Tag Archive | Busy Moms

Working Mum’s Network by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

Working Mums’ Network by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 

By Sandra Beck

 

It was definitely harder to set up play dates with the workings Mums. It was less ‘see you at Club’ and more ‘let’s check the calendar’.  However, I found that the time pressure seemed to put the friendships on fast-forward. When I ‘clicked’ with someone, we quickly progressed to ‘come to my house on Saturday afternoon’ – rather than shyly circling around each other ‘see you same place next week, I chocoguess’.

 

My closest mum friend is a lady from my company. We briefly spoke when we were both pregnant with our second. She went back to work quite quickly – but her occasional phone calls were always a treat. Our kids went to the same nursery for six months – and constantly nag us to set up play dates. When we do get together, the kids go and do something destructive in the corner, while we drink strong coffee and share scandalous office gossip. She was disarmingly frank about the challenges of working motherhood – we don’t need to feel defensive of our choices around each other. 

 

I like to think of my working mum friends as an underground network. We don’t have clubs, schedules, groups or premises. We sometimes go for six months without speaking – but pick up seamlessly where we left off.

 

We’re not visible as a group.

 

Occasionally sighted but only in pairs. Communicating electronically with late night emails and the occasional one liner from a palm top computer. I’m sometimes amazed where my friends networks go – hierarchy gets forgotten when you have children the same age. I wouldn’t be without them. They’re an invisible net of support – feeding me crucial information when I’m out of the office, generously sharing childcare anecdotes when I’m in the office. We watch each others backs – we always hear about it if a mum gets discriminated against, or when a working mum does well. Mummy mafia? Perhaps…

 

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

www.sandrabeck.com

 

What’s Cooking? By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck

 

 

It’s ironic. Cooking is meant to be the ultimate domestic goddess occupation. Why is it that the aftermath makes my kitchen look like a hovel?

 

I’d lovingly plan, chop, sauté, and present the food attractively. The kids would push it around their plate. “It’s a bit spicy for me” my som would comment “and today I don’t like peppers. Can I have just bread instead?”. My effort would have earned me the sound of ‘scrape scrape scrape’ into the bin, and a kitchen full of dirty pans and chopping boards at the point of the day when I just needed to lie down.apples

 

Then I found it. The cheapest, scruffiest part of my kitchen armory, costing less that a decent saucepan. I love it so much I’d kiss it, if it wasn’t generally full of scalding hot stew. It’s my little secret shortcut – the ‘wife’ I’d love to have. “Come by for dinner tonight” I can now boldly say. These days, I’m not inviting people to watch me sweat in the kitchen, keeping toddlers away from the hot oven by pushing them back with my feet. It’s the working mother’s best friend – the slow cooker!

 

I’ve learned to plan my meals in advance. It saves money and it helps me eat healthier. Most of all it means I can cook on auto-pilot without using any of my scarce spare brain capacity. When I’m up in the morning, I know what’s meant to be for dinner. I can start the ‘Slocker’ (as we affectionately call it) straight away. I’ll put some chopped onions and celery in there with a teaspoon of oil, and leave it on ‘High’ for forty minutes while I go upstairs to dress the kids. I’ll come back, chuck in some tins of tomatoes, tins of beans and a few flavorings. I turn the dial down to Low, and leave it for the whole day. I arrive back home ten hours later to the homely smell of fresh three bean chilli. Pure comfort food.

 

It does take a bit of trial-and-error, it’s true. I wish my model had a timer, because sometimes the food can taste a bit ‘stewed’. In particular, meat needs to be sealed in a frying pan first. However, I’ve discovered something about my kids’ tastes. They just LOVE bland and mushy.

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

 

 

What is the Hardest Age to Balance With Work By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck

       

The baby is so small, your body still remembers it. It breaks your heart to leave it. The baby squints vaguely at the light, before reaching its arms out… mmmm, milk.

 

The baby starts to move. He understands the hazards of the world a bit clearer now. He’ll make his disapproval known if he’s left – whether you’re going to work or just to the bathroom.poppies

 

The baby is walking around; getting palpable pleasure from hitting other children with his teddies. He leaves you quite happily – but on your way out you catch a faint… was that a new word? You squint through the hinge of the closing door until the tip of your nose gets pinched.

 

You’ve now got a fully fledged preschooler. As they jabber to you about Alison and Maxwell and Simon’s red fire truck toy you jot down the names. You really must get to the bottom of who these ruffians are. Really, some parents don’t instill any manners in their three year olds.

 

Then they go to school. It’s a rude shock to find that, as parent, you’re no longer seen as the customer. More like the secretary-chauffeur, Your child is also less of a guest and more of a pupil.  You vaguely consider changing careers to become a classroom assistant so that you can make sure your child uses the bathroom regularly and wear a hat outdoors.

 

Then they hit the Tweens. They talk in long sentences alluding to their friends parents who are apparently in every way more accomplished, kind and liberal than you are. You are torn between applying for a position on the Board in order to set your kid a good example, and chucking it all in to stay at home baking cookies, vetting all their friends with a 100 point questionnaire.

 

Finally teenagers. Is it blissful to have someone who sleeps in in the mornings? The life of ease, to not need to help with their bathing or toilet. They even eat direct from the fridge you say? And don’t say a word for hours on end? My, you must have it so easy!

 

Take your pick, according to me – every age is hard while you are trying to balance your work with your life.

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

 

 

What is the Hardest Age to Balance With Work By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck

       

The baby is so small, your body still remembers it. It breaks your heart to leave it. The baby squints vaguely at the light, before reaching its arms out… mmmm, milk.

 

The baby starts to move. He understands the hazards of the world a bit clearer now. He’ll make his disapproval known if he’s left – whether you’re going to work or just to the bathroom.poppies

 

The baby is walking around; getting palpable pleasure from hitting other children with his teddies. He leaves you quite happily – but on your way out you catch a faint… was that a new word? You squint through the hinge of the closing door until the tip of your nose gets pinched.

 

You’ve now got a fully fledged preschooler. As they jabber to you about Alison and Maxwell and Simon’s red fire truck toy you jot down the names. You really must get to the bottom of who these ruffians are. Really, some parents don’t instill any manners in their three year olds.

 

Then they go to school. It’s a rude shock to find that, as parent, you’re no longer seen as the customer. More like the secretary-chauffeur, Your child is also less of a guest and more of a pupil.  You vaguely consider changing careers to become a classroom assistant so that you can make sure your child uses the bathroom regularly and wear a hat outdoors.

 

Then they hit the Tweens. They talk in long sentences alluding to their friends parents who are apparently in every way more accomplished, kind and liberal than you are. You are torn between applying for a position on the Board in order to set your kid a good example, and chucking it all in to stay at home baking cookies, vetting all their friends with a 100 point questionnaire.

 

Finally teenagers. Is it blissful to have someone who sleeps in in the mornings? The life of ease, to not need to help with their bathing or toilet. They even eat direct from the fridge you say? And don’t say a word for hours on end? My, you must have it so easy!

 

Take your pick, according to me – every age is hard while you are trying to balance your work with your life.

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

 

 

On Staying Connected As a Working Mom By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck

 

A few years ago I was taking my kids to the park on my day off.  I glanced over enviously at the group just ahead of us.  Three mothers pushing their prams, older children swirling around them so that you could not tell which child belonged to which mother.

 

When I was on maternity leave, I made sure to get myself out to at least one social activity every day.  Little by little, I picked up people who I enjoyed talking to.  In an emergency, I had some phone numbers of people who I’d trust to babysit. When we went out to the adirondackschirsgroups, my kids and I had a bit of a change of scene: there were other adults who could field her ‘Whyyyyy?’ questions. There were spare hands about to pick up her baby brother if my younger son was really wanting some uninterrupted time with me. When the baby didn’t sleep, my other son’s toilet training regressed and I was losing a grip on things,  I could spin it into a funny anecdote for the other mums. We’d all end up laughing together. I didn’t feel so alone any more.

 

When the time came to go back to work, I took great care to balance time spent with my children, time spent at work, time spent on domestic chores.  Stay-and-play and baby music was left behind as the time-fillers of my old life. I was no longer available during the week, and I presumed that I would have plenty of adult conversation at work.  I figured that home time was for gazing into my children’s eyes and doing wholesome activities together – not drinking coffee with other Mums.

 

It only took a few months to see that it wasn’t working. The challenges of my life had changed – but  it still felt like trying to hug an eel.  My mom patiently listened to the fourth retelling of the issue of the day.  It might be ‘do you think nursery appreciates the kids creative personality’. On another day we’d have ‘when my co-worker said motherhood suited me – was there an unwarranted subtext that he thinks I belong in the kitchen?’

