You know that working mom who has a stellar career, still takes her kids to all their activities, has time to go to the salon and look all put together, cook nutritious & delicious meals for the family (probably organic too), bake for the bake sales, read, do puzzles, arts & crafts, etc. with their kids regularly, run all the errands for the house, throw fabulous parties, etc. etc. You know her??? No, me neither. The reality is, despite all of us having the same number hours in a day, some of us are just able do so much more with our time. So how do we do that? How do we make the most of our days/nights?
I certainly don't have the magic answer (trust me, if did, I'd probably be a millionaire by now), but I do know one thing is true - the more we do, the more we can do. You know that old saying: If you need something done, give it to a busy person? I remember when I was going on my first maternity leave and I thought, Wow, a whole year not working, what will I do with all that time? Well, my days still flew by (so did the mat leave, actually). Then near the end of that mat leave, I was having major anxiety on how I was going to continue doing what I was doing, work full time, get to/from day care on time, still have a life, etc. Well, somehow you manage. And then after the second child you think, 2 of them - yikes! But again, you still somehow manage.
I think the only way to even try and tackle it all is to plan, plan, plan. Combine that with a huge dose of initiative, and you may just have as close as you'll get to a magic recipe. This can be particularly difficult for some who were never planners (as you know from earlier, I'm absolutely a planner, but my husband so not). It's something that may take a little getting used to, but it's really the only way. I plan what I need for the house for the week, I plan exercise time, meal time, pick ups/drop offs, my work day, time with friends, and of course, date night. Now a lot of this just becomes part of the routine after a while, which makes it much easier. The other thing (initiative) is you just have to get up and do what needs to be done. You know the Nike saying, "Just do it" - couldn't apply more.
There will always be some of us who still fit more in their day than others, but it's all about priorities. Choose those things that are an absolute must and make sure those happen, choose some that you would like but are not completely essential to your life and make them happen some of the time, and eliminate those that you just don't have to do (I'm not saying cut out things you don't like but have to do anyway, like laundry, which is still a must whether or not you like doing it - I'm thinking something more along the lines of feeling committed to accept plans from friends you don't totally enjoy spending time with - it's OK to say no). I guess the last point is really, it's OK to say no sometimes.
It really is a balancing act. We may not always be able to do it all, and that's alright. I think the pressure of feeling like we have to is so stressful - and that if we don't, we're somehow failing as a working mom. Having other moms to support us and to discuss these issues with makes it so much less alienating. I truly appreciate those mom friends who get it, don't judge me and offer copious amounts of encouragment when needed. So a big thank you to all of you out there - I feel better knowing I'm not alone and I don't always have to be perfect. We just do the best we can - and that's more than OK.