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January is almost over and the talk of New Years resolutions seems to have died down. Nonetheless, that is just what this blog is about … New Years resolutions. I’ve been meaning to write it for several weeks but haven’t found the time. Better late than never, right?

My resolution for 2012 came to me when I was writing the annual family letter that we insert with our Christmas cards. Each year, I write a paragraph on each one of our four kids, one on the pets, a paragraph on my husband and myself, one on our family business, and another on any vacations we took or other special events. The whole letter usually totals one double-sided page. It’s a great way to keep in touch with a long list of people with whom we otherwise would have lost contact.

This year, there was a lot to write about, from kids getting  drivers licenses and going off to boarding school, to my husband adding four chickens to our menagerie of pets and a great camping trip we took over the summer. The only problem was the paragraph about me. It read “Kathleen is running a lot less this year. To stay in touch with her, read her blog at www.workmommywork.com.” That’s it. Pretty sad, huh?

Last year, my paragraph described how I had run my first marathon at age 40 and that I was doing volunteer work in our community. This year, I’m “running less.” I have no hobbies or special projects, and I had stopped spending my free time running with a friend. What do I do all day? Take care of my family, clean the house, and work – a lot.  It’s no wonder my blood pressure is, for the first time ever, showing signs of being high!

New Years ResolutionsAs soon as I wrote the letter, I knew that a big change was needed. I spend so much time working and taking care of others that I was not taking care of myself. I was exhausted, stressed out, and overweight. And when I realized it, I got kind of depressed.

So this year’s resolution is to take more time for myself. It’s not as easy as it sounds (New Year’s resolutions never are, are they?!). I quickly realized that in order to make the time, I would need to ask for it. My husband is a pretty great guy and he usually bends over backwards to accommodate me when I need something, but for whatever reason, I rarely ask. That was the first thing that needed to change.

The second thing I needed to change was my tendency to be everyone’s caretaker.  A typical morning in our house involves me getting up, feeding the doges, and unloading the dishwasher or making coffee while my husband takes a shower. Then, while he’s getting dressed, I’m making kids’ school lunches, getting their breakfast, and generally keeping them on track to get out the door by 8:00 am. As they are packing up their backpacks and putting their shoes and coats on, my husband throws together something to eat and they all leave together for school. At this point, I am still in my pajamas, the house is a mess, and I haven’t eaten a thing. The funny thing is that when I’m travelling or otherwise occupied, they all manage to bathe, feed, and dress themselves, and everyone seems to get off to school on time.

All of this just goes to show that I am a victim of my own choices. It is no one’s fault – except my own – that I haven’t pursued a hobby or made time for myself. Heck, I haven’t even written a blog in 2 months! So the change needed to begin within me.

Fast forward a few weeks and the resolution is going pretty well. I just finished a two week boot camp at my gym. From January 1 through 15, I got up at 5:15 every morning and went to work out. I spent two hours there doing the requisite 45 minutes of cardio and taking my boot camp class. I got home at around 7:45 am every morning – just in time to say good morning to the kids before they left for school. In addition to the exercise, I followed the boot camp’s strict diet. It wasn’t easy, but the payoff was more than worth it. In two weeks, I lost 7 pounds (actually I lost 14 pounds of body fat and gained 7 pounds of muscle), several inches, and got back into my jeans! Goodbye, muffin top!

The best part of doing the boot camp wasn’t so much what I lost, but rather what I gained. At the end of those two weeks I felt energized, healthy, confident and much, much happier. And it wasn’t just because I lost weight – it was that wonderful feeling that comes when you do something just for yourself. I worked hard and accomplished a lot and it was all for me. Oh by the way, my husband and kids did just fine without me in the mornings too!

Boot camp was a great kick start for the New Year, but it is just the beginning. My challenge now is to continue doing things that make me feel good, whether it be exercising, carving out more time to spend with friends, getting back into volunteer work, or finding and pursuing that elusive hobby. I know myself well enough to realize that I’m going to have to treat this like work and schedule “me time” into the calendar just as if it were a meeting. If I don’t, it will be too easy to let work and my home life take precedence. If that happens, another year will go by and I’ll have nothing to say in the Christmas letter!

