On Friday, I got a message from a very dear and long-time friend of mine. She just had her second child earlier this summer and like me, lives very far away from her family. The message read like this:
"How in the hell ... do you have 3 kids, a job, run and have sanity? All while being without your mom? I am dying here. I want my kids to have my fam and they can't. Write a blog about that."
OK, Aim, here's the answer (sorry if this is harsh) ... I just do it. I want my kids to see their family more. But, unfortunately, that doesn't really happen. So, we try to make the most of the time we do get to spend together.
And I know you will be OK too. I firmly believe that if you think you can do it all, then you can. It takes a positive attitude, hard work and dedication. I try to keep in mind that things could always be worse. We are all happy and healthy and although I have my moments, we usually get along.
I'll admit that it's hard. We have a lot going on and parenting is NOT AN EASY JOB. And it's made more difficult by the fact that our support system is hundreds of miles away. But I take comfort in the fact that if I was really in the trenches, I know that my family would be here in an instant.
And, it gets easier (in ways) as your kids get older. Now that Dilly is 18 months old and far less dependent on me, I am no longer pushed to my limits everyday. New babies are hard. They require a lot of attention. And can do nothing for themselves. But eventually, things change and parenting becomes less of a physical battle and more of a strategic one.
But, if you were wondering how I do it EVERYDAY, how I manage to fit it all in. Well, then the answer is slightly different. Yes, a positive attitude carries me through, but the SCHEDULE is the key to it all. My entire household runs on a schedule. We try not to deviate from it. There is very little "wasted" time. I am all about multi-tasking. Here's what happens on a typical day:
5 a.m.: Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast.
5:30 a.m.: Run
7 a.m.: Shower, take over parenting duties from J, get the girls dressed and fed.
7:45 a.m.- 9 a.m.: The girls play (in the room connected to my office), catch up on emails, blogs, work, etc.
9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.: Play with the girls, straighten up the house, run errands.
11:30 a.m.: Lunch.
12:15 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.: Dilly naps, Dizzle and Doodle get computer/art/board game time, call/email clients, catch up on more work (the problem of working from home - you can't escape it).
2:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.: More playtime for the kids, finish whatever dishes/laundry/cleaning/errands that didn't get done earlier.
4:15 p.m.: Make dinner.
5 p.m.: Dinner.
5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.: Clean up mess from dinner.
6 p.m. - 6:45 p.m.: Get girls ready for bed, baths, stories, etc.
6:45 p.m. - 7 p.m.: Girls go to bed.
7 p.m. - bedtime (usually around 10): Prep lunches, clothes, and everything else for the next day, finish any work related tasks that didn't get done earlier, straighten up the house (I can't sleep in a messy house), watch TV/catch up with J.
10 p.m. - 5 a.m.: Sleep, hopefully uninterrupted.
So, that's how I balance it all. Some days it works. Some days it doesn't. But I try my best and we make it through. Oh, and that part about keeping sane? Well, that's what the running is for.