2011 marked my first year of fulltime work since becoming a mother! As I've written about before on this blog (here, here, and here), figuring out how to be a fulltime working-outside-of-the-home mother has quite possibly been the greatest challenge of my life.
When I look back at where I was 12 months ago and where I am now, I'm proud of how far I've come. I was an absolute basketcase a year ago (at least on the inside). My emotions were all over the place. I felt disorganized, unmotivated, undecided, and pulled in a million different directions by all the responsibilities I have at work and at home. On most days of the week I felt completely overwhelmed by my situation and didn't see a way out, which was leading to a lot of unhappiness and anxiety in my home and in myself.
With the help of other working mothers (friends and family alike), authors and bloggers who've written so eloquently and helpfully on the subject, and my therapist, I started taking small steps to improve my outlook.
I can now happily say that a lot of the time I truly enjoy the balance I have between my work self and my personal and family self. I feel personally fulfilled by the successes I have in my career and I feel like I'm mostly keeping it together outside of work too.
Most important is that I have found tricks and techniques that have helped me maintain my goals for my home and my family while working full time. These include:
- grocery list for the following week is made while at work during the week and includes a meal plan for each night. Grocery shopping is done (with Sadie's help) on the weekend and as much meal preparation for the week as possible is accomplished before Sunday night.
- Weeknight dinners that aren't prepared on the weekend are assembled or prepped the night before so they only need to be warmed up when I get home after work.
- I'm constantly trying new fast and easy (and healthy and cheap!) meal ideas for busy weeknights.
- Breakfasts and lunches for the week are packed up on Sunday so they can just be thrown in my lunch bag for the next day as soon as I get home
- Laundry is always done on Sunday night so it's not hanging over my head for the week
- I usually can get my gym bag packed while Sadie's in the bath nearby so I have no excuse for not getting up and working out before work.
- Exercising several mornings a week before work keeps me sane and energized.
So, the balance is there. Sometimes. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely weeks when I still feel right back in that overwhelmed place. But it's not as often, and that's a relief.
Professionally, 2011 was also a great year for me. I'm taking on more responsibility and management and marketing duties every year I stay at my company (this is my 10th year!). I feel like I am thriving in my industry and within my company. I am being rewarded for my hard work and dedication and my future looks promising. On most days I enjoy where I work, what I do, and feel accomplished and satisfied with my career.
In 2012, I look forward to continuing to be challenged by my boss and my career. I hope to continue to prove myself as a competent and effective manager and marketer. My biggest personal challenge is to continue to stay focused and motivated. I am such a procrastinator when it comes to work tasks, and there are definitely times that I am NOT at all as productive or efficient as I should be...and then I just feel guilty about it. So, for 2012...FOCUS!