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I am fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive group of female friends in my life. They are a diverse bunch including lifelong pals that I grew up with in New Hampshire, neighbors here in Annapolis, college and grad school friends who now live far and wide, colleagues from my professional life, and fellow members of my moms and dads group. This network has grown and expanded over the past 40 years and my relationships with everyone in it have evolved as well. Gone are the days of getting dressed up and going dancing until the wee hours of the morning. My “new normal” involves sharing a glass of wine on my neighbor’s back porch while my kids play in the yard.

I love the new dynamic, and I’ve come to appreciate the perspective that these women give me. Being a mom isn’t easy, and neither is being a working mom. Thank goodness I have certain women in my life to act as a support network and provide me inspiration. This blog is a tribute to them.

I have to start with Gretchen. When I was pregnant, a certain friend told me that, as a mother, I would get lots of advice on how to parent my children. HER advice was to identify someone who has kids that I would like my children to be like, and to only take that person’s advice. For me, that person was Gretchen. She has three beautiful boys, all of whom are kind, polite, happy and healthy, and all of whom clearly adore their mother. Because I had a little boy, I turned to Gretchen for support in the early days of motherhood when I needed to get my then 3 month old son on a nap schedule.

I’ll never forget when she came over. Gretchen took one look at Wyatt rubbing his eyes in his vibrating chair and stated, “This child is tired.” She then informed me that we were going to put him in his crib and the two of us were going to go sit on my back porch and chat. I was not to re-enter the house for at least an hour, even if I heard lots of crying. And, yes, there was lots of crying! But the great part was that the crying eventually stopped and Wyatt had his first nap in his crib.

The most beautiful gift that Gretchen gave me – and I still think about it almost every day – was to release me from my guilt as a mother and let me know that it was okay if my baby cried. I now use that same gift when I’m in the grocery store and Wyatt (now almost 5) wants candy. He can produce tears like a master thespian, but I know (thanks to Gretchen) that those tears don’t make me a bad mom and its okay to say “no.”

As Wyatt got older, I discovered other moms within my circle of friends who inspired me in different ways. One of the first women I connected with as a mom was my friend Julie. We shared a background in consulting and discovered that our two boys clicked well on play dates.

Julie has always blown me away by her ability to juggle. When I met her, she was raising her then two year old son and volunteering as the Treasurer of our local Junior League. Over the course of the next few years, she would expand her volunteering to include service on the Board of our community association, helping to found an anti-crime group in Annapolis, acting as the Treasurer of a local non-profit, serving as the PTA President at her son’s school, and working on the campaign of a State Delegate. Where she found the time (not to mention the energy), I will never know!

If Julie is my multi-tasking role model, then Kelly is my Slacker Mom partner in crime. Kelly and I have boys around the same age and we share a very laid back attitude towards parenting, as well as an appreciation for wine. In the Fall, Winter and Spring, Kelly hosts a happy hour play group at her house that I regularly attend. Every Monday, five or six moms descend on her back porch and share snacks, drinks and conversation while the kids play in her fenced-in yard. Inevitably, the group of moms falls into two categories – those (like me) who sit at the table chatting while their kids run around, and those who never sit down because they are running after their children.

I confess – I’m a slacker mom. My attitude has always been “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” This means if you eat a little dirt, you’ll be okay. If you drink out of someone else’s cup, it’s not the end of the world, and if another child pushes you, it’s not a big deal unless someone is bleeding. My mantra when the kids fight? “Work it out!”

Not surprisingly, there are many moms who don’t share my approach. Then there is Kelly. She and I are solidly on the same page about mothering and she makes me feel better about my Slacker Mom-dom. Her boys are great and I think my son is pretty fantastic as well (I know, I am really, really biased!). And while I kid around about being a slacker, I believe that what Kelly and I really share is the belief that kids need the freedom to explore, experiment, make mistakes, and pick themselves back up again. We both believe that by giving our boys a long leash, we’re building stronger, more independent men.

