Ruined for office life

By Mir
October 2, 2006

Way back when I decided to freelance, I was thinking that it would solve a host of problems for me.

It would solve the money problem (the problem being, I didn’t have any).

It would solve the attention span problem (the problem being, I don’t really have one, and Oh! Look! Something shiny over there!).

It would solve the playing office problem (the problem being, I have trouble playing nicely with others day in and day out, particularly when the others are treating me poorly).

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I would now look around at the rest of you who work at conventional jobs for a living, and be dumbfounded as to how you manage it. Seriously, you all must be robots.

I mean, look. I understand that as a single parent things are going to be a bit different for me. I get that. But I am telling you that from where I sit right now, it is utterly BAFFLING to me that people can work and have children and not lose their ever-loving minds.

Some of you parents out there work full-time jobs in offices. Probably with some people who aren’t very bright. Maybe even with people who smell. Certainly with people who require you to be there at certain hours to do certain things. Your freedom to come and go is somewhat restricted, is my point. And yet, you have these kids who need things. How do you make it all happen?

Here is what I have realized in the last week or so: I can never again work in an office, at any sort of “traditional” job, ever again. Certainly not while my kids are living at home, anyway. And here is why.

1) I have two children. Each child is involved in just ONE extracurricular activity. Each of those activities involves 2 events per week. That’s 4 times a week when one child needs to be somewhere for something.

2) We are currently averaging two doctors’ appointments a week while we try to help Monkey collect himself or at least determine that he is beyond saving and should be sold to the highest bidder. I am leaning towards the selling thing but feel that I should make sure we’ve explored every possibility before letting him go, as I am rather attached to his rotten little self.

3) That doesn’t even include regular doctor, dentist, and orthodontist visits. Or deal with what happens when one of the kids is actually sick. Or—my favorite!—what happens when all three of us are sick at once.

4) Part of the reason I agreed to work for the PTA was so that I could do things like explain to my daughter that the magazine drive is a high-pressure attempt to sell her soul into child labor and we can sidestep it with a clear conscience because we are already contributing to the PTA. And the time I spend working for the PTA? Turns out to be rather more substantial than I’d anticipated. Which means she doesn’t have to sell coffee cakes, either. Hooray!

5) Inbetween all of the aforementioned things, school, and my contracted work, I’m still supposed to cook, clean, learn how to patch tile, take out the garbage, do the laundry, buy groceries, assist with homework, and have QUALITY TIME with my children. Oh, and a life for myself. HAHAHAHA!

Seriously. You parents who work full-time in a 9-5ish gig. Tell me your secret. How the hell are you doing it? Even if there are two of you, if you both work, how do your kids participate in activities or keep going back to the doctor when no one seems able to figure out what the hell is going on with them?

Maybe you’d better not tell me. It’ll probably just make me feel more defensive.

Today Monkey’s teacher emailed me a laundry list of his transgressions for the day, concluding “… and he has big black circles under his eyes.”

I was halfway through typing out a response (including the helpful explanation that he has a lot of allergies, and when the pollen is bad—as it is now—he is prone to allergic shiners) when I found myself becoming incensed. WHY was that on the list? WHY did she feel the need to mention that? Does she think I haven’t NOTICED? Does she think maybe I got tired of his inability to behave and popped him a couple of times before putting him on the bus this morning? Does she think that maybe I let him stay up and party all night and haven’t been able to figure out that he’s not sleeping enough?

She probably just thought she was being helpful. I probably just got upset because I feel like I ought to have an answer by now. After all, it’s not like I’m not working on it. And I barely even work, right? I mean, I’m constantly taking the kids here or there, being available for whatever they need, whenever they need it. So what if I’m doing my paid work while they’re at school… or while they play outside… or while dinner cooks… or after they go to bed… or all of those times.

Going back to an office job now would mean getting even LESS done, and I just don’t understand how that’s even possible. (Not that I’m planning on or looking for an office job. I love the excitement of having to mooch health insurance off of others. Plus the thrill of driving my children all over town so that they can tell me how much more fun their father is. I’m just trying to understand how it works for other people, like if they just take a lot of drugs or what.)

As Otto said to me tonight: “You barely even sleep as it is. Of course, that’s okay, because you hate your bed, anyway!” (Leave it to Otto to find the silver lining… er… well… the slightly less sucky lining….)


  1. carrien

    I don’t know either Mir. I’m thinking the SAHM gig with he homeschooling and stuff is as much as I can handle. I can’t even imagine fitting work into the mix. THankfully I don’t have to.

  2. Patricia

    I know how you can NOT learn to patch tile. Put it on Otto’s list!! See, something off your plate and firmly on someone else’s. And I have a feeling it will still get done ;)

    And yes, I’m totally with you — I have no idea how I did it when I was in the office all the time — oh, yeah, I know, I had a house husband. Now he works out of the house (just so I don’t try to kill him) and I work in. Yet, unlike you I have one more thing I deal with under my situation — some other adult who wants to set my schedule. Read: “Honey, since you are home, can you set up every appointment, go to the cleaners, and run all our errands during the week alone, so we can have family time on the weekends?” I realize it isn’t like you aren’t doing all of those things — but you don’t have “Annoying Man” TELLING you to do them. (Yes, I call him that to his face too.)

