An Ode to Working Moms (and Dads)

Baby Diet Coke

Don’t worry… it was empty.

I’m 110% exhausted. Monday was a typical day of working from home, but for the rest of the week, I’m working at the office because I have meetings. Yesterday (Tuesday), I set my alarm for 6:30am, but Sally woke me up at 6:15. After getting her dressed and taming her baby mullet, I stuck her in her bouncer and proceeded to try to get ready for the day. About 15 minutes in, Sally started yelling because she didn’t want to be in her chair, duh. Her yelling woke up Johnny, who was trying to catch a few extra minutes of sleep before his alarm went off. I gathered my bag and Sally’s bag, gave Johnny a kiss goodbye, and left the house. I dropped Sally off at my sister’s, snuck out the door, and began the hour commute to the office.

For the next 7 hours, I worked and chatted with coworkers, and downed half a pitcher of Diet Coke to keep from drifting into dreamland. And then at 4:00pm, I began the hour commute home. I looked at the dashboard and saw that it was 70 degrees outside, the first warm day of the year. But I didn’t have the energy to care. A little after 5:00, I picked up my Sal gal, who wouldn’t even acknowledge me for a couple of minutes because she felt betrayed (we have this telepathy thing going on). When we got home, walking from the parking garage to the elevator took an embarrassing amount of effort. Johnny arrived home, and for the next hour and a half, we tried to spend quality time with Sally, whom we haven’t seen all day. She was so very happy to be home, and we colored and ate corn, strawberries, ham, and cheerios for dinner. And by “we” I mean Sally. And then it was bedtime for Sally, and suddenly the house was quiet, and I considered passing out on the couch.

I resisted and instead mumbled, “Johnny, I’m so tired. And in just a couple of hours, I’ll be going to sleep and then doing it all over again.” I called my favorite take-out place because there was no way I was doing anything but stuffing my face and watching TV for the rest of the night.

And I couldn’t help but wonder, How do working parents do this every day? How do they get their kids ready, get themselves ready, and commute every single day? Where do they find the super human strength necessary to do it five days in a row? And the same goes for you dads. No wonder Johnny zonks out if he comes in contact with a slightly soft surface after work days. Working and commuting is exhausting. But working and commuting with kids? Fuhgeddaboudit. Don’t get me wrong… working from home with kids has its insanity moments, too, but I’d forgotten what the office grind was like.

I don’t give props often (mostly because it sounds unnatural coming from me), but major props to you working moms and dads. I am so impressed. It’s totally kicking my butt this week. Also, only two more days ’til the weekend!

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  • Reply Brian March 26, 2014 at 7:51 am

    My wife has been in DC since last Friday for work, so I have been flying solo with my little guy. It has been great. Saturday morning we got up and I asked him what he wanted for breakfast (remember he is only 21 months old) and he said “eggs and bagel.” So we went to our favorite bagel place and got him an everything bagel with egg, which he proceeding to eat almost as fast as daddy ate his. We then went to the Chirldren’s Museum (thanks mom and dad for the membership it is/was a great gift). After letting him run around I took him to my parent’s house for nap time so I could do our taxes.

    So far this week I have been getting up at my normal time (6am) and getting him ready for daycare and feeding him some Kix and letting him watch some Henry Hugglemonster, so I can get dressed. I take him to daycare, do my job, pick him up, make some dinner (or if I am lucky getting a meal with my parents) and play with the little guy when we get done. If it hadn’t been sub zero all week we probably would have gone to a playground or gone for a walk in the evening, but oh well. I get him to sleep around 7-7:15 and then I can relax and get caught up on some laundry. It really isn’t so bad, the hardest part is just trying to do any cooking when he is running around the house.

    • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 12:13 am

      Oh man, I didn’t even touch on working (temporarily) single parents! It sounds like you’ve got it under control, though. If my parents lived nearby, I’d stop in for dinner every single night. You better be taking advantage of that!

