Recently Laura Vanderkam had a post discussing yet another book written about the meme that mothers who work full-time are all stress-cases over-doing everything all the time. You know the one that’s part of the patriarchy’s plan to keep women out of the labor force?
Rather than quitting your day-job and becoming a free-lance writer who writes articles for the NYTimes on how hard it is to be a neurotic working mother, or a book-writer or life-coach telling other people how they can quit their jobs to work part-time telling people to quit their jobs to work part-time… there are less draconian (and less MLM) ways that people can control their stress levels and time use. This is especially true for the upper-middle-class folks that LV’s blog seems to be mostly aimed at.
We make a lot of money, but my parents did not (and my mom’s dual working parents did not). Still, they were able to spend on things that were important, and one of those things that was important was hiring people to drive my sister and me to places we needed to be during regular working hours when my parents had to work. A college student can take kids to the dentist. Like my grandma always said, “Hire good help.”
Many schools now offer after school care and even before school care. Most of my colleagues partake of this offering in the local publics, and the after school care at DC1′s private school is so popular that the SAHM complain that their kids want to go to after school care instead of going home with mom. That extra two hours that you don’t have to worry and you can just pick your kid up when the work-day is done are well worth the $50-$200 we pay every month (depending on the month).
Meal planning can take more mental power than it should, especially when you’re tired and hungry and exhausted from a day at work and need to recharge with food before you can think about food. Having quick healthy cheap food routines is important. I have a bunch of these standard meals memorized, and the microwave has made things even faster.
The reason I have these standard meals memorized is because from an early age I was taught to do chores, and I started cooking the occasional meal by myself at age 7. Kids can chip in and take off some of the burden. My six year old is in charge of things pertaining to hir. Sometimes ze forgets to bring hir homework or a jacket (or to wear dress clothes on full-dress day), but that just reminds hir next time.
I don’t have to be everything all the time. I can even delegate the mental load for things as my children get older. And they can handle that. Kids are more capable than many of us think.
What are your strategies for not “maxing out”?