  3. Misty

    Full time job, Check
    Three kids, ages 5, 7 and 9, Check
    One kid in ballet, check
    Three kids in soccer, check
    Full time college student, Check
    Husband deployed, check
    No family within a 10 hour radius, check…

    I think we all just do what we have to do to get through it. And to think I voluntarily took the full time job a month ago KNOWING I had all the above obligations. What can I say, I’m a sucker for chaos! LOL

  4. Cele

    I look back and wonder myself. Now I am watching my daughter go through single parenting, and I marvel at her balancing act. But then she does have family a bit closer (I’m 60 miles away) to lend a hand. As Misty said, we do what we have to do to get through.

  5. Heather

    I can hardly manage my one-person no-kids no-pets lifestyle some days. You amaze me!

  6. Sheryl

    And then I read about how Madonna makes 50 million dollars a year, and how JK Rowling makes 64 million dollars a year, and I think, “You know girls, if you’d just pass some of that out to the little people…”

  7. Tracey

    Hi Mir… well, can I say that I think you are amazing, because I can’t even figure out how to do the work from home thing, let alone work in a Real Job. Only today (in my feeble attempts at blogging) I was wondering how the hell single parents do it, and feeling quite pathetic because I can’t face the thought of trying to wangle some sort of job that has the flexibility I need. (My husband works overseas a fair bit, and I have no family nearby, so I have no back up if they are sick, etc.) Yet I beat myself up because I’m not SuperMum like everyone else seems to be… balancing a job, and all those extra-curricular activities for the kids.. and being a domestic goddess at the same time.

    Sometimes I don’t think it matters what we Mums do. We compare ourselves with everyone else, and give ourselves a hard time, when the truth is that everyone (and every child) is different)

    I only found your blog recently, but from what I’ve read, I think you’re a legend mum. And amazing for having figured out how to do freelance and work from home!

  8. Monica

    Stuff has to give. Too often it’s Mom though. When my kids were little we cut out all mid week activities and joined a martial arts class together on Saturdays. It was the only way I could survive. By the time I picked them up from after school care and got dinner and homework finished we had an hour at the most left before bedtime. Between baths and reading we could easily fill that.

    I look at all the activities people manage to do with their kids and wonder how they do it :) I guess it’s just a matter of finding our strengths and going with them.

  9. el-e-e

    My little guy’s only 2, so no after-school activities yet. (Even though I’m sure someone’s 2-yr-olds are somehow taking Spanish AND gymnastics and will be miles ahead of him when he gets to K5.) But this is exactly why I don’t sleep at night, thinking I’ve GOT to get out of my office job STAT, or else there will NEVER be activities or doctors once he’s school-age. Or him becoming a doctor, either. Which he must do, seeing as how I’m counting on him to take care of me & hubby in our old age. Heh.

    But seriously. I do leave the office at 4:00pm… work from home 2 days a week (my only time to do laundry)… and make more than my share of boxed meals. We all just TRY as hard as we can. That’s all we can do.

  10. Barb

    Full time job with frequent post-work committments, part time grad student, mom of 2 small boys, one of whom has a chronic illness – how do I do it? I don’t have a choice. I don’t have any marketable skills that would allow me to freelance (is there a market for freelance teaching of kindergarten?) and we are rather fond of food and shelter in my family. I am luckier than a lot of working moms, in that I have a career which gives me more than average time off with my kids and I work for an administration which is family centered and understanding when my son with diabetes has an emergency and I need to leave suddenly. Admittedly, I do have a husband around shouldering part of the load but there is no way we could live on what he makes alone (it’s a 2/3 1/3 income split in our family and I’m the 2/3). I just keep my head down and keep trudging along, because the other choice is to on foodstamps and lose our house.

    Oh, and on the teacher’s comment about Monkey’s black circles, she probably thought she was being helpful. I tell parents things like that, not as a criticism or an accusation, just so they know what’s going on for the 7 hours a day they spend with me.

  11. BethR

    So far:

    1) We have two parents and one child. We are contemplating having another, and I have no idea how we’ll manage.
    2) That child is under 5 and so has full-time day care. Soon he will be going to kindergarten. I have no idea how we’ll manage.
    3) I have adopted radically lowered standards for housekeeping. (To be honest, my standards of housekeeping were always radically low – but my house is now many times bigger than my apartment used to be, so even just maintaining a low standard takes more work.)
    4) When the child is sick for prolonged periods of time, I give up sleeping so I can work at night while caring for the child during the day. I also try to pick tolerant employers so I don’t get fired when this happens. Not placing too high a priority on my own sleep is a big part of making the system work.
    5) Eat out a lot. It’s pretty obvious to me that a large part of the salaries we make goes to pay people to do stuff we don’t have time to do because we’re making these salaries. It’s a little insane.
    5. Anything else gets done catch-as-catch can, or it doesn’t.

