I leave for work most days the same time as my kids leave for school. They are old enough now to fix their own breakfasts and pack lunches, so our mornings flow fairly well. Okay-most days they flow. Then there are the days my 10-year-old decides to take a 45 minute shower, but I digress.
Depending on the day, I pick them up after practices and we head home for dinner, which we always do together. It is literally the only thing in parenting that I am consistent with. No matter if it is bowls of cereal or the nights where we clean out the fridge, for at least fifteen to twenty minutes every day, we speak to one another. One of the only mom hacks I have is Clean Out the Fridge Night. At least one night a week we pull out all of the leftovers, heat up the containers and I pass out forks. We stand around our kitchen island and fork fight over the last bit of spaghetti or the remaining meatloaf. It’s fun, it reduces our food waste and it cleans out our fridge.
There you go, you now have the secret sauce to the only beneficial tip I know about raising kids.
On the other nights of the week, the rules are different.
There are no cell phones allowed at the table, usually the TV is turned off unless it is something we all are pressed to watch together and we get to discuss our individual days.
And then we disband.
The kids head off to shower, lay out their clothes and projects for the next day and finalize homework. And I open my laptop. Monday through Friday, this our routine.
Now some days are different and at least once a week we go out to eat because I have forgotten to meal plan appropriately. Those are the dinners we actually have more interactions across the table from one another, mainly because I have trapped them into a booth to talk.
Then there are other days where practice is cancelled or my work load is not pressing and we play games or watch movies.
But at this stage of parenting a teen and pre-teen, our weekends are for fun and our weeks are for getting through.
I would like to tell you that only have a brief moment with my children each day depresses me. However, it is all we can do with the lives we are leading and the time we spend is good. They are active and have homework and I almost always have a daily project to finish or a court date to prepare for the following day.
I have a no work on Saturday rule. Not for any other reason than soccer for both kids is almost entirely year round and Saturdays are game days. We are bustling from field to field, cities to varying States and I couldn’t work even if I had to. It also is an entire day that my kids know is devoted to them. You have to find a pattern that works for you, your business and your family.
The worst advice I’ve ever been given in business is that you have to have a work life balance.
There is no such thing.
Sometimes, your business requires your family to make sacrifices. And then at other times, the laptops are closed and business can wait. The ebb and flow of that will change depending on your schedule, your family’s obligations and the needs of your business.
You cannot beat yourself up for the nights that you miss family game night doing expense reports. Because there will be days that you can move everything around to make it to your 3rd grader’s science project presentation. Giving yourself the freedom to know that a balancing act is not feasible, will free up space in your head and heat to think of something other than guilt.
You love your job…or maybe you need the income from it. And you most certainly love your kids. And that’s ok. In fact, that’s GREAT! The most important thing to remember though is wherever you are, be all there. When you’re home, make sure you’re looking into you family’s eyeballs. Ask the questions, be the encouragement.
And when you’re at work, remind yourself not only how grateful you are to have one, but also what an incredible blessing it is that your children are taken care of while you’re hustling. Whether they’re at school, with a nanny, or daycare…they’re learning so much about playing with others, independence, seeing mom work hard, and thrive in a multitude of ways… all because you have given them the opportunity to.
Mom Guilt? Push it away and pass out those forks.