A Glimpse into the Unglamorous Reality of One Working Mom

I launched a site the other weekend. Yup, it had to go live in time for a conference, so it had to happen on the weekend. Of course, this was just the icing on the cake – I had just been through a whirlwind messaging update, content creation and review process, and many days of QA. I love this kind of work, but it is really tricky to balance its demands against the really loud ones that come from my family:

“You were on your computer during my whole swim class. Did you even watch me?”

“Can I get picked up with the kids who don’t go to aftercare, just once?”

“Did you remember to have the cleaning lady water my plants? “

“Why are you always doing chores? I want to spend more time with you!”

“Are you really doing email and cooking dinner at the same time?”

I have explained to my kids that I work so they can go to college (which they don’t entirely understand) and have books and beer (which they do understand). They are beginning to realize that all of the good things in their lives cost quite a bit of money. But ultimately, they need their mommy. And when they drain my emotional energy or keep me up at night during the same weeks that my clients do, my sanity may hang on a very thin thread.

Things that help me keep it all together:

  1. Remembering to be thankful for what I have. It’s easy to think that someone always has it better than I do. I listen to people that imply that I’m selling myself short if I don’t “lean in,” when I know it will mean sacrifices that I’m not willing to make. But I am good at what I do; I enjoy doing it; and my clients value the results. At the same time, I treasure the time that I have with my kids, even if it seems like a race at times (OK, a lot of times).
  2. Investing in relationships with a diverse group of friends.  Listening to the perspectives of everyone from stay-at-home moms to single colleagues from three jobs ago and being a part of both sets of lives helps make #1 happen.
  3. Great emotional support from the spousal unit. An obvious one, but one that I can’t leave out, or live without.
  4. Limiting childcare hours to the work schedule I want to keep. As a recovering workaholic, it helps me to set screaming limits. This can be particularly painful during peak work periods, but it keeps the moderate periods moderate. I am just forced to look at bit harder at how much work I can really take on.
  5. Early rising. Confession: I’m a morning person. Like every working mother, though, it’s tempting to work late every night. For me, that always ends in exhaustion. The quiet hours and minutes in the morning, on the other hand, bring clarity of mind and the few good insights that end up really moving my projects forward.
  6. Cutting a few corners, when I know people won’t notice. Nope, I’m not going to tell you which ones..
  7. And of course, a bit of luck, in the form of great clients and great kids.

So what do you do to stay sane in the crazy world of tech?