My neighbor Carla completed her PhD in social work while embarking on a writing career and parenting her two young daughters. Just typing that sentence wears me out. Check out how Carla is having it all.
Briefly describe your life and what you think makes it unique.I don’t know how unique it is, but I work part time from home, and my daughters (ages 2 and 4) are in daycare and preschool during that time. On the one hand, I love the flexibility of being able to work from home (as well as the comfort of wearing my yoga pants every day!). On the other hand, it can be somewhat isolating at times, and I have to be super disciplined about getting my work done. It’s so easy to spend a day cleaning the house and running errands rather than focusing on my writing.
What are some of your favorite tips and strategies for coping with the chaos?My husband, Josh, is a wonderful partner and father. He works full-time out of the house, so it’s really important that we communicate often and support each other. Josh has some flexibility at work, so he can work from home on occasion, and I know that other times I need to cover for him when he needs to work late or travel for work. Sometimes it feels like we’re tag-teaming, but when we’re lucky, we all get to be on the field at the same time.
Other things that help keep the chaos in order: a shared Google calendar, obsessive list-making, and a healthy sense of humor!
Please share a moment where it all broke down, and how you got through it.Just last Friday, actually! It was the end of a long week in which my daughter had been sick, and we had been to the ER and the pediatrician’s office twice in the span of four days. I was also sick and exhausted, and I woke up on Friday morning and realized that I was facing yet another day at home with both girls. Josh was able to work at home, which meant he could help with the meals and bedtime and dinnertime. On days like that, the usual rules go out the window, and the girls get to watch a little extra TV because I need a break!
Do you have any balance role models? Anything you try to avoid because it wouldn't work for you?I don’t think I know any other mothers of young children who have truly figured out how to balance everything, and that’s actually really helpful to me! It’s good to know that we are all in this together, and that there is no one right answer for everyone. I am actually totally inspired by all of my friends—they are making the choices that work for them, whether it’s to stay at home with their children, go back to work, or some combination. It’s not easy to figure out.
In terms of what I would try to avoid—I don’t know if it’s about avoidance, but for right now, I have chosen not to pursue full-time work outside of the home because it would mean a major transition for our family. Josh travels a couple of times each month for work, and the girls eat dinner by 5:30 and are usually in bed by 6:30, so the logistics of having them in a full-day preschool or daycare would be tricky. At some point I might change my mind, but right now, I feel very lucky to have the flexibility of working from home.
Think back to your 18th birthday. How is your life different from how you expected it to be then?I’m not sure if I can even remember back that far. I think I was dreaming of living in a mountainside village in South America or something crazy like that. I certainly never imagined that I would be living in the suburbs with a husband, two kids, and a cat. Having said that, I am so happy with how everything turned out!
Relate to what Carla is saying? Leave her some love in the comments. Read other posts from The Having It All Project here. Want to participate? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!