Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Struggle for Balance

Instead of the baby shower on a budget post that I had promised I have decided to write about something a little bit different.  If you were looking forward the post, don’t fret.  It will be coming soon!

I had a meeting out of town this morning that gave me 2 hours to sit in the car and think.  By thinking what I really mean is I was listening to Oprah-Radio.  It’s one of my guilty pleasures!  Anyways…  a show was being replayed from the early 2000’s and it was about how Moms are continually feeling drained (emotionally, physically and mentally), but refuse to admit it based on the idea that they would be admitting that they are less than perfect at being a wife, mother, employee, housekeeper, and etc. 

A woman was telling her story and explained how she continually feels overwhelmed and no matter how hard she tries there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done.  She discussed her inner struggles with depression and how she would try to put on a “mask” so the rest of the world would think that she was the perfect wife and mom.  Internally she was struggling to keep it together on a daily basis and always felt guilty that she wasn’t able to devote the amount of time she wants to spend with her children.  Between the housework, her job, coping with financial struggles, and having 4 children under the age of 8 she just couldn’t handle it.  She went on to explain that her consistent struggles with getting everything done causes her so much stress that sometimes all she can do is breaks down and cry.

A therapist was also on the show and explained that the feelings that the aforementioned woman is having are becoming more and more common and it is due to what she was referring to as an error in our “inner operating system”.  We as a society are so interconnected with technology, work-emails, texting, and social media that we are never disconnected long enough to be present in our own lives.  In essence, our “outer operating system” is not compatible with our “inner operating system”.  In today’s society women are trying to raise children and keep a home on the same ideals that our grandparents (June Cleaver!), but also have a career and stability like our parents instilled in us.  Bottom line is to do both perfectly is nearly impossible.  She explained that it is all about balance.  Sometimes family time needs to take precedence over the pile of dirty laundry.  No one will notice if you have crumbs on your kitchen floor or an unwashed dish in the sink.  Her overall message is to let-go of things that are pulling all of the excess energy from you so you can have the energy to be happy.  The happier a person is, the more energy the body naturally stores.  It’s a cycle that can only begin by making a change!

Of course this is all easier said than done so she challenged everyone to make a list of the things in their lives that are pulling energy away and prioritize them.  What pulls the most energy (what stresses you the most?)?  Look at the list and figure out how to eliminate some of them.  After a month, reevaluate things.  The list should be smaller and you should feel a lot better.  

I can absolutely relate to the desperation that the woman on the show was feeling.  I also try to do it all: work, baby, clean the house, cook, finish grad school, maintain friendships, talk to family, and spend time with my husband.  There truly isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done.  I have decided to go forth with the suggestion and make a list of the things that pull energy from me. 

At first I was thinking that I should spend some real time to think about what belongs on that list, but knowing me I will get caught up in something during the evening hours and I will never get to it.  So here goes nothing – These are the big energy suckers in my life:

1.       Grad School:  My thesis has been haunting me for the past couple of years.  I think about it on a daily basis but never seem to devote any time to finishing it.  I just think about it and it stresses me out.  Well, the only way to get rid of the stress is to FINISH!  Over the next 30 days, I will be devoting time to finishing my thesis.  My goal is to graduate in May.

2.       Mommy Guilt:  I feel terrible that I my son goes to daycare.  It feels like he is being raised by daycare providers rather than his parents.  On a good day, I get to spend about 2-3 hours of time with him and during that time I am usually trying to clean up the kitchen after dinner and then when I do get to sit down and play with him I spend time on my phone checking emails and etc.  This has got to stop!  The dishes can wait until after he goes to bed and my phone, ipad, and computer can stay away.  If I spend quality time with my little boy every evening I think I am less apt to feel guilty. 

3.       Lack of Quality Time with My Husband:  Bottom line is that my husband and I don’t get to spend time together where we are allowed to reconnect and actually have a conversation.  Our evenings are spent chasing our little guy around the house and then he heads off to work. In the past our excuse has been that it’s difficult to find a baby sitter that we feel comfortable with or our schedules didn’t allow time for a special evening for the two of us. To alleviate this stress my goal is to have one date night a month with my husband.  If we set a date in advance we will be able to line up a baby sitter and also have a chance to be able to look forward to our evening together.

