I can go to the bathroom without someone asking me a question outside the door sort of makes that commuting thing worthwhile.
As for staying sane, well, no comment. I’m not sure I resemble that remark.
I do have tips that help me manage, but I have to tell a story to help you understand how I became so wise. (*snort*) Disclaimer: Mr. Right is a wonderfully thoughtful husband whose mama trained him right.
When my daughter was born, I worked full-time, cared for the house, paid the bills and was active in church. One day Mr. Right politely requested that some task be done. I looked at him and just started crying, bawling really. Then I told him that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t be the one-woman-show, wowing my family, juggling everything that was being thrown at me. Mr. Right stared at me and then said the most comforting thing: “You’re right. I’m sorry; I’ve been unfair. I just didn’t think.” He immediately shared the load.
1. I learned to ask for help. Not even the Proverbs 31 woman did it all on her own; she had servant girls. If I hadn’t acted like I could handle it all on my own, Mr. Right would have helped earlier. He asked, “Why didn’t you tell me?” I don’t know why. I thought being the perfect wife/mother meant being able to do it all, but that’s a lie. It includes knowing when to ask for assistance.
My kids help too. They have daily chores: making beds, putting away things/laundry, helping clean after dinner. They also have assigned chores. The Boy unloads the dishwasher, and The Girl vacuums and cleans the litter box. Not huge tasks, but they free up time for us as a family.
2. I lowered my standards. I quit trying to be Martha Stewart. Not everything has to be perfect. Sometimes I say, “I’ll get to that - but not right now.”
3. I prioritized. I made a list of what is important to me. Then I lived that list. Sounds too simple, doesn’t it? To me, spending time with my family comes before watching tv, helping on 29 committees, shopping or other activities. People call me for help on things that I don’t want to do, and I say no without guilt. I control how I want to live my life. I don’t let things control me.
4. I keep a planner that has the main events for everyone. No school days, meetings, dinner plans, activities, bill payments: all goes on the calendar to keep my head from spinning circles. One glance tells me what I need to do for that week, freeing space in my overloaded noggin.
5. I quit comparing myself to any other people. One of my favorite saying is “The grass may be greener on the other side, but you don’t know how much manure they used to get it that way.” I’ll just let that one sink in and move on to the next point.
6. This point should have been first: I pray about it. God helps me manage my time so that I can be the best servant for Him. You know what? It’s amazing how much more I can done and feel good about it too when I give it all over to God.
It’s not easy maintaining this life. Just think about single working mothers! Those women are true wonder women to me.
The next time you see a working mom and she looks a bit frazzled, give her some grace and a hug. She’ll appreciate having both. Heck, throw in a dinner too. You’ll earn her undying gratitude to boot as she crosses something off her to-do list…
To read more of Shalee's posts, visit Shalee's Diner.