One of the questions on the Making It Work Survey was “What does the little tape recorder in your head always re-play?” Yes, I realize that none of us have tape-recorders anymore, but somehow mp3 or iTunes playlist, or DVD doesn’t quite conjure up the same image! Your self-talk was a mix of positive and negative messages and concerns.
My good friend Amanda Hillman Smith responded to my last e-blast about my blog by sending me a link to another blog – The Inkspot Workshop In this great blog, the writer, Stacy, shares some wisdom that she picked up about balance: Balance is not a STATE, it is a PROCESS. Please know that all of you have discovered powerful ways to constantly improve and tweak your balance process to make it work for you, your families, and all those you love. I'll be sharing your strategies in upcoming blogs.
I decided to change the response categories that I listed in my last blog entry to “we” statements. Phrasing them this way reminds me of the Al Cheyt portion of the Jewish Yom Kippur liturgy. For those of you who aren’t familiar, in the Al Cheyt, we take collective responsibility for the mistakes made, or moral targets missed, by individuals in the community. The idea is that we are not alone in our struggles – that we confront them both as individuals and collectively.
Our tape recorder messages reflect that as a society we’re still figuring out this tricky work-life puzzle. So, please read the responses not as a list of depressing complaints, but as a communal struggle that we’re all in together.
Before you go on to read the responses, I’m so curious about how men will answer this same question. Please help me reach out to them by sending this quick one question survey to them!
Now, on to the responses....
1. We’re not good enough (mot popular!)
2. We don’t spend enough time with our spouses/partners
3. We are conflicted about our choices about work / family balance
4. We don’t recognize the person we’ve become
5. Our tape recorders are positive – they support and encourage us
6. We should be more successful in our careers
7. We should be more organized/clean
8. We should take better care of ourselves
9. We have a never-ending to-do list (and the list plays in our minds endlessly)
10. We wish we had more money
11. We feel unappreciated/un-cared for
12. We wish we had more time to nurture our interests and relationships
13. Man, we’re tired!
We believe we are not good enough
· “That I am failing both at being a mom and at being a scholar. It sucks.”
· “I should be able to manage a job and a family - other do, even those who have children with disabilities. (Actually this is not true, most parents don't and those who do find it very hard - it doesn't stop me thinking it though!)”
· “That I should be able to do it all. That I shouldn't need a house cleaner. That I should have dinner cooked every night for my family. That I need to be doing more experiment wise at work and getting results so I can get a publication and get a job in the future. Overall that I just need to do more.”
· “…Not reading enough, not exercising ever, not cooking Martha Stewart style meals.....”
· "I miss elements of my old pre-kid life - when I could selfishly focus on myself, my interests, etc.... so that voice does sometimes lament that I'm not doing ""good enough"" losing weight, running more, cooking better, etc...I wouldn't trade any of it really for my girls...but that voice does creep in sometimes"
· “Feeling like I am not doing any SINGLE task, of the MANY, successfully. From work to kids to finances to being a wife to house to garden. Not one of them is actually done right...."
· “Do more. Even when I try to take a walk for 30 minutes I feel guilty not bringing the twins with me, hence defeating the alone, recharge time.”
· “Is what I am doing good enough?”
· “I'm pretty hard on myself. I've been reading a book called Buddhism for Mothers and that's been belong a lot. But oftentimes I still feel like I'm failing at both my career and raising my kids.”
· “You need to be educating your children all the time. When the kids are awake, you owe it to them to be spending that time with them. (Thus, mommy guilt for putting them in front of the TV while I make dinner, etc.)”
· “I should be a better mom. I should be a better wife. I should be a better friend. I should be a better housekeeper. SO MUCH GUILT!”
· I should be a better wife.
· "It doesn't matter how tired you are when you get home from work, you can't just put on Sesame Street and lie on the floor while [child’s name] watches. That's not parenting."
· "Sometimes I feel I spend too much time at home doing house work and not spending time with my child.”
· You're a bad mom and a bad wife. Good moms would (insert whatever here). A good wife would (insert whatever here). You're late! You're late! Why didn't I (insert whatever here)?
· "Is my daughter eating fish sticks AGAIN today at school?"
· "I can't do this"
· “I am failing as a wife and a mother - that my boys are picking up on my stress level and acting on it.”
· I screwed up x or y parenting situation; I'm supposed to be Mom Extraordinaire, and this is my full-time job, so how could I mess that up?
· You should have a home with a backyard, a swing and a garden.
· That I am not achieving as much as I should be at home or at work. That I am failing at everything.
