Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Workaholic Turned 1st Time Homemaker

Piles of laundry to place in a tiny European washing machine. A conveyor belt of bottle washing and changing diapers. Nightly toy retrieval and shower time battles. Daily dressing tackles, dish-washing, cooking and cleaning. FACEBOOK, the mailman, and the grocery clerk are your only chances for adult conversation, besides your husband. A routine life for a homemaker. Yes, you can plan your own schedule. Yes, you get bonding time with your little ones. Yes, you can marvel in the security that your children are in safe hands. (Well, until they totally piss you off.) Yes, you are saving on money that would be solely earned to finance a stranger to raise your kids. But for a workaholic, not having the work you spend your whole life doing, or a paycheck to reflect that hard work, can make YOU LOSE YOUR MIND!

For fellow 1st time homemakers, such as myself, or for homemakers who are starting to burn out, I have a list of guidelines to help numb the loss of your old work-is-my-life to embracing your new you-have-to-take-care-of-everybody life aka being a stay-at-home daddy/mommy:

1. Wash Yourself! You may not need to get up to head into early morning traffic, sardine your way into a crowded elevator, then speak to a boss and/or clients. You may not even leave the house all day. So what!?! Well, bums don't wash their ass. Couch potatoes, stoners and drug addicts don´t. Depressed and suicidal people don't scrub themselves either. Are you one or more of those people? Do you want to be? No. Then wash your ass! Daily! Believe me keeping up with your daily hygiene will keep you in a positive state of mind. Also it will make your body ready for whatever is to come.

2. Have a Flexible Routine. Now with children, esp. small ones, any plans you make will ALWAYS, ALWAYS be derailed somehow. Lunch may be an hour late or early because of your child(ren). The laundry didn't get done that day. The house is a mess. Dinner unexpectedly turned into take out pizza. These hiccups will happen. The key is to be okay with it and having a daily goal or two.

                    Here is my flexible routine:
    • 7:50am: wake up 3 yr. old and get her ready for school (I live in Spain so thankfully public school starts at age 3. Can I get an AMEN!:))
    • 8:45amish: Daddy and 3 yr. old are off to school
    • 8:45 amish -9:30 am: breakfast for the baby and I. Quick shower (Sometimes shower has to wait til hubby returns from gym or work)
    • 9:30 - 11 amish: anything that can't be done when 3 yr old is at home, this is the time to do it. (That can be writing, working on webpages, deep cleaning, running errands, reading, social networking, looking for work, or just 'me' time. Taking into consideration that the baby will need to be frequently attended to during this sacred time.)
    • 11amish: snack time for baby and me (It's important to take a break from whatever you are doing. It helps recharge your batteries.)
    • Around 12:30pmish: start cooking lunch. I give myself an hour or more to make lunch because I know there will always be something to distract me, either the baby or my husband. (Also here in Spain, lunch is a bigger meal than dinner. So when you may be doing sandwiches and chips for lunch, I´m cooking a protein with two sides dish. More dishes to use and clean! Brilliant!)
    • 2pm: 3yr old returns and the battle of "Eat Your Lunch" begins
    • 3pmish: Hubby off to work and I  do a 20-minute walk with baby in carrier and 3 yr. old in a stroller. (The best and fastest way to get them to nap.)
    • An hour to an hour and a half of silence!!!!!! (Time for me or projects!)
    • After Nap Snack time for me, 3 yr. old and baby
    • An hour of TV time so I can surface clean the house and/or complete the laundry.
    • 7pmish: out of the house for playground time.
    • 8pmish: cook light dinner aka American version of lunch
    • 9pmish: feed baby while watching last kid show before night time routine and sometimes it gives me time to participate in social media, practice Spanish, write, or whatever
    • 9:30 to 10pm: bedtime routine and daddy's finally home.(Hooray!) I hand over the majority of the bedtime duties and retire to the patio for some fresh air and a (much needed) glass of wine.
    • An hour of Daddy and Mommy time, usually watching a TV show or part of a movie. Then off to bed to do it all over again.
Some days barely any of these get done or they are all out of order. But I feel like I have purpose in the day and know what needs to get done.It keep this workaholic on track.

3. Put the Wine Down! When that dinner glass of wine turns out to be the 3rd or 5th glass of the day, you may need to pump your breaks. Day drinking can be lots of fun----when you aren't taking care of minors by yourself! Drinking to numb yourself into this new and sometimes unwanted occupation can stir up feelings of depression, worthlessness, and/or deep irritation. 

When you were employed, I hope you weren't drinking on the job. If you were, remember how irritable you got when the small hang over started and you had more work to get done. Remember, your thoughts and actions were not on point. Also things would bother you more that made you react in a more negative way than when you were dead sober. This, too, would happen drinking at home with your kids.

