I owe my readers an apology. I recently had a phone call with a new mom who was struggling. Then she asked me something that made me realize that I have been leaving a large unintentional piece of my puzzle out. She asked: “If I am struggling with only one baby this much, and needing so much help, how do you do it all with four kids?” My response, I don’t do it all.
I may have given this picture of my day consisting of me getting up, working out, parenting all day while running a business and getting a delicious hot meal on the dinner table all on my own. That is not the case.
I have help. Years ago when Holden was eighteen months old and I was very pregnant with Beau I came very close to having a massive breakdown. I was struggling with a child who hated life at the time and I was about to bring a newborn into the mix. I had Mike drive me to our hospital’s labour and delivery and drop me off there. Once inside, I sat with two of the most incredibly compassionate nurses I have ever met. They proceeded to tell me, (while I sat sobbing uncontrollably), their own parenting horror stories and gave me the best parenting advice I have ever received, “get help.”
After that I immediately hired a babysitter to come twice a week to be with Holden, while I went out with our new baby girl Beau. Then I soon moved him to a home daycare two afternoons a week, then three. Holden started to enjoy life more being around his peers, and I was managing better as a parent.
After three years of doing this and being home I realized that I wanted more of a work/stay-at-home-mom balance. I tried working part-time while my kids were first at home with a nanny and then switched to daycare. But that still wasn’t quite right for our family.
That’s when I switched to running my own mural painting and children’s space design company. Yes, for those of you who just started following Nesting Story, that’s where Nesting Story began. I worked out of the house on weekends and hired a cleaning service to come every other week to come take cleaning off my plate.
When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I had to shut Nesting Story down temporarily. We scraped together every penny (and went into a little debt and accepted help from family) to continue with a cleaning service, and put Beau into nursery school while Holden went to school.
Mike asked me what kind of help I would need when our twins were born, and despite him thinking we needed help at night with the twins, I knew that I’d rather have help during the day with the older kids. So we hired a nanny to come and be with the older kids during the day, (since the kids were home during the summer months). This made a huge difference.
Once September rolled around and Holden went back to school we put Beau into four full days of preschool and continued with a cleaning service every other week.
Today, after the success of Nesting Story and a couple other exciting projects I am working on and will tell you about soon, I have been able to hire a part time nanny to help with our twins about sixteen hours a week on top of the older kids being in school and having a cleaning service. She is incredible. She helps with the dishes and laundry so I can work during part of the day and be present with the family for the rest.
I also barely cook. I make very basic healthy meals. I pick up healthy meals sometimes as well. I haven’t mastered the dinner situation yet, but I have always told Mike that my goal in life is to hire a chef. Haha.
I know this post is long winded, and probably filled with too much detail, but I wanted to give you a glimpse into how I actually “do it all”. The answer: I don’t. I am okay with that too. I know that I am a much happier and patient mom because I have help. I don’t struggle with guilt because I know this is the best balance for our family.
I am not saying everyone needs to run out and get help. I am just a huge advocate for women’s mental health and I urge every mother to look for a way to find balance in your life. We get help from family from time to time. But for me, it is important to have a career and be able to pay for steady childcare for my kids.
It took a long time for me to let go of this idealistic picture of what I thought I always wanted as a mother and realize that my path was a little different. I urge you to lose the guilt, and really think about where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Don’t lose yourself in the shuffle. Carve your own parenting path.