  • Reply Halsy March 26, 2014 at 8:14 am

    First can I say you are so lucky that Sally will still go in the bouncer/jumper! My daughter was so talk she outgrew it at 9 months :( I don’t know how you do it as a work at home parent! I find it hard to just keep my house as clean as I’d like as just a stay at home parent! Being almost 9 months pregnant May be a small factor. I don’t know how I would fit more than a couple hours of work in an that would be only if she napped! That being said I have respect for parents who both work and have to get out the door on time with kids! I think that would be a lot of morning stress and dinner time stress. Also missing the kiddos during the day. I think it doesn’t matter if you work, work from home or are a stay at home parent…they are all difficult and tiring just in different ways!

    • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 12:30 am

      Agreed, Halsy… I think every situation is equally hard in different ways.

      Crazy that you’re due so soon!! So exciting! Our house looks like a war zone and neither of us is 9 months or any months pregnant :).

  • Reply jane savers @ solving the money puzzle March 26, 2014 at 8:50 am

    I am not sure being exhausted all the time and rushing all the time is worth it. If there was a way to work 4 days each week or even 4.5 days each week to give yourself more time then I would take it..

    My boys/men are both away at university. I worked less and did without a lot when they were younger so that I could be there with them and so that I could sleep in and have lazy pajama days on a Friday sometimes.

    The two of you are so on track financially that maybe it is time to take another look at the budget and see if you can schedule more life time and less work time.

    • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 12:31 am

      If this were my usual schedule, I’d definitely be rethinking everything. Luckily, I don’t usually go into the office, so working from home is a bit more manageable. I will be very glad when this week is done!

  • Reply Wendy March 26, 2014 at 9:54 am

    My husband and I both work full time outside the home. However, one big difference is we each only have about a 15 minute commute (8-10 miles each). I think spending so much time in the car in your case takes it’s toll on you. Short commute = more time with the little guy. Cooking dinner is hard but we try to stick to simple stuff during the week – hooray for crock pots and casseroles. We even did grilled ham & cheese sandwiches with tomato soup & steamed veggies the other night to keep it short & sweet to fix dinner.

    Hubby works 6-3 & I work 8-5, so I am on kid duty for the morning and he is on kid duty right after work. Fortunately we were blessed with one that likes to sleep in. So I get up around 6am, get myself completely ready to go including packing the car with diaper bag, etc then go wake him up, change the diaper and head out the door. He gets breakfast at Grandma’s or daycare depending on the day. They also put normal clothes on him after breakfast – he is delivered to both locations in his jammies. Not worth fighting a 2 year old in the morning on getting dressed. Sometimes the diaper change is a fight.

    Hubby then picks the little guy up after he gets out of work. They typically walk the dog & play outside if it’s warm enough (ugh Michigan winters…) or they play inside with toys and have snacks until I get home around 5:15. I fix dinner and we typically are eating by 6pm or sooner. After that, it’s play time for an hour or so then bedtime routine for the kid. Once he’s in bed, we clean up dishes, pack lunches, hang out for a bit then go to bed ourselves. Often we are both in bed by 9pm.

    It can certainly be tiring but you figure out a routine that works for everyone when you’re forced to. Anything from the ordinary – like when we changed from crib to twin bed recently – made the whole house tired for a couple weeks. But that passed and we’re back on our ‘normal for us’ routine.

    • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 12:37 am

      The commute definitely makes a huge difference. Spending two hours driving in bumper to bumper traffic has been the most exhausting part of it.

      It sounds like you and your hubby have a great system down, switching off morning and evenings with your little guy. So organized! And I’ve gotta get more familiar with my crockpot… tonight Johnny and I ate scrambled eggs and toast for dinner, haha. I didn’t have energy to make anything else!

      • Reply Wendy March 27, 2014 at 9:45 am

        Meal planning makes it much easier. We typically do a brinner once a week or at least once every other week. I also often put casseroles together the night before after little one is in bed then hubby will throw in the oven before I get home so when I get home from work it’s time to eat!

        • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm

          Such great ideas. I plan meals, but they’re never one-dish or one-pot meals, and then I’m too tired to make them. Thanks for teaching me of your ways! Time to start scouring my favorite recipe blogs for some casseroles and crock pot dishes :).

