I think that title tells you all you need to know about how we've adjusted to life with me working full time. The house is a disaster, my kids are getting too much screen time, and most nights I am too tired to even look at my husband, let alone have sexy time.
If you're new to these parts, let me give you the Cliff's Notes on what's been going on: I've been working since the kids went back to school, but I was the student prior to that. I have been going to school since 2015 to complete requirements in order to sit for a board exam to become a lactation consultant. What was supposed to be a one year intensive lactation education program turned into a two year program (because life), but I'm glad they even offered a roll over option! Anyway I took the exam and have been working part time for a few months, but have jumped back into full time work since the start of 2018 because I passed the exam and am now a board certified lactation consultant.
It has been nearly 4 years since I worked full time and I forgot how hard it is. As I posted above, I'm a regular on the Hot Mess Express thanks to a lack of time and energy. However, I have come up with a short list of things that have helped, and plan to share them with you, in case you are also struggling due to work, a new baby, mental health, or whatever you are going through.
1. Delegate, delegate, delegate
This may mean having older children do chores such as laundry (putting away or folding), dusting, or other little things they can do to earn more time on their Nintendo DS. It can also mean finding room in your budget to hire a housekeeper to come in a couple of times a month. This will free up your weekends to do something more fun than cleaning toilets and vacuuming. As hard as this two working parents thing is, I'm grateful for the additional income to provide for things like a housekeeper and/or more shoes. Delegating could mean using a food prep service like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, or Plated. That leads me to my next step
2. Practice Self Care
Self care seems to be a big hot topic lately. I'm reading posts everywhere on its importance and that it may not always look like pedicures and long hot baths. For me, self care has looked like unfollowing accounts that do not bring me joy, spending a few quiet minutes in my car before heading in to "real life," and getting rid of clutter. Sometimes one must Konmari their life in order to create the life they want to live. Unplugging from social networks is also a great way for me to focus on my family and truly be present. Find something to do that makes you feel good, whether it is meditation, prayer, or a good workout. That brings me to my next point...
3. Nourish your body
Eat healthy foods, cut back on alcohol and caffeine, exercise regularly. While I am failing at doing all of those things, I want to change it. I know how gross I feel after a fatty junky meal, and hangovers while parenting are no joke. Side note: I don't recover as quickly as I used to. I'm not sure I'm going to jump on the Whole 30 bandwagon, but I do want to be more conscious of the food I feed myself and my family. Taking care of your physical self can have a positive impact on your mental state as well. Back before I had kids, I would hit the gym regularly and the endorphins helped with stress management. I see a gym membership in my very near future.
4. Let go of perfection
Lets be honest: I'm not going to be the room mom at my kid's school, sometimes I'm very late to pick him up because of work, and I pray that I don't miss a school event. Letting go of the idea that I need to be perfect for my kids has been a complete mind f@#k. I want to do all the things, but I rarely have the time or energy to do them. Shifting my goals to something more achievable (I can send money for a school fundraiser, rather than baking cupcakes for it) has helped me tremendously. While I'm not perfect in letting go of perfection (oh irony), I am getting better at setting boundaries. Sometimes lowered expectations can be a good thing.
5. Say no
I don't do New Years Resolutions, but one of my goals for 2018 is to say no more often. Figuring out what is important to me (kids, Hubs, my job, my family) means I can focus my energy and time on that. I've already said no (or stayed mum) when it comes to several "extracurriculars" I am involved with. I plan to make a few other bigger changes in order to do what I love. I will admit that I am awful at saying no. I hate to turn down opportunities because I am grateful for them, but guys, I can't keep going at the current rate that I'm at. This article on saying no is full of great tips - feel free to bookmark it, like I have.
While I am definitely a work in progress, I feel like things are getting better. I was on vacation for 2 weeks over the holidays and I put my out of office reply up and didn't pay attention to any emails that came in. Other than checking my IBCLC exam groups on Facebook twice a day, think I did a pretty good job of staying off my phone and laptop. I was able to focus on my family, staying in the moment, and making memories. Like many good things, it wasn't easy, but it was definitely worth it. I think the most important thing for me to remember is to give myself grace - letting go of perfection means that I won't be as hard on myself when things don't go as planned.