Another mom that I’ve always been blown away by is Phebe. She seems to have discovered the secret to that elusive balance for which I’m always searching. Phebe is married and has three children. She has a busy schedule, but always finds (or maybe I should say “makes”) the time for exercise and is a pretty competitive triathlete and runner. She also has regular date nights with her husband and always seems to be planning fun getaways with the family. She shuttles her kids to school and activities, but also makes the time to spend with each of them one-on-one. Throughout all of this, she is also one of the calmest, most peaceful people I know!

In the last two months, Phebe was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer and now, in addition to being the most balanced mom I know, she is setting the standard for dealing with health challenges. With her incredible attitude, endless energy, and unmatched strength, I know she will beat cancer. In the process, she will teach us all a lesson about living life to the fullest every day.

This brings me to Andi, my friend and neighbor who is due to give birth to her first child in the next few weeks. As I think about my experience as a mother, my advice to her is to form her own network of moms who inspire her. There is no one “right” way to mother and no one person can possibly be the perfect mom. Instead, the beauty of motherhood lies in finding the right approach for you and your child and then surrounding yourself with women who, as a group, can provide you the support and inspiration to stay the course and enjoy the journey!

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Today, I had a revelation about my own experience with motherhood. My husband is out of town on business for four days and I have all four of my kids with me and a business to run. In addition to client meetings, deliverables to complete, and a new employee to train (she started today!), I had school pick-ups and drop-offs, one child who had a tutoring session a half hour away, and a grocery run thrown in there for good measure.

As I reviewed the day in my head, I realized that I do a pretty good job of running a tight family ship despite our crazy schedule. My kids even commented on how smoothly things went today – they got to school a bit early, a home-cooked dinner was on the table at a reasonable hour, the laundry (three loads!) all got done, homework is finished, and the house is clean. After I finished giving myself a mental pat on the back, I started thinking about why I was able to pull it together so easily when on many nights, the situation is much more chaotic.

The answer? Motherhood is like project management and I work better under pressure.

I come from a management consulting background and in any consulting field, project management is a critical skill to master. To carry a project successfully from start to finish, you’ve got multiple balls to juggle:

  • A clear set of expectations for what will be accomplished;
  • A good plan with all the major tasks identified, responsibility for their completion assigned, and clear deadlines and accountability;
  • The ability to manage your client (ie. Keeping them happy while making sure they are giving you what you need, when you need it);
  • Consistent communication with your client and team members;
  • Strong leadership skills and the ability to work well with a team;
  • A solid work ethic; and
  • The ability to work well under pressure and manage people and tasks during a crisis.

Motherhood is no different. It’s all about balancing the mundane (checking things off the “to do” list) with the sublime (giving each child some individual attention and love) while not losing sight of the master plan. To do this successfully, you’ve got to apply the same concepts employed by the Critical Path Method, namely:

  • Compile a list of all activities required to complete the project (day);
  • Determine the time that each activity will take to complete; and
  • Understand the interdependency of the various activities.

In my case, this plays out something like the following. The tasks included me getting a shower and looking presentable for work, everyone getting breakfast and taking their various vitamins/medicines, packing lunches for school, dropping kids off at school, conducting an orientation for a new employee, taking said new employee to a weekly marketing meeting with a client, completing a deliverable, checking and answering emails, preparing dinner for the kids, picking the kids up from school, getting my stepson to and from math tutoring, buying groceries, picking my other son up from daycare, feeding all children dinner, washing and folding several loads of laundry, taking the garbage out, cleaning the house, and touching base with my husband (on the business trip) and my parents. Whew!

In order to get all of the above done, several important things needed to happen. These included getting the coffee pot ready to brew the night before, having my breakfast made the night before, waking up 45 minutes before my kids to shower and get dressed, laying out everyone’s vitamins and medicines and lunchboxes so nothing would be forgotten in the morning rush, preparing dinner the day before, and combining the grocery run with the tutoring pick-up/drop-offs.

