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We are two working mothers — Lauren Rose, the director of business development for Name Bubbles, and Betsy DeMars, the assistant managing editor at The Saratogian. Try as we may to be really good at both, balancing motherhood and career can get pretty messy. As professionals, work schedules and mommy schedules often collide. So, we plow through, hoping at the end of the day, our kids — Lauren's 5-year-old son and Betsy's 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter — know how much we love them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Working moms: Making family time count

On a good day, I spend on average 1 1/2 hours with my son in the morning before I drop him off at full day pre school and another 3 1/2 hours at night. Yes, you're adding that up correctly. As a full time working mom, I typically spend 5 hours a day with my child during the week. Breaking it down this way did initially create some anxiety for me and it took time (and more than a few deep breaths) to get used to the numbers. As a family, we've worked with this math for nearly five years now. Here's how we make every moment we spend together count:
  1. Start every day with hugs, kisses and kind words.
  2. Breakfast (even if it happens to be in front of the TV watching a favorite show like Oswald or Little Bear) is shared with mom and/or dad.
  3. Engage in one small project or learning activity before we leave for school.
  4. Make car travel time count for learning and sharing. On the way home from school we review the day, share feelings and often a lot of laughter.
  5. Dinners are simple during the week, but everyone is involved in the preparation.
  6. Reading books and learning are at the forefront of our evening time. We have a Junior talking globe, anatomy books and children's classics and encyclopedias and we keep them where we can use them - not tucked away neatly on a bookshelf.
  7. TV time is limited in favor of talking time or outside play time (weather permitting).
  8. Bath time and bed time doubles as quality time.
  9. Structure in our household is negotiable when it means squeezing in a little more kid/parent/family time. It just works for us. Even if it means bedtime gets pushed to 9:00 pm.
That pretty much covers the way it's supposed to go anyway. In the spirit of full disclosure, though, here's a challenge we face as a working family:

Although we've attempted to institute technology "black outs", it simply hasn't worked. My husband's job is Global, so he needs to be accessible after hours and my job is connected with a daily newspaper that prints nightly. It's just not possible to turn them off. Our commitment is to "control the controllables". We choose when to check our mail and try to set aside designated times to work in the evenings and on weekends. That way, we don't feel constantly tethered to our smart phones and laptops and don't have to deal with interruptions from an active preschooler. It's important to be honest as a working parent. Pretending that it's perfect doesn't serve anyone in the family - least of all your child.

Embracing where we are at this moment makes it possible for us to be just that. In the moment.

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