  12. D

    I don’t know. I’ve done it, and am not doing it now, but dont’ know how I did it then. And I seem to be even busier now that I’m at home. Sigh. How’s your cold?

  13. tori

    I don’t know how people do it either! I was just talking about this with my stay at home friends. We don’t understand how people can do more than we do when we are always exhausted from just (just? that sounds crazy!) taking care of the kids and household responsibilities. I watch two extra kids two days a week and have four of my own, but seriously, it should not be so exhausting! I sometimes feel like I get up, run around all day and then colapse into my bed only to have the alarm go off and get up and do it all again. I don’t think I could go back to a regular job either.

  14. Bob

    You start with realizing that you can’t do everything – you do what you can. We took turns taking kids to appts. or to extra-curricular activities. Sometimes quality time was helping with homework or everyone jumping in to get supper on the table. Sometimes only one parent went to soccer, while the other was doing household stuff. Bottom line, you do what you have time for. Our kids may not have had the “perfect” childhood, but they grew up knowing they were special people who were loved. I don’t know how single parents cope, but I know they do – I meet them every day and I read their blogs. It isn’t what your kids get to do, it’s how they are raised – the values instilled in them that ultimately makes a difference in the kind of people they become. I think that today there is too much pressure to provide the “perfect” childhood – whatever that is – which is impossible for us mere mortals who don’t earn 6,7 figure incomes or employ a house staff plus a nannie. I don’t know how you were raised, but I think you turned out pretty damned good and from what I read here you are an awesome parent.

  15. Suebob

    I have an office job (7:30 to 4:30 not 9 to 5 – and my boss INSISTS we take a one-hour lunch, not half an hour. Love that! So swell to waste another half hour a day at work!) plus a one hour total commute. No kids though, and I STILL can’t figure out a way to get it all done. I go unexercised, some days the dog doesn’t get a walk, the lawn is a foot long and I run out of laundry detergent…

    So, to those of you who do it with kids…I am amazed. Just amazed.

  16. tori

    I left off half my comment…I said (but somehow deleted?) that I am constantly in awe of the things you are able to accomplish. You are a single parent who is wonderful with her children and also finds the time to work. I am a stay at home mom who watches two extra kids two days a week, and I also have a husband who trys really hard to be helpful. I can’t do half of what you get done, and I am amazed at how talented you are.

  17. MMM

    I’m a SAHM, and I don’t always get everything done. I have no idea how working parents do it. It’s baffling to me.

  18. Beachgal

    I’m one of those working parents, with an office job, but not by choice. I’d much rather be staying at home. But my husband is out of work with a back injury, and we just cannot function if I didn’t work, and couldn’t even when he WAS working. And because of the injury, the kid still goes to his sitter’s most days. He stays home maybe twice a month with daddy. I’ve given up trying to keep the house as clean as I used to, hubby does most of the laundry.

    Oh yeah, I also have a part time job at least on day on the weekends. Luckily my guy is still young enough to not have after school this and that to worry about, but when he does, I have NO clue what I’m going to do. Hubby may never heal enough to go back to work, which means I will always have to work. I don’t like this job to begin with, and I am terrified at being stuck at it forever. But anyway.

    I think you are an awesome mom and are doing a wonderful job with your children. Noone can get absolutely everything done every single day.

  19. Lesley

    My kids are 11, 9, and 3. My kids’ Dad and I both work full time (plus contractual work on the side). I work for understanding bosses–when the kids have to go to the doctor, I take off. I split these appointments with Dad, and also dentists and peds will make evening appointments. If we’re late to football or soccer practice? We’re late. This isn’t the NFL after all. When one of us is sick, I take a sick day, or I call in my sainted mother (who will sacrifice her health for us!). The volunteer work that I do has to be done on weekends or during my lunch hour (I will be the Trophy Mom for soccer b/c I can easily call in the trophy order and pick them up during my lunch time. I will help in the concession stand on Saturdays b/c my older kids can watch the preschooler on the playground while I peddle the nachos!). Often what happens to parents in my position, is that they feel like they’re doing a lot of things, but none of them well. I consider myself lucky that I’m not a perfectionist, and “good enough” is often good enough for me!

