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The myth of perfect balance

By Abigail Cukier

Sometimes, when the kitchen sink is overflowing with dishes, three baskets of clean laundry sit unfolded all week and it seems like I’ve had four minutes with my kids all day, I wish I could be a stay at home mom.

While I love my job and can usually manage to keep our home in at least semi-order and feel like I’ve had quality time with my family, other days it seems like that word “balance” is just a cruel joke.

But the other day, I read a great blog by Jennifer Pinarski. In the blog, (which you should check out at http://www.todaysparent.com/blogs/run-at-home-mom/if-being-a-sahm-is-so-great-why-am-i-unhappy), she laments that while being a stay at home mom is great in theory, she was starting to resent working moms and was jealous of stay-at-home parents who could find joy in the little things their kids were doing.

“I fill my days outside of the house with playdates and errands all of which get done half-heartedly because all I can think about is the amount of work still left to do. Like on our day trip to the water park, all I thought about were the mountains of laundry at home and the bills that I’d forgotten to pay – not the fact that on one of the nicest days of the year, I had the gift of spending it with my perfect and healthy, lovely children and my friends.”

I had to laugh – and breathe a sigh of relief.

This blog entry showed me that all moms – stay-at-home moms, working moms and work-from-home moms – all face the same issues.

While I believe stay-at-home moms have the hardest job there is, I was still dreaming of days at home playing with my kids, getting all of the cooking and cleaning done while they napped and having time to rest in the evening.

Pinarski had so many replies to her blog that she posted another one with suggestions she’d received from parents. They included taking the time to play with your kids, ignoring the dishes and delegating chores.

A few months ago, after feeling like I was rushing through my evenings with the kids in an effort to get them to bed and Windex my counters, I challenged myself to do the same.

Since I made that decision, I spend more time in the evenings just playing or cuddling – and staying completely focused on the playing and cuddling. It’s not always easy and sometimes the dirty dishes have just too big a pull, but I am trying each and every day.

It is a bit sad that as parents, whether you work in or out of the home,  we never feel like we’ve done enough in any area. But it’s also heartening to know we are all in it together – and doing the best we can.

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