Restless Mom Syndrome

I can’t wait for the day when I can sit down for more than one minute without feeling guilty. Because for some reason I have it stuck in my stay-at-home-mom mind that if I sit down for longer than it takes to tie my shoes, I am doing something wrong; some child or some chore is being neglected.

In fact as I am sitting typing this blog post I am feeling a little guilty that I am not playing with my boys who are setting up super hero/villain clusters throughout my living room in preparation of a giant battle.

They haven’t noticed I am not playing with them, so why should I care?

The truth is, I miss being OK with sitting and chilling. I miss things like watching hours of television just for “fun” or sitting on a blanket in my back yard soaking up the sun.

What happened to me?

Now I sit down to watch TV and can’t make it more than a half hour before I notice something in the room that I need to pick up or clean. I go outside to enjoy nature and end up sweeping up the patio or raking the flowerbeds.

Why can’t I stop?

I used to have hobbies – doing puzzles, cross stitching, playing the piano, to name a few. And heaven knows I LOVED getting lost in a good book.

But these days I don’t even dare open the cover to a new novel. I am afraid I will be hooked and therefore neglect all of my “mothering” responsibilities as I waste my time reading for pleasure.  You should have seen me (and my house) a year ago when I read the Hunger Games Series. We were a mess!

It’s not healthy for me to think I can’t take time for myself. I’ve got to find a better balance in my life – A cure for my restless mom syndrome.

Most of the time I think, “I’ll sit and relax when I get everything done.” NEWSFLASH: I will NEVER be able to get everything done. The sooner I realize that the sooner I can relax.

I’ve read some great articles recently from moms who talk about “living in the moment” and “cutting yourself some slack.” I love reading other women’s advice on how to deal with being a mom. But for some reason I only remember what they say for a few days. Then I go back to guilting myself into running around like the energizer bunny never stopping, never resting.

I’m worried that some day my battery will run out.

Heaven help me realize that I don’t always need to vacuum the floors and wash all our clothes before leaving on vacation. The beds don’t always need to be made before we leave for school in the morning.  And the dishes don’t need to be washed before I head to bed at night.

How do you make time for yourself and what do you do with that time? How do you let yourself relax?

I Quit!

Tomorrow I will embark on the second retirement of my professional career. I am quitting my job as a digital/social media specialist for MarketStar.

Why, you may ask, am I quitting a part-time job that pays me really well to work at home from my living room couch? Because despite my every effort to minimize the impact my job has had on my family, it has made a difference in our lives. Mostly mine.

If any mom tells you that starting a job — even if it is part-time from home — had no impact on them or their family, they are either lying or superwoman.

I’m not saying starting a job creates a negative impact, but it definitely changes things.

You can’t possibly toss another juggling ball up in the air without the risk of dropping one or two others you are already juggling. You may want to juggle them all, but won’t have the focus to do so.

For me tossing the work-at-home ball into the air caused me to drop two others — the sleep and personal-time balls.

I have worked hard during the past 15 months to get up long before my children to put half of my daily work hours in before they woke up. That meant they didn’t even know I was working. It also meant I had to go to bed early or fight to stay awake during the afternoon hours — especially during the past 7 months.

I would put my other two to two and a half hours of work in during the afternoon while my oldest was at school and my three-year-old napped. That also meant that they didn’t know I was working. But it left me with virtually no personal time to do anything I wanted like reading, crafting, watching TV or even cleaning.

Not to mention the fact that when you have to get a babysitter one or two times a week for work (even though I worked at home there were meetings and events I was required to attend in-person) who wants to get another sitter for girls-night-out or date night?

Sounds selfish right? It probably is.

I’m burned out so I am throwing in the towel. Summer vacation is quickly approaching and my three-year-old no longer wants to take naps. It’s an ideal time to quit.

I like my job. It is easy and rewarding. I have always enjoyed working, but finding and squeezing in an extra four hours of professional work each day so I can bring in some extra bucks has turned out not to be worth it for me.

It has caused me to focus on things I don’t want to.

Besides I am sure my life will complicate when I bring home a new little baby this summer. I want to be able to give him, and my older two boys, my best. I have always wanted to stay at home with my little kids and I don’t want to take them for granted.

I am sure there will be times when I regret my decision to leave — like the first Friday I don’t get a pay check, or the first afternoon that I am bored out of my mind wondering what to do with myself. But for now I just feel lucky I have the option to quit. Some moms don’t.

But either way, in my opinion, everyone has to decide for themselves which balls they are willing to juggle and which ones they might have to let drop.

Was I Meant to be a Stay-at-Home-Mom?

Several months ago I got offered the work-at-home opportunity of a lifetime with a local outsourcing sales and marketing company. They asked if I wanted to work part-time from home as a digital/social media specialist.

I jumped at the opportunity knowing it would be a great chance to use my college education, feel like I am once again contributing to the outside world and give me something to do on days when I am bored out of my mind.

Not only that, but they offered me really good pay too.

But I’ll be honest with you. It’s hard to squeeze an extra 20 hours each week into an already packed stay-at-home mom schedule.

In order to minimize the effect my work has on my children, I have started waking up really early in the mornings so I can get a couple of hours of work in before they get out of bed.

I know what you’re thinking, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” I totally agree. But it’s been hard for me to convert myself from a night owl into an early bird.

Starting this job has also put a huge damper on my crafting life. I used to dream up all kinds of crazy crafts to do while my kids were having resting time. Now while they rest I’m sending emails, posting stuff to social networks and writing new content for my company.