  20. jennP

    I work full time days and hubby works full time afternoons and evenings. we dont see each other during the week however it works out great because he takes care of taking our daughter to the sitters at 9:30 Am. she doesn’t have to *rush* in the morning and that is important to me. i was a rushed child and found it SO hard. then i pick her up after work and she is not involved in any activity unless i am involved as well. i offer it to her, tell her she COULD choose an activity, but she says she prefers if we do things together. i totally agree. she spends enough time in structured activities at the daycare (it’s a home daycare so not overly structured). i just prefer to have my child use her imagination and learn to also play on her own. so we manage, but that is by simplifying our days. i don’t believe a child who has more activities will necessarily have a better childhood., well not in our family’s case :)

  21. Steff

    Two jobs, two incomes, two boys and a dog. One day at a time and priorities are not crystal clean toilets! Instead they are evening meals together at the table – even if it is just a grilled cheese sandwich with veggies, my idea of fast food! Two people committed to each other and the happiness of our boys. One day at a time, one crisis at a time, and always a pile of dirty laundry.

    Mir – you do an AWESOME job! Do you read the magazine Working Mother when you are in the bathroom hiding from the children? I do. I often think you would be a GREAT contributor to their magazine. Not that you need any additional responsibilities.

    You rock!

  22. Heather

    I am a single mom with a full time job. My sons father has nothing to do with him so I am a full time single mom. I am lucky enough that my employer is flexible and just changed my hours so that I could get my son on the bus in the morning. I am also very lucky that my parents help out on a daily basis. Without them, I would not be able to make it. I still have days where I feel like I am insane. My son also has some behavior problems, the teacher he has this year is so so wonderful, so that make things a lot better. When I say “why does he do that, what is wrong with him?” His teacher assures me that it is because he is so young (just turned 6) and in 1st grade, also he is not only the youngest in class, he is also the tallest kid in class. He wsa too smart to hold back in Kindergarten, although his behavior does need a lot of work!! So there are days by the time I get home from work, sit down to go over homework, cook and serve dinner, get stuff around for the next day, and then get him to bed, that I end up in the fetal position rocking to and fro!! He only has one extra curricular activity, cub scouts, and my dad takes him – by his choice – I don’t mind!! We all can only do so much, I question what kind of mother I am on a daily basis. But when I have conversation like the one I had with him last night it make sit all worth it. He asked a question about a friend of mine, and my answer was, she is a really great mom. And he said “You are a really great mom too!”

  23. Susan

    So you’re saying that you will NOT be my go-to girl for PTA coffee cake this year, is that right?


  24. marlaroo

    Actually, I worked from home for a while and hated it – I hated that I never felt “done” with work. I much prefer leaving work at the office and being fully present for my family while I’m at home. Our boys are 8, 6, and 2 – and I think the key is lower standards. Again with my refrain: there’s no way to be a perfect mother (parent, partner, housekeeper, PTA volunteer, insert your favorite noun here) but a million ways to be a good one.

  25. Sophie

    Hello beautiful Mir,

    I work full-time in an office, but I get to work from home one day a week. I have a husband who is a SAHD, and we have a 4-year old. So, activities and illnesses are fairly easily handled. My husband wants to go back to work, and my dream is to go freelance. I’m the one who sent you an email a while back to ask about your freelance business and how you did it (part of my research – thanks!). However, the transition is a bit tough; it might even take years.

    I’m looking to you, Mir. You are my hero.

    By the way for whomever this might help out there, Starbucks offers health benefits for PT employees – almost unheard of in the business world. I have a friend whose husband is self-employed, and she was sick and tired (literally) of her go-go corporate job. She quit and took a PT gig at Starbucks; for 20 hrs a week the family gets benefits that match what she had as FT+ employee at a healthcare company. I was not a fan of Starbucks until she told me of their commitment to providing benefits to all employees. Just passing the word along.

  26. Rissa Roo

    Who knows how we do it.
    One kid in 1st grade, soccer and church choir.
    Husband with a 2-hr round trip commute.
    Full-time law student, on law review and moot court.

    I keep telling myself that it is a finite hell and it will be better when I start working again. Please don’t burst my bubble yet.

    BTW– Misty is amazing!!

  27. Northern Girl

    How we do it?

    Good wine. Lots and lots of good wine.

  28. Karen Rani

    I used to work outside the home. $70,000 a year bought me very little time with Dylan (Thomas obviously wasn’t born yet). I worked 16 hour days and Daren & the sitter did nearly everything.

    Single, Work-outside-the-home Moms? Goddesses.

    Truthfully, now, I’m happy working from home, but not everything gets done in a day. We live out of the dryer and laundry baskets and the crock pot is my best friend. My main focus is time with the kids, healthy nutrition, and the rest comes later. Working here means I don’t get time to myself. I’m burnt out.

  29. Mom101

    Right now I either work from home, Starbucks, or a relative’s office since my home office is across the country. But when I move to LA, I’ll be expected to be at work most of the time. Holy crap. After nearly 6 years of freelance or flex-time, I’m afraid I will shrivel and die. Literally, shrivel and die like the wicked witch exposed to water. Only it will be me, exposed to politics and forced “fun” around the pool table (aren’t ad folks wacky?) and windows that do not open.

    So basically I have no answer for you. And now I’m all worked up into a frenzy. Ugh.

