Tag Archives: family

My Balance Now

Before I moved closer to work, I had an hour drive to and from work.  I re-read my 2012 post that went into depth about how I balanced work/life and thought I’d update it.  Sometimes I can’t believe I endured this commute for so long.

1.  What’s your work schedule?

Before: I got up at 5:15 to 5:45 to get to work on time.  I got home by 5:30-6 pm., usually exhausted with an aching back.

Now: I get up around 6:25 and get to work on time.  I often have time for breakfast and light stretching/exercise!  My drive is 30 minutes tops (usually faster in the mornings when fewer people are on the road).  I get home by 5pm. Sometimes I even hit the gym or go to the park with the kids.  According to co-workers, I’m also less grumpy in the morning!

2. How do you handle childcare?

Before: Part-time nanny, freelancing husband with flexible schedule and more time at home.

Now: Still part-time nanny on occasion who does light housecleaning, plus A LOT of help from my mom.  My husband’s schedule and travel has picked up, which leaves me taking more time off for doctor appointments, illness and such. Pre-school pick-up is a pain to manage.

3. What do you find best about your current set-up?

I love my shorter commute which has resulted in more energy and quality time with spouse, self and kids!  I love getting more help from my mom since she is amazingly good and flexible with her schedule.

4. What advice would you give to other moms about the juggle?

It’s not really about working or not. It’s really about flexiblity. Even within the restraints of a traditional 9 to 5 job, I know I’m fortunate that my boss is understanding about childcare issues as long as I manage to meet deadlines.

I still stand by my love of online shopping: Order as much as you can online.

And I’ve converted to the dark side — smartphone with tons of apps. It’s the only way I can keep track of my emails and shopping lists. My husband and I communicate quickly via text, emails and shared shopping lists, too.

I’ve been taking some vacation days to do a mommy-and-me class with my kids on weekday mornings. It’s shorten my work hours which is nice on a mental level BUT also forces me to eat at my desk some days to get all my work done.  I love using that time to  learn and play with my kids alongside mostly stay-at-home moms or grandparents.  This alleviates a lot of mommy guilt because I have more hours with my kids overall and don’t have to cram all the fun stuff on weekends.

5. Do you think the juggle is harder for women than men?

Yes.  I’m actually guilt-free and good at ignoring snippy comments but I do spend more time cleaning the house and thinking/planning kid-friendly activities.

Feel free to chime in with details about how other women (and men) handle the work/life juggling act!

My Attempt At Doing What Successful People Do On Weekends

Time management expert  and author Laura Vanderkam has a new e-book called “What The Most Successful People Do On Weekends” (read review from House of Peanut here).  I haven’ t read it yet but the gist of it seems to be how to be more productive on weekends.  I tend to emulate or strive for simplicity and personal happiness even if it’s not the same as what “successful” people do.  I believe successful people are defined by the author as typically Type A high-powered & career-minded people who are successful in their fields.  Therefore, I’m not the target audience!

However, that doesn’t mean I can’t get good advice from books like these (and I’m sure I will once I read it..).  One of the tips from the author’s blog at least is to  plan an Anchor event on the weekends.  This anchor event should be something fun that gets you and/or your family out of the house so that weekends are more memorable and not all about chores and puttering around.

For several weekends, we’ve accidentally followed this advice.  The first weekend was very simple and not super planned-out but it was a Saturday morning excursion to a nearby park.  The next weekend was a music concert for kids at the library on a Saturday morning.  The third weekend included a date night on Saturday.  I admit that doing something fun on Saturdays, when I normally would be puttering around the house, was a good change for our family.  We tend to put off the fun stuff; if we don’t do it on Saturday or plan something, nothing fun gets done.

At the same time, those weekends felt harried, too.  The music concert took out a good chunk of morning.  We still had a lot of stuff that needed to get done.  On top of regular stuff like meal prep, cooking, putting dishes away, multiple diaper changes, and more,  I managed to do some gardening and a quick wipe-down of the kitchen and bathroom, including the dreaded chore of cleaning the tub.   My husband was busy, too, but we were too busy to notice each other’s chore duties!

