Today’s guest is another long-time internet friend and fellow high school teacher – Crystal. When she first emailed me about this series, she said, “I’d be glad to attempt to contribute some working mom info, but I’m mostly a disaster… Each day is about survival.” To which I promptly responded, “Girl, ME TOO.” I hope all of you wonderful working mamas out there are finding this series to be encouraging and NOT at all intimidating or like just another reminder about where you don’t quite “measure up.” My heart behind this whole thing is to create a place (at least for 31 days) where we don’t feel alone… There has been more than one night since we started when I take a deep sigh after finally closing Sam’s door for bed and remind myself “there are at least 30 other moms around the country who just did this whole crazy routine I call life too.” The thing is – we are all a little bit of a disaster (well, at least most of us, I think). And, while I think every single one of my contributors is being truthful about their “typical day” etc., I think for a lot of us, that’s the “best case scenario” – not necessarily the norm. I hope that’s coming across as you read each of these posts and that you are left feeling inspired, understood, and blessed. 🙂
Now… On to Crystal…
Crystal lives in southern Illinois where she teaches high school at the same school from which she graduated and runs a commercial vegetable farm with her husband and his family. That means that for eight months of the year she basically has a second full time job on top of teaching. Whew. They also are raising two little boys – Ryan (born in March 2013) and Eli (following close behind in June 2014). Here’s her input:
I get up between 5:30 and 5:45 so I can shower before Eli (the baby–3 months) wakes up. Both of my boys sleep through the night, but Eli still nurses so we have to plan accordingly. I shower and attempt to get most of my beautifying routine (HA!) done before Eli wakes up. If he sleeps later than 6:15 (which is happening fairly frequently these days), I’ll pump a bottle for Daddy to give him. Otherwise, we nurse.
Pumping/Nursing takes 15-20 minutes. I *try* to get on the road by 7 am because I like to get into my classroom early, so I leave the boys with Chris. It gives me the opportunity to relax and look at my day before I actually deal with students. On days when papers are due, it’s not unusual for me to have 5 or 6 students waiting for me when I arrive. Printer ink is pricey these days 🙂 But leaving that early usually means I don’t get to see Ryan before he gets up for the day 🙁
I teach until 3:12 (on a normal day), and I attempt to leave for the day by 4 pm. On a good day, I might get out of there at 3:45 pm. I usually get to pump twice at work–once on my planning period and then once at lunch. The rest of the day is go, go, go. (Pumping and teaching still totally freaks me out – you girls that are making it work amaze and motivate me!!)
4 pm: Monday & Wednesday I head straight to Mom and Dad’s and nurse Eli right away. (Chris, my husband, works from 3pm to 11 pm Saturday through Wednesday. Since our schedules have a short overlap, my mom and my MIL split watching the kids for the two hours Chris and I aren’t around.) Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I head straight home so I can nurse him promptly. On Monday or Wednesday, Ryan and I (and Eli) usually eat with my Mom and Dad because my Mom has been awesome enough to cook dinner. Between nursing and dinner (and playing a little bit with Ryan), we usually stay until a little after 6 pm. (Growing up, my family ate dinner at my grandparents’ every Monday night. It was SUCH a sweet tradition and something I still treasure today! FYI.)
On Tuesdays, my MIL keeps the boys at my house. I try to find something to cook for Ryan and I on those nights so we can eat dinner. Often it’s something simple like sandwiches. We eat a lot of peanut butter on Tuesdays 🙂 Sometimes I’m ambitious and we get Hamburger Helper, or if I’m REALLY organized (once in a blue moon), we have something in the crockpot. (We’re big fans of cereal for dinner at my house!)
On Thursday, Chris is home. We either go out for dinner or cook something quickly at home so we can be at small group by 6:30.
On Friday, Chris is home. We try to go out and spend some time as a family.
6:45-7:30 pm: Put Eli in his bouncy seat and get Ryan in the bathtub. After his bath, I get Ryan in a clean diaper and jammies, go through his night-night routine and put him to bed.
7:30-8:30 pm: Eli’s night-night routine starts between 7 and 7:30. Some days he wants to nurse sooner than others. It usually takes 30-45 minutes to nurse him at this feeding (so he gets enough to sleep through the night). We spend a little bit of cuddle time without wrangling big brother, and then he gets a clean diaper, jammies and a swaddle, and I put him down for the night. Sometimes I fit a bath into this time period.
