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Getting Into the Working Mom’s Groove

This is SO not me.

I’ve always thought of myself as the type of person who has it together. My calendar and to do list are rarely far from my side, I use them religiously to organize my life.

Up until about a year ago, I had been a full-time stay-at-home mom since my son was born. Being home most of the time, my husband and I divided responsibilities. It made sense for me to be the primary house cleaner-upper-er, while he was the primary grass mower and weed whacker. I did most of the cooking, errand running, and made the majority of phone calls. My husband did all of the home maintenance and brought home ALL of the bacon.

For the most part I felt fulfilled by staying home with the kids and I took my role in our home seriously. Having those responsibilities made me feel like I contributed to our household, even though none of it was a monetary contribution. I mean, sure, there were times that I felt bitter while I wiped pee off of toilets knowing my husband was enjoying a fancy dinner at a swanky restaurant. And of course, there were occasional arguments with my husband about my need for validation at having managed a tantruming child while simultaneously washing dishes, calling the pediatrician for an appointment, and making a grocery list.  CAN I JUST GET A PAT ON THE BACK FOR GOODNESS SAKES?!?!

But then about a year ago three separate job opportunities fell in my lap. Though I hadn’t planned to start working, these jobs all had flexible schedules that could be done from home. Initially I was only working about ten hours a week, but as the year has progressed, I’m now working up to 30 hours a week.

Very slowly, the organized person that I used to be, the one who lived by her calendar and to do list has all but disappeared. Last week it all came to a head when I discovered that I’d left my daughter’s lunch at home. This normally wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but on this day, I had back to back conference calls, followed by a deadline and a hair appointment. While I was fretting about how I would now drive all the way home and back to preschool while making calls and meeting a deadline, I received a call from our insurance agent notifying me that we hadn’t paid our premium that month.

In a panic and silently cursing my bank for their negligence, I checked our bank account where I discovered that none of the bills had been paid that month-not because the bank had made a mistake, but because I had failed to schedule the payments.

When the day was over and I finally got to sit down, I looked around my house at the unmade beds, piles of laundry in every room of the house, dust bunnies in the corners, and the layer of grime covering most every surface in my house. My daughter, who I had just put to bed, had cried that I hadn’t played with her at all that day. My son was upset because I’d forgotten that that day had been flip flop day at school.

I’ve spent much of the past week feeling defeated. I want to be able to do it all, but there are simply not enough hours in the day to be Superwoman. Now that I’m working, my responsibilities at home haven’t changed. I still cook, clean, wash clothes, run errands, and make appointments-but I don’t do any of them well.

I’m not exactly sure what the solution is, though I realize that I need help with some of the household tasks. Honestly, I don’t think that my husband and I have recognized that I now have a JOB and that I can’t do everything that I did before. The whole division of labor thing definitely needs some tweaking. I also need to do a better job at organizing ahead of time so that I’m not always forgetting important things-like paying bills and flip flop day at school!

What tips do you have for staying organized and sane? How do you divide the labor in your home?

(photo credit: smilygrl)

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