Giving Up the Perfect Balance of Work and Mom


I thought it’d be perfect. Two days of stay at home mom life, three days in the office. I got the best of both worlds – quality time with my boys and an escape to adult world with real conversations and hot coffee. My resume didn’t have gaps, and I was still developing skills in my field.

And it worked for a long time – more than four years in fact. I had enough energy to be super mom knowing that the next day I could sink down into my office chair and zone out with a spreadsheet. My company was amazingly flexible to allow me to shift my schedule as childcare availability changed. After daycare costs, I still made enough to cover our car payments and then some.

But then came kindergarten, and shortly after, baby sister – giving us a 2 under 2 scenario. And slowly, the perfect balance felt less balanced. My required number of working hours matched the exact number of hours the kids were in school, leaving me racing at the end of the day, almost always being the last mom to pick up. School parties or volunteer opportunities seemed to always fall on my work days. Drop off and pickup took a full hour despite never leaving a 4-mile radius from my home. And with three in daycare (including an infant), my check now didn’t even cover our Costco bill.

Three kids busted our equilibrium.

Someone is always sick. Someone always needs to go to the doctor. Someone always forgot their lunch/pacifier/shoes/coat. And beating all statistical odds, those needs seemed to always fall on my work days.

I couldn’t sign up for the typical SAHM activities because they too, seemed to always fall on my working days. I had one foot in both worlds but couldn’t find an identity in either place.

With a husband that travels frequently and has little flexibility, the sick days, doctors appointments, classroom snacks, permission slips, lunch making, backpack packing falls in my lap most of the time. At first I felt empowered conquering this balancing act. And maybe that’s why I kept doing it – the satisfaction of listing ALL the things I did.

But eventually I felt like a broken record of apologies for being late (yet, again) or for another sick day because the kids were falling through the stomach flu like a never-ending game of dominos. I felt like a bad employee and a bad mom – always with a sense of failure.

My favorite days went from being the working days to being the days at home. At the end of a working day, I found it harder to shift my attitude from employee to mom. I parented annoyed and angry. There were more tantrums and harder bedtimes. My happiness with any of my days was slipping.

All the old ladies at the grocery store tell me “enjoy this time, it goes by too fast.” A comment I usually detest when I’m exhausted, covered in breakfast and one step from the edge of the cliff. But this time I am going to listen.

Wise Grandmas & Random Grocery-Store Ladies

A wise grandma told me it was either the first kid or the third kid that defeats the working mom. And it was just over a year into momming three that I surrendered.

I’m thankful this is an option for me. I walk into the new situation with eyes wide open, knowing my new situation won’t be perfect either. I look a year down the road and see a 2 and 3 year old in my house and humbly bow down to the crazy.

But the other thing being a mom to three has given me is perspective. I’ve watched the time between my first baby being born and him going to kindergarten pass in what feels like hours instead of years. I’ve watched my youngest baby go from newborn to walking and feel like I can’t remember the in-between time. My over-worked brain has already missed so much.

All the old ladies at the grocery store tell me “enjoy this time, it goes by too fast.” A comment I usually detest when I’m exhausted, covered in breakfast and one step from the edge of the cliff.

But this time I am going to listen.

Where do you fall on the "work/home" life balance? Where would you LIKE to find yourself?

Contributing Sister Site and Author

About {Sarah}

Sarah, co-owner of the Kansas City Moms Blog, is mama to Henry, 5, Clark, 2, and Lucy,1. After growing up in Manhattan, Kansas (go Cats!), she moved to Minnesota where she met her husband, Shea. Realizing how much she hated snow in May, she convinced him to move to Kansas City in 2010. Sarah has a master’s in public administration and is a web strategy and content freelance writer in her non-existent spare time. Her favorites include sweet tea, running half marathons, traveling and Gilmore Girls re-runs.