Work Life Balance

This Post Was Originally Written in Crayon. Moms Make It Work.

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There we were at our favorite park. My husband was chasing our daughter around the jungle gym. We had cut a hiking trip short because of a serious mosquito issue (I had swallowed a couple…hundred). So we grabbed some ice cream and headed for the park for a nice long walk and a little time outdoors. While playing, I saw a mother sneak away near the pavillion and frantically rip out her Blackberry, start jabbing at her keyboard and then run back out to her kids. Because it gave me a good idea about a post, I went to pull out my Blackberry. Except I don’t have one. So I start writing on some spare paper with a crayon that I keep in my purse for emergency distractions.

That’s right, before I typed this all out for you guys, I originally wrote it in purple crayon on the back of a recipe I printed out at work. It’s roasted cauliflower and chicken pasta, I’ll let you guys know how it turns out. But working mothers everywhere simply adjust to a new type of production. I once read an extremely smart and intelligent woman whose writing I enjoy immensely say that multi-tasking is impossible and leads to subpar performance. I appreciate her argument that if you aren’t fully concentrating on something, you don’t do it as well as it could. But reading this made me think, “You must not be mom.”

I know, I know! It’s awful and snotty and condescending to say, “You couldn’t possibly understand because you haven’t had children,” but sometimes, it’s just the way it is. Multi-tasking is not just a technique that working mothers employ when necessary, its a day-to-day fact of life. In the morning, I have to prepare my daughter for daycare and myself for work. So I’m taking care of her needs and mine at the same time. And because one of my jobs centers around motherhood, I’m thinking of writing and mothering pretty much simultaneously. Reading a new article about immunizations (and why they are important!) reminds me to fax my doctor’s records to her new pre-school. Going out to dinner with my husband lets me know that our favorite restaraunt stopped carrying Shock Top on draught (which is an issue because I work for a beer distributor). Every moment of my day can serve more than one purpose. I don’t care what you call that, I call it multi-tasking.

Working mothers everywhere have to find a way to get it all done. Some of us strictly separate our work and home lives. I know a woman who asked her employers for a company cell phone (instead of having them pay part of her private phone bill), strictly because she wanted to be able to turn it off after work hours. That way, she couldn’t get work phone calls at home. But some parents, like me, write posts in crayon and let our children spend an hour punching numbers on the adding machine when we have to work late. Sidenote, the supply closet is the easiest way to distract a child if they have to stop at work with you. There’s a lot of fun stuff in there!

Ladies, how do you do it? Are you multi-tasking mommas or compartmentalized caretakers? And why does it work better for you?

(Photo: Thinkstock)