Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Working Mama Wednesday – Yes! You CAN Do It.

As a foster parent the thing I hear the most is “I could never do that” – it’s something all foster parents hear from time to time and causes mixed reactions.  I usually just smile but deep down it rubs mie the wrong way.  I am not special, no different than you, I just say yes when they call and do what it takes to love on these kids.

As a working mom the thing I hear the most guessed it “I could never do that” – or its cousin “I don’t know how you do it”.  Regarding work it doesn’t bother mie as much as it does regarding foster parenting.  It does, however, make mie pause. 

The reality is that I truly do not comprehend how people say they “cannot” do it just as much as they don’t understand how I can do it.  I get up every morning.  I get my (5) kids ready.  I get them fed.  I put one on the bus and then start my 25+ mile commute that includes two stops at different daycares (three soon as baby baby starts attending yet another daycare...).  I drink my breakfast (a homemade chai latte) on my way.  I put my makeup on while stopped in traffic (I know...).  I work all day.  Sometimes I’ve made my lunch – other times I buy something.  I try to leave work by 4:45 or 5 and then start the race home to get to first daycare before it closes, 15 minutes before the second one closes.  It’s a tight race sometimes.  I usually get home between 6 and 6:30.  Hopefully my hubby and I have preplanned dinner.  After dinner there may be some playtime with the kids, depending on the time but basically it starts the nighttime routine.  Without the baby it’s 4 kids, 2 bedrooms, and at least one of them always has a meltdown.  When that is done there’s still baby to take care of, 1-2 loads of laundry, hopefully a shower for mie, and some more cleaning.  Like the dinner dishes.  I usually get in bed by 10:30 or 11.

This has been some version of my reality since I’ve been a parent.  I didn’t mention my hubby in there but obviously he plays a role as well (he’s home to welcome the bus in the afternoon, for example). 

The truth is, I don’t know any other way.  When people tell mie they can’t do it, all I can figure is that there is something in their life that they would have to give up that I don’t work into my routine.  Here are the things I would think of that I don’t do as much of:
  • ·         Perfectly cleaned house.  It just doesn’t ever happen in my home.  But the basics are done most of the time.
  • ·         Sleep.  Without the baby it’s usually 6-7 hours – with it’s usually about 4 with all of the waking up and disruptions from his noises.
  • ·         TV shows & movies – I hear people talk about all these different shows they watch and if you ask mie if I’ve seen a particular movie chances are I haven’t.  I DO watch tv, almost every day, usually while I’m feeding the baby, folding laundry, or cleaning up the common areas.  I rarely sit down and watch tv while doing nothing else.
  • ·         Exercise.  I’m about to start running again so I’ll throw that in a few times a week but otherwise it’s usually not a regular part of my routine. 
  • ·         Beauty care.  I  try to fit in things like waxing, pedicures, manicures (home or not) here and there but the reality is I go 1-2 months between getting my nails done (or painting them myself) and I can’t remember the last time my eyebrows were waxed.

I didn’t mention weekend time or much interaction with my kids but the reality is that usually I’ll choose activities with them over chores every time.  We go to museums, play dodgeball weekly, color, play games, have movie night, and generally just be together.  Last night we started a science experiment where we are checking to see when a popsicle stick gets waterlogged.  It’s hanging on my wall.  I don’t sweat that there is a quart-sized bag of water hanging from my bulletin board (or that the calendar on my bulletin board is from 2011). 

So tell me folks – what is it that I’m missing out on?  Someday my kids will be out of the house (theoretically – they perpetually seem to stay about 2 years old!) and I’ll need to have a few things on my list to try out – you know, what normal people who “can’t” be like mie do...

I’m guessing I’ll need to clean more toilets and scrub my floors more.  Maybe catch up on scrapbooking?  


katrina said...

Thanks for posting this:) I'm a new, single foster mom also with a 25+ mile commute. Your daily routine sounds quite similar to mine! It is working, quite well too. I like your comment that this is all you have known since you became a parent. It just works!
How do you work out parenting times/visits or kids dr appointments?

It sounds to me like social time with family and friends or church activities are missing, and you will have that to look forward to someday! :)

Mie said...

Hi Katrina!
I am fortunate in that I have a spouse who is very supportive. Between the two of us, someone is always home, 24 hours a day and that helps for random things that pop-up in an emergency.

For visits we use a transporter. I try to flex my schedule on occasion so I can transport, work during the visit, and then return to work afterward so I can meet the families and answer their questions. I can't do that every week though. For Dr. appointments I try to arrange them in advance to all be together so I can go once for all kids instead of an appointment here and there. Right now I have 2 kids on one schedule and 3 on another. If one of them is sick then we try and take them to an urgent care after hours (when I get home from work) or I work from home to be with them or my husband forgoes some sleep to be with them. We just figure it out. To your point though we also have to manage other visits (FAD, caseworkers, CASA, etc.) and that can be a bit challenging. They know we work and so they offer to come after hours or on weekends and we try to consolidate so they all come on the same day and we get it knocked out that way. (Honestly, I haven't heard from a caseworker on one of my cases since the kids came and the other I talk to weekly).

I didn't mention we are small group leaders at church so do that a few nights a month, we do church on Sundays, spend time with the family we have out here weekly on Saturday and Sunday (each week), and have friends over one other night a week. So we get that in too. Our kids do activities during school instead of after school, except Logan, and so we add in his sports and stuff some nights as needed.

It is busy. But it works.

G said...

The sleep is a crucial one for me. I get literally sick to my stomach on less than a solid 7-9 hour average for the week. (As in, I can function on your 4 hour night for a day or two, but then I've got to make up the difference or I will be worse than useless to everybody.)

Which is why I'm one of those stay-at-home parents who tells you that they couldn't do the working while doing this parenting/fostering thing. :) I really believe that I physically couldn't.

Mie said...

Hi G - Actually it's not the stay-at-home parents I was thinking of, it's the working parents/women. I'd be a SAHM mom too if I could - I'm not trying to advocate you go out and work unless you need to (and if you needed to you could).