  30. Heather

    I’m a single mama of a 4 year old girl, own my own business (which I started right after she was born), treasurer of her co-op preschool, thinking of getting two cats.
    My housekeeping standards are variable, I pay for a cleaning service twice a month at $50 a pop. I work from home and keep the studio door closed when it’s not work time, but I’m still pulled to work at “home” times.
    I’m partnered with someone now, which has made it easier financially, but there’s just so much more to do. We’re still not at the equitable distribution of childcare/housecare etc.
    I do a lot of work after she sleeps, before she wakes up.
    I think we just deal with it.
    And I agree, I could never work in an office again.

  31. ishouldbeworking

    Single mom, full time job, one daughter in middle school and lots of activities, no help w/the kid from the ex, no family support to speak of due to the distance apart that we live. My boss is very supportive of my need for a flexible schedule. I basically set my own hours, and she’s OK with it as long as I get my job done. It also helps that I’m in an office all by myself, with nobody to listen in on phone calls that aren’t work related, emailing back & forth with girl scout leaders, teachers, etc. and/or paying bills online. Also? I lock my door and put up a Please Do Not Disturb sign when I just can’t have any interruption while I’m working…Household chores slide sometimes, but I have a $$$ motivated 12yr old who helps in order to earn herself some spending money.

  32. debby

    I started working at home because child #2 was very sick and no employer would put up with the chaos that we lived for 10 years. Daughter is now fine, but I still work from home.

    Now, with one in college and one in high school, what I remember from their younger years were the snow days where we watched movies in our PJs all day, or when I ditched work and we all went swimming, or some random nothing-special-but-really-fun-anyway days. What I’ve mostly blocked out is those same days I worked until 4am just to catch up.

    My mom duties are quite light now, so there’s more time to work. Happily, this coincides with college tuition payments.

  33. Jenn2

    Let me start by saying, I’m not sure I like Monkey’s teacher.

    I don’t know how I did it, but I know I was a wreck. Now that I’m home, it’s better. What really amazes me is the
    pre Mr. Clairol years, when I was a single mom and full time student. Of course, that’s mostly a blur.

  34. Nancy

    Single mom with office job and one child here. I do it primarily by pushing the limits of (1) just how late I can arrive at the office in the morning after school drop-off and (2) just how early I can leave in the evening in order to make school pick-up. My child goes to after-care or after-school activities with a friend every day, and my employer gave me a Blackberry so I can check my e-mail during my commute. When he’s sick, I stay home with him and work from home. When there’s no school, I look for a childcare program for the day or I take the day off. I have already used all my vacation days for the fiscal year, so for the next five months I’ll be taking unpaid days. It’s hard, and every waking second, no matter what I’m doing I feel I “should” be doing something else. I have the groceries delivered and I clean haphazardly. I also dread the day my child grows up and leaves me, because I think that will be even *harder*.

  35. Becky

    I’ve been on both sides. SAH was so much better for the whole family, but sadly it didn’t last. It really takes a lot of planning and knowing what is coming up, and depending on other people, and sometimes…all the planning and support network falls apart, and nothing works.

  36. rachel

    i used to work at home, homeschool 2 kids & take care of my youngest, take everyone to activities 6/7 days of the week, cook every single solitary food we eat, and somewhat take care of the house. my husband went to work and came home and took care of the yard.

    Um, maybe that’s why when I got sick it went kablooie? :) now I homeschool and cook and whine. and they have fewer activities. I need $ but can’t work right now (health-wise). feh.

  37. Susan

    Well, I work full-time with two kids (ages 7 & 11), but I work for the government. That’s my secret. Lots & lots of leave! (12 hours accrued every 2 weeks.) I also get every other Friday off because we work 9-hr days. I am not exactly climbing the career ladder because I AM off a lot, but it’s kinda the best of both worlds; I get a nice comfy paycheck plus all the time off I need to take kids to the doctor, chaperone field trips, take sick days, take vacations, and leave early for cheerleading, soccer or baseball activities. Or for really important things like getting my nails done. ;-)

  38. Tracey2

    Sigh. I am soon going to be a single mom, and while my kids aren’t school age yet, they will be very soon. I’ve been at home for two years and it does work out so much better when you don’t have to worry about who will stay home when one of the kids is sick. I am hoping to go back to school next fall, and it should only take me 9 months to be done, and hopefully I will be able to find a flexible employer once I’m done.

    Truthfully, I was hoping to hear some more inspiring stories in here…but I guess I did know it was going to be tough. You just find a way to manage, no matter what your situation is.

  39. daring one

    I have no idea how you do it Mir. I cannot concentrate to get any freelance stuff done at home. You are all amazing to me.

