The definition of "having it all" is being able to have a career that you enjoy while raising a family. And we all want that, right? Of course there’s nothing wrong with giving up your career when you have a baby but many of us like to have the best of both worlds. But being a working parent is much different from only being a parent. It comes with way more responsibilities -- and, let’s be honest, a lot of exhaustion. Just think about how many sleepless nights you have as a new parent and then try to go to work the next day on top of that. Not so much fun, huh? Read on to find out the struggles that only working parents know all too well.
See also: How to Stop Sucking at Being An Adult
1. There is Never Enough Time -- Ever
You never realize how quickly time can move until you have kids. Whether you have just had a baby and are balancing new motherhood with a freelance career and work from home, or whether your kids are a bit older and in elementary school and you’ve got a full-time job, you know that there are never enough hours in the day. And there never, ever will be. It’s 3:30 p.m. and you’re sitting in a meeting, totally bored because it’s gone on for an hour longer than it was supposed to, and you’ve got a sinking feeling that you’re supposed to be somewhere else... then you remember that you were supposed to go to your kid’s baseball game. Ooops. This kind of stuff happens to working parents all the time. There’s just no getting around the fact that you can’t do everything that you want to do in a single day. Sometimes you have to send your kid to their school bake sale with store-bought chocolate chip cookies. You wanted to make them yourself, but you have a huge presentation tomorrow and had to prepare for that instead. But everyone loves chocolate, right?
2. You Struggle with Your Guilt
Even though it’s completely normal now for mothers to go back to work after having kids, there’s no escaping how guilty you feel about taking time away from your baby. The guilt gets especially bad when you meet other moms who have chosen to stay at home -- and who look much better than you could ever look. They have that shiny hair, glowing skin, and those perfectly casual yet elegant clothes. You kind of hate them.
You feel guilty all the time. It’s completely endless. If you ever take time for yourself -- to get a haircut or even just sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee for ten minutes -- you feel guilty, too, because you figure that you’re away from your kids enough when you’re working, you should be 100 percent present when you’re not at the office. But having zero time to yourself will only stress you out more and make you resent your situation. So it’s a vicious cycle. And it’s one that you will never win, so don’t even try. Just accept the guilt and move on.
3. Your Kids Miss You
You try to be there for your kids 24/7. You tell them that you love them and just because you’re working it doesn’t mean you don’t care about them and think about them all the time. And yet your heart breaks because sometimes they tell you that they miss you and wish you were around more. That’s basically the price you have to pay for be a working parent, but it still sucks. A lot.
4. You are Always Super Exhausted
Being a parent is tiring. Working is tiring. Put the two together and it’s unreal how exhausted you feel. You’re always worrying about something, thinking you didn’t do something, wondering if there’s more you should be doing. You’re basically trying to be in two places at once. If you’re at home at night, tucking your kids into bed, you’re ignoring emails from the office that you really should be answering. If you have to work late, you’re missing dinnertime and hating it. Just thinking about your to-do list has the power to make you want to crawl into a hole and never come out again. You have your own schedule, of course, from meetings and appointments and deadlines -- all the work-related stuff that makes you a productive, valued employee to your company. And then there are the kids’ schedules. Who knew children could be involved in so many activities? There are soccer games and ballet recitals and a million things in between. When you’re off the clock on the weekends and can spend two uninterrupted days with your kids, you’re running around because they have so many activities to go to, not to mention all those birthday parties. Why do you always seem to know someone whose kid is having a birthday party?
5. You Don't Really Cook
A beautiful oven-roasted chicken, mac and cheese from scratch, roasted veggies that kids actually eat -- that’s the stuff that dinnertime is made of. And this stuff never makes it to your table. You want to cook, you really do, but you’re so tired and so busy and so overscheduled that you never get around to it. Your kids survive on frozen chicken fingers and plain pasta more nights than you can count, and more times than you want to admit. But at least they’re eating. You want your children to eat more green stuff (even though they hate it) but you don’t have the time, so you let it go for now.
6. You Forget Stuff
What happened to the super organized person who color-coded their agenda and always knew exactly what was going on? That’s definitely not you anymore. You had kids and now your brain won’t remember anything. There always seems to be something that your husband/wife or kid told you that you now have completely forgotten. You were supposed to drop them off at a friend’s an hour ago because it’s a day off from school, and yet that totally slipped your mind and you’re sitting in your car outside the school, wondering why it’s closed. You were supposed to help train the new hire at the office and you haven’t sent her an email yet because, again, you forgot. It may be a lame excuse but hey, if anyone complains you can just ask them if they have kids. If they say yes, they’ll understand how crazy it can make you. And if they’re childless, well, they’re going to have to learn to deal. Be patient, they’ll understand when they procreate.
7. Your House is a Total Mess
You try to be clean. You really do. But you didn’t have time to do the breakfast dishes because you had to rush the kids off to school and make it to your 9:30 a.m. meeting with your boss on time. You swore you did the laundry but now it’s all over your kid’s bedroom floor and you can’t remember if the clothes are dirty or clean. There are toys everywhere, not to mention important documents all over the house that you can’t find.
Working parents struggle with all of these things and more. But even though it’s a struggle, it’s worth it to raise kids and have a fulfilling career too, right?