The half-insane working parent

May 10, 2010, 2:57 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Did you have a relaxing Mother’s Day? Let me know if it was surprising for you – hopefully in a good way. And now, it’s back to reality.

I think life for working moms, and dads too, is a little bit like stacking dishes. Sometimes the plates all fit together and life’s good. Then a bowl or a cup gets tossed in – the dentist’s appointment I forgot, I’m working late again, I didn’t know there was a soccer game. What am I making for dinner? I don’t know – and suddenly the balance is gone.

It’s enough to make a mom half insane.

“When we’re half insane that leaves room for laughter,” says Kristin van Ogtrop, editor of Real Simple magazine and author of “Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom.

Unlike typical self-help books, hers has a light-hearted approach. For example, a definition of death bed regrets, or the list of failings that all mothers carry in their heads. On her list:

  • I have been a class mother only twice.
  • I did not have a parent-teacher conference when my oldest son was in eight grade because I lost the letter telling me when to schedule it.
  • I have never volunteered in the elementary school lunchroom.
  • I have never been on the PTA.
  • Not one of my children has a baby book.

Can you relate? Being busy is only part of what makes us half insane.

vanOgtrop“I know a lot of women who have very full plates, but there isn’t anything they’d take off the plate,” van Ogtrop says.

That’s the challenge. Although we’re trying to do too much for everyone in our lives, in some ways like juggling all of this stuff. And she says, many of us even find our ways to make our lives a little more complicated when our lives are “too calm.”

“I have another kid, or I get a dog, or I start a renovation in my house,” she jokes. “I have this tension in my life where I fantasize about life getting calmer when I get there, I complicate my life intentionally.”

Now, some advice for working parents who are trying to find a balance between their work and home lives, here are 10 Secrets of One Unflappable Working Mom from van Ogtrop’s magazine.

One tip: Do work at home; do home at work. You need to accomplish a certain number of things during a 24-hour period. Where you complete those tasks is beside the point; you just need to check them off the list in order to free up time for the things you want to do. Pedicures come to mind. And reading. So go ahead: Pay your bills at the office during your lunch hour, and check your work email at home while you’re waiting for the kids to show up at the dinner table.

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The half-insane working parent