In addition to these tasks, I needed the cooperation of the kids. This means having plenty of patience while I ask my stepson for the 5th time to clean up his dinner dishes, not getting too upset when I return home to find popcorn kernels all over the kitchen floor (the result of an ambitious afternoon snack project), and having to delay by one day seeing my stepdaughter clean her room. But while I take some credit for keeping the kids on track by picking my battles, I also recognize that they were fantastic today all on their own. They seem to sense when I need them to pull it together and help out – like when my stepdaughter offered to clean up the dinner dishes and my stepson helped me to take the garbage out. Have I mentioned how great my kids are??

The point is, there was a lot to get done and plenty of interdependency. In order to get started with work on time, I had to take care of a lot of the morning activities (coffee making, breakfast prep, etc.) the night before. To get the kids fed on time at dinner, the meal needed to be made ahead of time so we could simply “heat and eat” after tutoring. To find any time to buy groceries, I needed to take advantage of the half hour window while my stepson was at tutoring.

Our busy schedule really plays to my strengths. I work well under pressure and love it when I figure out ways to meet seemingly impossible deadlines. Don’t get me wrong – I am in no way saying I want every day to be like today, but I have learned to appreciate the times I’m able to rise to the challenges of motherhood. After all, let’s face it – there are so many times when we don’t live up to our own expectations as mothers and the guilt can be crushing!

I think what I love so much about today is it underscored why, for me, being a working mother is making me a better mother. I’m a big believer that everyone has to choose the best path for themselves and that there is no one “right” way to be a mother, but I still fall victim to the occasional bout of self-doubt on days that my stay-at-home mom friends are taking their children on field trips to museums or spending the day at the pumpkin patch. Getting back into the professional world has awoken my inner project manager and on days like today, she is ready to take charge! Knowing that my time at work is in some ways making me a better mother makes me feel better about the things I’m sacrificing and – I hope – teaching my kids about the importance of good planning, hard work, and patience. Yay me!

Now it’s time to do it all again tomorrow…. Sigh.

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Here I am at 7 am on a Saturday morning … working. This past Thursday, I was up until midnight … working. Sunday afternoon … working! In my 20’s, I used to get dressed up, go to an office and put in a solid day of work. It might not have been from 9 am to 5 pm, but it was at least something close like 8:30 to 6:30. Sprinkled in with those 8 to 10 hour days were the occasional late nights at the office. I never minded the long hours – I just assumed that by working hard when I was young I would be able to enjoy the fruits of my labors in my 40s and 50s.

Boy was I wrong! Now that I own my own business and have four children, I find myself working harder than ever. The hours are longer (technically, the work never ends when you are a small business owner!), the stress is greater, and there are more demands on my free time than ever before. It’s ironic, really. When I had the time to work long hours, I didn’t need to. Now that I have no time, I need to work more than ever!

So what’s a hard working mom to do in this situation? Well, luckily I work out of my house and my office is in my kitchen. There is a lot of running back and forth between the stove (as I cook dinner) and the computer (as I shoot off a quick response to an email). But I don’t want to be one of those moms whose kids feel like she is on her computer or Blackberry every chance she gets – I want to spend time with  my kids and play with them. So on most weeknights, I put down my work at 5:00 and don’t pick it up again until 9:00, after my 4 year old goes to bed. The hours in between are sacrosanct. We sit down to the table to eat dinner together as a family, we talk about our day, we play a little, do some homework, and go through the whole bath, books and bedtime ritual.

Those evening hours form the heart of our day as a family. The morning is too rushed – getting 4 children off to school on time with all of their gear, lunches, etc. is no easy feet! Its incredible how quickly the week goes by when you only have a few hours each day to spend together.

At the end of the day, the late nights, early mornings and weekend hours seem worth it if it means taking the time every evening to just “be” with my family. And much like my 20s, when I worked hard in the belief that the payoff was coming later, I now feel that the long hours and late nights are an investment that will pay dividends in the form of happy kids and financial security. So with that, I guess its back to work!

