Ode to the Working Mom: “Screw the Balancing Act”

By Lisa Barr

NOTE: So I got an email last week from a Mom in Manhattan: “Love the blog, but it is so focused on the needs of the Stay-At-Home-Mommy. What about us Full-time Working Moms who run TWO households simultaneously: Work & Home. I mean, really, tell me at the end of our crazy day, how are WE supposed to get our Sexy On?”

Wife, Mommy, Lover, Professional, Slave to Her To-Do List: The Plight of the Full-Time-Working-Mommy. I don’t know how she does it. And sometimes — make that, MOST of the time —  nor does she.

Having been there, done that just a few years back, let me just be blunt: This myth called the Balancing Act simply doesn’t exist. No woman can do it ALL. No woman has it ALL.

Whoever coined the term Balancing Act must have been the same guy who invented the Mammogram (which don’t get me wrong has saved countless lives, but it is designed straight from a Medieval Torture Chamber). My philosophy: Put that machine just once on a testicle and I promise within two weeks you will see entirely different equipment invented. But alas, I digress (as usual).

Here’s what the Working Mom’s skeleton of a day looks like (read this, and add a minimum of 25 more things 2-Do): Wake up at 5 – 5:30 to work-out or just to get in the shower and dressed before kids are up … Get kids off to school in the morning … Grab coffee … Drop off the cleaning … Get to office by car or train … Put out all inner-office fires… Meet deadlines … Eat lunch at desk (usually some form of Kind Bar or Odwalla) — or take out a client … Place sticky notes everywhere for what still needs to be done BEFORE you race out of the office to get kids either from school or from an after-school enrichment program … Get kids snack then …. son to baseball … daughter to hip hop (During dance class, hit the grocery store and pick up prescriptions) … Race home and get dinner together … Wave hello to husband who just got home while you’re throwing in laundry  … Clean dishes … Help with homework … Make lunches for next day … Put kids to bed or into a shower and then to bed … Answer all leftover emails that had to be ignored earlier … Get face washed — anti-aging cream on, and THEN  … (a big AS IF) make passionate love to husband.

I mean, really.

Can any human truly do all of this? And, I didn’t even throw in all the other stuff — doctors’ appointments, play dates, school functions, mandatory work functions, clients who want to meet after work hours.

Balance? It’s not even a joke — because what a Working Mom has to accomplish in a single day is a full-fledged Theater of the Absurd.

Many Moms have to work. It’s not a choice. Many Moms LOVE their work, and do have the choice. But hands down, Working Moms ALL feel like they are spread too thin, and some part of their life is inevitably short-sheeted.

Often (not always) — the part that tends to go south is not the boardroom BUT the bedroom. A Working Mom is valid when she says, as one woman recently told me: “My husband can do his job, fit in a work out, keep his routine and come home, but a working Mom has to do it all, every day– and truly the part that suffers is my love life. I’m wiped out.”

Sex for many Working Moms (especially those with young kids) is Sleep.

Okay, let’s examine this closely. How do we solve the problem? I may need YOUR help GIRLillas on this one.

Before we get down to business, here’s a fun (hmm, kinky) note that just might spark some ideas. I have another friend  — a Working Mom with three young kids who has to travel often for work. Her husband felt like she did everything for everyone else and he was last in line. He was pissed off and acting cold to her. For her 40th birthday — I sent her “Come-Fuck-Me-Boots” — I’m not kidding. Four-inch-high shiny black Sunset Boulevard Stilleto Boots. (You get the picture) Anyway, she opened the box and called me: “You are crazy … I don’t even have time to zipper these puppies up.”

But a week later, she called me back and said: “Hands down, best gift ever.”

Those Black Hooker Boots made her hubby forget he had been neglected. And whenever it gets to ‘that’ point, those puppies are zippered way up, and ready to ‘get to work’.

