Thursday, March 8, 2012
BLOG CARNIVAL - How I Get It All Done (and Am Fabulous)
Happy International Women's Day! This post answers the call of the wonderful Blog Carnival Hostess With the Mostess - @feMOMhist.
Listen up youngish (or oldish) women, here's where I inspire you to decide for yourselves what you want out of life and encourage you to believe you can have it.
Here's my recipe for work/marriage/parenting/living life fabulously. I've got 6 touchstones about that, then I'll share my day to day logistics (I think ours are probably pretty rare for Americans today).
Who Am I? Four years ago, I was a former academic turned VP at a BigName company making bank. Then I got pregnant, and had a nice long mat leave, came back, and was at the lowest point of my life ever, my marriage sucked, I had no social life, I was out of shape, and I had an epiphany. When my first child was 8 months old, one day I just knew I had to leave BigName because I had to travel all the time and I never saw my baby or my husband. (No really, I never saw my baby or my husband.) And though it paid quite well, I didn't love the work and how it drained all my time and energy. I felt trapped by the hours the job required.
We solved the problem in an odd way - by moving far away to a much smaller town where we could pursue our passion for skiing, spend more time as a family, and get the hell out of the stressful BigCity corporate rat race. It was the right decision. People thought we were nuts for leaving. There were haters, but the haters were wrong. (In fact, one hater still living our old life came to visit us recently and confessed that he envies our current life.) Best decision ever, second only to marrying DH.
Now I'm the owner of 2 profitable businesses (providing almost as much income as I made at BigName - quel surprise), the mother of two kids, ages 4 and 2, and the wife to Mr. Perfect who works one 9-5ish M-F job where he's the owner and the boss, but unlike most Americans he has 12 weeks of vacation. We ski a lot because now the mountain is only 30 minutes from our door. We are happy.
My Six Touchstones for how I manage to get it all done:
1. Marry Well or Not At All - Doubt means don't. I've seen too many careers derailed because someone married an asshole, and then had to deal with more weird passive aggressive shizz than could fill an entire episode of shitty Dr. Phil. My husband rocks, and does more around the house than I do. We have had rough patches in our marriage due to kid stress, but we've worked though them. (Thank you Harville Hendrix and John Gottman, et. al.) We schedule the time for dates and having fun and sex together - I guess that's our secret. My old male mentor once advised me, "If you and your equally ambitious spouse want to run with the big dogs, carry the leash in your mouth, and have children - live near the office, get the help you need on childcare, and you will have more flexible time and more total time to spend with your children." Amen!
2. Be Ferociously Organized - this is a personality thing, I think. I came out of my mama's womb knowing how to organize, write everything down, and remember the details. I'm a planner by nature, and I'm excellent at time management. If you're not, may I suggest "Getting Things Done" is a cult book for a reason.
3. Know When To Let Shit Go - Our home life is at times a controlled chaos. It will never be camera-ready 100% of the time when our kids are little. There is often a dog turd lurking somewhere. We just roll with it. We still have people over once a week. This provides the incentive we need to tidy up. I let go of the need to have a perfectly manicured home. It is at a Good Enough level of clean most days.
4. Show Them The A.F.C. = Actual Fucking Cash. That's how you get promoted in a company or survive as a business owner. You have to produce revenue. You have to convince the people with P&L responsibility that you're the reason for all of the A.F.C. coming in to your area, so therefore you're valuable and deserve more. People seem to forget that. As Tina Fey said "Everyone is your competition." Learn how to compete. Once you consistently show them the A.F.C. then you'll free to do more of what you want to do, such as showing up to work at 10am, or being a royal beeyatch when the mood strikes. Read "Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office" if you want a shitty-titled but accurate how-to.
