That’s such a cliché title isn’t it? Finding Balance. Just the words make me a little queasy. I’ve long been a vocal advocate of not even trying to find balance because it is elusive and the constant search can make you crazy.
I’ve now worked out of the house for just over a year and almost a year to the day I went from part-time to full-time, which really means I went from being at work all the time and feeling guilty about it to being at work all the time and still feeling like I’m not there enough. There are so many things happening if feels like I never get it all done, but somehow I have never been more at peace.
For nearly twelve years as a parent I have struggled with my job. Am I making the right choices for my kids? Am I spending my time wisely? Am I teaching them what good adults need to know? Every evening I could lay my head down knowing I tried my best, but still always wondering if that was good enough.
Sure, I worked from home for most of those years but being at home meant I was constantly thinking of home and my work became just one more thing I might have been doing wrong as a parent. Whenever I got immersed at work in my house, I felt a bit selfish and guilty.
Now, when I leave for an office, it feels so different. At work, I make decisions, execute plans and watch the results unfold all without the laundry piles and dishes staring me in the face. I still occasionally second guess myself, but not nearly as much or as often as I did as a parent with an office in my living room. Work now makes me feel accomplished while parenting, often, makes me feel inadequate and trying to work in the environment where I parent just became more than I could juggle.
It’s not like I don’t enjoy spending time with my kids. Quite the contrary actually; I almost wrote about how great they are to be with at this stage of the game but I thought you might be sick of hearing that. Certainly, there are days where I miss being in charge of my own schedule and wearing pajamas to my “office”. It’s not that I don’t love being home, it’s just that being out at work makes me feel like I am smart and might even have some control where being at home made me feel like I was always winging it and hoping for the best no matter how much I think about or work toward logical, planned decisions there.
The upside of all this is that my kids actually have a better mom. Just the little bit of confidence I get from being at my job helps me be a more attentive, less frazzled mom. Oh, I’m frazzled, nearly all the time, but my kids don’t catch the brunt of it anymore.
When I first decided to stay home with my kids I had friends who said they could never quit working because it made them better parents. I understood where they were coming from as far as intellectual stimulation, but I did not see the value, for me, of leaving my house to do it.
Now, even if some things (like this poor neglected blog) still need better management, and there are plenty of things on the to-do list that aren’t getting done, overall working a full-time gig outside my house has changed the way we live inside the house. I think, for the better.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.