I don’t know how normal people do it

By Mir
February 20, 2008

I’m one of those people… you know, one of those annoying “Everything happens for a reason!” types. Now, I never use it as a means to deny the inherent suckitude of a situation, and in fact when I miscarried my first pregnancy I entertained many intricate and violent fantasies of what I’d like to do to the nosy old biddy who was our landlady at the time, every time she assured me that it was fine because “everything happens for a reason,” but on a grander scale, yes, I think things do tend to come together as they’re meant to. (Even when that means ending a sentence with a preposition, apparently.)

So that means, for example, that as much as I sometimes wonder how much less stressful my life would be if, say, a certain person I used to be married to didn’t exist, the bottom line is that I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is how my life was supposed to go. And that can be very comforting, at times.

[Digression: Without my ex, I wouldn’t have my kids. Oh, I might have SOME kids, but not THESE kids; and trust me, these are exactly the children meant for me. I’m quite certain no one else would put up with them. Also, Otto and I like to play the “what if” game where we ponder how our lives might’ve been different if we’d gotten together back in college rather than fifteen years later or whatever it was the first time ’round. The challenge is in trying to extend the musing longer than the ten seconds or so that it takes one of us to postulate that we would’ve been hot-n-heavy for a week before having a huge screaming argument which would’ve left us hating each other for the rest of our lives.]

Anyway, without the kids (and the divorce, and that whole liking to put food on the table thing), I never would’ve given freelancing a real shot. I’d probably still be an engineer, and that means that right now I’d be losing my EVER-LOVIN’ MIND.

Because, seriously, how do people with “regular” jobs manage with children? I’m asking you this in all sincerity, because I have NO IDEA. I know that lots of folks have nannies and such, but if not, I simply cannot comprehend how life works when you have two parents with conventional jobs.

Allow me to elucidate, in the form of my calendar for the next couple of weeks. (My schedule, let me show you it.)

On any given week, the children have piano lessons (once), Chickadee has Tae Kwon Do (twice), and soccer is starting up again for Monkey, which means he has both a game and a practice each week. They also both have homework every night. (And I have rehearsals two nights a week, which is totally why I married Otto, because it’s been worth it in the babysitter savings alone.) That’s… kind of a lot, but manageable, right?

This week, in addition to all of the above, Monkey has a dentist appointment. It’s in the middle of the day, because he needed an appointment before his orthodontia begins in earnest, and that was all they had. Fine. I will take him to the dentist in the middle of the day.

Chickadee has an oratorical competition this week, and they were given TONS of notice about it… by which I mean, she brought the assignment home on Friday. (Insert standard grumbling about the school here.) I sent the kids off with their dad for the weekend with instructions to please work on her speech, and she returned home on Monday with a sheet of hotel notepaper with a bunch of scribbled notes on it. Guess who stayed up late last night working on actually, you know, WRITING her speech?

So this week is turning out to be lots of fun. BUT! IT GETS BETTER.

Next week—and I am not making up one speck of this—in addition to all of the regular stuff (piano, soccer, Tae Kwon Do, homework), Monkey has an orthodontist appointment in the middle of one day, Chickadee has a dentist appointment, both kids are meeting with a new therapist (because our beloved doc is out on maternity leave, DAMN HER FOR HAVING A LIFE), the children need to finish up their project for the Invention Convention (which, praise the lord, they decided to work on together, so at least it’s one project and not two), and that school committee thing I’m on has a meeting.

That’s… ummm… carry the three… okay, that’s five days containing twelve different places we need to go IN ADDITION to tending to things like, I don’t know, eating and sleeping and learning spelling words and saying “Hello, Husband, how was YOUR day?”

If I had an office job? There would be only two options here: Either I would be having my ass FIRED because I was forever coming in late and leaving early, or I would still have a job but I would be certifiably INSANE.

This way, I’m still insane, but I’m insane from the comfort of my own home, while running my own business. See how much better that is?


  1. Bikini

    I used to work in an office, but we limited our extracurricular activities to the weekend (gym on Saturdays, occasionally swim lessons after work). Now I work from home full-time, but for a (rather large) company. Same rules, I think, but doctor’s appointments are okay. I guess we’ll figure it out once the kids get into “real” school (they’re both in daycare right now).

  2. Megan

    I’m not normal. I was a contractor the whole time my Children were small right up until, well until something happened that makes me a little raw to the whole “everything happens for a reason” thing. Fortunately the Children were by then old enough to wrangle rides and generally get themselves anywhere I can’t manage. Oh, and they are limited to one activity that requires driving from me – one. Anything else is fine (provided they can keep grades up) IF they get themselves a ride. So, two children have 7th hour classes from which I fetch them. One coaches soccer to which I ferry it. All three do CAP and have a lovely ride so I have an entire Thursday night all. to. my. self. Works for us!

  3. Liz

    I feel the same way, and my kids are only six months old! I don’t know how “normal” people get up, get ready for work, and get kids up/dressed/fed and ready for daycare or school. Oh, and are then coherent enough to function at a real job with pressures and deadlines. Major props to the full-time working-out-of-the-home moms. I don’t know how they do it.

  4. heather

    I often wonder the same thing – both my husband and I have “conventional” 8-5 jobs. (We are both analysts, which is worse than an engineer, because at least an engineer knows what they are talking about and can back it up.)

    Right now we have one kid in daycare, another on the way. I can’t imagine how we are going to do it as the kids get older. The worst part is I don’t know anyone to compare to or emulate…most of our friends have family close by who run the kids around while they work. Freelancing to me sounds like delicious freedom from my gray cube.

    I think for the first time ever I’m going to subscribe to comments for a post because I’m curious to see what other people do.