4. Find a Hobby or Side Job to Do from Home. Not all of us are freaking Donna Reed or Peggy Bundy. We don't make our homes spotless or let it go to pigsty hell. Homemaking is not limited to cleaning, washing, and taking care of kids. If you enjoy doing something, do it now. If you can find a way to make it lucrative, even better. We live in the golden age of  the INTERNET. You can work, sell, and socialize at a few strokes of  the PC keys. Do your research and find something for you. 

I manage a teaching resource site, do online ESL teaching, and this blog. Nothing is helping pay for that dream vacation or that fancy night out but I am enjoying the process of keeping busy with things I am interested in. Find your interest and go for it. What have you always wanted to do but never had the time? Make time now. 

5. If You Have a Hobby or Side Job, Set a Time to Do It When You Can Do It. Don't try to write or work when the children who can walk and talk are around. They will constantly interrupt you with: questions, broken stuff, dirty stuff, 'I want a snack' stuff, 'play with me' stuff, 'Linus touched my things', etc. This will drive you crazy and make your work take longer. It's not worth the stress. You'll be upset because you can't get the simplest things done and they will reap from your anger. 

Try to pick a time when your children are fully distracted or napping or snacking. Give them a "fun" project to do that barely needs your supervision or help. Let them watch their favorite TV show. Or wait for a time when you know they are the most docile and quiet. For me, its when my eldest wakes up or is snacking. You could even start playing with them in their room then slowly sneak out. It buys me a good half hour most times.

Worse comes to worse, wait to do any work after they have gone to bed. Either way make time. 

If you are going to disregard my advice, don't get your panties in a bunch when you are constanty interrupted. Calmly deal with the distraction and come back when you can. Don't bite their heads off when your kid(s) need or want your attention. They are only little. They don't understand that you are not interested or excited by coloring or playing with My Little Pony or moving miniature cars around while making 'vroom, vroom' noises. They don't understand deadlines. They don't even know what the time is.

6. Enjoy Your Child(ren). For some, a year or two of this transition period is the only time you will really spend with them. And if homemaking is your life occupation, soon your children will be involved with school, extracurricular activities and friends. Cherish the time! Talk and laugh with them. Watch their favorite shows with them. Color. Get down on the floor with your child and make those damn 'vroom, vroom' noises. That will be your paycheck: the joy of being their parent. Now I'm not saying you have to do it all day, but when the opportunity arises, don't brush them off. Interact!

7. Get Out of the House. Even for a short errand, getting out of the house can help the depression feeling go away. Spending too much time in one place can make you bored and weary. A change of scenery can rejuvenate you.

8. Don't Let the TV Be the Babysitter. I know it sounds like some hippy crap. But it is true. Kids misbehave more when they have been vegging out in front of the television. They are acting out from boredom and in attention. Limit their TV intake and you will limit the zombie type disobedience.

Also do you want your kids learning some of the stereotypes, rude behavior, unhealthy lifestyles, and greed that TVland broadcasts for entertainment? You're at home so teach them your values and perspectives of the world. (Unless your a bigot, then keep your mouth shut.) Okay, now I earned my hippy badge.
9. Walk Away. The strain of taking care of small children as well as every day life challenges can make even the most holiest of people break. If you don't want to catch a case, before that breaking point, wake away. Your child could be screaming bloody murder. It doesn't matter. Walk away. When you have cooled off, come back to solve the matter. The guilt of harming your child will overpower any rage you may have felt. Don't let it get to that point.

10. Learn Your Child(ren)'s Cries. New mothers usually run to their darlings every time they cry. Not only is this exhausting, it can give someone a 'cry wolf' complex. Also if you know the degree of alert that your child is signaling, you can gauge how much they need you and sometimes even what they need. It's the difference between completing a task and never able to do anything(even pee!).

Think of it as the terrorists alert codes: 

  • Code Green means they are unsettled and may even soothe themselves. 
  • Code Yellow is a warning that soon they might have a full on fit if you don't make a quick appearance. They may need a burp, companionship, or aren't happy in that position, etc. Either way, you have some time before you need to act.
  • Code Orange  is a right fit mode. It means they are hungry or need help with something right at that moment.
  • Code Red signals that the shit has hit the fan and something dangerous has just happened.

 Learn what cry goes with what code to save your sanity, if nothing else.


Homemaking is a new experience for me. I have always worked and let that work consume my life. With my first child, my husband was the homemaker for two years. I remember hearing about his woes every day when I returned from a long day of teaching. And I always thought what is the big deal. Now I know.

What do you do when you aren't use to sitting still? How do you survive without set duties from an authority? Without deadlines set by others? Without adult contact? What do you do when you aren't Mary Poppins, Donna Reed, or Peggy Bundy? YOU FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES and DON'T LOSE YOUR MIND!

What flexible routine do you try to do as a homemaker? Are there any guidelines you follow to keep your sanity?

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