I have various tribes of women for different parts of my life. In my professional world, I meet up with about ten professional women over lunch at least once every three months. We talk about our challenges with our careers and businesses. We offer solutions or just a listening ear. This has been going on for a while. It’s one of the things that helps me thrive professionally. In one of our luncheon gatherings, one of the ladies, stressed about being unable to balance her life, decided to ask me the infamous question that all working mothers get asked, “How do you balance it all: work, kids, life?”
I should share that I was the only mother at the table. I am a single mom and have both of my kids the majority of the time. I work full time, run a side business, and raise two kids who are active in sports. All the other women were single, dating, or married, but no children yet. This question usually bothers me because, for one, there is no perfect answer as there is no one way to balance it all whether you are a working mom or not. Parent life is tough, period! Finding your groove to balance it all takes years! The second reason it bothers me is that it is only, always ever asked of moms. Ask the fathers too, people! However, I didn’t mind sharing my process with them because I wanted them to be prepared for when they decide to journey into motherhood.
I shared the basic pointers of what helps me balance it all, and then I paused and let out a secret I had never told anyone until that moment. I said, “I also schedule monthly meltdowns into my routine.” Sometimes drinking a glass of wine, exercising, or taking mini vacations don’t work. All we need is a great crying session, alone. I know I do. If our kids can cry when they feel a certain way, then we can cry, too. I know I need it to help me be a better mother to my children. They need me to always be on my A game. To do that, I allow myself one day a month to not have it all together. This is my own therapy session.
What possessed me to share such a sensitive secret? I guess, I just wanted to be honest about some of the realities of motherhood! I wanted to share what it really takes sometimes to be able to keep moving every day and do what you need to do for your kids. Mommy blues are real and sometimes it doesn’t just go away with therapy or disappear after the first year. We are constantly working on holding it together for so many people that most of the time we forget that we should be allowed to lose our cool, too!
I also know what it’s like to break down crying randomly, publicly, with no control, and I never want to have a meltdown like that again. So I created an organized way to lose my sh*t! Yes, an oxymoron for sure!
Now you’re thinking, “How the heck do you schedule a meltdown?!” Here’s how:
- I have a day of the month where I schedule to be off parental duty, a twenty-four-hour free kid zone at home all alone.
- I have a trigger for my tears. I have sad chick flicks like One Day with Anne Hathaway or The Vow with Rachel McAdams and sometimes my sappy Thai soap operas.
- Once I know my kids are good for the day, I don’t communicate with anyone. I hole myself up in my bedroom or living room, start a movie and then start crying my eyes out when I hit the sad part in the film.
- I cry over everything. I unleash all the feelings, emotions and crap I bottled inside me in a stream of tears. I cry over what I think I’m doing wrong as a mother. I cry over what I think I’m doing wrong in my career. I cry over fights with family or fights with the father of my children. I cry for everything I could not cry for in front of my children. I cry, and I cry hard.
- When the movie is done, I’m done. I let it all go. I write down solutions and possible next steps if I need to for some of the things I cried about. The things I cannot change or have control over, I let it go with the tears.
- After that crying session, I watch another movie, and I go to sleep. I do nothing else, no cleaning, no communicating, just rest.
- I wake up the next day with a clearer headspace. I pick up my children, and I get right back into mommy mode accomplishing what I need to do for us.
It took me some time to realize and accept that there is no way to maintain a perfect family, work, life balance without losing your shit once in a while. Working parents are always sacrificing time away from someone or something to make it all work. There is no one way to have a structured outlet of emotions that works for everyone. Every parent has to figure out what works for them to maintain their sanity and continue to get things done. Do take the time to figure out what that is for you. Scheduling meltdowns is the one trick that works for me!