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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Show and Tell Tuesday - The Struggle is Real

Today we're sharing things we struggle with and I thought I'd share a little bit about some of the struggles that I find myself dealing with as a working mom.



- Working Mom Guilt -
Most days I feel 100% assured that being a full-time working mom is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing.  I love my career, adore my co-workers, feel passionate about teaching my subject well and feel privileged getting to pour into the lives of teens... and then I get behind on laundry, forget to bring the snack for the Valentine's party or can't volunteer in the library "like so-and-so's mom" and I feel completely defeated and inadequate.  When my kid has to sit in the nurse's office with a fever while I wait for my sub or when I am completely and totally drained by 4:00 and KNOW I don't have the patience left that I should.  When I miss watching my kid walk across the stage and accept his award because I was proctoring an exam or when I'm grading papers during "family movie night"... the guilt creeps in and can occasionally reduce me to tears.

This has been a struggle since the first day I had to leave Luke and it seems to come in waves, but what I've found that helps alleviate those feelings of "guilt" are focusing on those little moments that I wouldn't have if I wasn't working... like when Mason's assistant teacher walks him down the deck to my classroom so I can give him a hug when he's having a rough morning or when I see Luke's teacher while I'm making copies during my planning period and she tells me all about the "geology center" he set up for his class.  Even if it's just a wave across the center circle of campus as I'm walking to the tech lab or a "hey, mom!" as we pass in the library I feel like I'm "with" my kids throughout the day and it's the best feeling ever.


- Finding Balance -
My first year of teaching I spent HOURS outside of school prepping, laminating, creating, etc.  I went  to tons of sporting events, fine arts productions and local events that my students were participating in.  I baked cookies for my students and met student government kids at a decor store at like 6 am the day after Christmas to buy decorations for their Winter Formal ;)  I had all the time in the world and I poured it all into my students (I had so much "free time" that I even worked at a boutique on the square on the weekends - hahaha - ohhhhh free time)!

After having Luke my priorities totally shifted and so did the demands on my time.  Finding balance was something that started to be a struggle post-kids and is something that I struggle with BIG TIME.  I feel like at any given time there are about 9 people/tasks who need my full attention ;)  A few of things that I do to try and maintain balance are setting "time limits", communicating honestly and cutting myself some slack.  

First up is time limits - as much as I like to multi-task I've also had to set limits on my time or else certain tasks end up "taking over".  I try to leave school at school as much as I can, but when work does have to come home I try to leave it until after the kids go to bed and at that point will set a time limit on working - typically an hour.  There are nights when things HAVE to get done and I devote more time or end up grading papers on the patio while the kids play outside - but setting limits has helped me keep a little bit of balance both as a mom and wife.  The same "limits" apply to blogging and other commitments.

Next is communicating honestly.... with my students, their parents, my principal, Dave, my kids and myself.  If I don't have time to answer an email fully because my week has been crazy I let that person know.  I communicate to them know that I've heard them and will respond as soon as I have the time to answer in full (that may be that evening for a school communication or on the weekend for a blog reader response).   If I'm totally overwhelmed with #allthethings I let Dave know so he understands when I get upset over things that typically wouldn't bother me.  When I get overwhelmed I tend to hyper-focus on minutia... like that basket of laundry that has been on our bedroom floor for 48 hours or the patio chair that broke a month ago but needs to go NOW ;)

Last is cutting myself some slack.  This is the thing that has taken me the longest to figure out but has been the most freeing.  The cookies don't have to be homemade, the blog post doesn't have to get written, the laundry doesn't have to get put away today.  It's okay if the meal I'm bringing to a friend is take-out, it's okay if I have to say no to another demand on my time, it's okay if all I want to do at the end of the day is watch mindless TV instead of cracking a book :)  Sometimes what I need to re-charge and be super productive tomorrow is a lazy evening and early bedtime.  Doing something for myself... something that's not on my to-do-list (like picking out some fresh flowers at the grocery store, baking that loaf of banana bread "just because" or taking 20 minutes to play Candy Crush (I KNOW!!!)) makes all my other tasks seem more manageable.


- Maintaining Friendships -
I feel like maintaining friendships can be hard as a working mom.  A LOT of life is lived between the hours of 7 am and 4 pm and I've definitely felt "out of the loop" on occasions.  I've never felt excluded from an event during the work week (I know that I'd be invited if I wasn't working) but have most definitely felt the little pang of hurt when I've realized that I don't know the situation or person or conversation that my friends are all referencing because I wasn't there for it.  This has absolutely NOTHING to do with my friends AT ALL but is something that I have struggled with on and off over the years.  Thankfully we're all comfortable enough with each other that I don't have an issue saying, "wait! fill me in!" and our lines of communication are pretty open throughout the week via text :)  I will say though that on times when I've felt "disconnected" from friends I've found that the best solution is just reaching out.  Also - I tend to be a homebody and after working all day quite often the very last thing I want to do (or feel like I have time to do!) is change out of my sweatpants and meet up with girlfriends - but I always leave GLAD that I went.  Always!