  40. Jeanne

    My husband works fulltime days and I work parttime nights. I leave for work about 6pm after we’ve had dinner together and started on homework. Since I’m home during the day I do the doctor, dental, and whatever else appts when need be and try to keep the house organized. I’m home during summer breaks and holidays so there are no worries about childcare. My husband runs my kids around where they need to go at night and helps a little bit with housework and laundry. If I would need time off my work is understanding about that. I have one in college, one in middle school, and one in elementary.

  41. Deanna

    First: Long time reader first time poster (now that I have that lameness out of the way).

    I have a full time (8 to 6) job and so does my husband. We also have Monkey and Chickadee clones at home.

    How do I do it? I have no idea. Some days I don’t.
    The laundry gets left behind until we run out of clean skivvies or Sunday, whichever comes first. Dinner gets cooked by 7:30-ish and most days the dishes get done right away.

    My daughter is in no extra curricular activities right now mainly due to her coping ability with her regular life, extras need to come later. Son isn’t in school yet.
    My Husband is very understanding. I am very tired, husband is very tired. We do our best and hope that it is enough.

    You are the most together parent I know, mostly because you are honest. You aren’t trying to pretend everything is perfect. You take time to be “fun mommy.”

    You, in a word, are my hero (ok, three words—haven’t I mentioned I’m tired?)

    Oh, and you’re pretty!

  42. Brigitte

    “Northern Girl”, you forgot the chocolate! We need wine AND chocolate.

    I am impressed by all of you, I’m SAHM with just one kid, and I still feel beat and the house is full of dust bunnies.

  43. Latte Man

    I do both… I work one job from an office, and the other from home. She works Days 2 Days, Nights 2 Days and is off one day. So we sort of alternate duties and responsibilities.

    I handle Monday and Wednesday Nights, She handles Tuesday, Thursday… Friday is a mixed bag. Saturday, I do chores while she handles shuttling to and from Soccer, Ballet or whatever else, followed by me handling the child while she get some “quiet time” at Whole Foods. (Hey who am I to judge what my wife considers “quiet time”?)

    I don’t know HOW people handle more than one, as it takes the two of us to keep up with our princess, and I think she sees herself as a child of a single parent. Oh, she has two… but it seems like she is never (or barely) with both of us at the same time.

    I agree with you on the whole work at home thing. Once I did it, my wife had to drag me kicking and screaming to go back… but soft market, and that whole pesky, gotta do what the client asks thing added on top with the need money thing, and back to the office I (begrudgingly) went.

  44. karrie

    I’m with you on office gigs.I hope I never have to sit in a cube while listening to a crazy woman sing along to Celine Dion while the guy next to me farts & pops his knuckles, smile through a performance review that discusses my personality (TQM,anyone?) and smell burnt microwave popcorn ever again.

    If I had to deal with the above as a sleep-deprived mom,it would be ugly.

  45. Jo

    Well, I know there are those out there with worse days than I, but… mine feels pretty bad most of the time. I very easily get frustrated.

    I work a full time job with an hour commute to and from work. My husband works a full time job.
    6 year old in 1st grade.
    Soccer practice, games, and sleepovers.
    Remodeling a 60 year old home
    Being on call for 173 restaurants for when they have technical issues.
    Helping friends & family that have technical issues because they don’t realize that although I know more about computers than they do I have less time during my day free to just have some ME time!
    I JUST finished my bachelors degree which look me less than the recommended 4 years.

  46. Leanne

    I’m trying to figure it all out myself. I’m new at the single-parenting gig, thanks to an alcoholic, substance abusing husband that I kicked out in August.

    I work full-time, and I try to set up doctors & dentists appointments for myself during work hours, putting down the hours to “employee wellness” Good thing I’m not closely supervised. Then I feel guilty & end up coming in to work for a few hours on Sundays, when the kids are with their dad. I only leave them there for the whole day when his parents are around to supervise, or they are at a public event where lots of people know them – I’m hoping that he won’t screw up when he can be caught. If there’s no one to supervise, I limit the visits to an hour or two…bummer for the kids, but there’s that safety thing that I’m kind of responsible for.

    For the 2 year-old, I set up appointments during their dad’s weekday off – he can figure out how to get there (lost his license, so I do a lot of shuttling). For the 6 year old, I set up appointments on Tuesday afternoons after school – the only time when I’m not minding a friend’s child after school (she does morning school dropoffs for both our kids, so it’s a good trade).

    Anyhoo, details, details. You get the idea – lots of juggling, lots of looking the other way so as not to see the laundry pile or the dog hair on the carpets. Lots of assigning chores to my older girl, although at times that’s more difficult than just doing them myself.

    Activities? My 6-year-old has 1 evening activity, 1 day/week, and is driven there & back by a friend’s family who lives nearby & attends the same class. The 2-year-old is just getting gypped, she has no activities…but she doesn’t realize that so I’m letting it slide & trying to find something that she can do with her dad on his day off.

    Cooking, cleaning, shopping? I do what I can & try not to stress. The kids come first, then grocery shopping…ok, the house is a bit of a mess, but I did make some headway when I was home with chicken-poxy kidlets last week.

