work life balance Jen and John Speak

Tag Archives: work life balance

Great and Now I Feel Guilty…

I am a bad mother.

As much as I love my children, there are some things that other mothers think are SO fun and are so delightful that make me want to run and hide.

Case in point, a couple of weeks ago my daughter received a letter in the mail. It was from one of her friends. It told her she was now part of the “Sticker Club” and all she needed to do was mail a pack of stickers to the girl listed on the letter, then add her own name to the letter and mail it, along with a blank copy, to 6 other friends. Within 2 weeks she would apparently receive 36 packs of stickers!

Shoot me now.

The letter sat on the hall table for a week just staring at me before my husband started badgering me about it. Pointing out the fact that good mothers had probably already gotten on the ball and sent theirs out.

What he didn’t understand was that first, I had to figure out what copies I had to make, what addresses I had to find, how many stamps I had to buy, and also run out and buy a pack of stickers. Then I had to set aside time to hand write all the addresses, make all the copies, etc.

I barely have time to wash my dishes.

I finally sucked it up and mailed out the letters with my daughter last night. She was of course clapping her hands in delight the whole time. (insert mommy guilt.) I’d also like to point out the fact that I was a week late in sending these out. Which means there will be other disappointed girls who don’t get their stickers on time.


Now I feel guilty about all the other moms we probably stressed out with this project. (If you get one and you’re reading this, I’m sorry!)

How do supermoms do it all? Because I sure can’t figure it out!

Your thoughts?

I Want to Be Supermom But My Cape Ripped (And I Don’t Know How to Sew)

My patch-less brownie :)

I am a working mother.

I have a husband who makes sure the household stays running smoothly so I can take the lead in running our company. (God bless him.)

Our roles are often reversed. Parents in town sometimes make the mistake of coming to me to make plans with our kids. After giving them a blank look, I send them to the master schedule keeper (John) who will also most likely be the one who shows up for the playdate or birthday party with kids in tow. He also does the laundry and the taxi driving of the kids. (God bless him.)

We really do like the way things have worked out, even though it’s rather non-traditional. But sometimes it’s hard, too. I’m on the road a lot and miss performances and things. I try to show up for things when I’m around, like caroling with the Brownies.

But I also sometimes think about moms in generations before ours. Those superwomen who cooked and cleaned and got the kids where they needed to be (in heels and pearls, God bless them.) The definition of supermom back then was a lot different than it is today when we’re balancing work and family and everything else we want to do.

Heck, they even knew how to SEW (a talent I simply do not possess.)

Case in point…brownies. I have written before about the stress the whole brownie patch thing has added to my life. I still haven’t added the last 2 patches to my daughter’s vest because I’m not sure where they go. When we went caroling with the brownies at the nursing home, I figured I’d check out the vests of the other girls and then do my daughter’s.  Only when we got there, EVERYONE’s patches were falling off. And it made me feel better. LOL Maybe it’s not just me.

So even though I try very hard to be supermom, there are simply things I’ll never be able to do like June Cleaver. I still haven’t attempted to attach the brownie patches. My husband doesn’t ask me to sew hems (he asks his mom.) And yes, I’ll miss the occasional child activity.

But you know what? It’s OK. It’s what we’ve chosen. It’s the life we created. The kids are happy most of the time.

Even if I don’t know how to sew.

What are you grateful for?

The last couple of years have been a roller coaster ride to say the least. Lately, I’ve had time to thank God and be grateful for where I have landed.

My morning of gratitude:

6:30am – The sun peeks through my window.

6:35am – Snuggled cozily in my big comforter.

6:40am – The warmth of my beautiful wife beside me.

6:50am – The sounds of chatter and restless feet.

6:53am – My dog whining for me to get up.

6:55am – Morning bear hugs and peppy smiles from my kids.

6:58am – The smell of preparing a fresh pot of coffee for Jen and the circling dog reminding me to feed her.

7:00am – Our first class breakfast menu of yogurt, turkey sausages, mini bagels, whole wheat toast, fruit, nuts, cheese, egg whites and milk.

7:05am – The laughter from PBS educational TV and making healthy lunches for my kids. A Lunch menu consisting of PBJs, flat bread pizzas, bagels, grilled-cheese sandwiches, carrots, fruits, granola bars or money to purchase school lunch on Fridays.

7:25am – A meeting of the minds in choosing the appropriate school and weather fashion.

7:30am – Squeezing their little faces, checking their sparkly white teeth and combed hair.