So... there you go!  My "working mom struggles".  I'm hoping that some of y'all can take comfort in knowing that you're not alone in feeling guilty about not being able to go watch your kid at field day, or feeling like your work/home balance is totally out of whack on occasion or thinking that all the best girlfriend conversations happen at Chick-Fil-A on Wednesdays while you're deep in the throes of teaching middle schoolers how to factor polynomials :) 

Happy Tuesday, friends - here's to having a GREAT day!

   
   

55 comments:

  1. I basically wrote all about struggling to find balance too..but I love your last point! xo

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    1. Thanks, Stephanie! Making my way through everyone else's posts tonight. ;)

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  2. You are a hero! Seriously! You are clearly an amazing mom, wife, teacher, friend, blogger... Hugs mama! Thanks for hosting!

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  3. So many of us struggle with the same thing. I too am a Full Time working mom. I remember feeling that I had to be just as good as the stay at home mom and then also just as good as my colleagues who did not have kids. That meant trying to give more than 100% of myself all the time and it exhausted me. 5 years ago, my mom got sick and I was flying home every other week to be with her. This meant that things had to give and you know what? The world kept on turning. I have seen given myself a lot more grace

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    1. YESSSSSS!!!!! Yes! Yes! Yes! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

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  4. Loved this link-up. Thanks for sharing with us your struggles, as well as giving us struggling mamas a forum to share our struggles too!! :)

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    1. You're so welcome! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

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  5. Thanks for being so real! It's nice to see blog writers as "real" people and that they don't live in this certain, perfect world (like some blogs portray). Thanks again for sharing!

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    1. Oh gosh! My world is hardly perfect! And if it was - how incredibly boring would that be :) Thanks so much for the kind words!

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  6. I can definitely relate to so many of these things! It does get easier as they grow and become more and more independent for sure. I totally had never thought of it this way but I totally have a tendency to become hyper-focused on minutia when I'm overwhelmed..and I'm so there today...blah. Communicating is huge and I definitely remind my family over and over again (which I sometimes feel should make them get up immediately and do something to help) when I feel like this in hopes they overlook my crazy. Thanks for sharing your heart Andrea!

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    1. When I get totally overwhelmed is when I go into major cleaning/organizational mode as well - it's like if everything is in place then I'll be able to accomplish all my other tasks. Glad I'm not alone!

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  7. Andrea, as a teacher and mom, I could relate to sooo much in this post!!! Thank you for sharing and offering some ideas on how to overcome the guilt :)

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  8. Thanks for your honesty! I, too, am a working mom and deal with all of these things! Cutting myself some slack is the best medicine for me. Solidarity, sister!

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    1. Right?!?! Sometimes you just need a few minutes to browse Homegoods to make everything okay again :) hahaha

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  9. I'm a longtime reader, but I rarely comment. However,today's post called for a quick thank you. In fact, a million times thank you. I returned to teaching for the last month of school after maternity leave. I needed your words of wisdom and the comfort of feeling I'm not alone. Saving your post to read again when I go back to school in the fall. ♡

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    1. Girl! You are so NOT alone!!! The working mom guilt is REAL and so it trying to give 100% of yourself to your kids at school as well as your kid(s) at home. Don't forget to cut yourself some slack!!!

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  10. I totally relate to the working Mom thing. Luckily I have a ton of friends who are also working Moms so we can relate to each other well. I am lucky that at least I work from my home so I don't have a long commute and if one of my kids needs to be home, I can still get work done. It's just hard in the summer because a lot of my teacher friend moms are off and so they get that special time with their kids. I wish I could do more fun stuff with my kids in the summer or on other school breaks but I work year-round and full-time. I just try to cut work off each day at 5 and don't think about it until the next morning. I am lucky that I do get weekends off too.

    Another struggle for me is finding time to do crafts and other house projects that I want to do. My kids are getting older so this is getting easier but it's still hard to make time for things that fill me up. I also need to be better at making time for myself to walk or lift some weights and do exercises.

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    1. Agree with everything you said! I think working from home would be so hard!!! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

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  11. You're an amazing mom AND friend!!! XO

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  12. I could have written so much of this myself. The working mom struggle is real and mom guilt is everywhere! My aha moment came after some particularly rough work days when I finally said, "if I have to choose between being a good wife and mother or a good teacher, wife and mom wins every time!" And somehow when I know that I don't feel like I'm doing "bad" at either one. When I balanced my priorities, some other things really fell in line!

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    1. YES!!! Keeping all those balls in the air is a struggle - but you're doing it! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment! Hope you're having a great summer!