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I’m not sure how it happened, but in the last few years motherhood and work have taken over to the point that showering has fallen low on the list of priorities. As I sit here and write this, my hair is starting to look stringy and I’m growing a remarkably scratchy layer of leg stubble. This is not an unusual occurance – the stringy hair syndrome is common enough that I’ve developed a very effective hairstyle for masking it (it involves lots of upside down brushing of the hair and a barrette).

How did I get to this point? When did showering become a luxury like pedicures once were? I’m not sure there was one particular moment when I stopped bathing regularly. If I’m honest, it was probably a slippery slope that began when I had my son and got worse over the course of that first summer of motherhood when I was able to convince myself that a dip in the pool could double for a shower and shampoo. Now when I consider showering, I weigh the time it will take to actually bath, plus dry my hair and apply makeup, against all the things I could accomplish in the meantime (empty dishwasher, throw a load of laundry in, write a blog post for a client, knock out a conference call, etc.). Put simply, its all about opportunity cost, and apparently these days the opportunity cost of a shower is too great (until I get so scuzzy I can’t stand it any longer!).  

Summer is over, my son is almost four, and I’ve got to face the honest truth – its time to reacquaint myself with my shower, shampoo, razor, and shave cream and reclaim my freshly bathed, coiffed and smooth-legged self. The objective is not to look like the “yummy mummy” that my friends love to joke about (although I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t enjoy being referred to in those terms); it is to take back some time for myself and enjoy the knowledge that I look my best – even if I’m taking my best to the grocery store for a gallon of milk.

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Back in my twenties, when I was single and pulling in a great salary, I had a financial planner who told me, “you are at once the most promising client I have and the most frightening.” He went on to explain that I was promising because I was earning a great income from my consulting work, but frightening because I was blowing most of it on clothes and shoes. I confess … I was a shopaholic!

During my shopping heyday, I was known to spend up to $600 a month on a couple pairs of pants and a great pair of heels. Why not? After all, I had no husband and no children on whom to spend my hard earned money, and saving just seemed so, well, practical!

The irony is that these days, I’m still spending $600 a month shopping – only now, I’m spending it at Sam’s Club. It should come as a surprise to no one that I’m getting far less satisfaction from my current purchases than I did from the ones I made in my twenties. Don’t get me wrong – I love Sam’s. The prices are great, the product selection fantastic, and the quantities are actually perfect for my family of six. What I don’t love are the inevitable $400+ price tag and the way a trip to Sam’s (driving there, doing the shopping, packing up the car, unpacking the car, and putting all that stuff away) can eat into my day.

Let’s take today as an example. It was a Wednesday, so I would normally be working, but my kids are starting school again so I went to Sams to load up on school snacks, brown bag lunch staples, and easy weeknight dinners. I was a good girl and made a list before I left the house, but somehow my short list turned into a frenzy of bulk purchasing.

I’m not sure about you, but when I shop at Sams Club, I have a strategy. On a typical visit, I skip the electronics and jewelry (don’t need either and WAY too easy to get sucked into impractical impulse buying) and typically head straight back to the laundry detergent and paper towels. Then, I make my way up and down the shorter aisles that form the perimeter of the store, avoiding the dangerous middle section which is home to books, toys, clothing, seasonal items, household good, and “big ticket” stuff.

That’s a typical day. Today was not typical. The problems began when I went down the clothing aisle. I do this every year around the time the kids go back to school. Usually, I’m able to score great bargains on a few pairs of jeans or khakis for my 15 year old stepson, socks for everyone, and tank tops for my 13 year old stepdaughter. Today, I got all of these things along with a bonus – a pair of men’s Avia running shoes for $24 (perfect for the 15 year old and much less expensive than the $140 pair he wanted!).