After all these memorable, fun weekends, I need a chill-out weekend to decompress and do nothing!

How do you manage your weekends? Are you on board with the idea of planning fun or do you prefer to have unscheduled time, or a little of both?

How I’m Doing On Goals and Pseudo-Resolutions

I resolved to focus on my career, bought an interview suit, and am now on the fence about even looking.  My reason for this change of heart is that I want to enjoy my shorter commute and low-stress job. It’s not that my job is without its stresses and deadlines;  it’s just that I’m a seasoned pro here who knows my job well, including short cuts and knowing the right people to ask for help in most situations. Any new job entails a learning curve and possibly longer work hours and the main reason for our move was to increase my time with the kids.

What I have done:

  • I sort of updated my Linked In skills/profile.
  • I read one or two articles related to my field.  It’s a struggle as I’m constantly tempted by other reading materials.  Now if I can apply what I read to my work, that would be a bonus.
  • I emailed my boss about upping the game in terms of building my skills at my current job. I figure that if I’m too lame to make a serious move and check outside options or go for higher titles, then I should make the most of my current situation.

Still, it feels like the new suit hanging in my closet is a constant reminder of my backpedaling ways!

In other areas:

I ate french fries two days in a row.  I didn’t make a resolution to eat healthier but eating worse is never a goal of mine!

I have not stepped into my gym in months.

I have prepped dinner a few nights but still find it a challenge to make the most of my extra half hour per night.

I am trying to not let the house fall into utter disorder/mess before cleaning.  I sweep up almost daily and try not to let things pile up.  This is good in a way as I’m learning that big cleanings are a bigger chore and headache.  The not so good part is that I end up doing more cleaning overall.

I have snapped at my husband (and others) much too often.  Not doing well in terms of appreciating loved ones.

I’m still a stressful basket case at times (though no longer due to traffic and commute!)

I have done some armchair activism but nothing more.

I signed up for a class — nothing related to work, just fun time with the kids.   I can’t wait…

I’m taking a photo a day. It’s not about being creative or artistic, although I try my best. It’s about documenting the small things in life from a messy sink to messy desk to a messy family life.  A mess is what I got…

So even though I didn’t officially make resolutions, in the back of my mind, I still have some goals that I’m trying to achieve..or not.  How are you doing on your goals and resolutions?

The Strangers We Grew Up With…

Recently, I was having dinner with my parents and a sibling.  During the conversation, it became painfully clear to me that we had nothing in common.  This wasn’t the big revelation though.  We’ve drifted apart long ago and are not close though we’re certainly cordial.  For years, our small talk have been awkward and impersonal. What struck me was the realization that I can’t make this person laugh at anything I say.  The most response I get for any jokes / funny comments is a soft, forced smile or a tepid laugh.  In contrast, I’ve been getting to know a co-worker and she bursts out laughing at a lot of my comments, and I can also make my co-workers laugh on a regular basis. 

It’s strange when someone you grew up with and know all your life becomes just another person, more like a complete stranger I was forced to sit next to at a friend’s dinner party.

I realize that the wistful tone of this post might result in advice on rebuilding this relationship.  I have no interest in doing so as this sibling annoys me on a regular basis and I’m more than happy to keep my distance.

The Big Decision: On Having A Kid

No, my husband and I are not thinking of adding to our family.  I’ve had this topic on mind ever since reading a post on A Cup of Jo about a woman’s indecision regarding having children or not.  What struck me about that discussion was that several people commented that if you’re not 100% sure, don’t do it.  I totally disagree and here’s why:

People tend to fall into three camps when it comes to having kids — 1) the 100% yes,  2) the 100% no way, and 3) the ambivalent.  However, this doesn’t mean that the 100% sure ones end up loving parenthood, while the ambivalent ones are destined to hate it.  I know many people, and have read enough anonymous parenting blogs/forums, to know that some people end up regretting the decision to have kids for a host of reasons, even if they were 100% sure beforehand.   Parenting is tough and can’t live up to the fantasy.  Maybe your fantasy about kids ended at the cute baby stage, and toddlerhood on is a whole other story.  Your partner and family isn’t supportive enough.  You and your child have clashing personalities.  You’re not as patient as you thought you’d be. The list of reasons go on.