  5. Jenny

    I’m just going to say this quietly in the corner because I don’t have children (unless the 120-lb furry one counts, which… no, not really). But I just wanted to say that I was hit with the flu pretty bad back before Christmas, while my husband was out of town on business, and one awful night, as I was actually lying in the grass in our yard, completely drained of energy and feeling like absolute ass, one hand in a death grip on the leash and silently willing the dog to go on and do what he had to do already, and actually wondering what would happen to him if I did die right there in the yard, the fevered thought flitted through my brain: I cannot IMAGINE having children at this moment. Not with the real, certified flu, being by myself, and having actual CHILDREN to take care of. Can NOT imagine. I could barely take care of myself and the dog.

    So, that said, my hats are off to all parents, really. I will never be one of those people who thinks “how hard can it be?”

  6. Wendy

    I’m a single mom with two kids who gets almost no child support trying to manage all of that! I am right now trying to figure out how to afford to enroll my kids in karate and gymnastics, afford my house, and keep them in daycare – along with the time management aspects of everything. It definitely gets overwhelming some days! Thank God for the local community center. They have activities that are fun, inexpensive, and don’t last very long (sometimes every week for a month, etc) so its not such a strain on our routine.

  7. Sister Honey Bunch

    My husband and I both work full-time outside the home. It’s all about being organized. That’s the key. We make a list on Sunday night detailing errands, appointments, obligations etc and split it up.

    I’m very lucky though. I manage a condo development and can leave if I need to in order to run the errands and make the calls and what-not.

    We both totally share the cleaning, cooking and laundry chores as well. It’s actually pretty easy if you have a good routine. And only one child.

  8. tammy

    Heh heh heh… you said “oratorical competition.”

    What? I’m a little out of it these days.

  9. Deb

    I agree with you. I work part time for a university and have the flexibility to fix my hours. That gives me the time with my kid when needed, especially like this last week when he has been sick. I give parents who work full time or more outside the home a lot of credit. I am positive I could not take the stress.

  10. RuthWells

    MUCH fewer extra-curriculars when both parents have conventional jobs. Lots of relying on my mom (who lives down the block) in emergencies. A job that, while conventional, is only 5 minutes from my house and the kids’ schools, and employers who are very family-friendly.

    Even with all this, my head threatens to explode on a fairly regular basis.

  11. janet

    i actually have stayed at a job that i love in a place that i HATE HATE HATE because of the proximity of my office to my house and the kids’ schools.

    longevity-induced flexibility ias the key. and lying. lots and lots of lying. can’t tell you how many “flat tires” i have had.

  12. All Adither

    I have no idea how couples, both with full-time jobs, manage.

    They need an Alice Brady.

    I SO wish I believed in Everything happens for a reason. My Physics-teacher dad, bless his heart, convinced me that everything is completely RANDOM and uncomforting and itchy. That said, I do believe in some weird Eastern crap about energies and karma. I think.

  13. Tammy

    I hear you on the whole running around like there’s no tomorrow/insanity thing. Hubby and I both have conventional jobs and it does get a little dicey at times trying to manage schedules for 3 boys. But, you just grin, bear it and pick up pizza. ;)

  14. Bob

    it wouldn’t be your life if you didn’t have a bajillion things to do and at least one crisis per day to deal with. fess up – you thrive on it!

  15. Lucinda

    I’ll add my “I have no idea how they do it” either. My husband and I are both self-employed. He leaves a lot but I’m at home most of the time. Even with the flexibility we have, I still try to limit activities for my two and they aren’t even that old yet. Although this year we have a 17 yo living with us and that has really added to the chaos. So my hat’s off to those parents who work outside the home.

  16. Linda

    My husband and I both have full-time outside of the home jobs. I wonder sometimes as well how people do it day in and day out. We only have one child and sometimes its a stretch for us. My husband works shift work that changes every single week but somehow it all manages to work out. Just for the record, I am so one of those “Everything happens for a reason” people. I know, just smack me.

  17. Therese

    I worked full time until #4 came along. Then I went to work evenings while hubby worked days. After that I didn’t work at all until the kids were a little older (baby was 2 when I went back). I worked for my hubby, and believe me, he was the best boss ever! If the school called and someone needed picked up, I left. I did the room mother thing, field trips, etc. It worked for both of us, because they were his kids, too, DARN IT!
    Now I work in an office three days and for hubby the other two. The only reason I went for the office job was for the benefits. But it still works. Of course, now I have two in college and one in high school!

  18. Leandra

    Yes, unfortunately two parents with full time jobs usually means that there aren’t as many activities allowed for the kids. Honestly, sometimes even *I* wonder how we do it?

    What also helps is having an awesome employer who is very understanding when you have to be out with sick kids, leave early for appointments and/or sweetheart dances.

  19. Steff

    Routine, flexibility, and a sense of humor is what makes it all work in our house! But it did take a few years to get to this point – i used to freak about dust and giant piles of laundry!!

    Perfect example: leaving toast on roof of car and getting half way to the interstate before realizing you left it up there. I laughed out loud to myself and even snorted!!

  20. Bah

    As a working single mother of two, I can tell you exactly how I manage to everything – from softball games to school plays to last minute birthday parties:

    I don’t sleep. Ever. (Unless you count the naps I catch in my car on my lunch hour)

    Which is precisely why I’m trying like crazy to get out of the corporate world. My kids and their childhood interests are WAY more important than laundry and balance sheets, so something’s gotta give. And that something can’t be the activities that they live and breathe for.

  21. Lisa- Domestic Accident

    And you’re not even counting all the days off. President’s Day, teacher inservice days, sick days, winter break, spring break, half days, etc.

    I just gave up on the fact that I will ever return to my dream job. Undoable with children and a husband with an inflexible job.

  22. Mary

    Mine is nearing two, so we don’t have that many activities, but I work 20 hours per week and plan to continue in that vein for the fore-seeable future. I totally couldn’t be the mom I want to be working full time.