After loading up on my bargain clothing finds, I then went back to my usual route around the store feeling very happy with myself for “saving” so much on the clothes I had never intended to buy in the first place. I did manage to get most of the things on my list, but I also went a bit crazy on novelty items such as “sugar pears” (not sure what they are, but they’re darn cute!) and maraschino cherries (we’ll be swimming in Shirley Temples for the next 20 years with the giant sized bottle I got). It didn’t look so bad when I pushed my load up to the checkout counter. I had filled up one cart (a regular cart, not a flatbed – flatbeds are for the real pros!) and it was far from overflowing. I’m great at packing things into those carts. As a coworker of mine said, its like a game of Tetris – each piece must fit perfectly as part of the whole or the entire system fails.

All was well until the friendly checkout lady totalled my bill and it came to almost $500! I swallowed the lump in my throat, swiped my debit card, and resolved to stick to the list next time. I then pushed my purchases to my car and spent about a half an hour packing the contents of my cart into 10 reusable grocery totes and the backseat of my car.

Back at home, the saga continued. It took five trips between house and car to get everything inside and another hour to put it all away. Some stuff went into my kitchen and some went into my basement, where I store the non-perishables and extra frozen items in a second refridgerator we keep down there. As part of this process, I had to clean out the snack cabinet to make room for all the new stuff, and I broke down all the boxes that my bulk purchases came in and brought them out to our recycling container.

Four hours and $400+ dollars later I was done – and by done, I mean exhausted! I can’t believe how much money and time I spent, and the truly scary thing is that my pack of hungry teenagers will probably devour most of the food in a week. This happens every time I go to Sams Club, and yet I keep going back. Go figure – this was the same problem I had in my twenties, when a quick visit to a boutique would find me $600 poorer, but the proud owner of some very trendy pieces that would be out of style in the blink of an eye. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

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Every mom I know worries about whether she is doing a good enough job raising her children. It seems that our best is never good enough – there are always other moms whose kids are smarter, or more athletic, or musically gifted, and who manage to somehow feed their children all organic, home-cooked, well-rounded meals, while at the same time limiting television and coming up with one fabulous arts and crafts project after another.

When I gave birth to my son, I decided early on that I wouldn’t strive for perfection and that I would try to remember that the best parents are the ones who shower their children with love while also providing them with structure and boundaries. I work hard at this – not just with my three year old son, but with my three teenaged stepchildren – and lately I’ve begun to feel like I’m actually succeeding. All four kids seem happy, are doing well in school, are healthy, and have great relationships with both myself and their father.

The problem is with my first baby … my dog, Destin. Destin is a five and a half year old black lab mix who came to us at 8 weeks old from a Lab Rescue program. I had her before I gave birth to my son, so in many ways, she was the guinea pig on whom I practiced my mothering skills. When she was little, she went everywhere with me. I was – and still am – working from home, and during the day, she would curl up on a cushion next to my desk to play with toys and sleep. When I ran errands – to the bank, the post office, etc. – she would come with me. Fast forward five years and for the most part, things haven’t changed much. I still work from home, and Destin still spends all her days and nights with me.

So what’s the problem? Well, despite the fact that Destin and I spend all of our time together, she gets very little attention or play time. During the day, I’m working and she is sleeping nearby. Every now and then she will venture out into our fenced in backyard to chase a squirrel or relieve herself. In the evenings, she lays around the living room in the hopes that one of our four children will play fetch with her, and at night, she faithfully sleeps either next to my bed or on my 11 year old stepson’s trundle. She is a fantastic companion for us all, but her only real break is when my stepson takes her for a walk around the block (his daily chore) or I take her on a run (which I do much less frequently now that I’m deep into a marathon training program which has me running too far for the dog).

Sadly, Destin’s current routine probably isn’t going to change much in the near future. The kids have just started school again, which means driving to sports practice, games, friends houses, and school performances, and somehow squeezing in my job, time to cook dinner, the laundry and – oh yes – a couple of minutes a day for quality time with my husband. Every now and then, I’ll fit in a walk with her or simply lay next to her on the floor and rub her belly, but most of the time she lays around looking neglected or bored – I’m not sure which.