    Self-care? Hahahahahahahaha! My me-things are choir Wednesday nights (I bring the kids, but there’s a childminder so I can actually sing), and counselling on Sunday…wheee! I’m so lucky to have a counsellor who will come in Sundays – if she didn’t, I’d be up the creek without a counsellor.

    But I would go batty as a stay-at-home mom…I’m just not cut out for it. Work is my refuge, my sanity, my resting place. I love my job, love my co-workers, have an office where I can close my door & my eyes if I need to. I love my kids too, but if I had to spend most of my hours in the house or caring for the kids’ (bazillion) needs, I’d crash & burn! NOt a good mommy-trait.

    BTW, Mir, thank you for being such a good role model for fairly amicable co-parenting. There’s hostility, of course, but you keep it to a minimum as far as I can tell, and away from the children. You go out of your way to make sure the kids spend time with their dad, and that’s awesome. I try to be the same way, but as you know it’s *hard*!

    Oh, and my husband’s substance abuse? Began after returning to being a full-time stay-at-home-dad when our youngest daughter was born (he went back to work for a while in the between-kids time). Coincidence? I think not…

  47. Aye Davanita

    I’m a single mother of 3 kids. Boys ages are 6 and 8. My daughter is 12. I work a 9-5 office job. The boys are in Football;practice is twice a week in the evenings. My daughter plays soccer.
    There are times when I get home that I want to break down and cry. Or just sleep. Sometimes both.
    Red wine and lots of chocolate help.

  48. Busy Mom

    Everyone has their own reality, you just do what you gotta do.

  49. The Other Leanne

    Gosh, I don’t know how I do it either…I’m exhausted just reading about it! Oh wait…I FORGOT TO HAVE KIDS! and I got this fabulous high-paying job that lets me saunter in whenever I get around to it and leave when it suits me and work at home one day a week and have Fridays off. Sorry, but trust me, now that it’s too late, I’d have rather had the kids.

  50. Christina

    As a SAHM with 3 little ones, I don’t know how anyone does it, especially me. Parenting is the single hardest job I’ve ever had and ever will have, sometimes I can’t believe that people volunteer for this job, let alone beg the fertility doctor for help in getting there. I’m simulataneously thrilled and terrified somedays.

  51. Whimspiration

    Mir, I can say you are amazing because I feel like I’m at the end of my rope most days, and other people think I’m amazing too. I guess we’ll just have to be bald, bitter amazing old women together here in a few years. *chuckle*

    And having a mate in the house? It just makes everything harder, trust me. I was a single mom for over 9 years and even with my business and homeschooling, life was about as perfect as it could get. Then I added another adult (with a child) into the mix. Ya know, one of those strange things that is supposed to be able to care for themselves and possibly even help you split your current workload, but only ever really makes more work for you? And now I’m stuck with him because of that ucky love crud. *smirk*

    Enjoy being able to run your own household in your own way while you still can. If you take him up on that dare of his, your life will change forever.

    Hate to break it to ya, but all of us “amazing” women are the same. Struggling to be good enough, while others (who we think are doing great) look on in awe.

  52. Ca-Ca

    Too funny…I think it is harder to stay at home. It’s easy for me to go to work from 8-5, have an hour lunch TO MYSELF and just pick up the kids after work (have 3 of my own and a step daughter)…my parents help one day, mother n law 2 days, sister n law one day, and the stepdaughter stays with them one day…thus, I don’t have to do alot….you learn to depend on other people EXCEPT you always feel guilty – the kind of guilt that does not go away….but you know that if you stay at home with them, you would kill them…and I would probably feel guiltier about that.

  53. Mama T.

    How do I do it? Once I realized that I need to set the bar about 10 feet lower, than life got easier. I work full-time, 8:00 (ish) – 5:00 (ish) 4 days a week and 1:00 – 9:00 one day a week. Except for on the night that I work, I do drop off and pick up for daycare for my 15 month old and for my step-daughter during the summer when we have her for 6 weeks. On the morning that I’m not at work, I still take my daughter to daycare so I can come home and do laundry, dishes, cleaning, grocery shopping,etc… This way, when we get home from our day the other 4 days, I can spend time with her. Meals prepared and frozen ahead of time are my savior for dinner. I go to a place call Main Dish and make them in a 2 hour session.

    I feel like I spend all my time on the weekends catching up and never getting “extra” projects done. Our house is fairly new and still a work in progress, so hubby usually come home, eats and then goes off to work on our massive list of to-do’s. So, I do the majority of child caring too.

    When I first went back to work, I was trying to do everything and I was killing myself. Now, I’ve just gotten more relaxed and sometimes say, “*$%& it! I’m spending time with my kid. The shower can wait another day or week to get cleaned.”

    We are trying for #2 and I have no idea how we’ll stay sane.

  54. alyson

    I know how some of the parents do it in my area. Can you say Nanny?

