Coming down from a very busy week that was filled with various work-related and networking activities, I wanted to share a bit about some things I've been struggling with lately. If you follow me on Instagram (which you totally should, btw), you'll see a mix of photos, from what I'm eating for lunch, to Holdy's outfit of the day (#whatholdywore):
To photos like this:
I count myself as very lucky to have a job that essentially blends seamlessly with my personal life. As Marketing Director for Downtown Inc in downtown York, it's pretty much my job to tell everyone about all the fantastic things going on in our town. A lot of time that requires me attending those fantastic things. Other times, it requires me planning them. So that means, basically, that I work a lot. But I love it. As my boss says, "it's not a job; it's a lifestyle." And I really believe that to be true.
That does mean, however, that finding a work-life balance has some additional challenges for me. Whenever possible (and appropriate), I love to include my kids in my work. In truth, I'm doing all of this for them: working to build them a town that they can be proud of and will hopefully want to come home to. Holden loves coming to the pretzel shop:
And attending some of our downtown family-friendly events:
But most of the time, I'm relying on the kindness of my parents (without whom I could not survive) or family friends to watch the kids while I "work." I just recently (hallelujah!) found a non-family/friend babysitter who has a license and is reliable, which I'm sure will be a game-changer.
I am acutely aware of the judgment I receive sometimes. This week in particular, I could tell my dad was annoyed by the schedule changes and juggling. It's even gotten back to me that some feel my parents are "raising my children for me," which is beyond hurtful to hear.
Which brings me to the guilt and the struggle. The guilty mom struggle is real. I know that I need to start saying "no" to some extracurricular things that take me out of the house, particularly during the week. I say "no" to Holden all the time; why is it so hard for me to do it elsewhere? A lot of what I am doing outside of the house is for the kids--a new board appointment for example; though I can't use that excuse for everything. But then again... do I need an excuse?
I've read some articles recently about a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in April 2015 that concluded the amount of time mothers spend with their children, ages 3 to 11, has little relationship to how successful those kids become in life. Success is far more dependent on the mother's education level and family income, the report says.
That’s not to say that parent time isn't important, of course. But it seems to show that quality over quantity is the key. Though if we're being honest, I'm sure I lack in the quality department sometimes as well.
Some other pieces from the study that felt somewhat validating:
The study also found that mothers today are actually spending more engaged time with their children than they did in the 1970's, and that's even with more of them in the workforce.
The report also debunked another common myth: That time spent specifically with mom is better than time spent with anyone else.
Suck on that, haters.
When it comes down to it, there is always going to be judgment. And there's always going to be guilt... no matter whether you're working or staying home; whether they're in daycare or family members are watching them; whether you send them to public school or you home school. You've got to get to the point where you feel confident and validated in how you are raising YOUR family.
So... now I've just got to work on that. And on saying "no" a bit more.
Here's more info on that study, if you're interested: