We're about two months in to a new schedule in my house. Ellerie, my 17 month-old daughter, now goes to daycare two days a week, and is watched by a babysitter at our house on Monday mornings.
To say that the rhythm of our lives has improved would be an understatement.
Little background: I work full-time, from my house. Six times a week I develop content for my blog, which supports other ventures like my shop and online workshops. I host a weekly podcast where I interview guests who are passionate about creativity. I am currently developing a daily planner/goal setting workbook that will launch next year.
For fifteen months, I was working full-time and mothering nearly full-time and something had to give.
I love my job. I get to make stuff -- content, posts, episodes, crafts, art, products, promotional materials, photos, stories, tutorials, lessons, speeches and magic -- for a living.
I love my girl. I get to learn daily what it means to be a mother. I get to be a shoulder to cry on, a lap to sit on, and an occasional arm to bite (we're working on that). I have a front row seat to witness the greatest show on earth: growth.
I'm good at my job, and I'm also a good mother. My work is thriving, and Ellerie is thriving. But me? Well it turns out I can't be good at my job full-time and good at being a mom full-time while at the same time staying sane. Just ask my husband. (Actually, please don't.)
And so instead of staying trapped in the "Wellllllllll, I guess this arrangement is technically working so I'll just sigh around the house and massage the tension building up in my neck while sighing louder" passive-aggressive mind-frame until Ellerie goes to Kindergarten...
...we got some help.
I wish I knew why exactly it took so long. (Though I think it's because I thought I was superwoman.) I wish I could pinpoint why exactly I decided we had to make a change. (Though I think it's because I was so tired of feeling anxious, guilty and sad -- really the opposite of superwoman.) But I do remember that once we had found a nearby daycare (through yelp!) and took a tour, I felt a tremendous weight lift.
I also remember that dropping her off on that first Tuesday was one of the hardest things I have ever done. She adjusted well, smiling at the other kids and dashing off to play with a giant yellow ball. I glanced around the room, gave a watery smile to her sweet teachers and ducked out the door just before the tears fell.
I cried in the car the whole way home.
And then I parked my car in the garage, wiped the tears from my eyes, and spent my first stretch of hours completely alone in my house for the first time in 15 months.
It was a strange, liberating, painful, inspiring, awkward, productive day.
At 3:30 in the afternoon, I drove back to day care and felt absolutely giddy to see my girl. She was tired but happy (pretty much the dream toddler combination) and I looked at each of her tiny parts and marveled that she had made it through the day so whole. I marveled that we both had made it through the day so whole.
Every day since that first day at daycare has been another step towards letting others help my family feel whole.
This new normal has had a few bumps. It's true what they say about little kids and germs, we've had quite a few enter our doors these past few months. Not every morning drop off has gone as smoothly for Ellerie as that first one. But for the most part, this is working for us. Ellerie is in a safe, happy environment with other kids her age. She loves it and is socializing, learning, and growing into a little girl exactly as she should be.
Meanwhile, I am finding a balance in my work week that feels sustainable, something that makes sense instead of something that's slowly eating me alive. I am working just as hard at my business and at motherhood but limiting the amount of time I spend trying to do both at the same time.
I consider us fortunate that we have found a schedule that makes sense for us right now. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that, after 15 months of trying, I can now be a more present mom, wife, business owner and woman.
I share my story here today not to make myself feel better or worse about my own personal decision. I share it not to make you, random Internet reader, or you, dear friend that I have known for years, feel better or worse about your situation. I share my story not because it's special in any way. There are probably 10,000 people in the US alone who figured out a successful plan for their childcare/work situation in the last hour.
I share my story here today because I wish I had read more posts like this in the months before I had a child and in the months afterwards when I was struggling so much. I wish there was more candid talk about all the various childcare plans and about how it really comes down to figuring out something that works for you.
I now have much more time to dedicate solely to my business. Do I expect my output to greatly increase? Do I expect to begin making more money? Am I planning on producing more blog content or more products?
NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT.
But I do expect my stress level to decrease. I expect my work days, both at the desk and on the floor, to be more exciting. I expect my family to thrive as I am finally able to catch my breath.
I have worked hard to earn my hats as CEO and Mama. Both titles I take seriously and wear with pride. With our new normal, I am looking forward to diving deep into both.
Written by Elise Blaha Cripe.