4.       Housework:  I always feel like my house isn't clean enough so I stress about having everything perfect and tidy.  This is clearly unrealistic!  There is a certain level of disarray that is a given when you have a toddler. My goal is to accept that my house won’t be clean all the time and that the crumbs on the counter can wait. 

I will keep everyone posted on the progress with these goals and will revisit this post at the end of September to reevaluate.  

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks from The Modern Day Juggler!

Friday, August 23, 2013

It's About Time!...

It has been quite some time since I have blogged.  Don't get me wrong - I have wanted to and thought about it on many occasions, but life has been throwing me curve balls since late April and I am finally feeling that I need some "blogging therapy" again!

I promise to get back to my modern day juggler tips and tricks soon, but today I think an update of what has been going on with me is best.

The last time I blogged was in May and let me tell you - a lot has been going on!  You may remember that in April/May my husband changed jobs and I was doing things "single-mom style" - well his shift changed. Now he works overnights.  This may sounds strange, but I love it!  Now my husband is home every morning to assist with the Morning-Madness Marathon and is home all evening to spend time with me and our not-so-little-anymore little boy.  Granted, I miss my husband at night but we manage. We are still trying to find the balance between being a Mom/Dad and being a Wife/Husband.  Its a hard transition and we are slowly getting there.

In other news, we celebrated our little man's first birthday in late July.  It was wonderful to have all of our family and friends around to celebrate with us.  We truly felt blessed to have so many people attend his party and wish him good things over the next year.

We also have been working on doing some planned and not-so-planned remodeling of our home.  A bathroom remodel has been in the works all summer but has not yet happened.  Hopefully soon!  I will be sure to discuss how that goes!  A patio was installed in our backyard and I hired a landscaper who turned out to be less than reputable.  I ended up spending many evenings working on returning my yard to its once normal state. As the seasons are beginning to change I decided to give up on getting the grass to grow again...Things will grow better in the spring.  The not-so-planned remodeling is due to a large hail storm that passed through our community a few weeks ago.  As it turns out we will be needing to replace our roof soon.  Oh the joys of being a homeowner!

To help keep my sanity through all of the crazy that this summer has brought I am very thankful to be part of a Mommy Group that my good friend at Vacuuming in Pearls started. We call ourselves "Moms Away!" and meet once a month to have a night off to have some much needed girl time.  Typically we do an activity and then have dinner.  This month the event has been entitled "Balls & Beers".  We will be playing mini-golf and then going to a local restaurant that is known for its wide selection of beer.  I always look forward to my evenings with those mommies.  We are all very different, but have babies that are fairly close in age so we all can relate to the ups and down of motherhood and since we are all first time parents it has been a great environment to share stories and tips.

Since I am on the subject of Moms Away... I am very pleased to announce that we will be welcoming a new member later this fall.  A very good friend of mine from graduate school will be welcoming her first baby in a couple of months.  I am elated for her and her husband. I have been planning a baby shower for her over the past few months and am very excited for it to take place tomorrow afternoon.  So please check back soon for an upcoming post that will contain a few tips and tricks on planning a baby shower on a working moms schedule!

All-in-all, we managed to survive this summer and our hoping, wishing, and praying that our karma improves heading into the fall/winter season!

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks from the Modern Day Juggler!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The "Single-Mom" Project: Reflections on Week #1

Exactly one week has passed since my husband started his new job.  That means I spent an entire week as a "single-mom" in the evenings.  Everything went much smoother than I thought!  Granted there were a number of odd things that happened throughout the week that could have easily derailed everything, but overall things went really well!

I will admit that I spent a few days psyching myself up for what I thought was going to be the week from "H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks" but things went great.  Aside from the fact that our kitchen flooded from a loose fitting from installing a new faucet, we discovered ants in our basement bathroom, the dishwasher died, the cable company had to put in a temporary line for our Internet, and the garage door broke - otherwise it was an awesome week.  My little boy did surprisingly well without his Daddy around.  I knew by the end of the week they were both starting to miss each other so we made sure to have lots of family time this weekend to make up for things.

Since my husbands new schedule is significantly different than his prior one, I have to had make major adjustments in my own but they are all good adjustments. Now that he is home in the morning I have an extra set of hands during the Morning-Madness Marathon - which is fabulous! Now I can wake-up at 6AM - which is about the same time that our little man wakes up.  I can get him out of bed, change his diaper and then I can lay him in bed with my husband so they can snuggle for a while in the morning.  In exchange for not being home in the evening, my husband takes the lead on getting the little guy ready for daycare every morning.  After "snuggle-time", the little guy has a bottle and they might play for 20 minutes or so and after getting dressed and having plenty of hugs from Daddy we are off to daycare.  During this time, I am able to get ready, make my lunch, gather up anything I need for the day and maybe drink some of my coffee before jetting out of the door. 

