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Moms, When Do You Get a Break?

We know it’s a problem.  We must. I see it all around me from friends’ Facebook updates to traditional media stories to my own life.  Just this morning I grabbed the latest Newsweek to hit the highlights in two minutes or less and found Lisa Miller’s article “Mommy is Busy Right Now.”

Darn right she’s busy.

The lifestyle of the modern mom has even made it into children’s cartoons.  I smile knowingly every time I see Olivia’s mom sitting at her desk in her home, her phone headset over her little piggy ears, her baby playing on the floor at her feet.

Working mothers are nothing new.  And they’re also not the minority. According to Newsweek, 77 percent of moms of school-aged children work.  Read that sentence one more time because it includes all of those moms that you don’t think about as being employed.  For example, I easily work thirty hours a week, but I do it during the 16 hours a week that both of my kids are out of the house, during the thirty minutes when they watch a show in the afternoon, during the thirty minutes when their father is getting them ready for bed, after bed, on the weekends, in the wee hours of the morning.  I have now managed to match my husband’s full time white collar salary in the nooks and crannies of time in my life as a stay-at-home mom. And yes, that sentence is worth reading again as well.

The modern working mom does not drop her children off at daycare at 8:00 and pick them up at 5:00.  She juggles work and life 24/7.

The problem is apparent to me in fits and bursts, such as the three consecutive snow days that left me juggling client calls and work load while my husband went to work in his quiet, kid free office.  Or when I travel to paid speaking gigs and my airport related Facebook updates elicit responses from friends asking what happens to the kids while I’m gone.  One of these days I’m going to answer, “The neighbors let them out to pee twice a day and I just fill their food bowls REALLY full right before I leave.” My husband is about to leave the country for three weeks.  THREE WEEKS.  I promise that not one person will ask who is going to give the kids a bath every night or pack their lunches each morning even though those are his parenting jobs.  Not one.

And the juggling goes so far beyond the logistics of parenting and working. “Mommy is Busy Right Now” highlights the essentially extinct service industry that has tossed into the laps of moms everywhere the roles of insurance expert, personal banker, travel agent, and more.  The years of battling the medical industry since the premature birth of my daughter have left me longing for mud packs, leeches, and witch doctors, and my run in with a huge and apparently poorly run bank earlier this month had me this close to installing a vault in my basement and calling it a day.  Just yesterday I prepared for mole patrol by showering twice and shaving as though preparing to walk the Miss America runway in my pageant bikini only to have the incredibly highly esteemed dermatologist glance at about 65% of my body quickly, tell me to have my husband keep an eye on my back half and keep an eye on the front half myself.  It was my job to know if I had melanoma.  Awesome.  Because I needed another job. And my daughter’s dentist?  Well, a year ago I was told she needed to see an orthodontist immediately, six months ago I was told she wouldn’t need to see an orthodontist for a couple more years, and then last week I was told that she needed to see the orthodontist immediately.  Time to head to Dr. Google to figure out who is right…

Playdates.

Activities.

Vaccines.

Organic foods.

Music lessons.

Cleaning products.

Nurturing.

Vacations.

Paying the bills.

Educating.

Refinancing the house.

Dropping off.

Picking up.

Emailing.

Calling.

Texting.

Work.

Work.

Work.

So moms, tell me.  When do you take a break?

Comments

  1. 1
    Heather Solos
    Follow on Twitter: heathersolos
    says:

    My husband works rotating shifts, I work from home, and we homeschool.

    I recently snapped -big surprise, huh?- and told my husband that I was hiring a sitter one night a week and taking myself out. No questions, no compromises. I had to do this for myself.

    So now, on Wednesday or Thursday nights, I hit the library and the Mexican place in town. I sit. I read. I eat.

    I like myself more for this. It sounds indulgent, but that one hour or so, where someone takes care of me. It’s worth every bit of hassle to get. In the big scheme of things it’s little, but just knowing there’s an hour of peace in my future, keeps me hanging on through the rough days.
    Heather Solos recently posted..How Long Will it Take to Clean My House

  2. 2
    Beth @ TheAngelForever
    Follow on Twitter: TheAngelForever
    says:

    I think my break is when I go to a PTA meeting, or something like that. Oh wait, that isn’t really a break it’s more mommy politics. I do not think we actually get a break as Mommy. Working at home, volunteering at school, cleaning, laundry, and the list goes on. I have to say that I am lucky since TechyDad cooks in our house. He enjoys it, so who am I to argue. Honestly, my only break seems to be when our entire family goes to Disney World. It’s a time to relax, let go, and be together to have fun. Good luck with the three weeks solo. You know where to find people who are here to listen.
    Beth @ TheAngelForever recently posted..A Magical Morning Moment

  3. 3

    Break? What’s a break?
    A. B. England recently posted..Thrifty Discovery- Homemade Magic Eraser

  4. 4
    Crissy Page
    Follow on Twitter: crissy
    says:

    I just love this, “nooks and crannies of time.” That’s what I feel like, too.

