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Am I being a wimp? Readjusting and feeling less competent

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I guess I just want to think out loud and vent and see if anyone else has insight. Before having a baby it was really important to me to feel competent in my work and get a lot of validation and feedback. I feel as though I'm doing less now than I was before but am less competent at what I'm doing. I feel exhausted and scattered but I only have one kid! Am I being a wimp?


I am a FTM of an active and awesome nine-month-old. I am in my mid-thirties. Before having kids I worked full-time in a demanding job as an arts administrator (among other things). For part of that time I was also in grad school full-time, a caregiver for elderly family members (mostly helping coordinate medical care and financial stuff), and active in my congregation. Right before I got pregnant I initiated a major life change that involved quitting my full-time job, shifting careers to focus more on my own creative work and teaching, and moving house. I wanted to be able to spend more time with my daughter during the early years and not be as stressed out as I was before.


Right now I have childcare for about twenty hours a week while I work doing consulting for an archive and teaching at a university. I have a sitter twice a week and my MIL cares for my daughter the other two days. This arrangement usually works out, but sometimes it doesn't and I have to figure out alternate care at the last minute. Most weekdays when I'm not working I'm alone with the baby. It's important to me not to rush her around and make her feel my stress so I try to spend at least some time playing with her, dancing, listening to music, taking short walks with her, etc. every day. Depending on what's going on, I have between 5-20 additional hours a week of work to do at home. This includes grading, planning, writing, and a little admin stuff like email. I cook just about every day, make food for the baby, nurse, do housework, laundry, weekly grocery shopping. I used to be able to read and do email while nursing the baby but she's too active and wiggly for that now.


We do have a cleaning lady (that we can't really afford!) come clean every two weeks because otherwise the house just gets super dirty. My faith is a big part of my life and I take the baby with me to congregation meetings/activities about three times a week.


Our income has decreased considerably and we really can't afford more paid childcare, so sometimes my husband will take care of the baby so I can get work done. Other times I work while she's sleeping. Often I am behind with work and miss deadlines. My husband has a demanding job and is at work 12 hours a day and part of the time on weekends. Like probably most moms here, I haven't had more than 6-7 hours of unbroken sleep since the baby was born. I generally feel OK but I know I definitely miss the sleep.


I have ADD and since having the baby it's gotten worse. Rhodiola rosea supplements used to be a great help to me but there are no studies to prove it is safe to take while breastfeeding and I don't want to risk it.


I LOVE, love, love being a mom, and I am much happier and calmer in my "new" life. I have the balance I wanted for so long. But I feel soooo scattered and tired and less competent in my work. I'm late for EVERYTHING. Since having the baby and then selling our old place and moving, our finances and all my "organizational systems" are out of order. I waste a lot of time (for example, on the internet!!!) because I'm tired and can't concentrate. I feel like I have so much less of a workload than mothers who work full-time or mothers with more kids--why am I struggling so much? I don't miss my old job but I do miss feeling accomplished.


Do I just need to suck it up and just organize myself better? Or is this normal?







post #2 of 9

This is so very normal! I was driving myself crazy thinking I have to be productive/crossing  something off my todo-list every moment I am awake and not with DD. It just does not work! And btw, a 9-month-old baby is a lot of work. I'd forget about getting anything major done while they're awake.


The good news it gets easier the older they get (DD is 2), mostly because they sleep so much better and entertain themselves longer. Still (at least for myself), I am forcing myself to let go of the idea that I will stay on top of things.


I've also kept telling myself how does the single mom with 3 kids working full time manage her workload and I can't with only 1 kid, a part-time job and a supportive DP. It made me feel like a failure somehow. I just think priorities shift and we just get accustomed to our new situation. You know?

post #3 of 9

I think one of the most important concepts for me about parenting was the notion that I was supposed to be learning how to let go of all the control and just "be". My left brain wanted so much to be organized like I used to be, and to have a clean house and to make nice errand lists that got done.


In real life, everything is more like a labyrinth in which I just do my best and try to stay sane and happy! (I have 3 kids and work full time at a pretty demanding job).


You sound like you are doing great! Even though it is a lot, it sounds pretty normal for most moms I know that are working and balancing motherhood and work outside the home. Is there a way to kind of embrace the zen of the messiness of it all? It won't stay this way forever!

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thank you for these encouraging replies. My original post was crazy long and overly detailed. I guess I'm feeling guilty/worried/divided about a general feeling of being less competent with my work now - missing deadlines, not teaching or writing at (or near) the top of my game, etc. Sometimes I end up doing mom/home stuff when I should be doing work stuff. Sometimes this is because I have to and sometimes it's because I want to.

post #5 of 9

I re read your post and I wanted to add that I think your situation might be harder than a full time employee, because you are at home with your baby but trying to get work done. So it would be really hard to figure out what to focus on and how to be the best in both situations--mothering and your work. I think I would probably struggle a lot with that, even without ADD.  I guess I wonder what it would be like to make a detailed list each morning with specific goals to accomplish, knowing that it might not happen, but at least giving you a 'structure' to go by? Also are there any options for unpaid child help,  such as a teenage girl as a mother's helper after school or something like that?

post #6 of 9
I think it's normal, but I also think you will find new ways to be better organized, especially as you are able to get more sleep. I felt completely scattered as DD was a terrible sleeper, it got better when she was waking three times a night consistently, much better at only waking twice a night consistently and I felt I had reached new normal when it was only once a night. Now that she rarely wakes at night, pshh I can do anything smile.gif

Also, I think WAHM/WOHM often find themselves doing kid/home things at work and doing work things at home on occasion. For me, I do it because it is more efficient and makes things easier for me. Why stay at work an extra hour just waiting for an e-mail that I can easily read at home while DH keeps DD out of my hair for 5 minutes? Why not get to work 30 minutes early and then take some of that time back to pay bills, make calls, etc. during the day while I don't have DD crawling all over me? This doesn't work for everyone, but I've found it a great way to make better use of my time!

While you are still in the sleep deprived zone, you might want to make a point to force yourself to be more organized. Map out all your tasks for the day and prioritize. Set timers if you need to so you don't waste an hour websurfing that you really need to spend working or doing household chores, we all need mental breaks, but set a timer for 10-15 minutes and then get back to it when the timer goes off. I know when I'm sleep deprived I need to give myself more structure to stay on task, sometimes I will map out my day down to 15 minute intervals. It seems a bit overkill, but it might help you like it does for me!
post #7 of 9

I can identify with this in a lot of ways.  Before kids, I worked 60+ hours a week at demanding job and was on call 24/7.  I organized DH and I's home, finances, everything. I spent a lot of time in my head obsessing about minor issues and concerns, that felt major. 


Since my boys were born (they are 3 & 5 now), I work at night, about 28 hours a week.  I am no longer the go to person for so many things at work.  I used to be known for extreme organization at work.  During the day, I do not check on anything work related, unless I get a call.  My boys and I spend our day going to the park, classes at the Y, playing in the yard.  I finally organized the house the way I want it, but it is not the way it used to be.  Things that used to drive me crazy,  I just let go.  I don't even have the headspace for them now.  If I want to cook, or do any cleaning, I need to do it with the kids, which really changed the end result eyesroll.gif


I still struggle with how different work is for me now.  I enjoyed the attention and validation I got for what I did.  I hate the feeling of not being the rockstar I used to be.  I feel like I spend more time than I should feeling guilty about that. 

post #8 of 9

I work a FT job teaching and a second PT job teaching. Plus I am developing a new BS program at my college. I have a 2 month old and a 2 year old and I feel hopeless for the little work I do every day but still getting a full paycheck. It's a horrible feeling not doing what I should be. I have no answer because I am mired in it but just wanted to let you know you're not alone. I WANT to work more, I WANT to get my job done, I WANT to still be productive, but it's not working right now. I love my kids but I love my work, too. Just who I am, I guess. Lots of guilt but also lots of acceptance knowing I am who I am.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Just came back to this and am grateful to know others are having similar experiences. DD sleeps a little better these days and in some ways I don't feel quite as overwhelmed. Since posting the first time I've gotten a few work-related accomplishments under my belt and don't feel quite as scattered. That helps.

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