My point? A Full-Time Working Mom can get her Sexy On, but she has to go rogue with creativity. Much more so than the Stay-At-Homers. Time is NOT an option for her — Time is a luxury.

But she cannot get creative alone. If she senses “resentment” coming from her husband, which is usually in the form of sarcasm, it is time for The Talk … then for The Action.

The Talk is code for Accountability. Your husband needs attention. But here’s the zinger — so do you. Instead of the NO FAIR CONVO: “But I did this and that … the kids this and that … and you got to go work out while I was X, Y, and Z-ing” pleading your very valid case — Fuhgettabout it.

Instead, when the kids go to bed, grab a bottle of wine and say to your spouse: I have to finish working for another half hour (and DON’T turn that half hour into an hour, no matter what), but THIS will be waiting for us. Make it clear, that YES, I love my job but NO, not more than I love you. YES, I’m so damn tired that I can barely stand, but I WANT to be with you. Help me (yes, ASK for help), find a solution so your daily craziness does not push you away from each other anymore. Don’t get defensive — all he really wants are those Damn Black Boots (code: for GOOD not doing-him-a-favor-sex). Know that, and work from there.

This is not just about sex, but creating real connection. It could be hugging, drinking that wine, and watching a movie. The point is: Look at your lives as though it were spread across an Excel sheet, and see how you can “schedule” in time to talk, time to connect, and time to make love. I know it knocks the spontaneity right out of the park — but …

Your life is NOT spontaneous. So don’t wait for your moment, like everything else in your world, SCHEDULE IT, or “it” doesn’t exist.

Don’t wait for him to make the first move. Women are better communicators. That’s not only a fact, it is law. Put it this way — my husband never brings anything controversial to the table. He thinks if he doesn’t bring it up — it goes away. No issue, if you’re a woman, ever just goes away. So tackle it. Make a basic plan, and then ask him to fill in the blanks. This is our life. We are living in 5th gear — let’s examine how we can slow down.

1. Set your phone alarm to say 2:30 p.m. every day — call or text him. This is NOT negotiable.

2. Make an Unbreakable Date Night. Once a Week. It can even be INSIDE YOUR HOUSE if time is a factor. If you have a patio, sit outside together and talk.

3. Make an Unbreakable Sex Night. Once A Week. Throw in something special — an outfit, a toy, something to keep it memorable. Something to anticipate. It may feel like you are doing this for HIM in the beginning, I promise it will be for you. A working exhausted Mom truly has a tough time feeling sexy. But This Planned Moment will Give Stella Her Groove Back. Just do it.

4. As for your kids, a Working Mom’s guilt can be larger-than-life. She never feels like she is there enough, does enough. If you have young kids, be sure to take them to your office, and show them all of their pictures that are up on your desk, and always tell them,”There is not a minute in my day that I am not thinking about you.” They will get this message: When Mommy works, I am still with her.

5. Talk to your kids, no matter the age and tell them YOUR truth. Don’t hide your crazy day from them and pretend everything is easy. Say: “I love my job, it makes me feel great, but sometimes it is really demanding and takes me away from things I like to do with you. SO, we need to plan a special time in the week just for us.” Even if it is a Saturday, going to the local bakery and picking out something sweet, and just hanging together talking. Not shlepping or running them to their classes. That’s not time together — that’s number 42 on your list.

You can even say: “Guys, will you watch a movie so I can spend special time with Dad in the other room. I’ve been working a ton lately, and he needs attention too.” You would be amazed at how swiftly even young kids get this, and LOVE that their parents are hanging together and not moving 100-miles-an-hour in Passing Ships-Style.

Okay, here are the minutes from this blog: You’ve been given permission to screw the Balancing Act. Instead, do what you do best — make your lists of Special Moments within your week that you can bond with those you love. What may feel initially as yet more “suck” on the time you don’t have, will, in the end … release you from guilt, and give you what YOU really need most: quiet, pause, pleasure, and quality connection. And it will give them what they need most — YOU.


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