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Mommy Math: How to Have It All

by Cathleen Lewis

I’ve been having this conversation a lot lately. It has to do with how moms, working moms specifically, decide to divide their time and when they bring kids with them.

I’ve already written about the positive aspects of bringing kids with me to political and public events, so it’s not about whether or not kids belong places. But this time it’s about understanding the calculus that moms go through divvying up their time and deciding when or if they bring the kids along.

The decision isn’t one that moms take lightly and it takes into account a million different variables. But the best way to explain it is to see it.

Scenario 1: I get out of work at 5, pick up kids from daycare/aftercare by 5:30. Your event starts at 6 and I need to be there for half an hour.

Mommy math: Kids get a quick dinner at the diner/Mcdonalds/Wegmans which is 5 minutes from your event and then we all head over we are all home by 6:45/7, plenty of time to read books and get ready for bed. OR I go home, get dinner ready, husband gets home at 6, after quickly putting barbie’s new dress on, doing one last quick breastfeeding session, I’m out the door by 6:15, at your event by 6:40, home somewhere between 7:45 and 8. Now my kids are either halfway through the bedtime routine or possibly asleep, kids and mommy have to re-transition, which only makes things take longer plus mommy guilt meter is through the roof. Which would you choose??

Scenario 2: It’s Saturday morning and on top of various soccer/My Gym/ballet class activities, there is a social event — be it a Jamberry nail party, a baby shower or a holiday party during the day. Mom is trying to figure out when to fit grocery shopping and bill paying somewhere into the mix.

Mommy math: Is the social event a true social event? Will I get to catch up with friends or family with a relaxing glass of wine if I don’t bring the kids? Or will going kid free mean that I have a 45 minute window where I squeeze in the event between errands, rushing back to make sure that I get at least some face time with my kids where we get to do something fun? Or do I bring my kids, spend probably an hour there, catching up with friends, who also get to see my kids, reinforce those lessons to my kids on how to act in public and spend some of my time interacting with my children before we head to the park or some other more kid-friendly activity.

This is not an exercise to demonstrate how busy I or other working moms are. But it’s a demonstration of how we decide to spend our time and where we place our priorities. There are still lots of people who think that working moms put work first and there are still people who think that it should be easy enough just to get a babysitter for an hour or two but — each and every day — moms are making decisions to put their kids first.

Sometimes this means we say “no” to events because we put our kids first, sometimes it means our kids come with us on our way to or from somewhere or sometimes it means our kids are just part of the package.

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