Friday, October 16, 2009

Lessons after watching Dr. Phil

The TV isn't on much in our house. For those of you that know my husband, he really hates TV. He thinks that 99% of it is "pollution!" I, on the other hand, enjoy watching some TV -- I have my shows that I must DVR each week. Sometimes it is great to sit down and relax with a mindless activity! TV has been the source of many "discussions" in relationship and marriage! After almost 3 years of marriage, I think we have finally resolved our conflicts and have compromise!

All of that being said, I was flipping through the guide on our dish and saw that Dr. Phil's program Wednesday was stay-at-home moms vs. working moms. Hum... this could be interesting, so I dvr'ed it! I had the chance to watch it yesterday afternoon during Sophia's nap and it made the wheels in my head turn and turn! As with most TV programs, it over-promised and under-delivered. However, I have to admit, I have rarely watched a "talk-show" that has created such an emotional pendulum in my life.

He interviewed a few mom's from the different sides. The stay at home mom had some pretty polarizing views to which I didn't fully agree with. The working mom's seemed to need to work to be a better parent. Dr. Phil talked about the fact kids in a "good" daycare develop cognitively quicker than those at home with mom 100%. Also, those kids score higher on "pre-school" entry exams. Wow -- that is kind of a slap in the face for stay at home moms? Kind of makes the stakes higher, pressure is on you might say... so the thoughts started racing through my head .... what all can Sophia and I do at home so she develops and is prepared for her years ahead? Am I doing enough? Maybe love and affection aren't enough at home? Or are they?

I could see where both groups of moms were coming from -- but watching the discussion didn't help me resolve my mixed emotions, it actually created more unrest in my head. Where do I find balance? I know after working a weekend at the pharmacy, the following Monday with Sophia is something I cherish immensely. I look forward to seeing her when she wakes up and having some snuggle time. I feel sad about the things I missed while at work, but I am fully confident that she and Nate created lasting memories and bonds together, alone ... without me! I know, they need it ... but I still miss them both dearly!

I also struggle finding the perfect balance of work shifts and home time. What is the perfect number to allow for continued peace at home as well as provide a mental challenge for me? Recently, I have only been working 1 weekend/month. It just doesn't seem enough for the mental health/challenge part! On one hand, I don't want to burden my parents with watching Sophia too much. On the other hand, I know they would love to spend at least 1 day/week with her alone! It is hard not to feel guilty, but I know they love and cherish every minute they are with her! They always ask for "more Sophie time!"

With winter coming (too quickly at that, what happened to fall), I worry that I am going to get bored at home. Stir-crazy you might say! I struggle with worries about being "cooped up" and not interacting with the real world. Some days I love being at home with Sophia, other days I can't wait for Nate to get home b/c I need a major break. It is going to be a fine balance b/w staying at home and getting out. One of the many reasons I wanted to stay at home with Sophia was to keep her healthy and out of daycare. Although, I need to keep my own mind healthy as well. One thing that helps keep away the winter blues is hitting the gym in the morning. Cardinal Fitness has a kid's room and the lady that works in the AM is awesome. There are usually only 2-4 kids in there total (which is a perk)!

Another outlet for sanity in my life is my breastfeeding group. As a new mom, I deeply desired to meet other mom's going through similar circumstances with kids at similar ages! If it wasn't for the friendships I formed in my group with a few mom's, I probably wouldn't have stuck with breastfeeding (due to my low supply issues and the need to supplement after each nursing session). I look forward to Monday mornings each week knowing I get to see their smiling faces and hear about their life! We have the opportunity to learn from each other, and the kids love playing together! They are such a blessing, and I thank God constantly for bringing them into my life! The great thing is that we are getting together outside of group for Book Babies at the Brownsburg library next month and it gives us all something else to look forward to on Tuesday's!

Dr. Phil said that ~70% of mom's are working moms (FT or PT) these days vs. only 30% back in 1965. His featured guest hit the nail on the head ...(not word for word, I paraphrased it) "Being a stay at home mom is harder these days b/c we don't have the community/village that the women of the past decades used to have. Lots of moms are working now (and some have to work to make ends meet) which causes stay at home moms to feel even more isolated and alone. Plus, most of us don't have family that lives close. We need support from a "village" of friends to help draw us out and keep us sane." I am thankful that my "village" is growing with new friendships! I am also thankful for old friendships that continue to be a rock for me!