I’m not sure if it’s the genetic destiny of labs to look melancholy or if our dog is really depressed, but every time I look at her she looks back at me with the face of someone who is feeling forgotten. My husband is always telling me that I’m projecting my own guilt onto the dog, but I’m not convinced.

Somehow, I’ve managed to keep a great perspective about motherhood while falling victim to the need to be the perfect mother to my dog! Its crazy how much pressure we, as mothers, place on ourselves – and its even crazier to extend that pressure to pets. How did this happen to me – and do any of you suffer from “dog mommy guilt??!!”

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Yesterday, I returned from a week away with my husband and four children. We drove from our home in Maryland to Cape Cod, spent a day on Nantucket, and then drove to New Hampshire for four days with my parents. We packed a lot into one week … boogie boarding at the beach, movies, back-to-school shopping, skydiving (in a simulator!), mini golf, swimming at the pool, games of ping pong, and riding around on grandpa’s tractor. It was a ton of fun and I think everyone – from our 3 year old to our 15 year old – was suprised by what a good time they had.

While the last week was a great getaway, it was not by any means a vacation. My husband is famous for making this distinction. In his words, “there are vacations, and there are family trips.” The difference between the two? Kids!

We love travelling with our kids and cherish the experiences we have with them when we do, but travel with kids is not relaxing. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, right? Everyone is different, but when I think vacation, I think about lying on the beach immersed for hours in a good book, romantic dinners with my husband, spa treatments, and leisurely walks around quaint towns with stops along the way to explore the local shops. For the life of me, I can’t imagine doing any of this with my kids!

Yes, its possible to do some or all of the above on a trip with children, but it requires leaving them in the care of a babysitter and venturing out on your own. And while we always manage to squeeze in one or two adults-only outings on our family trips, I actually like spending time with my children and wouldn’t want to lose too much of it on our family trips.

So we travel with our kids and spend car rides listening to Bob the Builder on the car’s DVD system, we eat hot dogs and mac n cheese on paper plates, we pile everyone in the car for a game of mini golf in the blazing 90 degree heat, and we referee the arguments that inevitably ensue when you squeeze four children in a minivan for anything longer than 30 seconds. But along the way, we get to see the wonder in our kids’ eyes when they ride a huge wave on their boogie boards, get to lift rocks using my dad’s tractor, are lifted magically into the air in the skydiving simulator, and – in the case of our 3 year old – sit through a full length movie (in a movie theater) for the first time. So worth it!

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Its a Start!

I blog for a living. I also tweet, post to Facebook, and surf YouTube – all on someone else’s dime. Let me explain. My husband and I own a boutique marketing consultancy, and I run the social marketing practice. So most days during the hours of 8:30 to 5:30 pm I can be found in front of my computer doing what most 15 year olds do when they have time to kill. Only I’m getting paid to do it! I love my job…

When I’m not working, I’m “mommy-ing” my three year old son and my three teenaged stepchildren. Mommy time is comprised of cooking dinners, grocery shopping, shuttling children around, helping with homework, doing laundry, and trying (but not always succeeding) to keep the house clean.

It was only recently that I realized that while I’m spending so much time on social networks on the behalf of others, I’m not really investing in my own piece of the online universe. I like blogging and enjoy writing and editing others’ work, but ultimately, its much more fun (and easy!) to write in your own voice about your own interests and thoughts. So I’ve decided to blog…

The biggest challenge for me was trying to figure out what to blog about. Nobody really wants to know about the minutiae of my day (put another load of laundry in … but just realized that I’ve run out of detergent – darn it!) – its not edge-of-your-seat excitement, after all. Having said this, its hard work this “working mother” life. Trying to balance a demanding job, business ownership, and the needs of four children (not to mention a husband who I hope won’t get lost in the shuffle!) is often stressful but frequently rewarding. And here’s the thing … I’ve got to believe I’m not alone in the stress and the joy of it all.

So there you have it. I’ve decided to write about working, being a mother, and balancing work and motherhood. I figure its kind of like being pregnant – nobody wants to hear you talk all the time about your constipation and swollen ankles unless they too are pregnant, in which case, bring it on!

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