    I am also an equal contributor to our family’s income, and after a full day of chasing my toddler around the house, I take a shower, put on my PJ’s, kick back and…. open my laptop to work. I sometimes work all night!

    It’s really hard, and I’m trying to find a way to get a break. I guess my break’s right now are the 20 minutes a day I spend in the shower!
    Crissy Page recently posted..How to Add Twitter @Anywhere to Your WordPress Blog

  5. 5
    jmarqstar65
    Follow on Twitter: jmarqstar65
    says:

    I have one child – a 14 month old. I’m scared to have more children because I feel like I can’t handle life with the one I have! I work a job part time in the mornings before my husband has to leave all day for school. Then I am Mom the rest of the day. I’ve had many times where I broke down and said I need time for me.. and so I organized a time for my husband (or a friend) to watch my child so I can go do what I need to or want to do. Unfortunately most “breaks” last no more than an hour. Wouldn’t it be nice to take a day – or 3 – off? I wonder too how people could manage to do that. Thank you for your post. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  6. 6

    I laughed so hard when I read your comment about having the neighbors let the kids out to pee and filling their bowls extra full. HILARIOUS!!!
    Yesterday, I didn’t get my normal break during the day, and when I told my husband he said “You normally get a break? Must be nice!” What I have learned is that I need to take times for breaks, because I am working full time even though technically I don’t get paid a cent for it!
    Of course, my breaks involve watching a movie WHILE I am folding laundry or checking facebook, because one of my “jobs” is counseling others. Facebook gives me opportunities to keep up with what is going on in peoples lives. Anyway, I think that as masters of multi-tasking, we should fit breaks into that. We just have to be creative!

  7. 7

    Brilliant post Amy, and so true. And what really makes me mad it’s usually the other moms who judge me the most. One of the reasons why I am a business owner is that my work is also my playtime and me time and it’s something I love to do. That way I can contribute half of our family’s income, work and have something just for me.
    Katja Presnal recently posted..Beauty Deal- Burt’s Bees Skin Care Kit Free with 30 Purchase

  8. 8
    Real Life Sarah
    Follow on Twitter: reallifesarah
    says:

    I can relate to Katja’s post too. Having a few hours uninterrupted to get work done (which I love) IS my break. Once, I sequestered myself in my room to work for two hours, secured approval from my husband. Then, he came back in and asked me to get the kids milk, because he was on the phone with his friend. Now, he is VERY supportive of me and what I do, however, this subconscious move proved that the perception will never be equal between our jobs. I said, “What if I came to your classroom and asked you to take care of the kids because I was on the Phone with a friend?” He was like, “yeah, you’re right.”

    And my favorite was when my youngest started school. People kept asking, “What will you do with all that time?” Um… run my business in the daylight hours?

    But I think it will always be a struggle for legitimacy, and I am SO thankful that I can work from home with a flexible schedule! It’s more of a blessing than a curse… most of the time.
    Real Life Sarah recently posted..When Are You More of a Twit Twitterer- that is

  9. 9
    Real Life Sarah
    Follow on Twitter: reallifesarah
    says:

    I do have to brag on my husband, though, because he does bedtime most nights while I straighten up and squeeze in a few work minutes.
    Real Life Sarah recently posted..When Are You More of a Twit Twitterer- that is

  10. 10

    I agree with Katja and Sarah. Being able to work uninterrupted is how I love to spend my time away from my kids. But, as an introvert, I also find kid time horribly draining. I frequently take a nap when my husband gets home just to recover from the constant hustle and chatter that kids bring with them. It’s hard to juggle, but I love this life.
    Christy recently posted..Win a 20 Panera Gift Card

  11. 11
    Molly Gold
    Follow on Twitter: MyGOMOM
    says:

    Amy ~ you knew I would love this post. After being married for 22 years, I have to say I’m blessed to have a very supportive husband. Where we differ is how we view efficiency at home, meaning the management of daily life, boring tasks like cleaning, paperwork, doctors visits, you know the list. I’ve worked from home for 11 years and for most of it have been able to juggle our busy lives and my career without major hiccups. The greatest challenge is to avoid getting caught up in why we have to take care of things and just getting down to business and getting them done. And I’m with Heather ~ if it means getting a sitter to get some sanity, then go for it, a cleaning service or laundress to tackle those time consuming chores, then budget for it. Find the money to create the time ~ its worth it in the end!

