A Eureka Moment. No, Not the Vacuum.

in Relationships & Family

I am pleased to introduce you to Liz Bronson. She is one of our newest contributors to the Relationships & Family section. Here’s a bit about her:

I am a full time mom of two goofy toddlers, a part time corporate recruiter, and the voice behind www.weekdaysolomommy.com where I explore the ups and downs of having a spouse who travels for work.  I try my best to juggle it all while maintaining my sanity and sense of humor.


"Liz Bronson"

Last Sunday afternoon while feeling badly about skipping out on our Sunday night family dinner to take the 4:30 yoga class (it had been WEEKS and my body was craving a good stretch), I had a Eureka moment.  The stress in my life is about time.  And trade offs.  And not knowing whether the trade offs I’m making are the right ones.   The more I’ve been thinking about this, the more examples I get…

Here are a few:

1. After work, I take about 30 minutes to make a healthy meal for my family (If you haven’t looked at America’s Test Kitchen’s 30 Minute Recipe book I highly recommend it).  I stop working around 5, send AA home, and then sit my kids in front of the TV so that I can make them a healthy, home cooked, balanced meal.  It’s important to me that they eat healthy, and I enjoy feeding my family.  Still, that 30 minutes could be spent playing with my kids while a frozen dinner heats in the microwave.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

2. If I do something for me, like go to yoga or run to the mall to return one of my many online orders, I leave TD alone to take care of 2 kids. When I’m gone, I feel guilty because I know that it’s tough to be alone with them, and he’s solo while I’m enjoying myself.  Yes, sometimes I go on a weekend at nap time, but then I’m sacrificing time to get things done around the house, quality time with TD etc… I can’t get away guilt free… If I go out at night, I’m leaving him alone to put them to bed, or paying a sitter so I can get play time.

3. My choice to work part time works well for me, most of the time. But, because I’m part time and the rest of the company isn’t, I am constantly getting work calls during my mommy time.  Of course, I have to answer (to the caller’s chagrin as my children whine/fuss/fight in the background) because I don’t want anyone to see my working part time as a detriment etc, but that’s taking time away from my kids and my mommy time.  Or I’ll see an email on my phone (that I’m checking while with the kids, thus not giving them my full attention….), and run downstairs to check a spreadsheet or do something to “keep the process moving”.

[pullquote]I don’t want anyone to see my working part time as a detriment[/pullquote]

4.  I’ll go watch Princess’ ballet class while checking emails, knowing I should be at work, since it is during my “work time”, but she asks so nicely and I never go… Same goes for when I go to a doctor’s appointment, or (here’s where I get really crazy), do something like get my eyebrows waxed.

5. I hole up in my room watching The Bachelor on a Monday night when TD is home, hoping that he won’t come in, and if he does, tell him what I’m doing and watch him walk away a little disappointed that his wife chose Boring Brad over him.

I think you get the point.

[pullquote]I realized that I’m having a hard time living in the moment.[/pullquote] Since this “Eureka” I’ve been trying to put the phone away, and be more present with my kids.  I love being with them, but hate that nagging tug of the other 15 things I have to do. Why can’t I sort clothes while playing trains?

Well… because then I’m really sorting clothes and not playing trains at all.

I own the fact that I’m busy, but I need to compartmentalize that busyness in order to not feel like I’m doing everything in a so-so way.  I also need to think about what’s really important to me, and how I can get some time for myself without feeling badly.   The problem is that the only time that I have for myself is either time that I have carved out to spend with the kids (mainly mornings), time carved out for work (afternoons) and time carved out for family (weekends).

Because TD isn’t home during the week, it’s hard for me to take away from our family time to do something for me because I feel like I’m choosing me over us, and that feels wrong.  I don’t want to take more time away from the kids because I already take afternoons away from them.  In the evenings, if I want to get away, I need to hire a sitter.   And, frankly, I’m exhausted at night and don’t usually want to go out.  What ends up suffering is work, and that’s usually just for glamorous things like doctor’s appointments or things for the kids, because I can justify it.

So, here are my questions to you…

When do you take time to get out of the house just for you?   What has to give?  How do you avoid the guilt?  Do you think that there’s a way to get true relaxation with 2 toddlers?