When I sat down to write about being a working parent, I hesitated. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to come across as negative or I’m unsure you’re ready to hear about the harsh reality of it. After all, nobody told me how hard it would be. I think they were trying not to scare me but, wow, how I wish that someone had kept it real.
Since they’re experts in keeping it real, I reached out to some dear friends and best Moms I know to ask, “what’s the hardest thing about being a working parent”? While the conversations that followed cannot be shared word for word, I thought a few highlights might help illustrate the reality of the working parent struggle.
Weekends are an exercise in futility. All week you make lists, determined that the laundry will get done, bills will get paid, meals will get prepped, there will be quality family time, you’ll be at the Birthday party on time (and well dressed)…you get the point. Once kids enter the picture, weekends go from lazy brunches and shopping to a long list of things you have to get done so you can focus on your other job during the week. It makes it so hard to be present and enjoy. I bow down to those of you who have mastered juggling it all. No matter how many lists I make, they all go out the window when my kiddos want me to stop and color. So, for now, they’ll survive on chicken nuggets, wear whatever is clean and my house will never look like it belongs on HGTV.
Blowouts, manicures, and clothes that don’t have stains. That sounds like the intro to the best movie I’d ever watch. With all the lists (see above), it’s so easy to put yourself last. There are tiny humans to tame and so many other priorities that it can seem like eliminating your self care wish list will actually help lighten the load. Boy, is this the hardest one for me. You cannot pour from an empty cup and there’s a reason why they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first. A happy parent means a happy kid. I promise they will not die if you put them in front of the TV for 30 minutes while you enjoy a face mask.
Play dates, PTA meetings, bake sales & soccer games…are these people serious? How in the world are parents expected to do all of that and a day job? You cannot do it all and it’s ok to say “no”. It is so hard to feel like you’re not failing at life because you can’t be the class parent or the chaperone for the field trip. The guilt is real. Even more of a trip is the guilt you feel when you’re with your kids and you need to be working. They’re cute and all, but the anxiety of a looming presentation or report that has to get done can make it all feel overwhelming.
Morning coffee meetings are a cruel form of torture. Nobody with young kids will plan something before 8:30am if they can help it. There’s just no way to get kids ready, fed, off to childcare, and get yourself into a presentable state to be on time to a 7am meeting. If you have figured out how to do this without waking up at 4am, I’m all ears. If you tell me you have no issue with this, I’m calling you a liar. Hey, I’m just speaking the truth here, people.
Believe me, I could go on. However, these frustrations are just that. In the end, they really don’t matter more than the reception you get when you pick them up from school after a long day. For me, even the very worst work day is healed the minute one of my kids smiles at me. And, if I’m being honest, I feel pretty bad ass when I can go from a huge toddler meltdown to a board meeting without missing a beat. Once you’ve managed parenthood, nothing can scare you.
It’s for all these reasons and so many more that I set out to help working parents find balance. By creating a coworking space in Columbus, OH that includes on-site childcare, I hope to provide them with enough breathing room to feel like they can crush their business and parenthood. This community gets it, they’re there in the thick of it with you, and genuinely want to see that picture of your kids or hear about how they kept you up all night. You don’t stop being a parent when the work day starts, and now you don’t have to. No matter what frustrations you may or may not be feeling, we get it. Just remember: you’re doing great. You got this!