Not too long ago, I was a constant overwhelmed mess. I’m still somewhat of an overwhelmed mess, but I’ve somehow managed to make it not constant. Progress.
My Stay-at Home Mom Vision
The past three years (since becoming a mom) I have desperately wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.
I knew SAHMs in real life, and then there were the ones on YouTube and blogs. They made it seem so easy. Not that it’s easy at all. But it just worked out for them. So I thought it could work out for me too.
I will spare everyone the gory details and just sum up that it didn’t work out for me. We now have a a three-year-old girl and a two-year-old girl. And I’ve basically spent the last three years deluding myself that I could magically snap my fingers and instantly have the lifestyle of the many SAHMs that I had envied and hoped to be.
I should back up and say that I’m a work-at-home mom. Which, I’m like seriously lucky and grateful to have. But still, it wasn’t the exact picture of how I saw things going for me.
I saw myself as the mom who was able to dedicate all her spare time to planning out fun activities and crafts for the girls. The mom who got to spend her days fully engaged with her young children.
Recently, in a rare (ha) moment of desperation, I was trying to figure out what else I could outsource so that I could have more time to make it all work. Because I just felt that it wasn’t all working. At all. And that no one was getting the proper amount of attention from me and that I was failing at everything.
The Breaking Point
I reached a breaking point, and came to the realization that this is my life to make work. As a work-at-home mom. This is what I got, and I’m very lucky to have it.
I slowly admitted to myself that I’m not a SAHM who has the time to plan out homeschool lesson plans for an at-home Montessori preschool (I was literally trying to do that a few weeks before). I let it go, and I became ok with it.
I spent a few hours after the girls went to bed putting away everything that was a project-in-progress…you know, the pile of stuff on the floor in my room that I kept meaning to get around to working on.
Claire was waking up just before 8 in the morning while I was still trying to work, and coming into our room and then picking up all the random stuff around our room and it was making me crazy. And frustrated.
So I cleaned up the house. I shoved all the in-progress stuff into the garage or closets. And I was ok that everything wasn’t done or perfectly organized.
I took off a few days from work, and I planned to potty train. Because these girls were going to go to school. Because I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t do it all anymore.
After I cried alone in the car for a bit, I got up the courage to ask Claire if she wanted to go to school. I didn’t really expect a response. But I was surprised when she said something like “I want to go to school, then I will get a teacher, and I’ll get some friends.”
I’m pretty sure I laughed and cried a bit again. I realized that whether or not I envisioned myself as a stay-at-home Montessori homeschool mom, Claire already has other plans that definitely do not involve being trapped in the house with me.
And that’s totally fine. Now. Although we are still working on getting things squared away with potty training, we need to get a second car, and there’s this minor thing called a pandemic to navigate, I am now most definitely sure that school is on the horizon for these two.
I Learned to Plan Out the Week
I also realized that I don’t have to have everything figured out right this moment. I decided that I can plan out each week. I don’t have to look ahead past the upcoming week and worry about how it’s all going to work out.
I recently started tracking my work hours for myself so I could get a better grip on when I was working and how much time I had left for the week. This helped me tremendously because it helped me figure out when I could actually manage to get in work hours and work that around when the girls are awake and when Michael is home to help out. This changes on a weekly basis and will all change again once they start going to a half-day school. Hence the week-to-week planning.
I can now see my job as something I have to do for a finite amount of time each week. I plan the week and my days around what needs to get done first thing that day for work. Then I plan to work on more complex work tasks when my husband gives me like 5 hours in a row to focus.
I also tell my husband when I need time to work. This isn’t a perfectly well-oiled machine here or anything, but I have at least admitted that I need help and that I need to ask for it ahead of time and on a regular basis.
Basically Everyone is Overwhelmed
We all feel like an overwhelmed mess sometimes. Now when I hear people without kids talk about being overwhelmed, I’m like you have no idea. But I was ALWAYS an overwhelmed mess. Even before we had kids. I had no idea. I also recognize that working at home is a major privilege, and I’m sure someone who works outside of the home with young kids could say to me: you have no idea.
So I’ve decided to be grateful for what I have to work with, and find ways to make it work. And I guess that’s what you do when you are an overwhelmed mess: you crumble, then you find a way to make it work. And you keep on working on it. Because it will never be perfect. But maybe it can at least sometimes feel more on the side of manageable, less on the side of total mess. At least occasionally.