I also know, and have read about, parents who were ambivalent about the whole parenting thing yet ended up loving it.  Or at least liking it as much as the ones who were certain about parenthood.  I can definitely say that my husband and I were ambivalent for a long time and even contemplated not having kids at all.  We didn’t really love other people’s kids unless that kid was especially cute or polite.   However, I am happy to report that I have discovered a vast reserve of patience and true unconditional love.  There are huge trade-offs and sacrifices, some of which I anticipated and some not, but I don’t think my previous ambivalence was a sign of not being right or ready for parenthood, or makes me a worse parent today.

I do get that it’s simpler if you really want kids in the first place.  Not having doubts is a great advantage.  However, if you’re in doubt, I wouldn’t take the advice of those who say you have to be sure before taking the plunge (even though I would feel very bad if you do take the plunge and realize your gut feeling of “no” was right..)  In short, there’s no easy answer.

Were you absolutely sure you wanted kids before having one? If you were ambivalent, what pushed you to procreate?

Blogging Is Failing As A Journal

A while back, I wrote about being embarrassed about past journal entries, especially those around the pre-teen and teen years.  After skimming through a few, I destroyed them all.  I would rather not remember details than have someone stumble upon by accident.  I sort of hope that blogging would take the place of these angst-filled journals.

The problem is that I hesitate to document my day-to-day life even if I’m anonymous.  If I read between the lines of my own past posts, I can gauge my mood and sometimes remember the impetus for certain thoughts or rants.  However, most of the time, the post is too vague to help me recall events.  Part of me really wants to remember my life more clearly, especially where the kids are concerned.  Part of me wants to retain my privacy.  I know a few “mom” bloggers who struggle with this as their kids get older.  It’s one thing to share the cute/funny/bad of life with babies and toddlers; it’s another thing when the kids are old enough to understand and may not want their private life in the public eye.

For now, I have no answer except to keep on blogging, since I don’t only need this outlet for journaling.

How private or public is your blog?  Do you worry about your kid/family’s privacy? 

Accidental Happiness?

Years ago, if you would have asked me about my ideal version of parenthood, I would have answered, “working part-time or staying home”.  As much as I admire working parents, especially moms, I could not envision pulling off working full-time and raising kids.  Of course life rarely works out as planned and I’m a full-time working mom.  My husband has a very flexible schedule and we have help from family.

While on a day-to-day basis, my life can be quite exhausting, I have to admit that staying in the work force probably makes me happier.   This is not an easy thing for me to admit either!  

This recent epiphany is why I am intrigued by a recent report stating that full-time working moms enjoy better health both mentally and physically than stay-at-home moms.  As with any research report, you have to be careful about the details and conclusions drawn.  However, I am beginning to realize that this report rings true for me, especially when I focus on the long-term benefits.   I draw mental strength from retaining my independence and contributing financially to my household.  This strength and independence is something I’m very proud of and hope my kids will appreciate someday. 

I also have a strong feeling that I would have a very difficult time getting back into the work force.  Yes, many women change careers or dive back in and excel.  However, many women I know are very lost after their hiatus from paid work.  Truth be told, knowing my personality and priorities, it would not take me long to lose my network, lose touch with my skills and be out-of-date in my field. 

This is not to say that I love office politics or always enjoy my work.  This past weekend, my youngest kept climbing up on me just to lay his head on my chest; he was so content to just be with me and I love these little moments.  Contrast that with my current mindset at work — sort of uninspired and deflated.  I spent weeks polishing up a report and developing a business strategy for future projects that will hopefully counter this blah feeling.  That has kept me engaged and reminded me I have so much more to learn!   

I think the big lesson is:Sometimes what you think makes you happy isn’t what really makes you happy.  This can apply to many areas in life, not just work/life/parenthood.  Maybe not getting into your first-choice college turned out to be the best for you.  Maybe not achieving your dreams of stardom led you to a more fulfilling career path.  Have you experienced happiness in spite of your plans?