7:35am – Piano practices and beautiful music to awaken sleeping beauty mommy.

7:45am – Brain warm-ups, a little math, a few spelling words and/or the thought for the day.

7:50am – Free play! A little Legos, dolls, Wii, DS, TV, reading, sharing, catching up or anything the kids want to do.

8:00am – Get ready to leave for school. Jen and I get more “I’ll miss you” hugs, kisses and smiling faces.

8:03am – We walk over to the bus stop and exchange good mornings with our neighbors surrounded by trees and our little quiet neighborhood.

8:10am – The school bus pulls up and the doors open to a smiling bus driver wishing everyone good morning!

8:15am – Jen and I go for our workouts. Sometimes we take a walk together, or she goes for her run, and I’ll do my martial arts exercises.

8:45am – I post my first comments, tweet my good mornings to friends, and make my to-do steps to reach my goals.

Recently, I ended a business post that life is like a river, but sometimes it’s more like a hurricane. Like the aftermath of a hurricane, there’s always new life, growth and beauty. I cherish more vividly all the beauty in my life. I’m so grateful for each day. What are you grateful for? How do you start your days?

~ John

Managing the Family Schedule

With 3 kids, we have a lot of schedules to keep. Between playdates, birthday parties and after school activities, my business trips, church activities, and more, it can get overwhelming fast. John handles a lot of the day to day scheduling for the kids. I just try and make sure my work schedule makes it to the central calendar, so we can plan around it. Most of the moms we know in town know at this point that they shouldn’t ask me about scheduling playdates. I always refer them to John.

With so much going on, having a good system in place to keep track of everyone is essential. I won’t say we have the perfect system, but it works for us. It’s rare we miss anything (although we did miss the scheduled call from the teacher last night…coming back from a business trip, I was just sooo tired and plain forgot! Oops!)

Here’s what we do:

  • We have a family calendar hanging in the kitchen. Sports, playdates, parties, and other activities are all listed there.
  • I initially put travel in my computer’s calendar, but always add it to the family calendar as well.
  • Birthday party invites go on the fridge, under a heavy duty magnet. That way we can always find details/directions.
  • My travel itinerary goes in its own spot on the fridge. I always print out 2 copies, so that when it’s time for me to pack my bag I can grab one to go in my travel pack, while John has all the drop-off/pick-up info he needs within arm’s reach.

I’ve thought about creating a central calendar on Google Calendar, but haven’t gotten past trying to sync Outlook and Google Calendar. One of these days I’ll figure it out. J It is nice, however, to have a handy reference available without having to turn on a computer.

How do you manage the schedules in your house? Any handy tools or apps that you use? Would love to read your tips in the comments.

Being There

As I write this, I’m sitting on a train headed to Washington DC. I didn’t see my kids this morning because I left too early (although I gave them extra hugs last night). And I stuck little notes in their lunches for today, letting them know I love them, and that I’ll see them when they get home from school tomorrow.

As a working mom who travels a lot, one of the things I struggle with is being there for everything. I have missed the occasional school performance, birthday (although we celebrated when I was home), etc. And I have struggled with guilt over this. Because I know I need to do my job to make the money needed for the family. Yet I also want to be the good mom. The one who is always there for my kids, with baked goods waiting as they walk in the door from school.

I know it’s not a unique experience. June Cleaver messed us all up. We struggle to be supermom while dealing with the realities of today’s society. I’ve tried to be the stay at home mom. And I nearly lost my mind. It just isn’t me. I crave the challenge that comes from my business, even though I also love being with my kids. But it does mean I can’t be there all the time.

And so I’ve learned to cut myself some slack. Heck, I might even be teaching my kids a few lessons that relieve some of the guilt for them when they become adults. I hope I’m teaching them that they are incredibly important to me, and their celebrations matter. They just might not always happen on the exact day. They will, however, happen (even if it means I have to watch that performance on the DVD). And when we’re all together, they get my full attention.

They’re also learning what it means to work hard. They know full well that getting the toys they want, the roof over their heads, the food on the table, is a direct result of John and I working hard, and me being away sometimes. It’s our reality. (And they’re actually pretty fortunate in that when I’m not traveling, I work from home. So they may actually see us more than the average kid with 9-5 parents.)

And my kids are still happy, funny, and secure.

Am I June Cleaver or Supermom? Nope. But my kids know I love them, and they’re learning how hard work translates into a good life.

And that may be even more important.

How do you balance it all? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments.