By Mary Caroline Smith
ends meet until I started getting my teaching salary again. I also wanted to avoid the mistakes of completely ruining my credit again. By pure dumb luck, I stumbled across an ad for an online company called VIPKID and decided to give it a try. (Read more about that journey here.)
I went back to work full time after three months of maternity leave in March, and started with VIPKID in April when my baby was four months old. I did not truly understand the meaning of "tired" until May of this year. I had to really adjust my personal life to make this work. It is possible to do this and stay sane, but be prepared to compromise and let go of many things you enjoyed doing in your former life. Holding on to expectations that are unrealistic will cause you to be frustrated and burn out. Be honest with yourself. If something isn't working for you, it's OK to let it go and try a different way. It took me many weeks of experimenting to figure out a schedule that would allow me to work AND still be a person that I was comfortable being. The most important thing to remember is to take care of yourself. Sure, I need to pay the rent, but I also need to have the energy to be a good mom and a good employee. You are not doing anyone any favors when you are chronically fatigued and not mentally present. I have found that there are four key things that help me juggle all of my responsibilities and maintain a *moderately* healthy balance.
No matter how busy you are, make time to get enough sleep. Some people function just fine with 4-5 hours. Personally, I need at least 6 hours to be my best self. Know your limits and don't push them. Find the time to take a nap, make a way to get to bed early. No one knows your body better than you do. Listen to what it tells you. Besides affecting your productivity and mental health, lack of sleep can be physically dangerous to you and your children if you have them. Don't take an unnecessary chances. It's OK to take a morning or a day off. I take off every Sunday to sleep late and make up any sleep debt I have accumulated (and to spend time with my family). That is non-negotiable. You need a MINIMUM of one day a week to relax.
#3- Personal Care
So you have perfected the art of being an amazing, selfless parent and partner. Your boss loves you and your coworkers want to be you. But do YOU love you? Are you eating enough? Are you getting out of the house daily? (Even if it is just to walk the dog or get groceries!) When is the last time you bought a new outfit for YOU? Get your hair done, get a pedicure. Make sure that you are still a priority in your own life. You are working hard and you deserve a treat on occasion. When you feel good about yourself, it has a positive effect on the world around you.
them now and enjoy them so much more. It's all about perspective. Before this season of my life, I was also the type of person that HAD to do the dishes and clean the kitchen as soon as everyone was done eating. I HAD to fold the laundry before it got cold. I HAD to sweep and mop every Saturday. After my baby was born, I became an absolute ball of anxiety as I watched the dirt collect in the corners and the laundry mountain pile up. Then a couple of months in, I decided that it wasn't worth the stress. It really wasn't THAT important that I cleaned the baseboards of my home. I have learned that it's OK to let go of things that used to be important. For me, it's more important now to spend my free time doing something with my child or to take care of myself. No one has ever died from ULS (Unfolded Laundry Syndrome).
Click here to view two schedules I use so you can get an idea of what may (or may not) work for you.
Sometimes no matter how much you plan or organize your life, it just isn't going to work. Don't get SO obsessed with your schedule that it causes you more anxiety. You can go off script. It's OK to take a mental health day. Your child will survive a day without a bath. Decide what things are REALLY important to you and make them your priority. Sometimes you have to change the way you think or do things, but at the end of the day, make sure you are finding joy in your life. Because if you're not, then what's the point?