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A Working Mom’s Guide to Doing it All (Terribly)

Working moms get this question a lot: “How do you do it all?”

It ALL. That’s daunting.

And for this working mom, I do “do it all.” But sometimes I’m doing it all TERRIBLY.

Working Moms are Da Bomb (Cyclone)

This winter the bomb cyclone hit the Northeast.

First off, can we take a pause to really appreciate “bomb cyclone”? I think technically this storm was called Winter Storm Grayson but no one called it that. Because how can you resist “bomb cyclone”? I guess the writer of Sharknado also has a degree in meteorology. Go figure.

And as it turned out bomb cyclone was really just another name for how my toddlers chose to interact with the world that day.

Doing it all as a working mom
Taken after they cleaned up.

You Don’t Gotta Go to Work, Work, Work

Daycare was closed and Glen and I both worked from home. Work from home parents who also have their kids at home while they’re working are unicorns to me. How is that possible? Do your kids self entertain for more than 7 minutes? Do they get their own snacks, clean up after themselves, and manage their own interpersonal conflict? Are those totally reasonable things and I’m just not there yet because I have toddlers?

In any case, working from home with two toddlers at home during a snowstorm put me in the mood for a strongly poured mimosa by 8am. Sadly because “responsibility” I didn’t partake but I thought about it all day while racing between emails, data sets, and dealing with whatever in the world was on Norah’s face. Why does she eat paint? Oh geesh, is that what Pica is? Remind me to Google that later.

I lost all of my chill on Jack by 8:45am because his new thing is to shout “NEVER!” when you ask him to do something horrible like “not throw a wooden block across the room near his sister’s skull.” I don’t remember exactly what I said as I placed him in the seldom-used and much disdained 5 minute time out, but I’m pretty sure I remember asking him “what his deal was” in a not very nice tone.

He’s two… His deal is that he is two and the vast majority of the time he is downright delightful. Pull it together, adult in the situation.

But You Gotta Put in Work, Work, Work

With the work portion of the day, I had somehow managed to find myself up against three unique deadlines despite my sincerest efforts towards scheduling and planning ahead like the type A loon that I am. So everyone I interacted with that day was getting the ole “yes, yes, I can have that to you by 1pm, maybe 6pm… how’s midnight?”

Bless my coworkers’ hearts they were incredibly flexible and patient. And not in the Southern lady being mean way, like really bless their hearts. They’re awesome.

By dinner I thought my head might spin right off my body because my house was a straight-up disaster, I hadn’t finished at least 45 work things, I had broken every arbitrarily imposed “screen time” rule, and I was about to serve dinner to a one-year-old whose current dinner thing is to say “All Done!” three minutes into the meal and then either scream or throw her food up into the limits of our atmosphere when you ask her to try one bite of everything.

I Can See Clearly Now, The Rage Is Gone

But you know what, we made it through dinner. Norah actually very happily ate. And Jack said “Mom, I almost didn’t like this dinner. But I do.” Which was great, because it was frozen french fries, but whatever that’s a win.

And then Glen, ALSO bless his heart for real, came in from shoveling and whispered to me, “do you want to let the kids go outside for a few minutes before bath time?” Every part of me screamed “NOOOOOO!!!” but instead I said yes.

We all got bundled up and went out onto the deck into a foot of snow. After several days of cold weather that can best be described as “stupid cold”, it didn’t feel that bad out there. And the snow was that fluffy kind that seems not even to be sticking to itself somehow but piles up like a bed of feathers.

When I dove into the snow with Jack I looked up at the sky as the snow continued to fall and felt like I was transported back to 1990. Lots has changed in 28 years, but snowflakes really haven’t. When they float down onto your face out in the dark it’s like fairy dust, glitter, and magic.

