Thursday, May 22, 2008

Real-Life Working Moms Need Real-Life Advice

One of my biggest issues with online support sites and self-improvement books and articles is that they all make it seem so easy when, really, most of the time, it's not. The solution may be simple (tired? Sleep more!) but that doesn't necessarily equal "easy" -- or even feasible. After a while, the advice becomes downright silly:

Summer is just around the corner, and that's when my work-life juggle really ramps up. My body is telling me that I need more sleep (it lets me know by giving me lovely hints like a double ear infection and an inability to string three words together after midnight, which is usually one of my most-productive times of day -- er, night). We've got some great things happening here at Work It, Mom!, and I want to spend plenty of time on them. My day job slows down in some ways -- there's rarely a ton of summertime news for a newspaper -- but my department handles longer feature stories and summer is THE time for those. And our big kids are with us for nine or 10 weeks, so meals are bigger, groceries need to be purchased more frequently, and there are seven schedules to coordinate instead of the usual four.

But the advice that's out there -- especially advice for working moms -- is so one-size-fits-all and obvious and, well, next to impossible for any working mom to actually do that I feel like it's all a big joke, or maybe a spin-off of that old Monty Python sketch, "How to Rid the World of All Known Diseases":

(Read in a breathless, cheery, newscaster voice) "Well, first of all become a doctor and discover a marvelous cure for something, and then, when the medical profession really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there'll never be any diseases ever again."

Ta-DA! Problem solved!

For instance, let's take my first need: More sleep. The standard advice ranges from "Sleep when the baby is sleeping" (which does not offer tips on how to explain to my boss why I'm snoozing at my desk or how to get my freelance work done if I go to bed at 8 p.m. with the wee ones) to something along the lines of "Avoid alcohol consumption at night, stop all emotionally or intellectually strenuous activity at least an hour before going to sleep, and try to go to bed earlier" (Hahahahahahaha. Riiiiight. **Sips bourbon, resumes working on article, vows to be in bed before 2 a.m. if possible**).

So, fellow working mothers, I turn to you. I know I'm not the only working mom juggling career and parenthood out there. How do you deal with it? Or, rather, what do you do to stay afloat when you feel like you're ready to sink blissfully to the bottom? Open up, friends... we're all in the same boat here!

Be sure to check out all the comments at The 36-Hour Day, and -- real-life working moms are chiming in with advice that really works for them.

No comments: