working mom

When  People Just show Up

As a full-time working mom, I have a pretty rigid routine from day to day. On Sunday mornings, I typically relish my quiet time with my kids, and although I am home alone with them because my husband is usually playing basketball, I am usually working. On a Sunday morning, I tend not to be in my recording studio, but instead tend to be comfortably seated at the kitchen island and I usually maximize my time between 9am and 12 pm writing my weekly blog post and working on that weeks marketing goals. So this Sunday, when my very loved and very welcome in-laws walked-in unexpectedly and unannounced at around 9:15 am, I had a quick choice. And really, it was no choice. I needed to abandon my work plan and go with the flow. The work would be there when I came back to it but my opportunity to make my family feel welcome and appreciated would be fleeting.

In order to understand this scenario, you need to understand a few key details. First, members of our immediate family, both on my side and on my husband’s, all have our garage code. So, they tend to just enter the house, much like on a sitcom. We often have no idea who is coming when or how long they are staying. They just show up. Luckily they all get along really well. Next, this may give you the mis-impression that I am in some way relaxed. Quite to the contrary, I am wrapped very tight. When my twins were born, my husband and I agreed that an open-door policy was more fair to all grandparents. We didn’t want them to miss out, and so all of this craziness, is the result of said policy. So, I have had to change my behavior and learn to “go with the flow” a bit. What does that mean. Well, according to zenhabits.com, “What is going with the flow? It’s rolling with the punches. It’s accepting change without getting angry or frustrated. It’s taking what life gives you, rather than trying to mold life to be exactly as you want it to be.” So yesterday, it meant holding off for a better time to write and just enjoying my family. And you know what, I did!

There is another issue at play. I think people get a vibe when they are greeted. Do you want the people you love most in the world to feel welcome and like there is a red carpet for them, or do you want them to be unsure if they should be there? I want my family to want to come over. According to hospitality.net, “the spirit of welcome is so important in creating a strong foundation for the guest experience. Each person, each point of contact, can add so much to the ‘welcoming’ experience for guests! A welcome goes beyond words, it creates a feeling of caring and gives a sense of pleasure. A sincere welcome reaches out and positively pulls guests in to the hospitality environment they have chosen and makes guests feel like they have made a good choice. A cordial and courteous welcome gives guest the feeling they have been invited to join the setting even though they chose to go on their own. The power of welcome is to affirm the guest made the right choice and is further welcome to enjoy.” I think we only get one shot at this feeling, and if I had excused myself to go do work, it just would have been all wrong.

It takes a Village so In turn we need to be part of the Village

When I think about how families connect, I often think about this video I once saw of a family singing Les Mis karaoke:

 

It’s amazing, right? I find this incredible because my family will come together to watch Seinfeld or a movie, and we really come together to eat, but this is well-beyond our skill set. But what I think we do best as a family is raise mensches, and I couldn’t do that alone. I think that the reason my kids are so sweet is because they have the attention not just of their parents, both of whom work, but of their grandparents, their aunts, and their uncles, and I think it does take a village. When that village is fragmented, the kids are the ones who suffer. When you wonder how these characters end up on Jerry Springer or Dr. Phil, maybe it was those moments of choice and instead of sticking together and just being together they chose wrong over and over again. My daughter has been watching a lot of Dr. Phil recently, and when I see clips where he admonishes family like this I gather that they made one mistake after another until they stopped supporting each other.

The Time Goes way to Fast

I feel like just yesterday my  twins were tiny babies coming home from the hospital. We were worried that the pot holes would hurt their heads because they were so small.  Now they will be driving in a month. I spend many hours every day alone in a padded foam booth. So, when family comes over unexpectedly, I have decided to look at it as a gift. I think sometimes it is life telling us to slow down and take it in. I do feel like hitting pause is ok. I am blogging 24 hours after I planned. I am not sure when I will work on my instagram posts. Will I get them done? Yes.

How did our day end up yesterday? We had a wonderful lunch as a family at our mall. We took my little niece with us too. We then went to Target and the grocery store. My family come out from NYC and we grilled for dinner. We were all together and it was wonderful. At the end of the day, it was more important to me that my family feel important and loved.

It happens to be a beautiful sunny day, so I may want to take my kids out for lunch, but I think that will be okay too.

It’s That Time of Year Again…

It’s hard to believe that it’s June and sunscreen and bug spray are repeat items on our weekly shopping list again. My twins’ final exams are over and summer vacation is in site. My kids are teenagers so we have a few exciting new times on our agenda. My daughter is going away for the first time to a summer program at a college and both kids are getting their driving permits, fingers crossed. As a full-time working mom who runs my own business, I want to make summer special for them while still meeting my professional goals and working full days. Like many women who work, I am juggling a lot of balls, but somehow when the whether is beautiful and the sun is shining I feel like I can do it all. Over the years of being a momtrepreneur, I have come up with the following tips to make our summers flow in a way that makes sense for everyone.

1. Plan Ahead

I am trying to keep a straight face as I write this part, but planning ahead is very helpful. Even in a business where many of my commercial bookings come in 12 hours or less in advance, planning ahead and having a schedule makes life a lot less stressful.  If I can look at my week and see when the kids have to be various places and what I have on my plate in terms of my bookings and my clients’ needs, I can best accommodate everyone without stress. As summer weeks tend to have a lot more variation in schedule than our weeks during the school year, planning ahead helps a lot with scheduling live or guided sessions, and with making sure that I leave ample time for editing. At the same time, if my kids need to be driven to activities, plans with friends, etc, I am ahead of the curve.

2.  Block Off Time Specifically for Summer Fun

Even though I have financial goals that must be met every month,  summer is the right time to take off for fun indulgences like days at the beach or catching a show in New York City. Since it is impossible to spend special days like this with my kids during the school year, I block chunks of time throughout the summer so that I make sure these days are available. In fact, our first special day is coming up this Friday. I have blocked half a day for my niece’s pre-school graduation. Does this mean that I will not meat my monthly minimum? Last year, I was able to meet my goals and actually surpassed them in both July and August. I find that I am extremely motivated by doing well for my children, so carving out this time in my schedule makes me even fresher when I step back into the booth.

3. Keep Kids Stimulated

A key to a successful summer is not just how well a mom organizers her time, but also how busy the kids are kept! I have found that when my kids are meaningfully engaged they are happy and fulfilled and everything goes more smoothly. For example, last summer my kids volunteered as counselors at a camp they went to for years. It was a really rewarding job and they very much enjoyed it. They came home tired but happy. I got my work done and they were busy. If you can make plans like that for your children, your summer will be a lot easier for everyone!

4. Put it All in Perspective

Summer is a time for hammocks and lemonade, for flip flops and coverups. Summer is not the time for harsh criticism and self-assessment. After a few years of juggling work and motherhood, I can tell you that it will all be ok. There might be some days where your kids have to wait for you. They may not be able to swim when they want. You may also miss a client call because you took your kids to the park or to see friends. It’s ok. We all expect so much of ourselves all the time. We make so many plans and so many promises. If all of it gets done, that’s wonderful. If most of it gets done, great. What I have learned is that I always get essential tasks done. Everything else is gravy.

The other thing I now realize is that your kids learn so much from how you, as a mom, handle these situations. I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to remember me smiling and laughing and enjoying them, and not as a crazy basket case. Just give them the summer that you really want, and no one ever fantasized about a summer at their desk!