Calling all working moms: What are your rose-smelling secrets?

People keep asking me if I had a nice birthday. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to lie, but I also don’t want to be that person—you know—the one who answers a positive question in an unexpectedly negative way and then causes an unnecessary, awkward silence. In my opinion, if I do that enough, I will lose friends…or at least acquaintances, who will do what they can to steer clear of the pessimism and uncomfortable situations I create. After all, who wants to talk to a big complainer anyway?

So, back to my 32nd birthday. It was okay, I guess. I spent the majority of the day at work planning an interesting project, then took my son to a pediatrics appointment that lasted way longer than it should have (hours), and afterward de-stressed at a kickboxing class in the evening. My husband bought me pink roses (my favorite) and a pint of the best hot fudge in the whole world (disgustingly enough, yes, I eat the hot fudge by itself—to me, that is a much better treat than a sundae…although I definitely enjoy a good sundae every once in a while too. And, no, in case you’re wondering, I don’t eat the whole pint at once…that would be disgusting.)

All in all, it was a fair day. And, I was accepting of its mediocrity at the day’s end, because I had taken off from work the next day (Friday, the day after my birthday) to celebrate with a three-day weekend and plans to spend some much needed quality time with my son, stepson, and husband…who I feel like I hardly ever see anymore between working every day, going to the gym, and just taking care of life’s miscellaneous, like grocery shopping and paying bills and keeping the house livable.

My first day off (Friday) ended up being pretty much like every other weekend or vacation day I take- somewhat stressful and less than fulfilling.  I spent too much of the day thinking about what I should be doing with my time (like the stuff I mentioned above, plus laundry, dishes, dusting, mopping, packing up clothes that don’t fit the boys anymore, etc). Although I did take care of some of those tasks, I didn’t achieve as much as I could have…because all I could think was, “this is my special day off, and I should be spending time on things I really want to do (like beading, drawing, blogging, shopping, or reading).” I didn’t do any of those things because I felt guilty that I should be doing housework.

Amid over-thinking what I should or shouldn’t be doing with my time and then disappointing myself with not accomplishing much of anything useful or fun, I spent a good amount of the day chasing a toddler around the house as he tried to climb the oven and all the safety gates in our home, pull our air conditioning units out of the windows, jump off the couch, and dive into the toilet.

Sidenote: as much as I’m bitching that I got nothing done, I did do the laundry, the dishes, and some organizing in my bedroom. I took my little guy on two walks in the beautiful weather, and I taught an aerobics class in the afternoon. I cooked two meals from scratch (which I never do), and I relaxed with a glass of pinot noir and an hour of Netflix with my husband before I hit the sack. Looking back on that, on top of the roses and hot fudge, I can’t say it was a bad day. Yet, I was far from satisfied with it. It felt like a busy, but mostly unproductive day, in both the ways of housework and of relaxation. Maybe my standards are too high?

Day 2 (Saturday) was much better. I stopped thinking so much and just got to doing, both necessary things—like paying bills and cleaning—and fun stuff—like going to the park and shopping (as a family). By today (Sunday, day 3 of my three-day birthday weekend), I finally feel satisfied. I can say honestly that the weekend was everything it should have been—productive and relaxing. I accomplished a good part of my to-do list, and I got plenty of playtime with my stepson and son, snuggle-time with my son and husband, and even a little me-time to exercise and blog.  I truly feel ready to start the workweek.

But…why do I do this to myself—why are days off such a stressful mix of worrying about the best ways to spend my time and of feeling guilty and unsatisfied about how I end up spending it? Two-day weekends just don’t seem to cut it for me anymore. They’re simply not long enough to prepare me mentally for the week to come. Unfortunately, I don’t see myself having anything more than those two days weekly away from work anytime soon. So, what’s the solution? Any suggestions from anyone out there? I think I asked a similar question the last time I took a vacation (and felt like I needed a vacation even more when I returned.) I got some good suggestions then about putting a little vacation into everyday life. Maybe I’ll compile and post a list about the working-moms juggle if I get some more ideas…how do other working moms make the most of the time when they’re not at work?

In the meantime, for the first time since I got them, days ago, I just noticed the amazing scent of my birthday roses, sitting on the table next to me. If that’s not a reminder of the importance of answering such questions as the one above, then nothing is. However, instead of spending the last couple hours of my precious weekend searching for an answer, I’m going to enjoy some chardonnay and a little cuddle time with my hubby before the cycle re-consumes me, starting tomorrow when I go back to work. Cheers.

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Posted on August 14, 2011, in Parenting, The Balancing Act and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. It’s really sweet of you to not mention that my stupid head derailed your plans to redeem your birthday. It turns out that changes in the weather trigger migraines. And just days after you warned me that I wasn’t going to be able to just fix it and make them go away! I’m glad that you had a good weekend, anyway! Seriously, I owe you one.

  2. Hey Nikki! You are an extremely busy mommy and I don’t think you realize it. If I accomplished half of your day, I would be wiped out. Really, you’re pretty awesome. But we’re all different. You may need to scratch a lot off your list to feel good about your day. Perhaps you can analyze a past day you deemed as perfect and see what you would have to do to recreate it.
    I’ve been back at work for a month now. A perfect day (during the week) starts off with lazily breastfeeding in bed, then proceeding at a slow pace with all our routines, sharing duties with the hubby. It helps if I prepared clothes and bags the night before, so we can really take it easy and enjoy each other’s company instead of running around trying to find our keys. And on weekends, because I know how fast time flies, we try to accomplish one fun family thing and that’s it.
    Chardonnay and cuddles, sounds like you got it right.

  3. No worries, Anne-Marie, headaches happen!

    Karla– thanks for your thoughtful comment! I think you’re right– maybe I should shorten my daily to-do list by about 20 things! I love the idea of thinking about a day from the past that was my version of perfect and recreating it. What a fabulous idea! I think the only main issue with that is that sometimes it takes me a day or two before I can calm my mind enough to enjoy anything!!

    Getting things ready the night before is a good idea. I don’t do that enough because I’m too spent some evenings. I’m nervous about the fall when my stepson starts 3rd grade, Jacob starts daycare, and my husband goes back to his crazy schedule of working out of town on weekdays and Sunday and working his other job when I get home in the afternoons. I’m trying to ready myself now! Remembering to prepare as much as possible the night before is great.

    Thanks again for your thoughts. I hope you are easing back into work smoothly. For me, it’s gotten easier and easier over time… mostly, although it has its periodic challenges!

  4. Wow! I can see why you may be nervous about this fall. That’s a lot on your plate. Be good to yourself.

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