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  13. I wanted to write on my link up to just read your post. I agree 110% with what you said. I have no regrets about being a working Mom, but there are the times when Satan tries to take over my thoughts and make me think otherwise. So thankful for your blogposts.

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  14. I'm a full time working mom too and I feel like I could have written this post. Especially about friendships. I feel left out and I know it's not my friends fault but it's my insecurities. Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Man, you are giving me all the feels today. I totally feel you and admire you. Just yesterday I was in a panic because all our worlds collide for the next two weeks; feeling completely overwhelmed. I literally stopped myself and thought...I am only doing this with one child, Andrea does it with three!

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  16. Oh, Andrea, this is so well stated, so true, so heartfelt, exactly what so many of us live on the daily. My kids are older but I mentally checked every point you made. One small thing that has helped me is focusing on the fact that for me, and my family, my job has made a difference in the quality of our lives overall. Job provided health insurance, money to pay my son's college tuition, and stuff like that! 😀

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  17. I completely understand and can relate to this post. Teaching can take up so much time, and finding and setting limits can be oh so tough. Sometimes I feel like my students get the better end of the stick than my own kids, and that makes me feel guilty. However, I love getting to see them throughout the day at school and am always communicating with their teachers. Thank you for sharing your struggles, I feel very much the same!

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  18. You are an amazing mom and I'm sorry that you sometimes feel that guilt! I'm glad you have been able to find little ways to ease that for you. It is not the same situation at all, but I feel that way with my students at church, especially during the summer. I work full time and when they all get together for an impromptu youth group lunch or outing and I can't go, it stinks. I just make the most of the time I do get with them and that helps me!

    I can't imagine how difficult it must be to feel like you miss out on some of the parts of your kids' lives, but I can't help but think that you are also making such a difference in the lives of your students. Middle schoolers desperately need stability and a consistent positive voice speaking into their lives and I have zero doubts that you are doing that for your students every single day. I know it is not your own children, but try to rest assured in knowing that even though you cannot help in the library or bake the treats, you ARE making an impact in others' lives and your kids see and know that too!

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  19. Thank you for writing this! I am a working mom, too, and I feel so many of the same things. Two of my best mom friends are stay at home moms, and they are planning so many fun things this summer that I just cant jump into. I try to make up for it by having lots of quality time when I'm able to take time off, but I just cant be there 24/7. I will say, though, that if I had the choice, I would be a stay at home mom in a heartbeat!

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  20. Andrea, your honesty and transparency is encouraging! I can tell by your words and attitude the Lord is using you right where you are at. Thank you for sharing! :) Have a lovely day and enjoy your summer with those precious kids!!

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  21. You worded that perfectly! Being a working mom AND being a homebody, my friendships suffer the most. My long list of mental TO DO's seems to call me "laundryyyyy......dishesss.......that closet.....make a gift bag for so and so......" and the last thing I want to do is GO but I am happy when I do!

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  22. Definitely agree to all of this. I'm lucky in that I can work from home on those occasions when the kids have an award or need someone to volunteer for a class party. While I can't volunteer on the weekly I can at least try for the class parties. My work understands that kids are only little once, thank goodness, I don't know what I would do if I could do that. And yes to balance! So important, especially those Mom's Nights Out, need those at least once a month to balance it all and make it feel like I have something for just me.

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  23. Annndddd I cried reading your entire blog post today. That is exactly where I'm at, only 10 months into the working-mom guilt. Thank you for bringing validation to my feelings and putting it into words. It's so refreshing to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way. Thank you!

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  24. Cutting ourselves slack ... YES!! Loved the realness of your post!

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  25. This is so easy to relate to! However, I think you do a great job and really enjoy following your blog.

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  26. I LOVED this post because it's exactly where I'm at in life! Working full time can be a real drag on a lot of aspects of life. I enjoyed hearing your perspective and honesty!

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  27. Yes to all of these! Working full-time makes me feel horrible, but thankfully our summer babysitter is taking Xavier all kinds of places so he still sees his friends and not be left out :) And you can forget about my house ever being clean :(

    Friendships are a struggle since I work year round full-time and all my friends are SAHM :( Add the fact that they all grew up here and know everyone and it is really easy to feel left out.

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  28. Thank you for sharing this. I needed to read this today....

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  29. Yesss. I feel you on this. And my particular guilt has been even worse lately because my working mom friends who are teachers get summers home with their kids! I am guilty of looking at your own Instagram and seeing so much fun summer stuff, late nights, days by the pool... and summer just feels like every other week for my kids. Makes me cry just thinking about it. But, onward. We all just do the best we can.

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  30. I recently started back work after my first baby. I was struggling HARD with the idea of not being with her everyday and not being a good enough mom because I have to work. I've been reading your blog for years and literally at one point before I went back to work I thought "look at Andrea, she works and is a fantastic mom, you can do it too!!" Thanks so much for being so real and an inspiration to working moms!!

