Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finding a balance

If anyone would've told me that I'd be busier as a stay-at-home mom and have less time for myself than I did when I was teaching full time, I would've politely laughed and let the unsolicited advice go in one ear and out the other.

But now, one year and several months later, that once silly sounding quip couldn't ring more true.

There are some days that despite busying myself with tasks from the time my feet touch the ground in the morning until my head hits the pillow at night,  I feel unproductive and lost, like I'm drowning in a sea of responsibilities. I check a dozen things off my list of to dos, only to add what feels like a couple hundred more.

There's always laundry to be done, a house to be cleaned, menus to plan, groceries to purchase, errands to run, and let's not forget, one very adorable toddler to care for.  There are days when all the must-dos of life leave little time for the want-tos---running, exercising, resting, reading, and blogging. And trying to find time for those couple extra little projects, not to mention my own goals and personal aspirations, leaves me sometimes feeling overwhelmed, like there's an elephant sitting on my chest.

Then there's the ever present guilt. Guilt for wanting time by myself after Bret gets home from work. Guilt for blogging when I should've been ironing and guilt for cleaning when I could've been working on a post.  There's exercise guilt when I skip a day to catch a few extra minutes of shut eye, and guilt when I go because that's time spent away from my family. And the list goes on and on.

Every day, I am constantly reminded of just how fortunate I am to be able to stay home with Gillian Grace and for a husband that works doubly hard to provide for our family. Watching GG grow and change from one day to the next is simply a blessing that trumps any paycheck, no matter the size, and makes any work load seem worthwhile. And, many years from now when Gillybean is sixteen and ignoring my wave goodbye as she jumps into a car with her friends, I'll think back on my days at home with her and remember our moments together fondly.

And though I enjoy being a stay-at-home-mom immensely, I do wonder if I'll ever get the hang of it. Just when I think I have it figured out, something new gets thrown in the mix and I'm back where I started, just trying to figure it all out. How do so many women make motherhood look so effortless? How do I learn to balance my roles as wife and mother without losing myself in the process? If I'm able to get everyone else on routines and schedules, it shouldn't be impossible to find one that works for me, right?!

Have you found just the right balance that works for you and your family? Or are you like me, the Mary Lou Retton of motherhood, and sometimes find yourself teetering on the unbalanced beam of life?

Tell me, how do you make it work?

Daily Dose of Gillian Grace

Sniffles and all, our lil' Gator loves college football Saturdays! But we sure do miss #15 (Tim Tebow)!
And congratulations to Lindsay, winner of the Baby Britches team spirit twirl skirt!




Same Sweet Girl: Memoir of a Southern Belle said...

Good morning Shannon!! I don't even know how you do it!!! But I'll tell you this...I know you do an amazing job at it. I can't give you advice obviously but you are an inspiration to me and if I ever have children I hope to be as good of a mom as you are. :)

Kristin @ Ellie-Town said...

I totally understand! It seems like the finish line is always moving!

Kelly @ Blessed Mommy, Blessed Wife said...

Oh, how I feel your pain! I work full-time too - albeit with flexible hours - which only adds to the chaos! The part about guilt when you do take time for yourself resonated with me as well. I think moms in general are all in a similar boat and you just have to find the balance that works for you. I find that if I make a list of the top things I *need* to accomplish in any given week plus the top things I *want* to accomplish, I give myself goals to work toward. Without those lists, I'm out of control!

You're doing an awesome job if your blog posts are any indication :)

* Mommy Southern * said...

I can relate oh too well!! I LOVE her dress and bow!!! :o)

Dana said...

Girl I am so with you! I think we just see other blogs or friends and thing they must have it all together, but they don't. I am working a schedule right now, but it seems like it just isn't working!! And it is harder when you are trying to do a schedule and you want to get out of the house too but then u are like well that will interfere with this or that. I don't know how ppl do it. Well I do! They are just lucky...haha!!!! Good luck on the schedule!!! If I figure out anyting I will fill u in...hehe

Susan said...