· “It worries if I'm doing enough for my daughter - I'm currently trying to teach her signs, shapes, colors, numbers, letters, walking, bottle extinction, etc... - This is a lot (I don't want her to fall behind other kids, but I don't want to pressure her or take away the fun - but I want to make sure I'm doing everything that every other mom is doing)! Beat yourself up b/c the laundry isn't done, but when folding laundry, beat yourself up b/c you're not paying attention to your daughter. It's hard to win sometimes. Always trying to be perfect even though I know that's unrealistic.”
We don’t spend enough time with our spouse/partner
· “That I don't have enough time to spend with my partner after work and parenting.”
· Need to take time for myself and my marriage. Haven't worked out in years. Date night means falling asleep in front of the TV together.
· “You should be married."
· “You're not spending enough time with your spouse, you're not taking care of yourself, you should be exercising, you should be grateful for this day.”
We are conflicted about work/family balance and choices
· “My husband travels frequently and works long hours - therefore I would like more "family time"
· “I am always multitasking, therefore not as present for my kids as I'd like to be. Working on it."
· “That I don't have enough time in my day for either my family or my job. I used to be the employee who stayed late every night, always went the extra mile. But, in some ways, that allows me to go home to my family now, relatively guilt free after 8 hrs. Even though it is not the same company, I feel like I did my time in the trenches, when I did not have other demands on my life. Now, I try to be as productive and focused as I can in the time that I have and then I shut down my computer and concentrate on my family.”
· “My husband says I can stay home and financially, I know I could stay home and we'd be fine so it's selfish for me to work. (And it would easier to just stay at home!).”
· "I should be a stay-at-home mom-- I am somehow not doing the best I can for our son.""
· “I am hard on myself because I really want to work...and yet I really don't want to put them in day care.”
· “I do not spend enough time with my child; will our long term bond be affected?"
· “That I should be staying home and devoting my time to my son rather than putting him in daycare (even though this would make me crazy) "I wish I was with the boys more. They see their nanny more than the see me. "
· "I wish I was with the boys more. They see their nanny more than the see me. "
· "The babysitter is a better, more fun, more engaged caregiver than I am.”
· “That I wish I could be at home part time with my son; change of career; worrying about money and that we "need" my income - being the breadwinner adds extra responsibility.”
· “What is the best future for my children? Where should they grow up, how is that possible without compromising on aspects of my life (friends, other family, career...)”
· "How can I have another child if I feel I don't even see this one as much as I want?
· “That I wish I had more time to spend with them. Staying at home is not an option but I often question whether I have made the best choice in trying to "do it all" by working and raising a family. My greatest desire is that they will know how important they are to me and that I work to provide a way of life for them and our family.
· “This is helping to teach my son to be more social through day care and he will be well adjusted later in life."
· “Am I being the best mom I can be?”
· “Am I missing out on my son’s life? How do people make a proper nutritious dinner every night?
· “If I stayed home the house/child would be better cared for and my husband would be more supported. Why am I still working?” n
· “My mom didn't return to work until I was seven.”
· “I have to remember that when I'm with my family I'm really WITH my family (e.g., not trying to check my blackberry).”
· “I need to spend more time at home, less travel for work.”
· "I wish I could spend more time with my daughter and husband.”
· "You should have a full-time job.
· “I should consider other careers or educational opportunities that might give me more time at home each week.”
· “I need to get organized and identify a way to become a successful entrepreneur so I can manage my own time and schedule and make more money.”
· “Occasionally I wonder "is there more?" But that's usually on PMS days. :) And I worked full time for several years and felt that way much more not less, so I don't think full time work helps answer that for me. I often wonder what if - but it's usually related to my career path and never about my family.”
We don’t recognize (and sometimes don’t like) the people we’ve become
· “My biggest failing as a parent is that I have turned into a yeller.”
· “…And when I think about how much of myself and my well-being I am sacrificing (I used to exercise 6 days a week, was a certified yoga teacher, used to sleep enough, I look TERRIBLE all the time, etc), I resign myself to the fact that ""It doesn't matter, I don't really count anymore."
· “I have no time to be a person; I'm drowning in this.”
· “It becomes a personal thing. I feel like a neglectful mom, nagging wife, and it makes me sad. I also become a bit resentful that my needs are not considered by others. “
· “What about me?”
· “You're missing out.”
· “You look old. Life is over.”
· “Say I love you and be supportive. Don't be a battleaxe. "
· “That I'm turning into a parody of a middle aged working mom, struggling with work-life balance, being able to shed the baby weight, and nagging my partner. “
· “That I now live for my son (and not just me)”
· “Be patient.” (I lose my cool a lot).
· “It bothers me that my patience is short and I feel as if I'm not the same person my husband married...”