  23. Linda

    I don’t know how 2 M-F working parents do it either. My kids are 3 (twins) and a 5-month-old. My husband has a normal M-F, 8-6pm job and I’m a nurse. I work 2 12-hour shifts, every Friday and Sunday night. It’s insane enough, but at least I have M-F to get other stuff done and run around town.

  24. BethR

    We both have conventional but very flexible jobs – I don’t work from home generally, but I can when I have to, as well as make up at night for what I don’t do during the day because I’ve been at a doctor’s appointment, as can my husband most of the time. Younger child is very young; right now, older child has no activities at all, nor does my husband (nothing regularly scheduled anyway). I have one activity but it takes place at my house once a week which reduces the amount it complicates my life (like, we can still be eating dinner while it happens). Basically, we manage to eat and do homework and sleep and perform basic hygiene-related tasks, but that’s it. I have no idea how we’ll get older child to activities once he’s interested in them.

  25. Kristi

    At least be thankful you still have your BRAIN. Elucidate? Oratorical? Big words? I DON’T USE THEM ANYMORE! I stay home with children and don’t have a job other than that. My brain is mush.

  26. MsKimRT

    I work the 12 hour night shift at a hospital so that I can be home for my two kids after school. I sleep during the day. I agree with Steff: Routine, flexibility and a sense of humor is what makes it work.
    When my 13 year old was in Kindergarten he told his teacher “My Mommy sleeps all day ‘cuz she stays out all night.”

  27. LuAnn

    Much better. Much, MUCH better. :p

  28. Jenni

    I’m with you on the “how do they do it?”, my husband is home on disability so he can take care of the daytime stuff but it is still a gigantic pain in the butt in the evenings when there are multiple activities going on.

    However, I do have another question. How does your ex deal with Monkey being on the soccer team? My step-daughter would LOVE to be a junior cheerleader but all the games they cheer at are on Saturdays. We had her in a different cheer program but again with the Saturday games – every Saturday for 8 weeks – and her mom told us never again because she didn’t want to give up half her Saturday for cheerleading.

  29. Ei

    Certifiable on my end. That’s it.

  30. Katie

    I don’t know how two working parents do it either. Although I do have 5 kids, that could make it seem nuttier to me. And the youngest two aren’t even in activities yet.

    If it makes you feel better, my schedule this week: Monday hockey, Tuesday hockey and PTA Market Day help, Wednesday Girl Scouts and Girl Scout Leader meeting (me), Thursday Cub Scouts, Friday Girl Scout Thinking Day, Saturday hockey game, Sunday Cub Scout Blue & Gold dinner and hockey game and religion class.

    Next week we have dental appointments (on two different days) and an orthodontic one (but thankfully only hockey, no Scout stuff). At least hockey ends as soccer starts.

  31. Deb @ Three Weddings

    I no longer have an office job, but I do work at home running a daycare that keeps me from having time during the week to do things like grocery shopping, etc. In addition, even though I’m home, I can’t just leave all the kiddos and go do laundry or clean the bathroom so that has to wait till the evenings or weekends, too. But, regardless what you are doing, you find a way. My sister is a SAHM and sometimes it seems she is busier than working moms because she takes on more responsibilities during the day. It irratates her when people say, “You don’t have anything to do so you can do it, right?” Yeah, she just sits around the house eating bon bons all day long! :)

  32. Lisa

    My husband’s job is insane. I worked at home for 16 years and once my kids got older, I couldn’t have a real life and work. I quit this past summer. It only gets harder.

    I will only speak for my life as a kid of a single mom. I didn’t do extra activities. She wasn’t home. I don’t remember her cooking other than on Sunday.

    Sometimes there isn’t an option. I had one and am so happy it has worked out.

  33. Lisa

    We have 3 kids, ages 7, 6 and 6 months. Both of us work full time. 7 year old is in competitive gymnastics (9 hours a week of practice – closest gym is 1 hour away..so 3 hr practice takes 5 hrs total), 6 yr old is in dance and 6 month old is in daycare. How do we manage? Honestly – we just do it without thinking, really. You just get up a little earlier, stay up a little later, let the house get a little messier during the week.

    Luckily our jobs are somewhat flexible in that I’ll go in a little early a few days to be able to leave early twice a week for gymnastics.

    It’s a little give and a little take, a lot of compromise and team work.

  34. Jess

    I feel your pain.

    I just heard about the schedule for the next level’s karate class, which she may join in May. This class meets FIVE DAYS A WEEK. They encourage the kids to come two or three times a week, but once my daughter hears that she can go to karate five times a week, she will agitate to go.

    (Repeat to self: I am the parent. I am the parent…)

    Also, just so you know, I got some Color Bombz spray-in temporary hair color for my daughter at Sally Beauty Supply. It was definitely temporary. We put it in at about 5:00, and it was almost completely gone by bedtime. NO washing necessary. She and I are both kind of put out, as she loved her blue hair and wanted to show it to her grandma. A friend who used to dye her hair recommended the store Hot Topic.

  35. E

    I have two kids (ages 8 and 7) AND I’m a nanny for two kids (ages 4 and 2) and let me tell you, it’s hard. I feel for the kids’ parents when they have to scramble to fit in doctor’s appointments and all that. Then when I need time off for appointments, one of them has to take time off… it’s not pretty. But I’m a nanny because I wanted to be available for my kids, and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

  36. Marsha

    I used to be able to “do it all” until child #2 came along. 8 years after child #1 (second marriage for second child). I tried it till the baby was 1 and then said “That’s it – I’m done trying to ‘have it all'”. I have been not working for 5 years, the “baby” is now in kindergarten, and I will never work (at least full time) EVER AGAIN. And guess what? We still do everything (and more) we did with my second income. We have no credit debt (except a mortgage that will be paid off in 9 years), and don’t have to eat mac and cheese every night. Yes, I am the TAXI but ya know what… I will have all those memories when I am peeing my Depends in my wheelchair and I won’t have one regret. I am my kids mom. (I used to hate Dr. Laura, but now can at least tolerate her and understand where she comes from, even if she is pretty harsh with her opinions on working mothers sometimes).

  37. StephLove

    That does sound like a lot. We’re a one-career family at present and have only one kid in one after-school activity (the other kid is not quite two) and I recently blogged about how difficult it can be to get the first-grader’s homework done that one evening a week.

    We were a two-career family until the oldest (and then only) child was four. Things ran pretty smoothly but I think it would be harder now. Just this weekend we were talking about whether in an ideal world (one in which an unemployed humanities Phd can easily find work) I would go back to work full-time or part-time when the younger child starts kindergarten. We are leaning toward part-time.

  38. Jamie AZ

    I often feel that SAH parents have a lot harder job than I do! Hubby and I both work 7-4/8-5 jobs, but our employers (especially mine) are pretty flexible when it comes to taking time off for family-related things. We do try to schedule appointments later in the day or on days that school is out, but that isn’t always possible. I can work at home pretty much whenever I want to, so if the repair man is coming to fix the fridge, I can work and be there for that at the same time. Same with a sick kid, but they make it much too hard to try to work, too! We each travel for work periodically, so we just make it work the best we can as a single parent during those times. The house may not be as clean as usual and the laundry may pile up, but it will get done eventually.

    My kids (6.5 and 4) each play soccer, so we have practice on Tuesday nights and then games on Saturday mornings. Hubby coaches the 6.5 year old’s team and I handle the 4 year old for practice (luckily at the same field). Once they have more activities (if they do), we’ll just figure it out when we get there. A lot of times, we “divide and conquer” to get things done. Especially grocery shopping. I’d rather run and do that without the kiddos early in the morning and hubby completely agrees!

  39. Jennifer

    I have a 6 and 7 year old and a full time job. On top of that, my husband is a cop so his schedule is wacky. Keeping up with everything is nuts. My house is a mess most of the time but we work around it. We limit the kids activities and combine where we can. The kids go to an after school program at a karate studio so it’s two for one!! they also only get to do one activity each outside of that. Right now we are doing NO activities until the sneaky little monkeys start getting better grades!! Although it’s stressful, I can’t imagine it any other way. My kids would HATE me if I stayed home without working. I’m just not one of those people who are able to do it without losing my mind.

  40. mama speak

    Once we had kids (actually before) I went to PT work. I told my husband I had a full time job at home & a full time job at work & that wasn’t fair. He wasn’t interested in taking on more in the house realm (ie–doing the bills) so he opted for the PT work. Lately I’ve been at a job I HATE for “money” reasons. Then we found out that we can suvive w/out the $$$ or a hit our current lifestyle. Hubby is leary, but I’m getting ready to quit altogether in the next month or so.
    What it seems to come down to is; people do a lot of personal stuff on work time (at work) and/or “run late a lot”, etc…

  41. Sharon

    My husband and I both work full time jobs and we have 3 kids in every activity imaginable. How does it work? I live by the thought that I’ll have time to sleep when they are grown! I work 8 hour days plus the 2 hour roundtrip commute. Luckily we have flex time so I leave at 5am and I’m home by 3:30 when the bus drops them off. My husband works a split shift and is home for 3 hours in the middle of the day (he is the house straightener, dinner defroster).
    In most weeks we have: Basketball practice and 1 game for child 3, Soccer practice and 1 game for child 2, Cheerleading after school 2 days a week for child 1. Child 1 also helps with the high school baseball team at least 1 day a week and is taking such lovely classes as Chemistry 2 and Geometry..that require homework and the occasion trips to the tutor. Plus dentist/doctors appts, church twice a week, LAUNDRY from hell etc and so forth.
    My husband and I just split up the kids when we have to be in 2 places at once. And thankfully my parents live close enough to pick up the slack when worlds collide and all 3 have activities at opposite ends of town. You do what you have to do for your kids to be happy. And you can sleep when you are dead!!!

  42. elswhere

    We only have one kid, and mostly at least one of us has had a somewhat flexible schedule. The one year we both worked full-time (MG’s kindergarten year) was hard, hard, hard, on us and on her. Even as it is, we have to limit extracurriculars. One reason MG has never done soccer (except for a summer camp once) is that the league can’t tell you where or when the practices will be until they get the teams worked out at the start of the school year, and there’s no way we could scramble together childcare and transportation for her at the last minute like that. When we realized how it works, we understood why the term “soccer mom” has evolved to have the connotations it does.

    Not that MG minds; she loves doing circus. But it has made me think about who does enrichment stuff, and who doesn’t, and why. And whether that tracks kids for various achievement/insider/advantage paths as much as academics does.

    In any case, we feel pretty lucky in general.

  43. Fabs

    Basically it comes down to this: You just do what you gotta do. My husband and I both work full-time at office jobs and have two kids in elementary school. My daughter is in basketball two days a week, guitar lessons once a week and has orthodontist and counseling mixed in there. My son has hockey two days a week, and my husband also plays hockey. Fortunately, my work is pretty understanding, but I fill out a leave slip a couple times a month and work through alot of lunch hours. But we manage to eat dinner together every night, have game night and do other things as a family. It’s hard, but we manage.

  44. carson

    We’re going to hire someone to drive. I don’t have what it takes to be a freelancer–although I do have a job. (yay!)

  45. Wendy

    Okay, my head just exploded from all. I don’t know where you fit work into that crazy schedule. I mean my husband is self-employed and I know how he does it. He has me. Dude, if I had to actually do more in addition to what I already do, I think Mental Insitution would be my next vacation spot.

    Also, I think my brain just gave out, because, because they said it got easier as the kids got older. I mean right now I deal with whiney, screaming, demanding little heathens. You mean to tell me that as they get older you just pile that on to the top of the turd pile. OMG!! I think I need to lay down. This has been too much for my little brain, today.

    You have succeed in turning me into a turnip.

  46. zarlyng

    My husband works 55 hours a week, mainly 8:30 to 6, but with longer hours three days a week. My husband has custody of his daughters; their mother has them 2 days a week.I am a full time graduate student, 4 classes, one full day of practical experience. I work 15 hours a week as well.

    I have no clue how we all balance everything. And the girls are in after-school activities. I can’t remember the last time I got to ‘linger’ in the grocery store, or when I wasn’t swearing at traffic because I was late (again. and I hate being late). They do homework while I clean up the trails and make dinner. I do laundry while they’re in the tub.

    The funny thing? Everybody’s happy. And that’s all that really matters on the days that I feel like a headless chicken.

  47. Katie in MA

    My girls are still too little for activities (almost 2 and 4), so I don’t have to worry about the driving around…yet. What I want to know is how anyone manages to have a family dinner! By the time I walk in the house after getting the girls, it’s almost 6 o’clock. It would take almost an hour to cook anything, and bedtime for them is 7p. That’s too late for them, even if they *could* wait until 7p without exploding with hunger. Consequently, I feed them a lot of sandwiches and leftovers and then I eat later. I HATE that I’m not home to cook them a “real” dinner.

  48. Heidi

    No kids, so I got nothing for you there. I work from home, though, and I can’t imagine ever having to back to an office routine.

    I couldn’t help but notice the Google link for 10 Rules of Losing Belly Fat, though. The only topic I can find in your post having anything remotely related to that topic is pregnancy. So there you have it–give birth and you can lose belly fat.

  49. Sheila

    I agree that going insane while home in your jammies is the preferred way of going insane. I wish someone would tell my husband. He seems to think it’s going to be easy for me to find gainful, meaningful and don’t forget flexible employment next year, when the youngest kid will be in school all day.

    I am so thankful to be able to live on one income, but sometimes I wonder if leaving my job nine years ago was the right thing to do. Jumping back in to the workforce is looking more daunting now than it did as a college grad. I am reading all the comments carefully to glean how people do it.

  50. Amy-Go

    I don’t have a paying job and I still can’t keep up.

  51. Lylah

    It’s hard, but sometimes I think we do it because we don’t want to believe that we can’t do it. So it gets done.

    A clone would be soooo helpful, though.

  52. Lori

    I have only one 3 year-old who doesn’t have any extra-curricular activities scheduled, aside from the occasional birthday party. I also have a nanny who comes in the afternoons… and I work from home (as a software engineer—hi!). I also wonder how the “normal” folks do it, because I know I have it good. I have help, I have flexible hours (most of my team is in California, so starting late and working later are not a problem), I’m just around the corner from the Beaner’s school (I pick him up at 11:45 every day and make him lunch), and I have a husband who agreed to a 70/30 split when it came to child-rearing responsibilities (else I never would have agreed to have a kid). Still, there are many days when I consider quitting this high-paying, satisfying, flexible job so I could spend more time managing the household. As it is now, I feel like I’m short-changing both the job and the kid… not to mention the laundry.

  53. BooMom

    Katie in Ma – I have found that the crock pot/slow cooker is my bestest friend. I either throw the stuff in when I get up in the AM, or I put it in the night before and store it in the fridge.

    How do we do it? I’m up @ 5:15 every morning – gulp down a cup of coffee, throw a load in washer, turn the dryer on to finish/fluff the load I did the night before. Gulp a little more coffee while I take 10 to watch some of the AM local news. Pack up the breakfasts for DH/DS. Grab load from dryer, fold same, and put as much of it as I can away. Move stuff from washer to dryer, and run for the shower. Get dressed, check on dryer – if done, I’ll fold that load.
    Wake DH/DS up – at that point it’s DH’s job to get himself AND DS up and dressed. That buys me about another 10 – 15 on a good day- to catch a little more news. Once DH has left to take DS to Kinder, I’ll give a room a 5 min treatment. I’ll pick one thing in that room and work on it for 5 – that may mean a quick scrub of the toilets ( YAY for clorox wands!) or sink, or whatever ! After that, I leave for my OTHER full time job.

    DAMN! I’m tired just reading what I do :)

  54. BooMom


    Dr’s/Dentist appts- I *try* to make them 2-3 mos ahead of time, so that I stand the best chance of getting the 1st appt in the AM.

    I also take 1 Sunday per month to do a mass cook and prepare as much as I can in that one day. Additionally, if I have down time @ work, I print out a blank calendar and plan my meals for the month.

  55. Procrastamom

    Kids 16, 11 & 10. Husband and I both work full-time out of the home and always have. Our kids have all been in daycare or school since they were 6 months old. All three are in soccer and have 1-2 practices a week, plus a game on the weekend. Two are in bowling one night a week. I drive them in the morning to three different schools (high school, middle, elementary) and my husband is home mid-afternoon for them. Appointments are scheduled for as early or late in the day as possible and we take turns getting them there (whomever has taken the least amount of time off work lately in order to avoid angry bosses).

    How do we do it? I don’t know, we just do. I think that every family gets into to their own schedules and life becomes routine.

  56. becky

    i don’t even have a lot of activities scheduled and i don’t know how i’ll do things once i go back to work (part-time, even!).

  57. Ellen

    Orrrrrr, your kids would be woefully underparented and ignored and would quietly slip through the cracks missing out on a bunch of things….. (grumpy teacher speaking here) Thanks for actually being a parent – not to say that many parents with “regular” jobs don’t also do a good job, but lots of parents (both kinds) don’t do anything. At. All.

  58. Michele

    Actually? I am one of those conventional working people, and I am officially insane. I should note that this is not the life I want – but student loans preclude me from staying home, and both kids are special needs (I’m the one with the good insurance.) And really? Not easy. My husband lost his last job because of it. I’m the morning parent, he’s the evening parent. His old job moved locations – which meant he couldn’t pick the kids on time from daycare as it was geographically farther away. They refused to let him change his hours by 1/2 hour and he had to quit. That was fun. But his current job works MUCH better. He gets up at 4:30am and leaves at 5:30 after waking me up. I do the morning, breakfast/dress/brush your teeth/no, really brush your teeth/school thing. I go to work. I work on a studio lot and have set hours, which are 9-6,. Which means I get home about 7 with traffic – unless OT is necessary. Meanwhile, husband gets off and has the kids picked up and home from after school care around 3:30pm. Then he’s able to let them relax, and then do homework, and then get dinner started. Mixed up in there are doctors visits and therapy, but he doesn’t have to miss work. However. It doesn’t always work. My elderly parents live next door. My mother almost died 4 times last year… Plus the kids get sick… I’m dealing with health stuff that’s still unresolved, and spent an unprecedented 4 months with a cold. As a result I used ALL 80 hours of sick leave and half my three years accrued vacation time last year. This year isn’t shaping up any better since I’ve already had two medical procedures.

    It sucks. And while you’re wondering about how conventional job people do it… I am always wondering how single moms and dads do it. I really just don’t know.

  59. carolyn

    It was easier when they were small and I was married to their Daddy. Now, they are big, and they need to go placed NOW and their Daddy is not much (none, actually) help. And…so it goes. I am a teacher, so my hours are something like theirs are. That is the only way I work this thing, that, and the crock pot.

  60. the elder

    when I was a wee young lass MOTH took paternity leave and looked after me at home, or took me into his work and just hoiked me under the desk.

    similar thing happened when the Teen was tiny.

    then when the Teen and myself were in primary school (we’re six years apart and primary school is grades 1-7) we got sent to after school care. that ran from 3 until 6. both Mutha and MOTH worked until at least five, so that fit in well.

    at some point (i can’t exactly remember when. sometime after she retired…) the most awesomest Grandmother picked us up from school and took us to her house where she fed and watered us and made sure we did our homework.

    a few years later MOTH had a heart attack and was no longer able to work, so he became Mr Mum and has done so for nearly 10 years now.

    Even now, the Teen finishes school, catches a bus to my work (just a five min bus ride to the next suburb) and when i finish we wander past Mutha’s building and collect her and the three of us waddle off across campus to the carpark.

    MOTH does the housework and cooks most of the meals. we pretty much get dinner on the table as soon as we get home.

    works for us. i know when I have kids (yes Mutha, it will happen!!) i shall be ditching them with MOTH during the day whilst i work. i’m sure he’ll love that. *sniggers*

  61. Flea

    Ewe is not normal people, Mir. Ewe is Mir the Great. :D

  62. Dana

    I love this post, Mir. Because it gives me hope that my situation will allow for better things. I’ve wanted to write for so long, now maybe I can. Thanks for the inspiration!! :)

  63. Joann

    Having been thrust into single momhood by the mid-life crisis that entailed my husband signing his life to the military for the next six years…. it is pretty difficult to try and do it all.

    3 kids – 16, 9, 8. Currently I am lucky because we aren’t doing any extra curricular sports right now – so things are much easier than they were in November when all three were in cross-country, one was in softball, one was in baseball, and one was doing swim. The eldest handles most of her school sports by catching rides (she is the ultimate mooch). Swim season just started for the high school, soccer try-outs are next week, baseball and softball start at the beginning of March and it all ramps back up again.

    I pay for the kids to ride the bus to school because it gives an extra hour (drop at the bus stop at 8 vs. drop at school at 9). I work from 8:30 to 3 and make up the remaining time working remotely from home (YAY for a flexible boss!). Dinner sometimes is hit and miss – we think nothing of sitting down at 7 and eating dinner if that is the soonest we can get to it. The kids go to bed later than they used to when their Dad was here because I am a pushover and because sometimes it really is 9:30 – 10 pm before they finish their homework. Thursdays are the worst in part because we have Scouts (me = Wolf Den Leader) and there is studying for the tests that fall on Friday.

    We don’t have family near us and so have always relied on ourselves to take care of everything. When hubby was here he worked 9-5, handling the kids in the morning (lunches, school drop off) and I would work 7-3, picking up the kids from the bus and handling homework and practices and we’d split up for games and other evening activies as necessary.

    Having flexible employers and understanding bosses is the main reason we’ve been able to do any of this.

  64. tuney

    Amy-Go! Yes!! I am with ya. I work for my own self, and I find even that stretches me to no end. Of course, being a night owl doesn’t make it easier. It’s hard to mow the lawn at 2am. I’m thinkin’ the neighbors would riot, and the little beheaded frogs wouldn’t be terribly happy about it, either.

    Oh! What Flea said, too!

  65. Dawn

    How do single parents do it? We just go slowly insane. As my kids used to sing, I am slowly going crazy, one, two, three, four, five, six, SWITCH! Crazy going slowly am I, six, five, four, three, two, one, SWITCH.. ad infinitum.

    La la la… I can’t hear you!

    They’re 18 and 22 now and we survived but there were days since their father decided he had better things to do than stick around and raise them when they were 6 and 10 when I had serious doubts. He dabbled at fatherhood at varying levels over the years, but not in a fashion that made us feel we could count on him. My closest extended family member is over 1,000 miles away, so it was just me and the girls.

    I think I have to credit our survival to location, location, location. I’m lucky in that I live in a small city and can have a job within walking distance of my house, the elementary school is across the street, the junior high is in the block next to my office, my employer has always been very understanding and the good lord has graciously spared me from any serious illnesses (although there was that bout of tonsillitis that left me running the house from the couch for a week).

    I guess you just get used to the pace, whatever it is. it seemed overwhelmingly hard at first, but then it was just life as we knew it.

  66. Shannon

    I don’t know how people do it either. I hear much grousing about it from the parents at work and it sounds like a royal pain in the butt.

    I am still caught up in your first paragragh. I’ve been pondering “Does everything happen for a reason?” myself lately. I miscarried my (first and only) baby 5 months ago.

  67. Lisa C.

    How do we do it? I work nights. Doctor’s offices that don’t have late/evening hours don’t get our business. We have one child. My son is only 4 now, but I anticipate that he will be limited to 1-2 activities. Sucks, but that’s the way it is!

  68. Leah

    Okay, so I realize this might make me sound like a total nutcase… but the grass is always greener.

    Havin kids, responsibilities, a business, a “life?” Sure it can be stressful, but it’s a real life!

    I’m a grad student, aka, I have no life and no people and no responsibilities except showering daily, and I don’t always follow through there either. I know everyone in your situation probably envies my situation… but I’m bored!

    So I guess what I’m tryin’ to say is enjoy your business. It sure beats boredom.

  69. Avalon

    The way I did it, as a single mother who worked full time and received NOTHING in child support——I worked the night shift. My daughter stayed with my mother overnight. I fed her, bathed her, put her to bed and went to work. By the time she was getting up for school, and before my mother had to leave for work, I was home. I’d get my daughter off to school and then sleep for those few hours she was away. it was very hard on vacations and summer break, and looking back now, i really don’t know exactly how we survived. I guess you do what you have to at the time.

  70. Kris

    For the record, our schedule is incredibly similar. Yes, it’s a CHOICE to let the kids do so many things, but really it’s the lesser of two evils. Bored children (especially special needs children like Bug and Monkey) are a recipe for disaster. They need to be kept busy, even if it means we run ourselves ragged doing it.

    Monday – TKD, therapy
    Tuesday – OUR DAY TO REST
    Wednesday – AWANA
    Thursday – TKD
    Friday – Polish dance; occasional TKD demo team
    Saturday – TKD; demo team
    Sunday – church and religion (9:20 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. between it all) and about once a month a Polish dance performance somewhere.

    Tuck other dental/doctor/therapy appointments in there somewhere as needed.

    I would LOVE to be able to put Bug in something of her very own, whether it’s TKD or softball or whatever floats her boat. But it simply doesn’t fit within our schedule. We ALL do dance. Kasia (10) and I do TKD. Daddy occasionally goes fishing and will sometimes take one of the girls, but usually this running is all on me. So I get the “best of both worlds” with single parenthood and being married! HAH!

    I’m a night owl, so I tend to do most of my work (on the computer) after they go to bed.

    It’s life. We just muddle through somehow.

  71. Kris

    Oh wait…you said normal people. We certainly aren’t normal people! HAH!

  72. Vane

    I’m a single mom working full time in an out of the house job … ocassionally I also wonder how on earth things get done, but the fact is, they do.

    My parents are great help as they pick up my kid from school, feed her and watch over her while I get off from work and I do have a flexible employeer that allows me to take time off whenever needed. My ex is somehow helpful too (he takes her to school every morning and will ocassionally watch over her if I’m really really sick).

    The fact is, I do whatever it takes so that my daughter doesn’t miss out. She has cheerleading practice 3 times a week and I work my schedule around that. I also cook for her whenever possible. I attend every single school event.

    So I guess like everyone else has said, you create a rutine, a good support circle, you prioritize and … don’t sleep a lot :)

  73. wafelenbak

    I don’t know how either. I almost want to hurry up and start popping some babies out while I still have a contract job so that I can take advantage of it, but I struggle enough to take care of myself and the cats! Ack!

  74. Shalee

    Two things:

    1) I laughed deeply over your damning your kids’ therapist in one breath and then praising the Lord in the next.

    2) I don’t know how I do it. Correction, I do know how I do it, but you’re not going to like the answer. I say no to lots of things. So what if the kids don’t do as much? I get jealous of our time together and I’d rather them be with us than let them fill their time with a plethora of activities.

    And since I’m an early – really early – riser, I get a lot of home things done before everyone gets up. Throw in the fact that Mr. Right is there for us in all sorts of situations, then you’ll see that I only do it by the grace of God. And if things don’t get done? Well, the world hasn’t stopped yet, so I guess it’s okay.

  75. Pave.Gurl

    As someone who has no kids, but is owned by a bunch of critters, I can say that most employers are pretty sympathetic to family needs. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had co-workers have to be out for any number of appointments/ meets/ plays/ recitals/ for their kids. Which is awesome, because families are important and so is the health/ well-being of the kids. I get that.

    What’s not OK is that if I had a vet appointment or requested vacation time, my scheduling needs would be altered based on late-breaking kid emergencies or schedules. Seriously: I was asked to cancel a doctor’s appointment that I had scheduled two months ahead… because a co-worker’s child made soccer playoffs in the interim.

    I love families, I love parents – and I have a LOT of respect for them. But I loathe the idea that the needs of non-parents often become secondary concerns for employers in their zeal to be family-friendly.

  76. Jessica (aka Rose)

    I’m on day two of being home with a sick baby. Trying hard to “work from home” and really, really wondering when I’m going to have time to launch that infamous freelance writing career… because man, my kids are still young, but when they have extra curricular activities I really don’t know how we’ll manage!

  77. ikate

    Our schedule is pretty tight, but we make it all happen. Granted our one child is still in daycare, so no after school activities, but for now it works. We get up early, he gets ready while I use the treadmill. Then while he takes care of the dog, etc. I get ready then we wake up thing one. He takes her to daycare (which is right next to my office but also on his way in to work). I get to work about 30 minutes early so I can leave at 4:30. At lunch we try to run any errands (on grocery days I take a cooler and ice packs for the food – we are in Cleveland so from about October to May this works well). I pick up thing one and head home to start dinner (which was actually started the night before). Shortly after thing one and I sit down to dinner the hubby gets home and joins us. Then we all play for about an hour then start the bedtime routine.

    After bed (7:30 or so) we clean up from dinner and do a load of laundry. The load a day here is KEY to my routine – this way I never have to waste weekend time on laundry. He walks the treadmill while I prep dinner for the next night. Then we might get an hour of tv/couch time before we hit the sack.

    Three things are key – dinner menus for the week, errands during lunch and doing laundry every night. If those things don’t happen it makes me grumpy because that means less family time on the weekends. Weekends for the most part are devoted to being nothing-scheduled family time with maybe a few household projects thrown in. Finally, someone to clean the house once a week is a must.

  78. wookie

    How do we 2 working professional families do it? We’re both computer people… programmer/analyst. We’ll have 3 kids 5 and under this summer.

    1) One of you has to have either flexibility at work or stability… My husband has some flexibility,he can on occasion work from home when the basement floods or the roof leaks (both on Sunday night!) or the dog swallows a corncob and needs emergency surgery. I ended up at a union shop which means while I have to be there 8-4? I can go home at 4. When we both were doing 24-7 pager support, it was horrible and beyond stressful and I still can’t really talk about how horrific it was.

    2) Reliable child care
    I love my sitter. She takes my kids, with her kids, to the skating rink one night a week so that we can participate in that learn to skate program. I could not do it without her. She gets my oldest on and off the bus, make sure her snowpants are dry and warms everyones coats and boots by the woodstove in the morning before they go out to wait for the bus. She takes them to the library and helps them pick out books. I cannot say how much this woman means to our family.

    3) Not committing to too much.
    We don’t do more than 2 nights of activities a week because that is all my brain can handle.

    4) Not expecting too much from one another.
    My husbands job, while it has some flexiblity, also means he is on the road 1 week out of 4 and potentially at work late 3 nights out of 5. He cannot logisitcally help me get the kids to activities or appointments. That is my problem. Therefore, I commit to no more than I know I can handle, and I cannot begrudge him the pressures he feels from work. He also must acknowledge that in an emergency, it is much more difficult for me to “slip away” than he, because of the union rules. So we juggle things that way.

  79. Single Ma

    I guess I’m the odd one out the bunch. I don’t know how you mothers would compromise your personal lives and your careers to run around doing kid stuff or stay home and do house stuff all day. Now THAT would drive me batty.

    I’ve been a SINGLE MOM for 10 years, although my daughter is 15 now, and we just make it work. I can’t tell you how, it just works. And it does NOT get easier as they get older. She’s in the band (2 instruments, 1 w/ private lessons), runs track, cheerleading, HS magazine editor, and an active Delta GEM member. Most of this is seasonal so it isn’t everything all at once, but it consumes her day. I work full time (40+ hrs), write freelance, and have an active personal life. I love it! I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.

    You all must need some vitamins or something. LOL

  80. kellie

    Married Mom of four here, 6, 8, 11, 12 and can I just say it is madness i work full time as does my husband. I find the trick that works for us is he works midnight to 8 am. LOL. I do the getup and get ready for school,make sure they are dressed have lunches and all homework and out they go. I leave for work and he comes home. he gets the quiet house to sleep all day and when they come in from school he does the rides to football, barn, riding lessons, baseball, friends houses, grocery shopping, doctors appointments, dentist, bank and whatever is on the plate for that day. I come home cook dinner do some laundry check homework and he goes back to bed to grab a few more winks…now mind you I rarely see him, but for his two days off from the actual “job” which are never the same two as it is a rotating schedule…but for now it works. I keep telling him one day he will be able to work when normal people work and he does have the option to change the shift when he is ready (we are ready)it is madness but they only need need need us for such a short time…that we deal with it for now. Mind you I did stay home with them fulltime until they were all in school full day…so now he gets to see what fun that was!

  81. Jennifer

    I wonder the same thing. I am a freelance translator with a growing business. It is very feasible now with one, but I have no idea how I will manage when we have another baby. It pisses me off that I am the one who is expected to sacrifice career for babies my husband wants just as much as I do. We currently earn the same amount, but if he stayed home and helped out with everything else I do, I could make enough for the two of us. His salary would not change if I stopped working.

    Alas, he is not interested in quitting his job. And neither am I.

  82. Susan

    That explains my insanity! And here I thought it was simply inherited. ;)

    My husband and I both work 9-hr days, and last spring, he coached our son’s baseball team and I coached my daughter’s cheerleading squad. TWENTY 7-10-yr-olds, I might add. When we weren’t at cheerleading practice, we were at baseball, or they were at AWANA on Wed nights, or at a game, or at a competition. My head was SPINNING and I was exhausted.

    I found out, a few months later, that I was also severely anemic during that time–so much so that I required 8 weeks’ worth of iron infusions at the outpatient center (IV infusions). No wonder I always felt so bad! I thought it was simply from dealing with twenty obnoxious divas, three times a week. (Though surely that didn’t HELP.)

    Now? My husband still coaches but we took a big break from cheer. My daughter takes one night a week of dance and that’s IT. That’s enough! We don’t get home til after 6pm each night anyway, so we couldn’t really do more.

    Thank goodness I at least work for the gov’t so I can take off for doctor/dentist appts as often as needed.

    I do wonder how a lot of people do it! We know tons of people with CRAZY schedules ALL THE TIME and I don’t envy them a bit.

  83. DBN

    Shift and compromise, compromise and shift. All of our kids teachers communicate by email which is awesome. We stay in contact with them and they keep us up on things. We have family in town that also steps in and helps. My mom works for the school district, so she is able to get to a school to check on things if needed. My job is flexible 60% of the time and totally inflexible 40%. So far, when mine is inflexible, Mr. D’s is flexible, and if not we have family to fall back on. Its still a struggle, but I don’t think our children realize that.

  84. ImpostorMom

    Good god so not looking forward to the days when Boog wants to join things and participate.

  85. dorothy

    We have one kid. :)

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