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  31. I am no longer a working mom.....my babies are grown and gone and one is married BUT I will say that even be a non working wife, the struggle is indeed real. My working friends all have places to go and people to see and I LOVE being at home but sometimes its not all its cracked up to be. I think its harder when your babies are all grown up and living their lives and your close friends still have kids at home. They are busy. We are all in just different seasons of our lives.

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  32. The working mom guilt is so tough! I was a full time working mom and part time student with my first! I felt so guilty! I would go 48 hours without seeing him because of classes/work! Luckily my mom was taking good care of him. Now I'm a stay at home mom and I still feel guilty for missing all of his firsts and not missing the younger two. The struggle is real and I really appreciate this post! I'm lucky to stay home now and I need to accept that life is just different than it used to be! Thanks for being real and honest! Oh and I wish my older (14) had a math teacher like you! You sound amazing! I came to a new appreciation for teachers in middle school this year, we had a rough year and there's a few teachers who changed our lives this year! Thanks for doing what you do!

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  33. I needed to read this TODAY! After staying at home with my three kids I'm currently (as in all this week) interviewing for full time positions. I'm struggling with the decision but this helped me take a deep breath and realize that I can do this. Thank you for always being honest and open. My mama heart needed it today.

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  34. I feel like I could have written every word you did...only not quite as eloquently. Always glad to know I'm not alone!

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  35. From what I see/read on your blog and Instagram, whatever you are doing works and it works well! It is so obvious that your kiddos are healthy, happy, and very well loved!! You are definitely your own worst critic because what I see is mom perfection...a balanced life that everyone should subscribe to!

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  36. I am a full time working mom as well and I was happy with that for the first 3-4 years of my childrens' lives. However, after having our second (who is now 3) and now that our son is in real school (1st grade in the fall) I have had a major change of heart and I am just dying to be a SAHM. I feel like I'm missing SO MUCH of their lives and I want to be there for them - to be the room mom, to go on the field trips, to bake cookies for the class, and to be home with them all summer. IT SUCKS working during the summer and having to send your kids to camp from 7:30 AM to 5 PM every single day. I've been praying that we can somehow make it work one day for me to do that, but right now it's just not going to happen and I'm just trying to be patient and understand God's timing for us. It's really hard, though.

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  37. I def. have the mom guilt bad and being a working parent makes it worse. I'm thankful to have a mom who helps me tremendously, but I have found that I sometimes need to vent/or relate to a working mom friend. We just have more in common when it comes to things like you discussed.

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  38. You hit the the nail(s) on the head! I do not have children yet, but I frequently wonder how all of the super moms manage to get life done and have any single second of time for their own sanity. You're an inspiration that's for sure!
    -Rebecca
    www.everypiecefits.com

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  39. This is the most honest and heartfelt post I have ever read.

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  40. You're a wonderful mom, a fantastic friend, and from what I can tell an AWESOME teacher and role model to your students. Great post. Love you, friend!

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  41. I've worked full-time since college. The Mama guilt when I went right back to work after two international adoptions in just two years was HUGE! I was so torn between my love of work, need to work, and desire to be with my babies. My own mom was a stay at home who was always there for us and I wondered if I was making a big mistake breaking from that. As a working mom, my house is not as clean and my meals are sometimes crappy crockpot creations (on repeat) but I make snippets of time to really engage with the girls in the morning and after my hour commute home. All of us now have a phone to communicate via text and that check in also helps to maintain a connection. It may not be as much time as I'd like, but it's quality time and the whole family (my DH included) make it work as a team. My girls are now in middle school and I've come to realize through our conversations how much they've observed and learned and that they really do appreciate me as a working Mama. If they've got an important school event, I take a vacation day so they know that they are a priority. They've come to work with me on weekends and summers over the years so they've seen what I do and why my profession is an important part of me. They get to see that a strong work ethic and passion can help to create a happy personal and family life. They've come with me when I've gone to apply for a loan and negotiate the price of a car so they see that earning your own money is positive and provides a purpose for family goals. They get to see that as a Mother, you can have a career and be a loving Mama and wife. They see it isn't always easy and there are choices or sacrifices that have to be made but as long as everyone in the family works together and stays happy, it works! Stay your course as a beloved Teacher, Creative Crazy Crafter, Fun Food Chef, and loving Mama - the rewards are real and your children will always remember their parents as fantastic role models.

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  42. Thank you for this post! As a full-time working mom, I can definitely relate to this. Finding balance is always a challenge.

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  43. I didn't realize you were a teacher too. I used to teach 4th grade for several years before I had my daughter and started my own company, Unclutter It, in order to spend more time with her. The struggle with balance is real. I'm glad I discovered you through Instagram. Your children are adorable.

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