I’ve overdone my similes here and I don’t even care. Being out there that night did something good for my soul.

bomb cyclone deck

This Frazzled Working Mom Can Dig It

That night after the kids went to sleep I dug out from snow, and emails, and toys, and random food wrappers (when did I buy Caramel Sea Salt Covered Raisins and when did kids get so fancy that they needed Caramel Sea Salt Covered Raisins?). There was a lot to do. I could have gone down a particularly sneaky hate spiral. But there was just something inherently good about that snow…

So I dug and dug and thought and thought and felt lighter and lighter.

My kids had gone to bed smiling, there was a bottle of convenience store wine in the fridge that wasn’t half bad, the Caramel Sea Salt Covered Raisins were out of control delicious, and my work to-do list had somehow shrunk considerably.  Nothing was Pinterest perfect, but you know what? I did it all.

And dadgummit, I had it all! 

(Insert clumsy curtsy here.)

Read More Working Mom Posts:

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  1. I am in awe of Jack’s “never!” because a) that’s an impressive display of episodic future thinking for someone so young b) I must always tip my hat when children sound like Batman villains.

    1. Haha! He has Batman stickers that include the Joker and he’s a little obsessed with the Joker right now, so that is spot on. I’ve been picturing him on a pirate ship when he says it, but Batman villain really works too.

  2. Oh, I so get this. Whenever I’ve tried to work from home while Fox is sick, I thank the universe for technology. Glad you all survived the bomb cyclone!

    1. It’s so necessary! I mean crafts, and books, and legos are awesome… but sometimes a working mama just needs a little Daniel Tiger time.

  3. Your post is real, easy to read and enjoyable Becca. I am a parent and can relate too. We “do it all”. It, just isn’t as glamorous as it is made out to be in the media. Your snow family time sounds magic 🙂

  4. Love, love, love this. I don’t have any kids, but can relate to the feeling of just having so much to do! And also, that going outside can be so good for us. You are doing the good and hard work of being a mom. Thanks for sharing the struggles and joys!

  5. I loved reading this! We got hit with the bomb cyclone too and btw I love the name too! Lol. My husband worked from home too and even though we have a “home office” upstairs he brings his stuff downstairs and works on our dining room table. So there was a mess everywhere. But gotta love and embrace the mess sometimes!

  6. Hahaha! This post had me cracking up from beginning to end. I loved it! I only have one toddler but I find myself having similar thoughts and feelings! Especially since my sons going through his terrifying threes… you had me at mimosa.

    1. We are so close to the terrifying threes! The sass is starting to get strong in this one! Thanks so much for reading and laughing along with me. Mimosa cheers! 🙂

  7. Becca, you are such a fantastic writer. I just love reading your posts. And seriously – that bomb cyclone was intense last week! I was out snow blowing for over 2 hours. The worst part is when you get the driveway and sidewalk cleared, and then the (not nice descriptive word) snow plow comes by and piles up another two feet at the end of the driveway. Not cool snow plow guy, not cool.
    “Doing it all.” This is such a loaded phrase (and expectation) that we put on ourselves. I love how you spin it into something positive. Because you’re right. We can do it all…it might be done terribly…but we can do it nonetheless 🙂 Thanks for making a bright start to my day!

    1. Thank you so much, Paula! You brightened MY day! And we were totally cursing the plow over here too. Brutal… haha. Again, really appreciate your kind words and looking forward to reading more of your posts as always!

  8. I hate to use the term OCD, because I’ve seen people who are actually afflicted by it and they have it hard. However, I’ve certainly always very much been a “all this stuff has a specific place and it should be in that place or I can’t focus on anything” kinda guy.

    Cue kids. Either you get over that or you’ll die. I work a full time job, my wife is a full time student, and there are days that are just whirlwinds at my home. Sometimes all I can do is accept I can just keep the major stuff clean and deal with the toys scattered when I can.

    It is extremely hard, but sometimes you have to let go a little and try to live.

  9. OMG… “NEVER” haha. I only laugh cause that same thing happens in my house daily! Great read 🙂

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