Throughout the week I did notice one major change in my day, aside from the morning routine.  I noticed that I don't have to cook dinner every night.  Now that its just me in the evening I can eat from the leftovers stash in the fridge!  So now I only have to cook dinner a couple of nights during the week.  It seems weird that my husband and I would be eating the same amount of food throughout the week, but I'm cooking less.  I don't understand it either, but it works! Must be one of those "mystical kitchen things".  I am assuming that everything just evens out since my hubby isn't at home to eat dinner when I do cook.  In turn, there are more leftovers from each meal.  I'm not really sure? 

My final reflection on The "Single-Mom" Project: Week #1 is that I've felt less stressed this past week than I have in a very long time.  My morning routine goes much smoother, I don't have to cook every evening, I get to spend more time focusing on my little boy, and I have time to relax and enjoy the silence in the evening.  I'm sure it's a combination of all of the above factors that helped me feel less stressed throughout the week, but I am going to attribute the bulk of it to the fact that I get to spend so much quality time with my little boy each evening.  I'm thinking that it is helping to eliminate some of the "mommy-guilt" that I have for sending him to daycare all day.  

I know you are all probably thinking that its weird that I don't see my husband much during the week and to be honest with you I think its a little weird too.  We have always had strange schedules.  I think I actually see my husband more now than I did with his last job.  Previously, we would see each other for maybe an hour or two a day depending on if he was on the day-shift or the night-shift.  The majority of the time if we did see each other it was for a couple of hours before bed and by then we were both tired and just wanted to zone-out after a long day.  Now we see each other in the morning when we are both awake and ready to start the day. We are morning people so early on in the day is our best time together.  Even though we don't see each other much during the week, the fact that we now have all-weekend, every-weekend together for family time really makes up for our lost time during the week.  This past weekend was fantastic and I can't wait for family time next weekend.  

I don't have a Tip to Help Juggle Kids and Work today, but I will leave you with this piece of wisdom that helps me to feel less defeated when the pile of laundry doesn't get washed or when it's time for bed, but the sink is still full of dishes...

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks from The Modern Day Juggler!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Self-Proclaimed Queen of Leftovers: Part 2

If you read my post from yesterday you might be wondering how I came to be the Queen of Leftovers.  Well lets take a few steps back in time. So gather around children... It's story time!

"Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there was a girl who was spending way too much on groceries.  By way too much I mean $100+ a week and still eating out.  After closely examining her family budget, she realized that they were hemorrhaging money on food.  So she decided to make a change.  She started meal planning.  Every day of the week had a meal assigned to it.  A shopping list was made accordingly and impulse purchases at the grocery store were prohibited.  The first few weeks were hard, but after awhile the girl got the hang of things and her family adjusted to eating all of their meals at home. After a few months, the girl and her family realized how much more money they had and the rest is history." 

The moral of this story is that leftovers save money.  You might be thinking "duh...of course eating leftovers saves money".  I mean it - eating leftovers saves tons of money!  I spend roughly $50 a week or less on groceries including produce and my family eats 3-meals a day.  So lets do the math... That's 21-meals for $50.  That breaks down to about $2 a meal!  Over the course of time that is a huge savings!

Clearly a person does not have to take things to the extreme like I do.  It's OK to eat out once in a while and I will admit that every now and then my husband and I sneak in a lunch date at one of the local restaurants.  We just don't make it a habit.  I mean really - a meal  for two people at a restaurant runs about $20.  That is nearly half my weekly food budget!

So do a little math ladies (and gentlemen).  Find out how much you are actually spending on groceries and challenge yourself to spend less.  The savings really add up over time!