  • Reply Little House March 26, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I’m not a parent (but I’m a teacher) and I really don’t know how parents do it. I think we humans have made a huge mistake in building up this crazy infrastructure/lifestyle that requires us to travel too far to work, work way too many hours, and not spend enough with our families. What were we thinking?! Sometimes, I think the simple life sounds much more appealing.

    • Reply NZ Muse March 26, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      Word. I seriously have no idea. As an adult couple with no kids, taking care of ourselves is hard enough.

    • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 12:40 am

      Yessss. I’d like to sign up for the simple life, too, please! I think sometimes Johnny and I justify working hard now so we can work less later, but I’m not sure if later is ever going to come ;).

  • Reply Becky @ RunFunDone March 26, 2014 at 10:06 am

    And it’s posts like this that have me thinking, “Yep, I’m pretty happy without kids. I probably don’t need them.” My whole life it was all, “I’ll have kids, but I can’t have them yet.” Now I’m at the point in my career where I could have them, but I don’t know if I want them!

    • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 12:48 am

      On paper, kids really don’t seem to make a lot of sense. But not only is our kid the best part of our life, but I think we’ll even have a few more some day :).

  • Reply Rob March 26, 2014 at 10:29 am

    “I looked at the dashboard and saw that it was 70 degrees outside”
    Wanna trade places?
    This morning it was only 15 degrees here in TO (that’s F degrees, not C)

    Later today “grandpa” (that’s moi) heads over to our daughter’s place to pull a gig tomorrow to mind her 2 little grand kids (take to school and back, make meals, put to bed) while our daughter heads out on a 7 am flight and her hubby heads out (at 4 am) to catch his out of town flight. Great fun.

    That all said, having “been there – done that” like you guys when our own kiddos were young, the years will pass quickly and soon are but memories – you’ll see (if not right now) :-)

    Then later comes the grand kids babysitting … :-)

    So enjoy!

    • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 12:50 am

      Tempting, but I’ll let you keep your 15 degrees :). If it’s any consolation, we had snow this evening. Crazy Utah weather.

      It sounds like you’re having quite the busy week yourself. Enjoy those grandkids!

  • Reply Wade March 26, 2014 at 11:24 am

    That 1 hour commute each way is a killer. 2 hours of every work day gone.

    I now work from home, but I had a 7 minute drive or (15-20 minute bike ride) to the office. That was about as long as I could handle.

    Is that a short term commute or a permanent commute?

    The other topic that has been on my mind a lot lately is weather. Living in Fargo, ND you really can’t be outside 6-7 months of the year. When our kids were young, it was not an issue as you were kind of stuck anyway. Now that they are older I feel like we are missing something. We can’t ride bike 7 months out of the year, can’t be outside, can’t go for walks, can’t swing or play catch.

    I think weather, finances and living a simple life could be an entire blog itself. Can you live a simple, fulfilling life in a cold, snowy, long winter climate? I have serious doubts….

    • Reply NZ Muse March 26, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      I really don’t think so. Climate would be a HUGE factor in choosing where to live for me – weather really impacts my happiness, not to mention what you can do in your leisure time. I’m spoiled to live in a very mild area.

      Commuting does suck. I’ve gone from a 20 minute walk to a 30-40 bus ride (it’s insane, because driving would take 10 minutes, but right now road works + public transport are making the bus option a killer). We’re a one car family and I don’t drive anyway, and also getting a carpark at the office is nearly impossible.

      I’m starting a new job next month and it’s probably going to be about an hour on the bus. I’m used to that – have almost always lived this far out of the CBD throughout uni and work – but it’s been awhile and will take some adjusting!

      • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 1:23 am

        One nice thing about being on the bus is that if you can find a seat, you can read or do crosswords or what have you on your commute! This week I’ve been listening to an audiobook on my commute, and it’s made a huge difference. I don’t know how I’d manage the long drive otherwise!

    • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 12:56 am

      Yes, the commute is the most exhausting part of it all. Luckily, it’s just this week. And then I’ll have to go in probably a couple other weeks this year for meetings. Otherwise, I don’t think I could keep it up!

      Someone else mentioned the simple life in a comment. That’s what we want someday. And in an ideal world, it’d also be warm. I think life is what you make of it, but warm weather does seem to simplify things a bit. Maybe neither of us have found our forever place yet, Wade ;).

  • Reply insourcelife March 26, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    That’s an article I can relate to with a toddler and both of us working full time. One thing that surprised me was your 1 hour one way commute. You live in a relatively small city and rent right? How did you end up with having to spend 2 hours to get to work? Can you move closer? Or are you in the middle between 2 job locations? My wife has a 7 minute commute and I have a 40 minute one and we still think that’s too much.

    • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 1:08 am

      I agree… commute makes a big difference! Usually I work from home, so the commute is only an issue when I have meetings. And Johnny works within walking distance of where we live, so it works out!

  • Reply Melanie March 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Wow…this was interesting. I am 29 and single, but definitely want to be a parent in the future. This was interesting to read about the routine and challenges of being a parent. I think, as a one woman show, I forget how others live sometimes. (I’m sure you guys sometimes find yourself thinking “Remember the days when it was just us, and we slept late, lounged around, took naps, etc?”) I liked this because it gave a different perspective from your lives. As I leave work at 4pm, and go to the gym, then come home and cook myself dinner while watching TV, I’ll appreciate my life as it is now. As I’m sure you wouldnt change things at all (well, maybe a little bit less commuting, a few hours more sleep).
    This is also great as it’s good incentive to save, save, save so when I do have babies someday, maybe I’ll be able to stay home part time or full time. :) You’re doing great, she’s adorable!

    • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 1:11 am

      I think you’re spot on in just trying to enjoy every stage while you’re in it! You’re smart to be thinking toward the future and planning so you can stay at home with your babies someday. You’ll be so glad you did!

  • Reply Tarynkay March 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    That is the best picture EVER. You need to sell that to Diet Coke and make a million dollars and never have to work again.

    • Reply NZ Muse March 26, 2014 at 9:07 pm

      Haha agreed, I LOVE that pic!

    • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 1:18 am

      Haha, thanks, Tarynkay. Once Diet Coke realizes that babies are a completely untapped market, Sally can be their spokesbaby!

  • Reply Addison @ Cashville Skyline March 27, 2014 at 12:21 am

    I was totally wondering if/how I’m ever going to have to be responsible for another tiny person during a typical work week. I struggle so much to just get myself to work and all of the other commitments I have in a given week. It’s exhausting! Pretty hard to imagine adding someone else into the mix.

    • Reply Joanna March 27, 2014 at 1:19 am

      You’ll be able to do it when the time comes! And even though it’s more exhausting with a baby, I wouldn’t trade it for the world :).

  • Reply Sarah March 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    This is very timely for me. I just started back at work after having 12 weeks off with my son who was born in December. I jumped right in working 5 days a week. My son goes to my mother in-law during the day and I know he’s well taken care of. It’s hard. But mostly I miss my boy like crazy. By the time I get home I only get to spend 30-60 minutes with him before he passes out for the night. My husband and I crash on the couch after the boy is in bed and watch tv for a few minutes. But most of the time we end up just watching baby monitor because we miss his sweet little face! I love when he wakes up at 3AM to eat so I can snuggle with him!
    As much as going back to work sucks – being a stay at home mom was so much harder. It’s exhausting taking care of a baby all day – sometimes they won’t let you shower or pee! I think that SAHM’s need to be paid millions of dollars because they never get a break. At least when you work outside of the home you can take a bathroom break!

    • Reply Joanna March 30, 2014 at 11:07 pm

      Loved your comments, Sarah. Agreed that being a SAHM is super hard work. I think being a parent at home or at the office is hard in different ways. Personally, I found being in the office to be more exhausting, but I know that was partly attributed to the hour commute both ways! Won’t be missing that this week :).

  • Reply Alyssa November 13, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    That is my everyday. Hubby and I both work about an hour from home, thankfully my grandparents watch out little one during the day and they live right next door! Convenience is key :) So I can just dump her off (kidding) still asleep bed head and all. Granted, I am still never on time – for anything – but it does make it a little easier. So much time away from her is killer, but we gotta do what we gotta do. Hopefully, by the time she really starts caring one of us will be able to be home more.

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