Yesterday my best friend and I were listing the difficult things about being a parent: teething, colic, temper tantrums, sleep issues. But then we started talking about what we had found the most difficult of all about being a working parent: scheduling.
I remember reading book after book before my daughter was born. So many experts said it was important to get the baby on a schedule. Teach them to eat at the same time, sleep at the same time, nap at the same time. I made half of an effort at this and then realized it wasn´t for us. My daughter came out with a will as strong as a metal pole and she would not succumb to the things that I wanted her to do when I wanted her to do them.
I thought that I´d be able to schedule things better when she got older, once she´d passed the newborn phase and marched into toddlerhood.
Again, I was wrong.
As soon as we have a schedule down, something changes it. Recently she´s given up her pacifier, so now she won´t nap. It´s been two weeks. Realize, I work from home so naptime is my time for working. Needless to say, I´m seeing a lot more late nights and early mornings than I have in a while. All in preparation for the new baby, I suppose.
My girlfriend has similar issues. Her daughter is in preschool. She has to schedule around their open and closed hours, which conflict with her own work schedule. She also has to schedule in time to clean the house, spend with her spouse, and time for herself. She told me that they had a great groove going on in their home for a while and then her daughter got sick; now, all that has changed.
One of my friends created a calendar just for scheduling in "stuff.´ Not dr´s visits and special events, but everyday stuff that you have to get done and often have a difficult time finding a chance to do, such as paying the bills, mowing the yard, and returning library books. If you ask her what she is doing on Monday afternoon after picking up her daughter from preschool and leaving her own job she will say in a robotic voice without hesitation, "We´re stopping at the library to exchange and return our checkouts and then going home to finish homework and make dinner. Monday nights we also take care of cleaning up the backyard."
Once, I asked her what would happen if she skipped what her calendar read for even one day. The look of pure terror on her face said it all.
I have another friend who refuses to schedule anything. She flies around the house at a million miles per hour each evening, taking care of "stuff.´ Any "stuff´ that is out of place. I asked her if she ever considered creating a schedule and she laughed hysterically. "I can barely make it to work on time. Do you think I can follow some strict routine each week?"
Eventually we all make it work in the best way for our families. I guess that´s just all part of being a working mother: learning to juggle a million things at once, and understanding that just when you have them all up in the air, something is likely to come along and interrupt your flow!