I was a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) for several years, but I have been back in the workforce for almost 3 years now, and it was evident from the start that balancing work and kids is never easy.
Initially, I started working part-time, about 20 hours a week, which was perfect because my kids were in preschool only until 3pm every day. I still had time to make dentist appointments, and go to the grocery store during my day. Then, a year-and-a-half ago – two weeks before the start of school – I moved to a new PR manager position at a major retailer, so it was a bit of a frantic struggle figuring out childcare. (My husband was traveling for work a lot, so we needed solutions, basically for 8:30am-6pm.) Thankfully, it seems there are ample child care options in this region; some are pricey, some are moderate, and I have found that almost every child care facility – private, in someone’s home, or in a large chain – has some wiggle room on price. (Note: don’t be afraid to negotiate fees!) Some daycares’ closing times may limit whether or not you choose them for your family, and make that work/family balance a bit rushed all the time, but there are places that watch kids even 12-hours a day.
Doing laundry, cleaning, and meal-prep (um, I don’t do that as often as I would like to) often has to take place at night…when the kids are asleep. Now that I am usually walking into the house at 6pm, we have seen more than our fair share of ‘Pizza Nights,’ Chinese food dinners, and mac-n-cheese. Have I been known to take the kids to Wegmans, and let them eat ‘dinner’ in the cart as we’re shopping? You bet. Will I time swapping wet clothes from the washing machine into the dryer around the commercials of my favorite Bravo reality show? Of course. I did these things as a SAHM with more ‘free’ time on my hands (mind you, a SAHM is never doing nothing. I get it – I was one for 4 years!), but I certainly do them more now that I am a full-time working mother. I seem to have to have more schedules, more calendars, and be more precise with planning things out with my husband when we are figuring out who picks up whom, who is cooking what night, and who puts the kids to bed because the other person has a late meeting.
Lastly, I know that sometimes I need some escape time. Escape from the stresses of work AND escaping from the kids and spouse. I just discovered a new place for MNO (Mom’s Night Out)…and it’s the perfect place to escape family-reality for a minimal amount of time! It’s called Knockerball, and there is a location in the basement of the Monmouth Mall (under the movie theatres). Here, you can play adult-sized Connect Four, Foot Pool, Life-Size Jenga, and…get this…Human Foosball and Hungry Hungry Humans (like the ‘hippos’ version from your childhood). I recently went with 8 other mom-friends, and it was an hour of solid laughing. There is also their namesake activity, Knockerball, which is luck running on a turf mini-field inside an inflatable, life-size soccer ball. No drinking allowed there, so you can even tell your husband, “I’m headed there for an hour after work.” You will still have time to bathe everyone and put the kids to bed, if you have to! No major investment! Check them out at www.knockerballnj.com.
If you didn’t make time for yourself when you weren’t working, you must make sure you do so as a working mom. You’ll be stretched thin, and you don’t want to over-extend yourself too much (well, I mean, all moms do that, but be mindful of saying ‘yes’ to everything!).