It’s probably a good thing. I am running out of craft-display space in my modest home anyway. Not to mention I love writing and the challenge of researching new social media strategies.

But more than missing out on a few extra zzzs or some unnecessary crafting projects, this job has really made me stop and think about my stay-at-home-mom lifestyle.

I had the stay-at-home mom thing down pat. Now I have been recreating my identity as a work-at-home-mom and reconsidering my decision to leave the workplace.

Could I keep myself at home even though my foot had been placed inside the door to the working world again?

A few months ago I was thinking about being a work-at-home-mom, my career, my new job and what it meant for my family, while I was driving down to a social media seminar in Salt Lake City.

When I stepped into the college auditorium I felt the rush and excitement of learning, growing and working come flooding back to me. It reminded me of when I used to cover events as a reporter. I loved being a reporter. I loved meeting new people and writing about all kinds of interesting things.

In my mind a mental battle was brewing. I was kicking myself for my stay-at-home-mom predicament. I have always enjoyed working and feel like I am a good, hard-working employee.

While wondering if I really should have been a stay-at-home-mom, the thought came to me, “You chose to stay at home with your kids.”

It was like a light bulb turned on in my mind. No one forced me to give up my reporting career. No one fired me or told me I couldn’t do it anymore. No one kicked me out of the Deseret News building and told me to turn in my badge. I left voluntarily.

I know everyone is different and has different lifestyles, but for me staying home was my ultimate goal.

I love my new job. It’s hard to find time to do it all, but my boss is extremely flexible and understanding. She lets me work when I can — whether it’s 5 a.m. or midnight. I wouldn’t work right now if I couldn’t stay at home with my children. And it’s also very important to me that my money is just extra. I make certain we can still live on my husband’s means.

Even though it’s hard to realize sometimes, I honestly love staying at home with my boys. When I feel down about my place in the “world” and where I am in my career, I remind myself of my decision to stay at home with my children.

I consciously decided long before I married, graduated college and had my first baby, that I was going to be home with my kids no matter the cost. My mom was home with me when I was little and I wanted to be able to do that for my children.

I look at some of my colleagues who have successful and productive careers and get jealous at times. That’s when I remind myself that my little boys are only little once. No matter how many hours I were to put in at an office, it would never be able to replace the time I have been able to have with my babies at home.

Am I giving up on my career? Definitely not. For now I plan on working as the best part-time social media specialist my company could ever hope for. As the years go by and my house gets quieter I may take on more work if possible.

Do I regret leaving my reporter post to stay at home with my first son five years ago? Sometimes I think I do; it’s hard to be shut out away from the world while building blocks, coloring pictures and blowing bubbles. But then I look at my scrapbook of all of the fun things I have been able to do, see and experience with my boys and I know that my staying home has been the best thing for all of us.

“Mom, Take A Picture!”

Something he drew on his drawing board but didn't want to erase.

The popcorn tin from last Christmas.

Normally when a child yells, “Mom, take a picture!” It means he or she is about to do something amazing. Not when my 5-year-old yells it. When I hear that phrase I know he’s about to ask me to document the final moments of some piece of trash I’m going to make him throw away.

My oldest is a hoarder/collector who would save his nose-wiping tissue if I let him. He has the unique ability to fall in love with the most random objects and then desperately want to keep them forever.

We’ve had a lot of conflict recently when it comes to his collections. Honestly we are running out of room in his bursting closet and my husband and I need some relief. So we struck a deal with him. Whenever he wants to keep something that we don’t approve of, we’ll take a picture of it and print it off.

The cup of bugs he caught at a family party at a park.

Now I’ll admit he gets some of his saver style from his mother. I like to keep items of sentimental value. But so far

most of the stuff he wants to keep is junk. Like the chocolate milk bottle he drank empty at McDonald’s, or the bone-dry bubbles container

he finished off in the backyard. Two of my favorite “keepsake” pictures we have taken recently are of the metal popcorn tin we got for

A beetle on our side porch.

Christmas last

year that had caramel popcorn melted to its insides and the Styrofoam cup filled with a spider, ant and two beetles that he collected at a family gathering at a park.

Growing up we loved when my mom drove us by a house in town that was loaded with junk. We nicknamed it the junkyard – think the beast’s yard

A dragonfly he caught at his great-grandpa's 80th birthday party.

from The Sandlot times 20. It was disgusting yet mesmerizing. Piles of old broken down machinery layered the lawn. I always wondered about the man who collected all of the junk. I heard they made him clean it up after a bomb scare in

A giant butterfly he caught at grandma's house.

his yard when I was a late teen. I think my oldest may turn into that man.

Now I’m sure you’re envisioning giant mountains of garbage piled throughout his bedroom. Trust me, it isn’t that bad. But that’s because I don’t let him keep everything he wants. What happens when he moves out? I’ll have to hire him a housekeeper to keep him from swimming in trash.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s not that big of a deal. I have to clean my kid’s room all the time. But it’s emotional every

time my hand goes to place something of his in the garbage and I hear “That’s my special ________ (fill in the blank).” It’s hard to tell what’s special and what’s just plain garbage. Sometimes I have to sneak stuff into the outside garbage when he’s not looking only to worry that he’ll ask for it later.

The picture-taking strategy is starting to help. I’ll probably end up with dozens of photos of pieces of trash. But it’s worth it if he’ll finally let me throw some of it away. Maybe he’ll grow out of his hoarding habits someday and I’ll look back at those pictures and laugh.

A baby pine cone he found in the mountains.

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