Working motherhood is a marathon

When will it ever end?

Working motherhood is a marathon

Sometimes being a working mom is just plain hard.

Yesterday was a hard day.  Like really hard.  A “how am I going to keep doing this day in and day out?” kind of day.

See, I’m a full-time working mom with 2 kids under 3. My husband and I both work and yesterday was a day when both of us just wanted to throw our hands up and sell all of our belongings and live in a trailer by the beach. (Is that an option?)

We both work with international counterparts and the challenge of getting the kids to daycare in time to make all of our global calls both AM and PM pushed us to our limits.  Our kids were some of the 1st to be dropped off which threw my daughter for a loop.  My husband dropped her off and told me she was the saddest he’s seen in a really long time.  And if that wasn’t enough to break my heart, when I went to pick my 7-month-old son up after work (at 5pm so not even that late), he was the last baby in class.  Just hanging out on the floor all by himself.


And when he burst into tears in the car from being over tired (because he doesn’t nap at daycare but that’s another story for another day), I lost it.  This is not the life I planned.

But this is the life I have.  I’m a working mom.  And it is hard.

There’s the bottles and the backpacks and the blankets and the work bag and the pump bag and the diapers. And then you add on the commute and the parking and the shuttles and the walking.

It’s just so much.

I sit down at my desk in the morning and I feel like I’ve run a marathon. I’m also still nursing so beyond all the other challenges of life, I have to find time to carve out two 20 minute pump breaks from my schedule while also hoping those times work with the 4 other pumping mamas I share the room with.

And when I finally get through my work day and then tackle the commute home, and the evening routine. And the toddler-wrestling of bath time and bedtime.

And then when the kids finally get to bed, you cram as much as you can into those last few hours—washing bottle parts, prepping meals for the next day, answering the some work emails, and maybe if you’re lucky getting 30 minutes to sit down with your husband to watch a show.

This life is not for the faint of heart.

And my heart was pushed over the edge last night.

But you know what?  I woke up today and started it all over again.

Because even though this is all so hard right now, I remind myself to look at the bigger picture.

My husband and I work so that we can take our kids on trips around the world.  We work so that both our children can attend whatever college they want without having to worry about cost.  We work so that we can pay for the mortgage on the house that our children will love as teenagers when they get to hang out and have sleep-overs in our big bonus room with all their friends.

We work so that both our children—my son and my daughter— get to see what an equal opportunity household looks like. We work so that our kids understand that we don’t always get to do what we want.  That sometimes life is hard.  That sometimes you will face challenges and have to be brave when you don’t want to.

And most importantly, I work to show my daughter that she can be and do anything she wants to.  I work just like my mom worked to show me that I could be anything I wanted to.

So on days like yesterday, when life is just so, so hard I remind myself that this is a marathon.

I remind myself that this is one day in a long journey.

I remind myself it will get better.

I remind myself that things will get easier as the kids get older.

I remind myself that I won’t always have 47 bags to lug around to work.

I remind myself to take a deep breath and realize that one day my kids will make dinner for me and probably sooner than I want, my husband and I will actually be enjoying our wine together while our kids run around upstairs without us.

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This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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