On Being a Working Mom
Posted on September 14 2015
A good friend once told me “Two kids is no joke.” I’m sure that could be extrapolated to two or more, but boy did I feel like I had to learn that the hard way. My husband and I have two boys, one is four and one is almost a year old. I’m definitely a better mom when I’m career-focused, which was initially a hard realization to come to. My role as a mom encompasses providing for and giving to my children, and I feel that I have more to give them when I’m working. I feel so much more balanced overall, which benefits my entire family.
At work, I live and die by my Outlook calendar for meetings, reminders, and follow-up tasks. At home, we have a google calendar of events where we track parties and other fun things. My husband’s teaching calendar integrates as well. The boys’ school sends pictures via an app and emails a monthly menu and school events calendar. We’re about as busy and reliant on technology as anyone. We work hard to keep track of everything in one place so we don’t forget.
So why do I need a paper planner? I’m dating myself here, but in my undergraduate days, before there was so much technology, I relied heavily on a paper planner to keep track of assignments and due dates. My phone, never more than 3 feet from me, has all important notes available electronically. I convinced myself it was unnecessary—one more thing to lug around in my already enormous mom purse dubbed “the suitcase.”
I was fine until one day I dropped off my four year old in his preschool classroom and realized it was share day. I had forgotten. My heart sank. Will had nothing to show off to his classmates and his disappointment showed. His best friend ran up to us to ask what he had brought. He looked at his hands and then at me with huge, sad, puppy eyes. The mom guilt I felt was enormous. It felt even heavier when I got home that night and learned over dinner that his teacher had let him help her share her childhood stuffed bunny. He was so great with showing it off that everyone thought it was his. He was the only one not to have something. Twenty-eight kids. The. Only. One. It seemed like such a small thing, but so enormous at the same time.
After that I vowed I wouldn’t forget another important event. I began putting all school events on my outlook and google calendar. I had to remember at work to create things so they didn’t show I was unavailable for meetings, but then my work calendar was clogged up with items like “Preschool Mail Day” and “High School Ice Cream Social.” I made the events private, but my coworkers began asking why I had a 15 minute private appointment every day at 7am. They would make jokes about how I was so busy with a preschooler and baby while desperate to be organized, I had to schedule the bathroom. My phone dinged with reminders constantly, ones I had to constantly dismiss. Once I unlocked it to send a text or make a call, the reminder was gone.
It wasn’t working.
So, I ordered a Limelife Planner. It took me a bit to get into the groove of using paper again, but now I love it and wonder how I lived so long without it. I keep track of big items each day using Layout F, and then write myself to-do notes. My brain thinks better with a horizontal layout, and I like the large space each box provides since I have a variety of things going on at any given time. Each night I sit down and check in for 10-15 minutes and go through the action items. I don’t focus on the minutia of scheduling my every moment, but it’s so much better to see the big stuff in writing. At work, I open up the weekly layout to keep on my desk for quick glances. After a few weeks, I figured out a color coded system for writing reminders.
Light blue for my husband’s events or school, green for my oldest (it’s his favorite color), orange for my youngest (he was born in October), red for work (our company logo is red), pink for me, purple for my MBA assignments (a school color), dark blue for family fun, and black for to-lists or miscellaneous. My four year old has started sitting down and having journal time with me. We both love it, and I feel like I’ve finally found a system that works. I think some mom guilt will always linger, but it has lessened.
Share day, I’m ready for you.
This guest blog post was written by Amanda Cahill, super mom, friend, and Limelife Planners supporter. Please share and repost this blog entry with your friends! All we ask is that you give credit to Limelife Planners and the post author.