My tape recorder encourages and supports me
· “…But there are also times when I feel like I am, amazingly, succeeding at both and I feel very lucky.”
· “Honestly, I’m not sure there is one. I feel pretty balanced.”
· “Can't say I have much of a little voice in my head other than echoes of my parents' sayings (positive ones from their parenting) that I have come to repeat.”
· "It is the voice of my parents' generation saying: ""You were bottle fed. You started on solid food at 4 months. You were left to cry it out, etc., etc., etc., and you turned out OK!""
· “That I can do it, and that there's only x number of days until the weekend.”
· “I also have to remind myself that I have never done this before and that I still have a very happy, gorgeous baby."
· “Look at your two little angels- picture theirs smiles- and everything worthwhile”
· “What is the worst case and is it really that bad?
· "This too will pass. “
· “Honestly, I don't have that. My recorder says--keep it healthy, there's nothing wrong with a kid being bored (doesn't last, they find something), go with the flow, these will pass (when I am impatient or frustrated that kids interrupt or hinder my work), I am modeling being a woman (to three daughters) who has interests and a life of her own (they are not the center of my universe though they are very important)...”
· “The world will not end if the floor stays dirty! Take some time for yourself!'
· “Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things? That's what I ask myself if I get stressed and usually the answer is no (luckily) because the things that would matter would be if something really bad (health wise, accident, etc) happened to one of my family members.
· That most people can't deal with one child and I have 5 under 5. If they can do it in third world countries, so can I!”
· “The kids will only be young once; grab the opportunity while I can.”
· “Tape recorder is mostly silent....”
· “That my life is challenging now but very rewarding. I can always sleep later in life.
· It'll get all get done eventually.”
· “Everything will work itself out. Your son is wonderful and he's not unhappy because you're a working mom.”
· “You can do it... you can do it... you can do it...”
· “Be patient, be kind, and get some sleep.”
· “I got rid of that a long time ago after I was diagnosed with cancer and looking into how your mental health affects your physical health. If anything, my little tape recorder tells me I'm an awesome mom, I'm incredibly thankful to have the most amazing child on earth, I love myself the way I am, everything is perfect for a reason, etc.”
· “Things will get better”
· “I am my own harshest critic, so I know very well where I fall short; however, I let the things go that I have no control over. Traffic is terrible and I'll be late for work? LET IT GO.”
· “Why are you always running and rushing? SLOW down.”
· “It always reminds me to stop and take in this moment right now. Sometimes I'm so busy keeping everything together that I miss the everyday joys of life.”
· “I am happy with myself and life/work balance now. But, as I said, it was hard during the first year. I am well-aware about the parenting policies in other countries, both developed and developing, and know that mothers shouldn't be blaming themselves. I went through the period when I felt bad as a wife because my husband does so much but now I fully take it as an achievement (I married him, right?)”
· “That I should be easier on myself and not get stressed if I don't take care of every little thing. That sometimes my systems will fail and it is ok.”
· "I have three kids - a teenager and two young children. I am constantly replaying the mistakes with my oldest and learning from it now that I know what is coming up for my younger ones. I keep in check my expectations, I don't rush my younger kids to act so much older than they are, I stick to my gut instincts on their technology access requests and I slow down the quality time.
· “Is there really such thing as the perfect job where you get to work the hours you want and make the money you need? Not really..... So if you love your job, just work out the logistics the best you can.”
· My family will be with me long after this job.
We believe we should be more successful in our careers
· “At work, I don't do anything extra--I get my work done quickly, efficiently, but never stay extra. I don't think anyone cares, but I feel like I should to show I care about my job."
· “Why aren't you more successful by now?”
· “Why can't you get a promotion?"
· "Does my boss feel that I've changed as an employee?"
· “I should have held out for the job I really wanted instead of jumping on the first offer I got. When I interviewed for my next job, I was 5 months pregnant and my temporary job was set to end around month 7. I can't say I would have made a different decision if I had not been pregnant, but having a kid on the way definitely put some pressure on to get that aspect of my life settled.”
· "For someone with your experience, you should be making more money. What's wrong with you?"
· “My kid watches too much Mickey mouse. I don't feel like I'm accomplishing what I wanted to in my job fast enough. How am I going to manage 2 [children?]?”
· “Not making enough new and innovative artwork. Not keeping up with my career.”
· “A good job will fix everything. What's wrong with me that I can’t get a job?”
· “I'm always wondering if I've made the right choices; I envy friends who outwardly appear to have had more professional success, but at the same time I go to bed each night wondering if I've given my kids all the attention they need.”
· “The business should be further along; I should be making more money, have more clients...
