New Series: Balancing Work/Life/Motherhood

When Toby was a couple months old, and I started to work again, I was shocked to discover how hard it was to juggle everything….

We found a beloved babysitter, but when she would leave in the afternoons and Toby would cuddle up in my arms, my mind would still be whirring with tasks left undone. Instead of nabbing a few hours in the evenings to finish up work, Alex and I spent all our extra hours taking care of Toby. There just weren’t enough hours in the day to fit everything in, and I felt stretched thin–like I wasn’t doing a great job at work or motherhood. I had always prided myself on being an efficient worker who could get things done. But now I was totally overwhelmed. What had happened to me? Was I not who I thought I was? I just wanted to take a nap.

When I looked around, other moms seemed to have it down. Walking down the streets of the West Village, Toby and I would pass countless picture-perfect moms with crisp white shirts, pretty makeup and blown-dried hair (!). How were they doing it? Was I the only new mom who was floundering? I couldn’t believe that I was, but no one else seemed to be batting a mascara-ed eyelash. I desperately wanted to be a fly on the wall and see how people really managed their time with work + baby + marriage + life.

Finally, one evening at the playground, I asked a fellow new mother, a freelance graphic designer, about her specific work schedule. To my great surprise, we ended up having a hilarious talk about the ups and downs of finding balance (she admitted to getting four hours of a sleep a night and working on her Blackberry while breastfeeding). I walked home with a huge smile on my face. I wasn’t alone! In fact, maybe we were all secretly in the same boat.

Happily, things took a turn after that. I was able to take a deep breath, give myself a break, and slowly figure out a schedule that worked really well for us (which I’m still experimenting with and tweaking!).

Although people do talk overall about the juggle, I’ve never heard people talk about the actual day-to-day of how they do it, and I’m always so curious about that, aren’t you? So let’s talk! :) Let’s share openly and honestly how we structure our days with work, marriage, baby and life. Let’s reveal the ups and downs. Let’s be supportive of and gentle with ourselves and each other.

This week, while we’re in England, I’m thrilled to share a series of posts from eight working mothers (including Jordan from Oh Happy Day, Jenny from Little Green Notebook, Deb from Smitten Kitchen, myself, and others) about how they juggle their lives. I found the posts fascinating, and I hope you enjoy them. The first is coming right up!

P.S. I’m featuring women in somewhat similar situations–most of them work part- to full-time for themselves from home, live in big cities, and are married with young babies or children–because I wanted to show how these similar women have all created different schedules that work for them. Of course, there’s a huge variety of amazing mothers with different jobs, relationships, economic means and situations, but I hope these posts are helpful, relevant, and, at the very least, interesting to everyone. Thank you so much for reading. xo

Update: Here’s the full series.

(Photo of newborn Toby)

  1. Amy says...

    Cup of Jo! Some of these old series would be so great to revisit – check in with these moms a decade later, or talk to a newer (and more diverse) generation of moms. Missing the motherhood around the world series these days too. Relevant even (especially) in the days of quarantine!

  2. Jackie Callahan says...

    Hello! I know this is a super old post but I’ve recently found out I’m pregnant and working my way through your motherhood posts:) I love this series but one of the trends I noticed were that all your contributors either have flexible jobs or are high enough in their companies to be able to afford full time help.

    I’m in my early 30’s and working my way up through the wine importing industry. Normally I’m at my desk full time with a long commute and although I do fairly well, the costs of childcare will be a hard adjustment. I’m curious if you have any contributors who might be in a similar position – one that I suspect many of your readers might be in as well. I know the series is old and very much done but a future post would be amazing! Love your blog so much, it’s been my favorite for years

    • Caroline says...

      Jackie, thanks for writing this – feeling the EXACT same way and would love more thoughts/insight!

    • Alison says...

      Yes! I agree wholeheartedly. Every person has a large adjustment to make when a new baby arrives, but for instance- I’m a nurse working 3-12 hour shifts rotating days and nights. Gone from the baby up toward 14 hours per day and it’s hard. And inflexible. And I’m making it work but every day I’m not exactly sure how!

  3. I have to admit that it’s gonna be difficult at first but it’s worth it! My fellow spider vein removal center friends was so happy to see your blog as well.

  4. Thank you for sharing valuable information. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post.
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  5. Is the most difficult task that you can accomplish in your life.

  6. Jo, THANK YOU for doing this series — it was just reviving to hear about what other moms do to balance it all, and inspiring also!

    I’m a stay-at-home mom of two, with an entrepeneur husband, and big dreams for my own small business/studio. It can be overwhelming, but it is just good to hear that I’m not alone!

  7. Hi Joanna! I love this series. I’m a fulltime working mom myself with a toddler at 3 years old and a baby who just turned one. This is something that I think about all the time. How do other mothers handle all these responsibilities? You are inspiring in your effort of juggling work/baby/marriage. I can’t wait to finish reading all the posts of your guest moms as well.

    By the way, I totally agree to what you said about not just raising happy children but a happy family. I will keep that in mind! My best regards to you and your family.

  8. I LOVED this series! I was surprised at how many mom’s have help. I hope one day to be able to afford a little part time help, but for now it’s just me and my husband. I really enjoyed reading how everyone else pulls it off though. Thanks for the great series!

  9. Ladies visit Sunny Mummy in Australia! A worldwide movement reinforcing the fact that you are the BEST mummy for YOUR child. Such a supportive network … also on facebook. Julie x

  10. Anonymous says...

    i love the mommyhood balance posts… do you have any contributors who are single moms? i’m a newly single mom and would love to know how others do it (i could use some pointers!)