The bottom line is that everyone has to do what works for their family! I am convinced there is no right or wrong way! As a (mostly) stay at home mom, it is a slow learning process of finding balance in life. What is too much? What is too little? I know I am not alone in my struggles! I welcome any advice or words of wisdom to finding that perfect balance in life! I guess the ever-changing aspects of life keep it interesting at least, huh?

I hope this post wasn't a jumbled mess --- at times I wondered if there was even a flow to it! I hopefully communicated (in a somewhat clear manner) some of the many thoughts racing through my head!!!

Have a great weekend!


Amanda said...

allyson...i caught the same dr. phil randomly while feeding jillian...and i was quite disappointed with the show itself. ironically i also blogged about this whole issue...and had just finished an article for my MOPS newsletter that ran along the same vein...and our MOPS speaker yesterday talked about mommy-comparing as well. i like your thoughts...

Andrea Moberly said...

Allyson, I regularly read your blog but never comment! This post really drew me out because its something I deal with often. I have found having a creative outlet has really made being home a thing I love. I see my parenting as my primary responsibility (my children are my greatest mission) but when I get free time I do my best to jam-pack it with things that I find fulfilling. For me that is crafting. I have built a small home-business that is minimally financially lucrative, but goes a long way in providing me with a sense of productivity and creative fulfillment. The old saying "they grow up in the blink of an eye" is more evidently true to me now that I have a child in school. He no longer belongs to me 24/7, and I do regret some of the time I spent pining away for "something more" in our time home together. It makes me take better advantage of my time home with my younger because next year she'll be in someone else's hands as well! I have to say one thing for sure - you are the one who determines how prepared your child is for preschool. You have 2 choices: 1)pick a great daycare or 2) work hard to prepare them! I'm thrilled that I had that opportunity to do for my children what a good daycare would since not every mother gets that choice!

DEBSIK said...

A lesson from an old woman--- If I had my life to do over again- I would have definitely been a stay at home mom! I missed out on so many of my childrens activities and accomplishments - They grew up so fast- Parenting needs to be a mission- No better place than with your child at home.
Yes- we all need adult socialization and career health- but being a great mommy is so important!
You will never regret it in the end!

Amber said...

I believe that if it's at all possible for you to be home with your children, that you should take that opportunity. Many people are not able to, and deeply long to have a chance to be home with them. I know that Moms need interaction outside the home in order to be "filled" back up, since they "pour" out everything they have on taking care of the kiddos. You can really become isolated and depressed if you are not actively seeking to have that balance in your life. For me, it's getting out of the house without my son atleast one day a week. Even if it's just for a couple hours, I feel recharged. Also, I'm part of a Life Group at my church on Friday mornings. My son gets to come with me and goes to the childcare provided by the church. It gives us both a little break, and has been a wonderful weekly respite for me! Ultimately, you have to find that balance for yourself. What's best for you and your family? Once you decide on that, don't compare yourself to other Moms and what they do or don't do. Just rest in knowing you're being the best Mom you can be for your family!

Erin said...

I clicked over to your blog from someone elses and had to comment once I read your post. I wish I had seen the Dr. Phil you mentioned as this is a topic that weighs on me. I am a mother of two (4.5 yrs & 21 months) and I work full-time. I live in a state that is very expensive & could not afford to stay at home as I am the main bread winner in the family. I stayed at home for 6 months after each of my children were born and had a hard time with it. I did not have a social network in place to keep me sane during the long days! The ideal situation for me would to be working part-time - maybe 4 mornings (7 - 12) a week. That would get me motivated in the mornings and allow me to get out of the house, but still have a lot of time with my kids. Maybe in the next lifetime :(

Right now my husband stays at home with the kids (the thought of them both in daycare 10 hrs a day, 5 days a week was more than I could handle). He is also a full time engineering student so life around our house is really hectic, but is working well for us.

I have one so-called friend that has made me feel bad about working. I am not sure if it is because she is jealous or just does not realize how she comes across. For me, the work/children balance has been the biggest struggle I have faced. I hope you find a solution (wrk hours) that works well for you!