From time to time people compliment me on how well things seem to be going, between work and family. I often don’t feel like it but I guess we give that impression.
Now that I have some free time here are some of my thoughts.
I’m a naturally organized person, and that didn’t change when Zacky arrived.
I was stressed about how I would deal with the chaos of a new baby but in retrospect it’s been manageable. When I was pregnant and on maternity leave I read a lot of “organized mom” books. A lot of the principles are the same whether or not one has kidlets so at least I was already practicing an organized life. I was already adhering to checklists, routines, and reminders so it wasn’t too disruptive to adapt them to account for our new family life.
Mohamed is a true and equal partner.
We either tag team (someone puts in the laundry, someone else takes it out) or alternate (someone cooks dinner while the other gets Zacky ready for bed). We try to touch base every morning on schedules, and Mohamed has never hesitated to change diapers or take care of Zacky in other ways.
We set a few modest commitments.
Mainly, we prepare and eat a sit-down dinner every week night as a family, and our weekends are errands-free. We try to do one fun/educational/outdoorsy activity every Saturday. We try to combine activities too, like pool party = family time + exercise. Also, we try to make sure that by Sunday evening we have clean clothes, the week’s menu, and all of our groceries/supplies. It takes a lot of advanced planning but it's worth the leisure time.
We both have fairly flexible work arrangements.
If one of us has to go to pick up Zacky from daycare or work from home, we can do it. I work from home two days a week and Mohamed has every other Wednesday off so between the two of us we can get a lot of household stuff done. If need be one or both of us can work in the evenings once Zacky is in bed.
We have outside assistance.
Not as much as when we lived overseas, but enough to help out. We have a student come and clean and iron once a week, and we have a back-up babysitter if Zacky is sick or if the daycare is closed. We have a list of friends who are happy to baby-sit, and we belong to a neighborhood baby-sitting coop.
I try not to stress if things don’t get done.
Spending time with Zacky and Mohamed beats doing the laundry and the inbox any time.
OF COURSE I wish I had more time with friends, or to participate in cultural events, or volunteer, or exercise, or read. Instead of doing all those things all the time, I have to pick and choose, and I try to remember that this is a brief season in our family life.