Friday, October 28, 2011

Motherhood, shift work and sanity – Yes, you can make it work!

Holly Bicknell wrangles two small children, works part-time and studies part-time. She also writes what she calls an 'inappropriate blog' about motherhood called Good Golly Miss Holly. But mostly she juggles. And with her partner also working shifts, it's quite the juggle.
In my household, we have two preschoolers, a cat, a dog, a Mama and a Papa. Suffice to say, our house is bursting at the seams with toys, laughter and chaos!

Earlier this year, I traded in stay at home motherhood for part time study at university and part time work, doing night shifts at a local pub. My partner, Ryan also works 40+ hour weeks on a seven day rotating roster. Yes you read right, we are both shift workers! We never planned it this way but with a mortgage, car repayments and a never-ending stack of bills, like most families, we needed a way to manage it all without adding an enormous weekly childcare bill to the budget.

Shift work, particularly with two preschoolers, is hard work. Sleep is but a distant memory, our body clocks are out of whack and on weekends, my partner and I are basically two ships passing in the night with me getting home at 3:30am and Ryan getting up at 5am. It is not uncommon for us to see maybe 20 minutes of each other between bedtime on Thursday night and dinnertime on Monday evenings.

People are often amazed when I tell them about our home life and ‘Supermum’ is a word that is quite often thrown about too. “All Mums are Supermums,” I tell people “I’m just organised and extremely tired!” This is not to say that I do not struggle. Some days are just horrid and I find myself a wee bit overwhelmed, choking out “I give up!” in between sobs. Such is life, right? That said, there are a few things that help me to keep juggling those balls without losing (too much) of my sanity!

1. Do the happy housewife thing and meal plan: Some days it is an absolute blessing to be able to know what you need to cook so you can just slip into autopilot mode! Meal planning also helps us on the money side of things too because I only buy what we need and I don’t load the trolley up with impulse buys or 10 packs of Tim Tams because they’re on special!

2. Freeze a few meals. It definitely comes in handy for those nights where all you can think about is hitting the hay!

3. Invest in a day planner or diary: Motherhood and sleep deprivation have jumbled my memory something shocking! If I want to remember something, I need to write it down and that way, I don’t forget an appointment or feel the wrath of my four year old daughter when I send her to school in shorts and a t-shirt when it’s pyjama day!

4. Be prepared for the next day: My kids go to preschool on Mondays so on Sunday nights, they help me pick out their clothes and we pack their bags. Doing this makes getting out the door on mad Mondays mornings that little bit calmer!

5. Remember, the housework will still be there later! This isn’t the part where I tell you to just forget about the housework because seriously, who are we trying to kid here? I am a sucker for a clean house but there are times where I need to remind myself that going to bed and getting a decent sleep is more important than attacking the ever expanding Mt. Washmore in the laundry.

6. Schedule in Mama and Papa time: This is a really important one for us! It is so much easier to find something to argue over when you’re exhausted and Ryan and I often find ourselves snipping at one another. Whether we are able go out on a actual date or just steal thirty minutes together on the lounge, abit of couple time does our relationship wonders!

7. Bring on the family fun: Time is tight so we make sure as much of the spare time we have goes on family fun. Sometimes we might only be able to squeeze in half an hour at the park or watching “Hoodwinked” for the fiftieth time before bed but the kids still go to sleep happy and we know we’ve done our jobs well!

and perhaps most importantly,

8. Don’t forget to look after yourself! Sneak in abit of sleep where possible, eat well, make time for the simple pleasures you love and treat yourself when you can. You deserve it!

Pretty simple points too, aren’t they?

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s preschool day and uni holidays so I might just go steal an hours worth of uninterrupted sleep!


1 comment:

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

I think it's amazing that you manage to fit it all in, and you have some great tips here for all of us!