Sniffles? Could be worse......I woke up to Paige throwing up all over her bedroom carpet and then the hallway carpet, but by the time I scooped her up and ran her to the toilee, she had finished. Time to rent a carpet cleaner.
I swear I think I would rather go through child birth than deal with or throw up myself. Is there anything worse?

I Do Declare said...

Mary Lou was a 10 - just like I'm sure you are!!!

Honestly, when I was funemployed, even without a child (but a wedding to plan - hee!) I was amazed at how much a full time gig running a house CAN be if you choose to give that your focus. Granted, a house still has to run now that I'm back to work, but there's certainly no guilt if I don't empty the dishwasher first thing in the morning. Between commutes and fun lunches I still manage to find plenty of "me" time (and moments to leave rambling blog comments...), even during 9 to 5. Still, I have to constantly pray for balance, and when I think about adding parenting into the mix, it scares me! I hope I can make it at least look as seamless as the moms I know should I ever get to tackle that job!

Bethany said...

As a working mom, I too feel the many guilts you are talking about. & I am not sure if I will ever find the balance, but I think it comes down to just trusting that GG feels loved and taken care of...everything else will work itself out!

Laura@Cowboy Boots said...

haha no help! i just keep adding little bodies to the already total chaos!!!

i always get shocked when i hear stay at home mom's say they are going back to work b/c they are bored. Then they are doing something right b/c bored sure isn't the word i would use!

Annie said...

I'm not a momma yet but when I do become one I will be a full time working mom as well.
New follower, I'm sure I'll be able to relate to you some day soon ;)
Your little lady is a doll!! I LOVE her little outfit and bow!! Too Cute!

PearlsAndGreenTea said...

When will that guilty feeling ever go away? When I was working, I sometimes felt that I was a better mom in some ways because the time I spent with her was limited but good, quality time.


Lindsay said...

Ughh girl AMEN to this. You spoke my mind exactly. I struggle with this every day. :(

SassySillySpunky said...

Oh Shannon...I could have written this post myself. I have SO many things I want to get done, but the list just always seems to get longer rather than shorter.

As you know, I have tried to cut back on blogging, but when I do that I feel like I'm losing even more of myself since it is something I REALLY enjoy doing, both writing and reading blogs.

I thought it would get easier as Drake got older, but I feel like it is getting harder. He is a crazy wild man and always climbing on EVERYTHING so I can't take my eye off of him for a second!!

I do believe it WILL get easier!! I'm always here to chat if you want:)

melismama said...

Balance..hmm...have not used that word to describe us yet. Being a SAHM is WORK and in addition, we homeschool...I really don't have much time for "me", although it's ok with me right now. The seeds I am planting in my children and my life, will make it easier in the future.

I "feel your pain" when it comes to so much to keep up in the house, running after the toddler(s).

There will be time for "me" later on, and I am sure when that time comes, I will wish the kiddies were at my feet (sometimes) 8)

Anonymous said...

It is hard to manage a home, spend and take care of your family, excercise, clean, cook, and have a social life! All I can say that I do is just the best I can...Some days that means dishes may be left in the sink a little longer than I might like to play with the kids, but at the end of the day it's worth it! It is hard to juggle all the hats we wear as wives and mothers! Hang in there girl!

Joni said...

i am so glad i am not the only one who feels this way. some days i joke and say "geez, if i were working, i would at least get a lunch break". i feel like i got more accomplished during that one hr. lunch break than i do all day at home sometimes. i definitely don't know how i did it while having a job because i can barely do it now. there is just so much to do. you are doing a great job though. just keep a positive attitude and move forward one step at a time. don't know if you have ever heard the story of the Daffodil Principle, but if you haven't you should. it is very inspiring! here it is in video story version.


mama k said...

I feel like I'm in the same boat as you...I wish we could function well with less sleep, then I might get a few more things checked off the daily list!

I also wish we could freeze the time we have with our little ones...I don't like thinking about him being a teenager...much less leaving for college!

Jennifer said...