  55. Dawn

    Let’s see… I’ve got:
    – full time office job with some evening commitments
    – divorced, no extended family for thousands of miles
    – ex is rarely available to kids
    – two kids, one still at home the other “on her own” (read Mom’s Taxi still on call)
    – home owner
    – dog & cat in residence
    – volunteer stage manager, webmaster, mail list manager for community theatre group
    – member of classical choir

    Clearly, I am crazy. It’s gotten considerably easier since the girls have gotten older and more independent. It also helped that I stopped trying to maintain the standards taught me by my parents, a SAHM and electician (who, like Otto, could fix just about anything). When I was first divorced, I drove myself crazy trying to keep my home the way my parents did, and then I did the math and realized that I COULD NOT BE TWO PEOPLE. A previous commenter put it best when she said good enough just has to be good enough. When the kids were younger, I clung to the belief that they would have much more fond memories of a trip to the park than they would of our kitchen floor always being spotless. So far, the Dept. of Health hasn’t shut us down. Some days there are dust bunnies big enough to be licensed by the DMV, but as long as they don’t attack the cat, I can live with it.

    And you, my dear are a wonderful, loving, concerned mother who is very, very pretty. And funny as heck. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not June Cleaver. None of us are any more.

  56. Lena

    I marvel at the fact that women such as yourself manage to be such kick ass mothers and writers and friends while doing it alone. Bravo Mir.

    And black circles? Uh, thanks teach. Does this mean I should stop giving him meth? What the heck?

  57. Ei

    I work for extremely understanding people and take antidepressants right now. And I read blogs when no one’s looking.

    My son had allergic shiners when I picked him up today too.

  58. Daisy

    What does it mean if the teacher has allergy shiners? Oops, that’s not Monkey’s teacher, that’s me. I won’t mind the first killing frost when it arrives. Until then, I’ll keep saying, “You should’ve seen the other guy.”

  59. daysgoby

    I work through my lunch hour so I can leave early a lot. And I snag the last appointment of the day every chance I get.

    Still, it never feels like enough.

  60. chris

    you are not alone on so many fronts here. as the mother of multiple kids with allergy shiners i’ve been pierced with countless dirty looks. i worked in the outside world before children and freelanced for years thereafter. my return to the workforce after that was a time of pain and horror that i don’t ever (!) want to revisit. keep fighting the good fight!

  61. Kris

    I just don’t clean house :)

  62. traci

    It must be in the air, because I was just thinking and blogging along a similiar line. There is just no way I can imagine returning to my long hours all important office job of years ago. Even if I’m a single mom with four kids who foresees a life ahead missing many dollar signs. :P I’m just going to “have” to make the work at home thing work. I honestly don’t feel like I have another choice. And you’re totally my inspiration – though I’m sure you had no idea because I’ve vowed to stop stalking, it just takes up too much time. Keep showing us how to do it your way. :)

  63. Lily

    Another single mom, working full-time outside the home.

    How do I do it?

    It basically boils down to this: I have to make a choice. There are days where I have to choose between being a good parent, or being a good employee. If I’m a good parent today then I stress about not being a decent employee and vice versa.

    Mostly, I get up every day and do what I can.

    There’s only so much I can control in life and so I try to focus on that rather than beating myself up about something I have to do.

    I have to work, so no sense beating myself up about not being there for my son, or having him in day care, etc.

    I have to parent, so no sense beating myself up for leaving work early to pick up a sick child or take him to the doctor.

    The way I see it, if my boss has a problem with it I’d welcome her to submit any solutions she has in mind. So far, I haven’t had to go that far. Not that I haven’t wasted time imagining that conversation, should it ever happen.

  64. Suzanne

    I work from my home office, but must see clients on a regular basis. Toss in a Son with basketball, theatre rehearsal, homework, a daughter with ballet and tap, another son with tornado tendancies, my volunteering at the theatre and Demolay, Shriner and Masonic functions, dinners, doctors, exercise (ha ha ha ha ha) and a husband who couldn’t find his pants if they were on his butt, and not wadded up on the floor. Humor is key. So is crack.

  65. Jenrigg

    My, this one HAS struck a chord – how many comments??! I am a single mum and have always worked. I had a one hour+ commute each way when I lived in Paris and since moving to the UK. In Paris I was lucky, childcare was fantastic and I got financial help from the State. Here in the UK it was harder. She was older and could go to afterschool care, but I hated never feeling I could give 100% to either my daughter or my employer. I lost my job due to my having to leave on time(!) and took a huge pay cut to work for my local hospital instead. Over the years I have “lost” about £60,000 – which is HUGE – but the flexibility afforded by that job was priceless. Wish the ex-husband could realise what the word “sacrifice” means though…

    Don’t beat yourself up. You’re a great mum. No one is doing a “better job”. We all think everyone else is, but they are just flying by the seat of their pants like the rest of us LOL

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