Recently, I spent time with a very dear friend who has two sons like me. She spends 3 days in the office, 1 day working from home, and Friday’s with her children. We talked about how hard it is even with help on her end. The guilt for her for not spending enough time with her kids. My guilt for not having a traditional office job like all the other moms. Our overall guilt for never feeling like we can balance anything out perfectly.
This isn’t about moms who go into the office versus moms who stay at home. It’s about trying to be a good mom and useful human in society in the 21st century. It’s hard. It’s maddening. It’s not for the faint of heart. Our moms before us had it just as hard but in different ways. Being a woman is amazing, but it comes with a lot of struggles that fall solely on us because we are supposed to be motherly, grow a family, raise that family, and provide stability in every way you can think of for a home.
Let’s unravel some myths about the work-life balance that most moms are trying to juggle in their everyday reality.
Myth 1: Moms who go into the office have it easier. Moms who get to stay at home get to relax all they want.
Reality: Moms who stay at home work as hard as moms who go into the office. Anyone who tries to belittle moms who stay at home by thinking they “relax” all day is living with blinders on. Anyone who thinks moms who go into an office gets a nice “break” from the kids is underestimating the overwhelming amount of guilt they face day in and day out. A large reason why moms can’t support one another without being petty and passive aggressive is the assumption that one has it “better” than the other. When in fact, we are actually all in this together. No one has it easy, even if you have to work even when you’re home with a nanny.
Myth 2: Working from home is so much easier than leaving your kids at daycare because you get to be there.
Reality: There’s some truth to this that yes, you get to be home with the kids to make sure you don’t have to watch anyone beating your kids on the nanny cam. Yet, if you haven’t tried working from with kids running around, then you have no idea. You are still at their beck and call. You still need to care and provide for them. Working from home is like working in 2-minute increments. You actually don’t get to sit and work for a good chunk of time, ever. Working from home also does not afford you to drop everything and be ready for what work needs at any given time of the day. If your employer isn’t understanding about the fact you still have to care for your kids (esp when you don’t have an in-home nanny), it can get really tough. If your employer is understanding yet still has last minute things they need from you, it can result in you snapping at your kids for that 5 minutes to wrap up what work needs. Then you feel guilty for snapping at your kids and/or not being able to do the work your work needs from you. No one wins.
Myth 3: Working from home or being an at-home mom, you get to keep up with all the house chores so much easier.
Reality: Seriously. Moms who go into the office and come home face a sh*t load of chores. They probably are more efficient at getting it done because they only have 1 hour every night to do it. Yet, moms at home, whether working or full-time child care, don’t actually get to stay on top of the chores any better. Why? They are trying to work or chase kids, so the same chores start to pile up and fall by the wayside. It’s not even if they have help or not, it’s all still there, in the same amount, staring at them with those beady little eyes taunting them. Again, no one really wins the chore game either.
Myth 3: Moms who work get to spoil their kids with better presents. Moms at home get to see their kids grow up. One mom is better than the other mom.
Reality: If guilt isn’t eating you alive yet, then you probably aren’t a mom. If you don’t believe in mom guilt, just wait til you start getting morning sickness. The mom at work whose kids get better presents have reasons like getting better presents to make up for lost time. We’ve read this somewhere all before. The mom who gets to see their kid grow up but isn’t making any money feels guilty that she personally can’t get their kids nice presents. Again, who actually wins here?
Myth 4: Jane Doe balances everything so much better than I am.
Reality: Unless you are a Felicia meme, the real truth that with or without help, every single mother out there never feels good about how they are balancing work and life. Talk to the mom in the high-powered corporate job running around with her hair on fire and eventually, she’ll tell you that she does feel bad about not being with her kids. Talk to the ragged mom in ragged sweats at the playground with 2 or 3 kids running around and she’ll probably tell you she’s glad to be with her kids, maybe feels a little depressed she can’t be out there working, and that she sucks at balancing everything. There are moms are 250% happy being home. There are moms 250% happy being at work. Yet, when it comes to balance, 100% of the time, moms will tell you that never feels quite right. We just do the best we can to make sure that everyone around us happy at least 50% of the time.
As a mom with 2 young children, juggling a young family, a job, and trying to squeeze in time for all that self-care, I can personally tell you that balance isn’t a daily goal. It’s kind of an overall goal each week because some days, something has to give. Sometimes it’s work that needs me. Sometimes, work will have to wait because life needs me. By Friday 6pm, it just has to feel like everyone’s needs are met and that’s when balance feels like it’s been achieved. I actually fail at this weekly, at least it feels that way, so I need to know what you guys do to feel balanced. How do you balance work and life? Please share in the comments below!