Motherhood: More Than a Juggling Act

by Jeannette Kaplun on January 10, 2011 · 13 comments

in Motherhood,Working Mothers

Women Juggling

I’m on maternity leave as of December 8: The following is a guest post by Jeannette Kaplun.

Those who know me well, say that I always seem to be on the run. But I know I’m not the only one. Moms everywhere seem to be scrambling for time and we usually manage to juggle (sometimes, rather successfully) one too many balls in the air.

A glimpse of what we juggle every given day: Carpools, supermarket shopping, school activities, meals for the household, school supplies, our kids social lives, after-school activities, managing the home, setting time aside for our spouses… the list could go and on. And this is EXCLUDING any professional obligations you may have.

The important issue that we tend to forget about is not only the juggling, but the balancing. It’s very easy to let one aspect of your life take over the others. And with women, that usually means forgetting to take care of ourselves.

Don’t you forget about me…

Remember that Simple Minds song? OK, now that you know how old I am, I just want to share some simple tips to not lose yourself while juggling everything else during the adventures of motherhood.

  • Don’t feel guilty about doing something for yourself. Nobody else will do it for you.  And look at it this way: it will allow you to release tension. A more relaxed mom, is a happier mom. A happier mom, is a better mom.
  • Take care of yourself. Yes, that means taking your vitamins, getting enough rest, eating well.
  • Treat your “me” time as an appointment. Sounds too planned? Well, the truth is, IT WORKS.
  • Organization is key. Arrange with your spouse or partner or a trusted friend to watch over the little ones for a specific amount of time each week to give you a breather.
  • Choose something you’d like to do, not something you need to do: a manicure, coffee with friends, reading a book, even shopping.

When work overwhelms you

Regardless of where you work at, the juggling act seems to throw in more and more balls in the air and if you really pause to think, it can overwhelm you. In these cases, learn to prioritize what’s urgent from what’s not. If everything’s urgent, then something’s really wrong, because something has to be most important in your to do list.

In this era of hyperconnectivity, it can be hard to set limits and boundaries. But just like you need them when raising your kids, you need them to keep your sanity while working and trying to balance your life a bit better. And believe it or not, you are the person that needs to respect those boundaries the most.

For some, it means no smart phones even near the kitchen or dinner table. For others, not taking calls or answering emails in the evening. And I’m assuming you already know that texting and driving don’t mix well. You need to find what works for you. Then, stick to your resolutions.

When family responsibilities drain you

Sometimes it’s the chores and everyday routines that sap out your energy, Again, a little organization and planning goes a long way.

  • Decide what really has to be done and don’t get sucked into the non essential stuff.
  • Make a schedule for your kids. For younger ones, take pictures of the daily tasks they must do (for example: eat breakfast, brush their teeth, take a bath, got to bed) and decorate together a poster they can look at. For older kids, make a schedule on the computer and print it out for them.
  • Buy gifts for birthday parties in advance. If you are always pressed for time, use gift bags and tissue paper instead of wrapping every gift individually. You can even buy in bulk online and save.
  • Do a master shopping list on your computer, print several and have them in the kitchen. Check off items as soon as you are running low and that way you’ll avoid multiple trips to the supermarket during the same week.
  • Learn to say no. Sometimes that means scheduling less after-school activities, organizing less play dates or not hosting all the family dinners.
  • Ask for help. Wonder Woman only exists in a comic book.

Personally, I dream about having my groceries delivered, but have to accept the reality that none of the supermarkets close to my home offer that service. So, I shop once a week and go at odd times when not so many people do their grocery shopping. Sometimes that means right after dropping the kids off for school, other times it’s late in the evening while my husband takes over parenting duties.

You’re in this for the long haul

The juggling act of motherhood is not a one hit wonder. You’re in this adventure for the long haul, and will have better days and not so great days.  Sometimes one of the balls will fall to the floor, or you might get hit on the head by a curve ball. It’s not the end of the world, and those around you will follow your lead on how to react.

So next time something doesn’t work out the way you had planned, try laughing or smiling instead of getting angry or even wanting to cry. A sense of humor works wonders and aside from making you feel a bit better, comic relief is underrated when dealing with your children. So then, aside from juggler extraordinaire, you will tune into the comedian inside of you. After all, there are moments in life that are so utterly absurd, all you can do is laugh if you want to find the strength to keep on going!

Jeannette Kaplun is a working mom of 2 that has yet to find a way to balance her life without feeling all over the place. She is the co-founder and editor in chief of Todobebé and author of  “Todobebé: Todo lo que necesitas saber para el primer año de tu bebé” (Rayo 2006). You can watch her every Saturday at 12 on Univision as co-host of the TV show ¡Viva la Familia!
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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Julie Diaz-Asper January 11, 2011 at 1:56 am

So needed to read this today. 2011 seems like a long year already! Agree laughter and humor gets me thru the day. I also schedule breaks for fun, even if I don’t have time for it. Mom’s tend to put their needs last. If you don’t get the me time, it can make you not really be there for your kids, work or husband. So invest in happiness time!

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2 modernmami January 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm

You’re right that we really don’t take the time for ourselves and put our needs last. It’s tough, but important, to overcome that and make it happen.

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3 blancastella January 11, 2011 at 3:26 am

Great tips!..laughing is always good medicine! And to remember that some of those balls that fall off might not serve you anyway, so lighten your load whenever you can.

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4 modernmami January 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm

So glad you enjoyed Jeannette’s tips. I found them useful too.

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5 Angelica Perez January 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I think the year 2011 is going to be all about BALANCE and stepping back to reflect on what’s important. And yes, when things get tough or frustrating, smiling or cracking a joke is the best way to go! It’s amazing to see how the juggling act is so universal…I related to every single point you made here, Jeanette!

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6 modernmami January 12, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Isn’t it, though? I too related to her post and know all too well how she feels.

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7 Anonymous January 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Wow! There are so many tips here that I don’t know where to begin! A couple of them that I will keep in mind right away are the making appointments for myself, that is a must, I do it but then I don’t follow through for next months and forget. And the kid’s schedule with pictures I need to do it, I know my boy loves a chart and he will follow the routine much better! I will bookmark this post. Thanks Jeannette!

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8 modernmami January 12, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I’m so glad Jeannette’s tips will be useful to you. I do a chart with my
baby girl and it does work. Good luck!

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9 Marcela Beatty February 9, 2011 at 6:27 pm

These are all great tips! The scheduling for older kids is really important. I have a large desk calendar and small planner for my son where he can write in things that are going on that week at school, homework, projects or chores he needs to help with at home.

These are such great tips!!!! My favorite is the time for “me”. ( :

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10 modernmami February 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Marcela, I love that you’ve allowed your son to take responsibility for his
own events and help with the scheduling. That’s great!

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11 Ana L. Flores February 14, 2011 at 7:15 am

I was actually telling my husband today of how I´ve always wanted to play “hookie” from all my responsibilities on a random weekday and just head to the beach and spend a whole afternoon there by myself. I have still to do it, but this post has really motivated to get that done..for me!

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12 modernmami February 15, 2011 at 6:33 pm

You totally should! I’ve played hookie and it’s awesome! ;)

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