  12. 12

    My whole stay at home mom life is a big break. It is more challenging than I ever dreamed but it is also much more rewarding than working at a pharmacy or waiting tables. When I get fed up with the constant housework and lack of time I actually get to myself I try to remember what life was like when I had no other choice than to take my kid to a sitter so I could work 9-6. Compared to those times staying at home is a break.
    Hannah recently posted..Im asking for some input

  13. 13
    Kim - Mommycosm
    Follow on Twitter: Mommycosm
    says:

    I’ve learned that nobody is going to GIVE me breaks. I have to make them happen for myself. My husband is fabulous and does his share around the house and with the kids…which is what allows me to work from home and be sane. Now that the kids are in school full days this year…when there isn’t a holiday, vacation week or snow day…that has made life a little easier.
    Kim – Mommycosm recently posted..Ive either lost my Gucci sunglasses or my mind

  14. 14

    I have “joint” custody with the ex.
    He has the kids every other weekend.
    Tuesday and Friday he takes the boy to instrument lessons.
    That’s it.

    He’s not there every weekday morning to make sure they’re up and showered and dressed and out the door in time.
    He’s not taking them to the doctor or the dentist or shopping for clothes and shoes.
    He doesn’t drive the girl to school every day because it’s too cold for her to walk.
    He’s not there every evening making them dinner, doing their laundry, running them to sports practices andfriends houses, making sure they do their homework, going to back-to-school night and teacher conferences…I could go on forever.

    But, they call it joint custody.

  15. 15

    I take a night “off” at least once per week to go out with a friend or whatnot. I cannot subsist purely on those things on your list however when I made the choice to become a mom, I also made the choice to add those things to my list of responsibilities.

    Oh, and working outside the home contributes to my sanity, as well.

  16. 16

    Amy. You’ve just summed up my 5 years worth of venting posts on Mamalaw!!!!! The truth is, I don’t have time for a break. Sometimes my “break” is simply lying in bed like a bump on a log at 11pm because I just.can’t.do.one.more.thing.

    And while I know working from home presents challenges, look at it this way – at least you’re home. And you get to pick up your kids from the bus and do the drop off in the morning. Add in an hour+ commute and you’ve got a further exhausted (and feeling disconnected) working mama.

    we need to go out for a drink!

    xo
    Justice Fergie recently posted..The Effortlessly Stylish Mrs O

  17. 17

    Awesome post because it’s oh-so-true!! I’m not really a stay-at-home Mom, I’m a work-at-home Mom. I juggle the bookkeeping for our two businesses, blog, and do all my Wife/Mom responsibilities all while taking care of the kids.

    My quiet time is when I go to the grocery on Saturday morning. I told hubby before we had kids I wasn’t taking them grocery shopping. So Sat morning is my morning. I get up, get myself put together, hit McDonald’s for breakfast, take my time shopping, and then head home to unload. Granted I’m still doing a chore, but I have quiet time, which is great, and not to mention breakfast by myself!

    Looking forward to next school year when all three are in school and I’ll have 6 hours a day of freedom and I’ll finally be able to create a schedule and catch up.
    Sherry recently posted..The Chocolate Addictions

  18. 18
    MommyB Knows Best
    Follow on Twitter: mommybknowsbest
    says:

    Break? I agree with some of the ladies. Being a SAHM and running the household there aren’t many home jobs that my husband does, although he doesn’t expect things to be done, which is a little more of a relief for me, but being type-a doesn’t help me at all. Plus I have a 10 month old who is exclusively nursing and not always sleeping through the nights so I can’t even break away at night for a few minutes. I told my husband I need a vacation…*LOL* and I do, I miss me time, but that’s why I end up staying up till the wee hours in the am, to get some me time. Some day I’ll have it again. I’m enjoying the little ones at least.
    MommyB Knows Best recently posted..Mommy Bundle Winner

  19. 19

    I take two minutes of quiet in the car before going into Starbucks to open my laptop and get to work. And I take a LONG shower before the family wakes up. Sometimes I even get to read most of the funnies before the patter of pajama clad feet signal the end of the morning quiet. To get that quiet I get up at 6am, about 3 good hours before my body would actually like to wake up.

    This mom thing isn’t for the faint of heart…
    Jessica R. recently posted..Unfairness between sisters

  20. 20
    Janet
    Follow on Twitter: janettwokay
    says:

    I try to squeeze in a break whenever I can. Usually, though, that’s not until late at night, after everyone’s gone to sleep. That’s okay with me because I’m a night owl. I’ve been married long enough now to actually enjoy my quiet midnights. ;-)

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amy Lupold Bair , Amy Lupold Bair , Nicole Commissiong, Amanda B. England, Laila and others. Laila said: RT @ResourcefulMom: Moms, anyone else about to lose their ever lovin' minds? http://resourcefulmommy.com/5221/moms-when-do-get-break/ RT? [...]

  2. [...] As I was making a list of items to tackle over the next few weeks, something happened. I saw a Tweet from Amy (@ResourcefulMom) that caught my eye. She wrote about something that really hit me to my core. The title of her post is: Moms, When Do You Get a Break?  [...]

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