8:30 pm: I attempt some light cleaning–picking up toys, cleaning off the counter, putting a load of laundry in, loading/unloading the dishwasher, hanging up/putting away clothes, making sure the cloth diaper situation is under control, getting my lunch/water together for the next day, cleaning out the diaper bag. I’ve given up almost entirely on sweeping and dusting. Frankly, though, my house is a mess most of the time. I feel pretty blessed to be able to do any laundry, and this is often the time period in which I try to get grading done for the next day :I We are talking sincerely about hiring a cleaning lady. (DO IT!)
9:30 pm: Sit down and pump for at least 10 minutes. If my supply has been dwindling, I may do a power pump (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off for an hour–if I’m power pumping, I may actually get to read a book!). On the nights I don’t power pump, I consider starting an exercise routine. I’ve scolded myself for NOT starting one. But frankly, I’m tired. So I usually go to bed. When I do power pump, it’s 10:30, and I know I only have a few hours to sleep before I have to start all over again.
On the nights Chris is home, I do most of the same things from 7:30-9:30 with the exception of power pumping. Usually, Chris and I will talk and/or watch whatever TV box set we are into at the time. Sometimes we have time to go for a walk after we eat, so we fit that in if we can. (I love walking with Jeff in the evenings when we have time, but it is so so hard to fit it in.)
But the hardest thing is leaving my boys. When I come home, Ryan may be saying a new word, or Eli looks just a little bigger than he did. Sometimes I think about how fleeting babyhood is and it makes me want to hug them tight every single second of the day. I’m also not sure if Eli will be my last baby so I don’t want to miss a single thing.
I also think we all need one person in our lives to help keep things in perspective. I get overwhelmed fairly often. Here’s an example:
Last week, Eli was super fussy and wouldn’t nurse. Because I couldn’t nurse Ryan and I really wanted to, I’ve been a little paranoid about my supply. (Yes, I’m aware that sounds a little nuts. Give me the benefit of the doubt.) Add to that situation the fact that my entire house was a mess–there were four loads of laundry laying on my couch, my kitchen was a mess, the fruit flies were multiplying by the second, I haven’t swept in ages and I had just discovered that six (!!!) of my cloth diapers had delaminated. Any one of those things probably wouldn’t have been a big deal, but all of them together put me on the edge. I called my mom bawling because I was pretty sure I was failing at life and my kids were going to be permanently damaged as human beings. My mom talked me through one issue at a time.
I didn’t get everything clean that night. But Eli, who has been a little fussy because he’s sick, did calm down after some gas medicine, and I got a lot of the laundry put away. In that moment, though? I just needed someone to tell me that it was OK. I wasn’t a failure as a mom because I had laundry to do and my milk supply wasn’t going to disappear if I HAD to give Eli a bottle. (He did end up nursing, but it was nice to be reminded of this particular fact.) Sometimes you just need someone to tell you it’s OK; you’re doing a good job; take a breath. (Oh have I ever been there. Thank goodness for moms!)
I also think we need to know that we need one another. We need other moms who have been there or are there. We need to pat each other on the back and laugh about the stupid things that have happened in our day. We need to share our stories and remind one another that this is just a season–and really, a very short season. A lady at my church told me, “The days are long, but the years are short.” I try to think about that when Ryan is throwing a temper tantrum or Eli is having a fussy day. And I remind myself that very quickly, they won’t be little any more. It helps me keep things in perspective most days.
Plus, there are so many things about motherhood that just make me laugh. We are the grossest people on the face of the planet. Who else would stick their fingers in someone’s pants (often into a mound of poop), wipe snot on their own clothes because there wasn’t a tissue available, get peed on (and in the name of full disclosure, not always change because really? It’s just pee.), stick your nose in a clean/dirty cloth diaper just to make sure the laundry routine is working or check out different kids of poop just to make sure your kid is OK? And that’s on a normal day, Ladies. Add in the extras, and we are a walking circus. A circus of love and hilarity, but a circus nonetheless. (YES. I love this. We HAVE to laugh!)