· You could be way ahead at work in terms of position if you only worked "more" (whatever that "more" is...) I frequently have other women (who are not family based, childless, or career moms) tell me that I could be more successful if I only committed more time at work. That kills:(
· “Is part time work really the best option for my future career? Or, should I go back to school”
I should be more organized
· "This house is a mess! How can you live like such a slob?"
· “That I should be tidier, more organized, more prepared for all eventualities, etc. This is pretty silly though, because I am a mom of one-year-old twins and am actually a really organized person.”
· "I need a maid. Oh wait, I am the maid.”
· “I am so sick of cleaning up after everyone; I feel like I'm the only one who even tries to manage the house.”
· “I don't do anything; I don't play enough with the kids because I'm trying to do house stuff, and even then, it's always a disaster.”
· "I need to be more efficient and organized... Other moms can find time to cook, clean, work fulltime, tend to their kids, work out every day, and do it all... I shouldn't be so exhausted from juggling all this- being this tired is a shortcoming on my part.... “
· "The house is too much work - you're trapped!”
· "The house is always needs cleaning.”
· “..Not organized enough in terms of our family paperwork and house.”
· “Need to purge more from our closets.”
I should be taking better care of myself
· "You need to take better care of yourself, so you have more energy.”
· "Physical Fitness. I used to run a few marathons a year... now I bearly get to the gym.
· “Sleep more, take better care of yourself, and stop yelling so much at the kids!”
· “The little tape player gets on me for not having lost all the baby weight and its now over a year.”
· “I need to take better care of myself to set a good example for my kids and be more content with life.”
· “I need to lose the baby weight, it has been 6 months!!”
· “Cooking - I don't have any time to exercise and have fallen out of shape.”
· “Work out work out workout…”
· “It plays on high volume "you really need to lose some weight...why can't you motivate to exercise more?" I was really active pre-baby and can't seem to get into a good routine again. I also feel a lot of guilt...both that I'm not working hard enough at my job (see above: leaving early) and that I'm not home enough with my baby. I'm doing pretty well, I think, but the tape recorder plays guilt messages over and over.”
We have never-ending to-do lists
· “It replays how much is on my to do list. I am constantly having to plan my next move and try to stay ahead of myself - groceries, laundry, planning meals, packing lunches, cleaning the house, etc. I make tons of lists so I am always hard on myself if the list doesn't get done in a reasonable amount of time.”
· “I need to do this.....I need to do that.......”
· “The list of things I need and want to do!”
· “The little voice in my head won't shut up about every detail in our lives -I am constantly thinking about this play-date or that gallon of milk etc. -- I wish I could just quiet it sometimes.”
· "I just need to finish x, y, z. Then I can relax." But there is always another x, y, z, every day.”
· “Always go, go, go. Need to take more time to relax and enjoy life.”
· “It focuses on the long to do list and applies pressure to get more done (and then more done, and then more done) - it's never satisfied.”
· “I didn't do enough today.”
· “[I need to] send bills or mail off to people.”
· “[I should be] sending thank you cards more often.
· “Maybe we'll do Christmas Cards this Year.”
We wish we had more time to nurture our interests and relationships
· “I wish I could spend more time doing things I enjoy individually.”
· “I wish I could spend more time involving myself in the community."
· “I feel like I'm falling short on all the extra-curricular stuff I used to do in the community. Also I do not keep up on friendships or reach out to people like I used to.”
· "If I did not have a child I could do more, better with friends, husband and work.”
· “Not enough time for myself “
· “Mostly it tells me I'm selfish if I take time for myself.”
· “I wish I had time to run and do yoga. Wish I had time to read a book. Wish I had time to update the baby book.”
· "I'm so behind on volunteering." Because my job isn't something I'm passionate about, I stay sane by volunteering in my community and serving on the board of an international nonprofit. I barely have time/energy for it anymore and I feel like I'm really letting down people/causes that I care about. At the same time, I feel incredibly lucky that this is my biggest worry. :)
· “Mainly: I don't deserve time for myself or to put myself first until I manage to take care of all of my other responsibilities first (which is an endless feat).”
Man, we’re tired
· “I am so tired and I am so lonely.”
· “We never get enough sleep (4-5 hours/night).
· "I'm tired!
· “That I'm tired and why can't I focus on my son more when I am home with him, and why does he make me so tired in a few hours, where I can be so successful at work all day!”
We wish we had more money.
· “Go to work and pay the mortgage. Your kid doesn't want to be homeless.”
· “I wish we could save more - should I go back full time and give up my day home with our kid to earn an extra $5-6K a year?”
We feel unappreciated/un-cared for
· “Husband is lazy, he doesn't care. (Ouch!)”
· "Nobody understands how hard I work, and nobody appreciates what I do.
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