I’ve come to the conclusion that working moms (and dads) shouldn’t aspire to “do it all” (i.e., be the perfect parent and perfect employee) because in fact they can’t do it all. AND THAT’S OK- let’s try to find peace with the sacrifices we need to make. Currently, I see four basic approaches by working parents:
- Trying to be the perfect parent/employee and becoming depressed/upset that they can’t pull it off
- Trying to be the perfect parent/employee and being in denial that they aren’t pulling it off
- Being at peace with the their choice to work as well as parent because they believe it results some greater good for their family
- Those who give up working so that they can try to be the best parent they can be
Hopefully most of us can redirect ourselves to #3 or #4, so that we’re not berating ourselves for not being perfect, and we’re not in denial about how our decisions affect our family. My own experience is that in the four years since my daughter was born I’ve been employed either full-time or part-time, except for 6 months when I didn’t work at all. Working, because of the time constraints it imposed and the energy drain it caused, necessarily required me to make sacrifices related to parenting and other matters. Here are some examples from my own life:
- Decorating Easter eggs? Nixed because we don’t have time.
- Chairing a committee at work? No thanks, even if it means losing brownie points with my boss.
- Making our own pizza dough with my daughter? When I wasn’t working I actually wrote a post suggesting that- now, as a working parent, I think, “You’ve got to be kidding me if you think I have time to make pizza dough.”
Perhaps the key here is to remind ourselves to be aware of all of the consequences of our actions, and then making our decision based on our priorities. That way, we are comfortable with our decisions, and we won’t be in denial about the consequences that follow. For instance, I had to do this calculation prior to Easter Weekend:
The consequences of decorating Easter eggs are:
- bonding with my daughter
- giving my daughter a fun Easter experience
- an extra trip to the grocery store to buy supplies
- my daughter losing interest half way through the endeavor.
The consequences of not decorating Easter eggs are:
- missed opportunity to bond (bummer!)
- depriving my daughter of a fun experience (but, she’ll have plenty of fun egg-hunting for plastic eggs)
- no extra trip to the grocery store (yay!)
- having more time to do other stuff that weekend (double yay!)
For me, the balance tipped toward nixing the egg decorating, but I knew that I should find another way to bond with my daughter, and I should make sure the egg hunt was super fun (which it was- yay again!).