 My mom and dad tried to meet the challenge – so did my sisters and brothers – all listening to all the circumstances and trying to put themself in my shoes, however, their views often seemed to boil down to ‘You work so hard. I wasn’t there, but I’m sure you handled it just right. The kids seem happy and well’.

 

It’s odd how, from another mother ‘your child seems happy and well’ feels like a qualified assessment, rather than sentimentalism.  ‘You work so hard’ sounds like empathy not exasperation. ‘I’m sure you handled it just right’ neatly morphs into ‘and you’d never guess what that so-and-so girl did when that happened to her’. Reassurance, sympathy and entertainment – never let your mum-friends and family go.

 

 

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

www.sandrabeck.com

 

Mom Boss – Friend or Rival? By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck

 

This is a story told to me by a friend and I thought some of you might be able to relate.

 

I started so beautifully. I was going onto a 4 day week, and I found out my new boss basketsAmanda was also working reduced hours to make time for her family. She was glamorous, successful and supportive of her family. I confess, I allowed myself to think that I might have found a mentor.

 

We still fall into deep conversation whenever we bump into each other.  However, it is without doubt the most difficult and stressful working relationship I’ve had.

 

I’m on the cusp of going to work for another working mother, and I’m reflecting on what went wrong. Was it a straightforward personality clash? Or is it a symptom of the politics of working motherhood.

 

How we choose to balance our home and professional life is a very personal decision. It reflects our own insecurities that we can feel judged simply because another woman has chosen a different path. Most commonly, it is a working mum feeling guilty that she can’t bake cookies for the school disco. With two women working together, the issue is more of ‘not letting down the side’.  My male bosses seemed unconcerned about the occasional very prompt departure. With Amanda, however, I felt that I was being monitored more closely. Was she afraid that I would give mothers a reputation for being work-shy?

 

Amanda managed her life with an army of domestic staff. There were nannies, cleaners, personal trainers, au pairs, piano teachers – a real zoo. There was something patronizing in Amanda’s tone to me. It is as though she wasn’t making a distinction between her staff in the office, and the young girls who worked for her at home.

 

Perhaps it all got too personal. My male boss would never dream of putting his arm around me or commenting on my clothes. Perhaps it’s me. Maybe I couldn’t adapt to being micromanaged now that I knew I could juggle house and work and children.

 

My new manager has one grown up daughter, who’s been raised with the best nannies money can buy. Let’s see what she makes of me and my ragtag crew.

 

And for all of us with out own ragtag crew, let’s hear it for getting the job done!

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

 

Magic Saturdays by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck

“I just don’t DO routines. It cramps my style” I overheard someone saying recently.

The funny thing is that I tell my 5 year old exactly the opposite every morning. “Sweetheart, we can spend all morning discussing the ins and the outs of brushing our teeth – or we can just do everything that we need to do and then have lots of time to play before Balloonsschool.”

Before kids, I used to be an untidy-bordering-on-unsanitary creature. It strikes me as ironic that although I’m three times as busy now, my home is cleaner and better organized.

One of the deep held beliefs that I’ve had to let go of is the ‘Magic Saturday’. On ‘Magic Saturday’ there will be ample time to catch up on sleep. Housework will get done effortlessly with some music on. My husband and I would harmoniously hoover and dust while we chat. On ‘Magic Saturday’ all the bills will be paid, and filed alphabetically. Even before kids, it was a myth – hence why I lived in mess and chaos. Now that kids are here – ‘Magic Saturday’ is a laughable dream.

I’ve had to learn about routines to deal with the fact that there is too much going on in my life for me to think about it all at once. The next best thing to having a live-in cleaner, is to be able to do the bulk of the regular chores on auto-pilot without needing to get stressed about it or think about it.

I ignore the looks from the people who knew the old me. I proudly pin up menu plans and housework routines on the fridge. Everything is in little must-do chunks. It means that I have a definite point when I’m free to enjoy my kids, or indulge my muse, or log on to check my emails.

And my kids? They have their own ‘get ready for school’ pictorial chart. It means that even my nagging can go onto autopilot: “Get ready for school, darling. Look on the chart for the next thing you need to do”.

http://www.flylady.net

is a great site to check out!

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com