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks from The Modern Day Juggler!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Self-Proclaimed Queen of Leftovers

My family used to be the type that purchased frozen meals or those steam-in-the-bag microwave meals to have at lunch.  At the time, they were easy and seemed "somewhat" healthy.  I never really gave a lot of thought to it.  It was just something that we did.  In recent months I have outlawed those types of meals in my house!  They are loaded with salt and preservatives and to be honest they are expensive and I AM CHEAP!  In lieu of purchasing frozen meals, I began making larger quantities of food for dinner each night. Then while I'm cleaning things up, I divide the leftover food into lunch size portions and put the portions into individual containers in the fridge or freezer. 
I have begun referring to myself as the (self-proclaimed) Queen of Leftovers.  I know - it sounds silly, but I am! I love being able to look in my fridge in the morning while I'm packing my lunch and be able to have my pick of multiple meals that are already portioned into containers.  All I need to do is make a selection and put it in my lunch bag.  Between the frozen breakfast burritos I make ahead on the weekends and the huge stash of leftovers in my fridge I can put almost zero thought into my breakfast and lunch on weekdays and still have great meals.
So here it is ladies!  Tip #4 to Help Juggle Kids and Work: Leftovers are your friend! 

Here is a my new favorite recipe that reheats well and tastes amazing!  Its Taco-Tot Hotdish - a variation of Tator-Tot Hotdish. It's delicious!  I made this recipe once last week and again last night. It is addicting!

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks from The Modern Day Juggler!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Beginning of Something Great

Today starts a new chapter in my professional life. As of today, I am officially working full-time. Some of you might be thinking, "huh? I thought you did work full-time?". Well, in the scheme of things I did work full-time (i.e. 32 hours a week). A couple of weeks ago I was offered a full-time position in a neighboring jurisdiction and after a few days of thinking about it, I brought the information to my current employer and they decided to offer me full-time status. Of course I couldn't refuse! So today is my first official day as full-time.

To change things even more for the family, my husband accepted a new job and will be starting soon. His work hours will be drastically different. At his previous job he was working 12-hour rotating shifts bouncing back in forth between days and nights with every other weekend off. His new job will be Monday through Friday, with every weekend off, but the hours will be drastically different. He will be working from 3PM - 1AM. So during the week I will be a "single-mom" every evening, but we will have the ability to have family time every weekend! There are pros and cons to every job, and the pros definitely outweighed the cons on this one.

We are excited to start this new chapter in our life, but I think we are both a little scared too. Change can be scary thing. There are so many unknowns involved in changing, jobs and changing schedules. Will we like it? Will I be able to handle being a "single-mom" every evening? Will our baby be affected by having different hours to spend with his daddy? I'm sure it will take a little bit of time to get used to our new schedules, but we adjust and will cherish the time we get to spend together that much more!

Now that I will be a "single-mom" in the evenings during the week, I'm sure I will be acquiring a few new ways to juggle. I will be sure to share my tips and tricks as they emerge!

Check back soon for Tip #4 to Help Juggle Work and Kids!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Is a Grown Man’s Feelings Similar to a Toddler???

I know that I had stated that this blog would not be for complaining but today is one of those days when I need to vent a bit…

Today I had an incident that I think is worth writing about. To reveal a little bit about myself, I work in Public Safety. If you have never met someone who is in Public Safety (i.e. police officer, fire fighter, sheriff, dispatcher, EMS and etc.) you probably know that there is a distinct personality that typically goes along with the job. People in this field tend to be rather direct and confrontational – this is a good thing. However, there is a line that my colleagues and I know should never be crossed…you never have a verbal confrontation with a colleague while others are present. Today that line was crossed.

This morning I was at the Law Enforcement Center taking care of a few things and I was confronted by an officer who apparently had an issue with the way I had been handling my position. This officer is neither above nor below me in the scheme of things. In fact, one of us is employed by the county and the other by a local city, thus we have no authority over each other at all. However, he felt that he needed to unload two years worth of frustrations in a manner of minutes. To top it off there were other people present as he was having his irrational freak-out. I am usually fairly good with confrontations, but today I was taken so off guard that I didn’t even know how to respond. After he yelled for a few minutes he appeared to feel better and then left. It was all rather strange – I was utterly flabbergasted!

A while later I returned to my office and decided to send him a quick email – I simply asked him to swing by my office today so we could chat…I was determined to use some of my social-psych magic on him to find out what was really bothering him.

As it turns out he had been feeling left out. He apparently thought that I hated him and I didn’t want to work with him because whenever I am at the Law Enforcement Center, I only talk to a few specific people and then leave. Really???? I didn’t realize we were back pre-school.

So I guess the moral of this story is that sometimes even adults will lash out irrationally when they need attention or feel left out.