While having access to other parents and families online can be helpful as far as remembering we’re not alone in our struggles, there’s a dark side in the connection, too.
It can often seem as we scroll that other families are doing it better. They’ve got it all together, captured in perfect images along the way, and at the same time, we sometimes feel like we’re drowning.
This mom put her schedule out there on Reddit, desperately wondering if others could help her rearrange it so that she, too, could do and have it all.
I don’t understand how other parents do it. I feel like I am missing something. My husband works a full time job at 40-45 hours a week. I work a full time job but at 35 hours a week.
Our daughter, almost 2, goes to daycare 5 days a week. I can barely fit in my 35 hours… often I fall short. I don’t have what I consider to be much of any free time in my day – and I feel like, as a family, we’re drowning.
She and her partner both work and have a young child, and after doing all of the “must-dos” in a day, she feels like there’s no time or energy left for much else.
I wake up at 5:30, eat breakfast, try to fit in 30 minutes of exercise (this only happens maybe 2-3 days during the week). Take my stinky sweaty self upstairs to wake up the kiddo. Cuddle for 10 minutes, change her diaper, bring her downstairs, feed her breakfast, clothes, teeth, hair, pack her things, send her out the door with dad by 8:00.
At this point, I should technically be starting my work day at 8:30. I haven’t even showered yet. So I shower, brush my teeth, etc. Don’t even wear make up or style my hair 80% of the time. Maybe get to my desk for 9:00. Work through the day, taking maybe 20 minutes for lunch. Leave for daycare pickup at 4:30. 20 minutes there, 20 minutes home. Make dinner. Have maybe a half hour together as a family before the bedtime ritual starts.
One of us takes the kid, the other starts on the dishes. Make food/pack school lunch for the next day. Clean the kitchen, wipe down the dining room table, maybe toss a load of laundry in.
My husband showers and we land on the couch together around 9:30. Watch a half hour of TV, talk for a little bit, get in bed close to 11:00. Start it all over again.
Where’s the fun? Why can’t she get her work done? Are they doing something wrong, or do they just suck at parenthood?
There’s no time in there for errands. No time for the unexpected. Not a lot of down time. We average about 6.5 hours of sleep. We often spend a large portion of the weekend just catching up on all the stuff we couldn’t do during the week. Pay bills. Clean the rest of the house. Yard work. Running errands and shopping.
Where… is the fun?
And how is it that I am flirting with being fired because I can rarely actually fit a full work week in. Dog has a vet appointment – 2 hours of vacation. Need to run to the library? 1 hour of personal time. Kid has a pediatrician appointment? Dentist? I need to go to the doctor? Sick, sick, sick time. I am constantly running low on my accruals.
Am I missing something? I know parents who work more hours than us… WAY more hours. I know parents with 2, 3, 4 kids. Do we just suck at this?
Reddit’s got her answers, and also some very good advice.
First, they ask her to remember that her child is young, and to everything there is a season.
We have 5 kids so I can tell you from experience that you’ll have more time as they get older. Some of your kid bonding time will take place as you make dinner or pack lunches together as they get older and that’s totally ok.
Your available time is packed heavily towards the end of the day. I’d suggest you keep your current wake up time (I get up at 5:30 with a kids school departure at 7:00 and start work time of 7:30). Eat your breakfast at your desk when you start work (if possible) and move your workout time to the end of the day. I know it’s not ideal, but that’ll get you off to work earlier and make your mornings less stressful.
Depending on what you’re doing for exercise (I have a Peloton which works well with my schedule), your husband can either chat with you, watch a show with you at the same time, join in with you, etc.
And tell her that there’s nothing wrong with a shortcut or two – and keep her eye on the prize.
Honestly that all sounds about right for an almost 2 year old. It was survival mode for years until they become a bit more independent. It will get easier.
Try not to compare yourself to others. They arent living your same day to day life and also people try to paint a pretty picture that maybe isn’t their reality.
Try to take shortcuts or combine things where you can. Instead of barely sneaking in that morning exercise, maybe take a family walk during family time some days instead of staying home. Prepare some easy crockpot dump meals all at once, freeze, and take them out as you need so you can save some time with dinner prep every now and then. Toss in a load of laundry during the week here and there where you can, it’ll leave you more time on the weekend. Even if that clean laundry doesn’t necessarily get folded. Honestly the vast majority of parents with small kids that I know live out of laundry baskets.
At the end of the day, is everyone alive, healthy, fed, clothed, bathed, and relatively happy? Then you’re doing great.
There’s always outsourcing some of the menial tasks, if you can afford it.
If you can afford to pay someone to clean or do yard work, it’s well worth it in my opinion.
Or maybe they can shave some corners here and there.
What time does Dad wake up? Can he take over some of the kid prep so you can shower before he leaves? Then you can start work earlier.
I just noticed your shower takes an hour- any way to shorten that?
Also, any prep you can do the night before – pack the bag for daycare, make lunch and put it in the fridge, lay out the toddler’s clothes and let her have a try at dressing herself (at least pants and shirt).
The bottom line is that they don’t suck – this stage of life can just be hard/challenging.
No. You don’t suck at it. It’s just really really hard.
My husband and I are both working from home, so I don’t have a lot of concrete advice . I work a 60 hour week, he does a 40. To make it work, I work 8-12 every night and 12 hour days on the weekend. We are very very tired.
One piece of advice would be to see if you can find little ways to make the mechanics smoother. For example, we try to start a load of laundry in the morning, or use lunch as “family time”. I also tried showering at night before bed for a while- it helped a little.
You’ve got this mamas (and papas). And even though it can be super duper hard when the kids are young, I suspect that what our parents say is true – one day we’re really going to miss this.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!