As I sit at my kitchen counter, flashbacks about my full time working days enter my head. Boy was that a roller coaster! But now I’m on a different roller coaster- the sort that needs me to steer it 24/7!
When I was working as a PR manager in the world’s largest snacking company, I thought, well this is one tough life as a mom AND a corporate girl. I would wake up as early as 6am to get my son ready for kinder, get myself ready, then drive through crazy traffic for one hour just to get to my son’s school. Then, as soon as I get to work, I check my Inbox and reply a good 25 e-mails that would have come in between the time I left work and the time I came back to work.
The day is just packed with meetings, presentations, discussions, proposals, brainstorms and more meetings. Before I know it, the day is almost over. I rush back to school, pick my son up at 6.30pm, go through a 1.5 hours traffic jam before finally reaching home at 8pm. The domestic helper has either cooked up a meal or is waiting for me to cook dinner. Or we grab dinner outside. 10pm and I’m getting my son ready for bed, packing his clothes for school and bringing his warm milk up to the room. My son is asleep. But that’s not the end of my day. 11pm I look at my notes and prepare myself for tomorrow’s work – sometimes presentations and sometimes documents that I need to familiarise myself with prior to a meeting. I sleep at midnight and guess what? It’s 6am. Again. At the end of the month I get a paycheck, pay my bills and the cycle continues.
That was months ago.
Now, back at my kitchen counter, I’m looking at my son who still has 70% of his energy left. Where does he get that? Because I don’t have any left. Yes, juggling work and family was challenging. Very challenging. But staying at home is not any easier. My son wakes up at 9am, we have breakfast together and then we’ll have our activities – painting, colouring, story book time. Sometimes we go to the park or library or museum. 11am I start making lunch. It doesn’t matter if I’m hungry or not. My responsibility is to ensure that my son gets all the nutrients he needs and then some. By 12.30pm, we both have lunch and then he naps from 1.30pm to 3.30pm. No. That’s not when I rest. I then shove the dirty laundry into the machine, then stack dirty plates into the dishwasher, clean the kitchen, clean the toilets and get the bedroom in order.
Rrrriiiiinnnngggg! My son is up. It’s 3.3opm. He goes to the potty, I make him milk and let him watch some TV. 4pm and I’m thawing frozen beef/chicken to cook for dinner. While that happens, I tidy up the house, water my plants, take the clothes out of the washer and put it into the drier. I take 30 minutes to sit down, check my e-mails and before I know it, it’s already 5pm. I take the clothes out of the drier, fold them and then start cooking. My hubby is back. I serve dinner at 6.30pm, feed my son, load the dishes into the dishwasher. I bathe my son, get him ready for bed. Sometimes from 2pm to 4pm I go out with my son where I take street snaps or check out new products at the drugstore or department store. Either way, we are back by 4.30pm as I’ll need enough time to prepare dinner. No, there is no time to sneak a nap or watch TV or just lie down not doing anything. Contrary to what I thought stay at home moms could do since they are at home that whole day. As soon as my son goes to bed at 10pm, I fire up my laptop and get cracking at my blog.
I curl in my bed with the laptop, do some Polyvore sets which I then use in my stories. Finish up my stories, load some pictures on Picasa and submit my post. I check that everything is on Twitter, Facebook page, Instagram, Pinterest and even LinkedIn. Check my Logaholics analytics. 225 pageviews. Good God. Can’t there be more? Please?
So, this beckons the question. Which life was harder? The corporate mom or the stay at home mom? Well, neither. I can’t honestly say that working was easier and obviously, I can’t say that staying at home is easier. What is the difference?
To me, personally, being a working mom was challenging because you have a different set of responsibilities outside of home. You also have people to manage, expectations to meet and work to deliver. All very time sensitive with a set quality benchmark. But the thing about work is that if you are really sick or burnt out, you can take a sick leave. You can reschedule certain meetings or renegotiate some deadlines. At home, you can’t renegotiate a hungry tummy and certainly cannot postpone dirty laundry. You also can’t avoid tidying up the bedroom and cleaning up bathrooms. These all have deadlines and to avoid chaos, these deadlines have to be kept. You also cannot ask a three-year old to “meet you half way” nor can you ask him to “share the load”. You can’t motivate a child the same way you would a staff and no, they don’t have hard KPIs. And again, no, we don’t sleep all day at home. Seriously.
Stay-at-home moms, I’m sorry I was wrong about you. After having experienced both sides, I have to say that whether you are a corporate mom or a stay-at-home mom, AS LONG AS YOU ARE A MOM, you have a big responsibility. And nothing is more precious than your child.
Since starting this post, I’ve left the kitchen counter and have taken 5 pauses. Once to cook, once to clean, once to feed my son, then feed myself, another to get ready for bed. I’m going to publish this post now and kiss my son good night. Sweet dreams, world! Tomorrow, a new adventure awaits!
So here are some of my secrets to sanity. Whether you are a working mom or stay-at-home mom:
Make cooking easy
I always pre-marinate all my meats and chickens. I separate them in zip lock bags according to the serving size that I want. Then, when I feel like cooking them, I just remove the frozen bag and thaw. The easiest is to grill chicken in the oven for 40 mins at 180 degrees celcius. This helped me tremendously when I was working full time.
Get a clothes folder
You know that simple clothes folding gadget? Get those. Folding clothes is the least favourite thing on my list. But the folding contraption (which I made out of card board) really helps by leaps and bounds!
Find an outlet
Blogging has helped me tremendously. It lets me think clearly and to share my thoughts. Write about things that you like, get inspired and get excited again.
Make sure your child naps in the afternoon
Yes! Please. This is the only time you get to do your chores swiftly. For working moms, this is helpful when you want to catch up on weekend chores.
Give your child an activity he can do independently
Your child should have different activities that he can do with you and ones that he can do on his own. Imagine you folding clothes with your child wanting you to read a book or build a castle. Find activities that he can do on his own which are still enriching and fun. My son loves painting on canvas and also creating monsters from recycled items. It’s the time for him to draw whatever he likes You can also get those colouring books with the magic colours that only transfer on the book and leaves no stain on other things. It’s from Crayola. At the same time, be sure to pick activities that he will enjoy doing together with you.
Wear a facial mask before bedtime
Yes, treat yourself to a refreshing and soothing mask after a long day. I love the SK-II facial treatment mask. Or the Origins mask. Also try those masks from Estee Lauder. They are great!
Dance when you’re alone
I like to do this when my son is asleep and while I’m doing the dishes. Go crazy for a few minutes. Get it out of your system. Jump, turn, twirl. Do whatever you want before heading back to reality.
Play with makeup
I love doing this before my son wakes up in the morning. Try an eyeliner do. Or even stick on funky nail stickers like those from House of Holland. For working moms, you can try this on weekends during your child’s nap time. It’s quite therapeutic.
What are your secrets? What do you think about working moms or stay-at-home moms? Do share!