I think you took the words right out of my mouth. And the mouths of most stay-at-home moms. Finding balance is so hard and I don't think it ever gets easier. Making short term goals on a daily basis seems to work better for me. I would love to have time to do the things that I enjoy. And somedays I might be able to to. I just tell myself that this is a phase of life and I just try my best. As the kids get older certain things will get easier yet other things will get harder. We should just all be thankful like you said that we are able to stay home...even though there are times you want to run far away..

Cari @ Socially Circled said...

I could have easily written every word of this post! I totally understand! I have always worked a full-time job, up until last Fall when we moved and I decided to be a stay-at=home mom. I swear, working full-tiime was easier! I look back and think how on earth did I work a full-time job, travel for work, still take care of my munchkin, have a clean/organized house and still have time for myself . Now, I feel like I am running in circles! I"m trying to be more laid back about getting everything done, so that I don't feel like I missed out on what's truly important later down the road! By the way, if I ever have another baby and it's a girl....might have to borrow the name Gillian Grace! Gillybean!!!! Are you kidding me...cutest name ever!!
Hang in there, Momma!!! : )

Karen said...

Hi Shannon, such a good post! I think you speak for so many of us new moms. It's so hard to be everything and do everything, let alone, make time for ourselves and what makes us happy! I often wonder what I did with my time before Jillian came along!
I find it so hard to balance everything, especially working part time. On my days off, I feel guilty not logging into my work laptop to check my email, but then when I do, I feel guilty for taking that time away from Jillian for silly work matters. The guilt just never ends! You are such a good person, that is why it is so hard sometimes to do everything. I think you are doing an amazing job, you should be proud of yourself! I wish we lived closer, I know you and I and our J(G)illy Beans would be great friends!!! Take care my friend!


Lexie Loo & Dylan Too said...

I completely understand and can relate to every word you wrote. Just when I think I've got it all figured out,something changes!

Annette said...

Oh, I'm still getting the hang of everything. I had a tough time setting up a schedule as a SAHM, and I equally have a hard time now that I'm working at several part-time jobs. Where is the "me" time? And, if you do give yourself "me" time, how do you not let the guilt creep in? I so wish I had an answer. I empathize with you on this one :)

Emily said...

oh my goodness! I am bawling crying reading this post... I totally relate! I feel guilty when I am away from cate just for a minute or guilty when I blog, or look at facebook because I feel like I should be savoring the moment with cate... You are doing a wonderful job of balancing it all because you have a precious healthy, happy lil girl!! hang in there my friend:) U do have it all down and under control!! xoxo

Brittany Ann said...

1. Even without a baby, I find working from home and being a SAHW exhausting and crazy! I have no time! Less than when I worked two-part time jobs and taught full time! I'm right there with you!

2. G.G.'s little Gator gear could not be more adorable! Go Gators!

Kristen @ ladybug-blessings.com said...

I'm not a stay at home mom (heck, I can't even find a teaching job- love the, you need experience but we won't give it to you... anyway) but I definitely believe you that being a stay at home mom is busy! Just being a nanny and doing stay at home mom stuff I can barely do it and I have absolutely no idea how moms work and do that stuff :)

Sixty-Fifth Avenue said...

I have been home for over 4 years now and I feel the same way most of the time. Sometimes I think having an only child adds to it, she expects me to play....all day and I can't. When things get crazy, like the last few months, I try to get extra organized and make a plan for everyday.

Liz said...

if anyone makes it looks easy, it's just a facade. :)

ya know, i finally reached a point when maddie was around 18 months + where i said i needed to get back to doing things for me, getting out with friends, or even just out by myself. unfortunately, it wasn't until i was done with the baby making.

JessicasCoupons said...

Great blog! You have the best banner pic EVER! My youngest son has those legs and I just love them. My oldest never had the those great gams. :)

Thanks for the follow- I am now following you as well.

Have a great night!

sarah @ life {sweet} life said...

Oh my, I totally could've written this post! I absolutely love being a SAHM too but it's nothing like I imagined - I'm so busy! I'm ashamed to say I have yet to start cooking dinner regularly even...I have no clue how other mom's get it done. I'm sure you're doing a great job though! :)