Those who know me may look at this title and wonder if I’m writing advice to myself - or if I will ever take it to heart.
There is a tremendous amount of guilt that comes with being a full-time single mother of two and full-time management level professional. There are never enough hours in the day. And weekday evenings seem so incredibly short. (The weekends are even shorter, I swear!)
I find some balance by leaving work on time to spend some time with my kids most evenings and wrapping up my work at night after they’ve gone to bed.
Some nights, I sit at the coffee shop, working, while my daughter is in her guitar lesson next door, and my son does his homework next to me. Some evenings, I am on the phone during soccer practice, but I wouldn’t dream of missing a game. I have to set boundaries. My family will always be my first priority (but having a career that allows me to feed them is a close second!).
I’ve always had this “rule” with my kids: They can each pick one school event - a field trip, or special holiday party, field day, etc. - and I will take the day off work and be a parent volunteer for the event.
I wish I could do more, of course, but I simply can’t take off work for every special school day and every track-out session or break. I always end up feeling guilty when I miss something neat, but they gladly tell me all about the fun I’ve missed!
Recently, the usual “parent volunteers needed” email came from my son’s school, and I opened it hesitantly. The guilt already was building in the pit of my stomach.
But wait! They were looking for someone to come in for an hour or two, during lunch time on a Friday, for a special (even slightly scientific - just my cup of tea!) activity with the second grade class. I checked my work calendar and realized I, miraculously, had no meetings that Friday.
Now, I do have the luxury of being able to work from home on occasion - certainly not every day, but when I somehow escape the meeting brigade, I actually can do a lot of my job from the comfort of my couch. I double checked with the boss to make sure I could take a work-from-home day that Friday and signed up to help out at school.
It was only an hour. We made a great big mess making slime, but my son was SO excited that I was there. It was totally worth it to squeeze in an extra bit of time with him and his classmates (not to mention, give his teacher a little reprieve). He was even forgiving when I had to sneak away in time to take a conference call, leaving him for the rest of the school day and after school care.
Later that day, I dared spend a half an hour on myself, getting a quick haircut between meetings and school pick up. Of course, I felt ridiculously guilty for doing that instead of picking my kids up that much earlier.
Baby steps. I’m getting there.
Stacy Lamb of Apex is the divorced mom of two. She is an active member and former organizer of Single Parents of the Triangle. Find her here monthly.