Survival Mode – Finding a Work/Life Balance as a Mom

I’m home sick today because I didn’t think I needed to spend another day sneezing and coughing and feeling miserable in a room of 30 teenagers every hour for eight hours. Yesterday, all my students kept telling me that I should have stayed home and most of them were trying to avoid me so they wouldn’t get sick before their big game Friday night (our football team is in the playoffs) and their week-long Thanksgiving Break, so today I took their advice and stayed home.

I also did the most selfish thing ever and sent Jack to my mom’s house so that I could rest, and I’ve spent most of the day feeling guilty about not keeping him here. I’m already dealing with some major guilt about him having to go to daycare while I’m at work, and even though I know that I really need the rest and it’s probably better for him to not be around me 24/7 since I’m sick, I wish I was cuddling him right now. I always wonder and worry about what I’m missing when I’m not with him.

I was hoping that my sick day would at least be a productive day for me, and I had grand plans to grade tons of papers and get all kinds of things that I have been slacking on done around the house, but so far I have only graded two papers, put in one load of laundry, and then parked on the couch with a box of tissues, Vick’s vapor rub, hot chocolate, my favorite blanket, Netflix and Facebook. I just don’t seem to be able to find the motivation to get any school-related work done, and I think that stressing over school is part of the reason I got sick in the first place (well, and the fact that Jack had a cold all week last week and could only sleep propped up in my arms at night because of his congestion…spending last week as a walking snot rag probably didn’t help my immune system much, but those sweet baby snuggles were worth it). It seems like I’ve been either sick or exhausted or in a bad mood ever since I went back to work, and I hate it.

Let me be clear – I don’t hate my job. Most of the time, I actually enjoy my job. I just haven’t figured out a good work/life balance since having Jack (does that even exist, or is it some mythical thing that all working mothers look for but never actually find?). I feel like I need to spend hours and hours planning, grading, developing curriculum, and researching to do a good job at work. At the same time, I feel like I should spend every moment that I can making memories with Jack and soaking in every single little baby giggle and cuddle and drool. I have no idea how to make those things happen at the same time, and my work is suffering for it.

I’d love to tell you that I at least have it together in my home and personal life, but I don’t. Stress from work makes me irritable and I end up not being the best wife and mother because of it. I joined a gym after Jack was born and started going to workout classes twice a week because I want to be healthy so I can play with Jack and be a good role model for him as he gets older, but I haven’t had time to go at all this month and I’m harboring some major guilt about it (especially since we are paying for this gym membership and I feel like if I miss a class I am wasting our money). I haven’t been to the grocery store or cooked a single meal this week. I’ve been walking around the house like a zombie at night, too tired to enjoy feeding Jack his bottle or rocking him to sleep. In short, I’m a mess.

I’m basically in survival mode right now, and it is not a place that I like to be.

I don’t just want to survive. I want to do so much more than that. I want to thrive. I want to savor every precious moment with Jack because I know that soon he’ll be all grown up and he won’t want to snuggle with me. I want to enjoy my husband’s company instead of just crashing on the couch next to him at the end of the day because we’re both exhausted. I want to come home and cook healthy, delicious meals for my family because I love to cook and I feel so much better eating homemade food instead of junk from McDonald’s. Are these things really too much to ask for?

It can’t be. Last weekend, Jeff and I took Jack to the park on Sunday and enjoyed a really nice walk around the lake. It was so wonderful, and I didn’t spend a single minute of it stressing about grading papers or writing lesson plans or cleaning the house. I need more moments like that in my life, and the only way for that to happen is for me to be intentional about making time for those moments.

This season of life seems to be going by so fast, and I don’t want to miss out on the blessings of today because I’m stressed and tired. I’m so looking forward to next week because I’m off work for the whole week and I need some time to slow down and rest and just enjoy myself and my family.

I’m also trying to come up with an action plan to help keep me from getting so overwhelmed with everything in the future. I read a couple of posts on friends’ blogs (you can find them here and here) about slowing down and being intentional with our time and technology, and I’m really considering just turning my phone off once I get home from work so that my focus is 100% on my family, which is where it needs to be and where I want it to be.

But first, I’ve got to make it through today. So I’m about to get up and do some more laundry, force myself to grade a few more papers, take one more short nap, and then I’m going to get my baby from Mamaw’s house so I can love on him before bedtime. And tomorrow, well, I’ll worry about that when it gets here.

4 thoughts on “Survival Mode – Finding a Work/Life Balance as a Mom

  1. Cathryn November 15, 2017 / 4:15 pm

    Balance is hard, but it can be achieved. Priorities : God, Family, Work.

    • Christina Wallace November 15, 2017 / 4:26 pm

      Yes! That’s the order it has to be in, but it can be hard to keep it that way when life gets demanding. I’m a constant work in progress.

  2. Ellen November 15, 2017 / 4:36 pm

    This cycle repeats throughout you children’s lives. One day you are sure you have it all together. A week later, you know you don’t and never will. DON’T let anything steal your joy. You can not do everything. Jeff, Jack, and job. And job isn’t capitalized. Strive to cook two nights a week (or just one), and don’t feel guilty. Jeff will do laundry and maybe vacuum or clean bathrooms. Or do those things together. It’s hard to plan when you’re sick. Get well. YOU ARE A WONDERFUL WIFE AND MOTHER.

  3. Jenn (Life is Sweet Enough) November 15, 2017 / 11:51 pm

    Great post! Thanks for linking to mine.

    As a fellow teacher, I totally sympathize. My husband and I don’t have kids yet, but I can imagine that it makes balancing things even harder (and even more important). I hope you feel 100% better soon. God bless!!

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