Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you have a sweet-filled day! My kids have a bit of the crud right now so we have been laying low today. I feel like we have been sick this entire season. Here’s hoping it passes soon. Today’s post has been in draft form for weeks, but I just couldn’t get around to finishing it. I would love to know how others split their time or if you’ve made some changes that have worked for your family.
Finding balance when you have a family and work outside of the home can be difficult. I’ve tried it all: full-time, part-time, flextime, daycare, etc. – and in each situation it felt like a trade-off in time, money, or memories. Like a lot of working parents, I’ve struggled with the guilt that often goes along with having a career and not being with my kids all the time. I’d think: I should do it all because I’m the mom. I’ve realized that this doesn’t exactly work for me and it’s not realistic to try to do everything.
What seems to work the best for us is a blended approach. The girls are in preschool three days per week, but we also have a nanny who cares for them on certain days. I now work part-time and I’m home with the girls two days per week. And although I still experience guilt that I’m not “doing it all” and occasional jealousy of my friends who don’t work, I honestly feel like this is the best setup for our family.
At school the girls can learn and be exposed to new ideas. They can interact with others and have a variety of experiences. They have a nanny who truly loves them and can care and comfort them just as I would. And I have my own time with the girls. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. I no longer feel stressed or pressured about work since I have dropped my hours and the time I have with them is truly OUR time. So for now it works. Will things change? Yes. And then we’ll try to find another routine.
I say this because sometimes it can feel like you have to do one thing or the other. Often the best approach can be a little of everything. I realize not everyone may have the ability to work part-time, or find (and keep!) a great nanny, but it’s worth exploring different solutions for your family. This requires a little give and take, asking for help, and recognizing when you need to change your approach.
Matt and I have made some adjustments at home to make managing the girls a bit easier. We call it our “divide and conquer approach.” I thought I’d share a few examples of the ways we partner on the bedtime routine since that seems to give us the most trouble (this is definitely not something we’ve mastered!).
Bath time – When the girls were infants, giving them a bath was unquestionably a two person job. It was impossible to bathe them without two sets of hands. As they got bigger, I began giving the girls their baths on my own. I really enjoyed doing it, too. Then things changed and they started fighting me about taking a bath. It was a battle to wash or rinse their hair and there was a lot of frustration on my part. I began to dread bath nights because I knew it would challenging. Matt kept offering to do the bath, but I hated the idea of giving it up because it was supposed to be “my” thing. More than that, I was afraid that Matt would do it better (which he did!). But it works so much better for us now. And I use the free time to straighten up the kitchen and pack meals for the next day.
Getting pajamas on and combing hair – This might seem like a simple task, but it’s not. The bath revves up my kids like nothing else. They run around half-naked, dancing like lunatics until I force their pajamas on them. And their hair can get really tangled (Pssst. I use this on Ashlyn’s hair and it’s the only thing that works). I let the girls pick out their pjs and then I help them get dressed and ready for bed.
Both of us
Brush teeth and potty – This is one we share, but Matt usually has the toothbrushes set up and ready to go. We let the girls brush (aka suck the toothpaste off) and then we do the actual brushing and cleaning. We also help them floss which is ridiculous. One of us will take the girls to the potty once or twice before bed.
Story reader – I pick out one book and then the girls add about a dozen more. 🙂 So I’ll read a few stories at night and then we’ll play a little bit with the lights low. We also talk a bit and go over what will happen the next day. Once I tuck them in, they usually ask me for snuggles, hugs, and one more story so I’ll make up a super short one that lasts around 30 seconds. It tends to be about a kitty who is lost or a hippo who ate too much. Then lights out.
Lights out continues for another 15 minutes…back and forth…in and out of bed…
Bedtime closer – Matt’s the “El Duque” of bedtime. If it were left soley up to me then our good nights would last an hour. The girls intentionally like to drag out the bedtime by asking for more snuggles, kisses, stories, etc. I secretly love it, but sometimes it becomes impossible to get them settled. So once I feel like the girls are ready I’ll tell them Daddy will be up to tuck them in and bring them a sip of water. He’ll have them out immediately – hah!
What is your schedule like?
Do you have a specific bedtime routine with your kids?