The Shoulds

***This post was originally written as a Guest Blog post for***

I’ve recently been corresponding with another female chiropractor, whom I worked with long, long ago…. I mean, before-I-was-even-a-chiro long ago.  She has just had her first baby, and now she’s trying to navigate the challenge that is being a working mom.

“Often it feels a lot like you should be able to manage it all,” she said in a recent email.  And that, my friends, sums up the motherhood condition known as “The Shoulds”.

  • I should be able to work as much as I used to.
  • I should be able to wear my pre-pregnancy clothes.
  • I should be able to smile and laugh and play with my baby all day.
  • I should be able to get up early.
  • I should be able to keep my house clean.
  • I should be able to do it all.

Guess what mamas?  You can’t.  Motherhood is an all-consuming, priority-shifting, time-altering new reality.  So, what’s a girl to do?  Well, you have to choose what’s going to change.  You can choose sleep or fitness or work or socializing or housework or….. see what I mean?  There are simply not enough hours in the day to do it all, always.  My choice is less sleep (okay, far less sleep), part-time work, and a perpetually dirty kitchen floor; it wouldn’t have worked for the childless me, but it works for the mama in me.  And I’m slowly recovering from “The Shoulds”.

My motherhood experience began on January 22nd, 2009.

My motherhood experience began on Jan 22nd, 2009.

Spending Family Money to Buy Family Time

I’m the financial organizer in our house; the prudent one, the thrifty one, the bill-payer, the budgeter, the saver.  So every few months, I take a look at our numbers and see if we’re on track with the goals and priorities we’ve set for ourselves.  As I was reviewing our finances last week, I noticed that we are spending family money to buy family time.

I’ve been back to work following my maternity leave for a couple of months now, and our life as two-working-parents-with-two-children is exponentially busier than our life as two-working-parents-with-one-child was.  In an effort to maximize family time with our children, our spending priorities have shifted.  We’ve had to modify our budget and our mindset to make this happen….. dinners out are now few and far between, our vacation fund has been derailed, and trips to Starbucks and Mapleview Mall are nearly non-existent.  But it works for us.

Here’s where I spend family money to buy family time:

  • I hired someone to clean my house.  Denise comes every other Thursday morning and cleans our place from top to bottom.  This means that I don’t clean.  I sweep the floor and do the dishes and laundry.  And that’s it.

Time bought: 6 hours/month.

  • I hired a painter to paint two bathrooms.  My friend Tommy did a fantastic job updating our master bathroom and main bathroom- and he did it in a fraction of the time that it would’ve taken me.

Time bought: 10 hours.

  • I go to a wonderful hairstylist.  Whereas I used to need a hair appointment every eight weeks, Telly gives me a great cut/highlights with minimal upkeep- I now go every twelve weeks.

Time bought:  3 hours every other month.

  • I go to a gym that’s got a fast, effective approach to fitness.  Crossfit is all about intensity.  I go and work HARD for an hour- and I’m back home before my kids are even awake.  This is a big change from my long, ineffective workouts at other gyms.

Time bought: 3 hours per week.

  • I got a new iPhone.  This phone can do everything my computer can do and more, all within easy reach.  I’m able to multi-task and complete my electronic to-do list in small chunks throughout the day, rather than a big chunk every evening.

Time bought: 4 hours per week.

The way I see it, I’ve bought myself 45.5 hours this month- nearly two full days and two full nights.  And I’ve spent $16.48/hour for that time.  I think that’s a pretty good buy.