5. Pay A Professional - Delegate. Outsource. We have a gardener. We have a handy person who comes quarterly to tackle our running list of things I can't fix in 5 minutes time. We would have a housekeeper if we could find one locally who could actually complete the job right. (Still searching). We have 2 regular babysitters. We would use daycare, which is more reliable, but there are no good daycares where we live. It saves us time to have the sitters come to our home and let themselves in. Our regular daytime sitter also does light housework. We pay her well and worship the ground she walks on.
6. You Make Time For Things That Are Important to You - I need me time. I need to ski a lot. I need time to go see a movie in the middle of the day if I feel like it. I need local friends. I need our dinner group, our wine group, and my two book clubs. Even though they're often not perfect, they're working for me now. Life is too short to let your time get away from you. So I re-arranged my life so that we have the kind of time for these pursuits. I don't have to go to an office everyday. We have no real commute. We have plenty of vacation time. In a few years we'll take the kids out of school for weeks on end and go on a big international trip. These tradeoffs make living in Podunkville worth it.
Now, our day to day logistics.
I wake up at 5am, work out, and shower. Start working at my computer at 6am.
Kids wake up at 7:15am or later. I eat breakfast with the kids. Spanish-speaking Babysitter arrives at 7:30am. DH takes DS to Bilingual Montessori.
I work at home from 8am-3:30pm. I can come and go as I please, and run errands or have me time if it's a slow work day. Either DH or I will pick DS up from Montessori and noon and meet up for lunch. Babysitter leaves at 3:30pm.
I play with my kids from 3:30-6pm. But if I didn't finish my work (happens very rarely), and it's winter, I'll take them to the local McDonald's with a play area and I'll work on my laptop. If the weather is good though, I'll send them out in the backyard to play. Or put on a movie for the kids if that fails.
One day a week DS has karate from 4-4:45pm - DH often takes him. DH comes home anywhere from 4-6. DH cooks dinner every night. We sit down together as a family and have a routine of each taking a turn talking about our day. Even the 2-year-old, which is hilarious. I do the dishes while he plays with kids.
At 7:30ish we start the bedtime story routine. If DD has not napped at all, they'll both be asleep by 8:30pm. DH and I have sex and/or read and watch TV in bed. I do one last work email check to make sure I have no fires to put out. We're all asleep by 9:30-10pm.
I'm home all day with the kids one day a week (DS is at half day Montessori, and I attend morning co-op preschool with DD).
If it is Thanksgiving-Easter I'm skiing one day a week with DH, while our sitter cares for our kids at home.
We have Date Night one weeknight a week, and we have a regular sitter come from 5-9:30pm.
DH and I are also in book clubs and on local boards that might meet the occasional M, T, or Th night every 6 weeks, so we roll with that.
We have Date Night every Saturday from 5-10pm, when we sometimes meet with our Dinner Group of 3 other couples, or our Wine Group of 4 other couples. Regular sitter watches the kids.
Sunday am is ski school for DS, so DH and I get a half day of skiing in, while a sitter watches DD. We could take her skiing with us if the sitter calls in sick, but it is a lot more fun to ski sans kids. She'll start ski school when she's 4. Eventually we'll all have blissful, full days of skiing.
Other than that, we don't have much scheduled on the weekends. And we like it that way!
What works well about our daily logistics:
We don't have our kids in activities that take up much time. There's skiing (which we also get to do while DS is doing it), spanish (in our home), karate. They don't have a choice at this age. Swimming happens during the summer when karate is over. Very rarely we'll do a one-off soccer or art camp that is short and ends soon. Our daytime babysitter teaches them Spanish, and she tidies up the house - lots of drive time saved there. It might start to suck when they're older and ask to do more activities. To which we'll start off saying no...
We are not bound to an office schedule. I work from home. DH works out of an office but is an owner and sets his own hours. We can take vacation pretty much whenever, but we will lose some income. Living in a small town, there's no traffic, and no commute stress. Win-win-win-lose as to the lack of ethnic food.
There you have it. Thanks for reading! Feel free to share yours.