An Answer for those Married but Single Parenting

Yesterday, while shopping at Sam’s Club the kids and I of course stopped by the pancake and syrup samples lady. It was organic syrup so I didn’t feel quite as bad allowing my children to devour…allowing myself to devour a piece. A middle aged, Columbia wearing gentlemen came up and commented to the worker that the samples should be larger ;). As the babies were devouring the pancake, I chimed in, “You just need a kid, to get extra.” As he gladly responded, “I have ten!”

TEN KIDS! For those that come from big families this is your norm and you probably know several big families in your inner circle. But for those of us who come from the traditional “American dream” home of two working parents, two kids, and one dog, hearing about a big family is always a little shocking. Hearing about a woman who had ten natural births and is raising all those children honestly makes me question why parenting TWO can feel (BE) overwhelming.

The gentleman then went on to share a little about his “Baker’s dozen”. Literally their last name is Baker, how cute 🙂 He reassure me that having ten kids was easier than two. He didn’t know why, but the year they were parenting two was the hardest year and after that adding to their family wasn’t as challenging. In case you are wondering about their spacing, his wife had them every 1.5 years so the spacing wasn’t a variable.

This has been one of the hardest years of our lives. I have questioned on a number of occasions if I “have what it takes” to raise more children. I’ve always wanted more children but both of us feel quiet stretched with our 1/6th a dozen. Then I am reminded that this year of having two sixteen months apart has not exactly been “normal” either. My husband was studying for his STEP exams and shelf exams during full-time rotations. Our son was born during one of the hardest rotations and was in the NICU due to complications. We drove back and forth to the hospital for ten days all while balancing trying to pump breast milk and care for our 18 month-old daughter. Two months later my husband was in a major car accident (our car was totaled) and only had four weeks to recover before going back to work. The rest of our year has had some other random challenges, like resilient carpenter bees boring into our large deck. Then there were a couple health/safety scares with our kiddos. Nothing makes you feel like two kids might be your max when your toddler gets her head stuck in a tin can. Yes, really?! It created a vacuum suction to her head. And to end the 3rd year of medical school strong with random plagues, an adorable birds nest led to a bird mite infestation the night before Tom’s STEP 1 exam.

Warning: if you ever have an adorable birds nest on your wreath or near your door, remove it!! Fast! Or you will feel crawling on your body from almost microscopic mites…eww…the definition of insanity!

If you are in the thicket of motherhood and your medical journey, you are thought and prayed for! Someone else get’s the daily struggle of what seems like mundane moments of wiping poopy bottoms and wiping up the hundredth spill of the day. As someone who had kids “later” in life (our first at 32years old) my life experience and work accomplishments that adorn my resume’ seem far more significant than having the skill to calmly and joyfully change a poppy diaper while wrangling a wiggly child. Click the GIPHY its worth it, trust me!

via GIPHY

The other day I heard someone say that people with kids two and under shouldn’t give parenting advise. This post isn’t “parenting” advise, but I’m going to offer a little suggestion. While talking with our SBS regional leader, Brittany Davis, she made the same, simple suggestion, “Kristen, with all the different commitments you have, why don’t you consider hiring a mommy helper?” At first I just wrote off the idea thinking there was no way we could afford a babysitter, but what I didn’t realize is we could afford a mommy helper!

Three weeks ago, we hired a mommy helper!

And if you are like me, you are asking, “What is a mommy helper?!” She has been a true lifesaver for our marriage and my sanity in this difficult season of (almost singly) caring for my small children 24/7. Our mommy helper comes to help while I work from home or do chores around the house. We have her coming M-F most weeks for two hours a day in the early morning. This allows me to either work or complete some house projects, check off some of the to-do lists, pray, and sometimes just take an uninterrupted shower. Our gal is actually fifteen-years-old so I am able to run errands out of the house, too. We even got to go on a spontaneous Waffle House breakfast date! Nothing says love like cheap drip coffee.

If you are a mom with littles who don’t sleep through the night. Hire her so you can nap or sleep longer! Don’t feel ashamed or guilty in getting what you NEED for your body to be refueled. And if your kids are old enough to argue, don’t feel guilty to get what you NEED. Peace and quiet!

A mommy helper can be younger and paid less than a babysitter because you are at home. Hourly wage varies around the country but I asked a few other moms with middle grades girls and they said about $6-8/hr. I’m also “tipping” her driver (her sweet mother) with a Starbucks gift card at the end of each month.

When I lived overseas most foreigners have a home, helper, housekeeper and the those who couldn’t afford hired help lived close enough or with family to help carry the load for one another. Out of all my relationships, I held very dear my helper P’Mon. She was the grace I needed to deal with keeping up with the never-ending dust during dry season and hanging the laundry to dry during monsoon season. AND her companionship was often more important.

Having another to work alongside, even if it was different types of work, helped the work feel lighter. Our mommy helper enjoys my kiddos. She makes them laugh. I have unashamedly handed her the baby with a very stinky diaper and my daughter magically lets only her know when she wants to pee on the potty. So pretty much I’m being replaced and should apply for MOM at a different home.

But in all seriousness, asking someone else to come into your home and to parent your children while you are around does require a little bit of training on the front end to avoid added stress (for only some personalities. 😉 To help transition your mommy helper so you two are on the same page spend a few days in the beginning parenting your children along with her. Help her learn your parenting style, the words you use to when redirecting your toddler, and any other tasks you may have her doing. Answer questions like how much screen time you allow your kids or where to find “rainy day” toys that can come out to lighten a moody toddler.

Since our mommy helper comes early, she does much of the mourning routine with our kiddos. This has been so helpful! Our kids are fed and dressed and ready to go by 9am. I have been able to get in a few hours of work from home or housework done and can give more of an undivided focus to my kiddos for the rest of the day! Or we head to the gym and I drop them off at the childcare. I need to go to the gym more but I’m still working on the transition for them to be without mommy again. I mean it’s a whole hour without me.

Over two years of intermittent sleep has worn on both my husband and I. Our marriage has been tested in this season of raising two two-years-old and under. Lack of sleep has lead us comfort seekers to survival mode and selfish attitudes on many occasions. Rather than wanting to serve one another, we end up arguing. Some couples may struggle with avoidance, comparison, or resentment. Though I recognize needs solid sleep to retain and apply the medical knowledge with his patients and on board exams, there is only so much I can bear on my own.

My husband, loves spending time with our children but this time is limited during this season. Asking him to complete a honey do-list item rather than spending that precious time with our kids has been part of our challenge. The items needs to get done, eventually, (sometimes its urgent) but his kids need his undivided attention in their lives too. The presence of their father should come first before tasks. The past couple weeks, I have gotten to projects that were put off for almost a year and my husband didn’t have to be spread thin.

If you are like us in the thicket of training, an extra budgeted expense can seem overwhelming. For us, I just choose to work a few extra hours a week to pay for our mommy helper. If you don’t have a work from home option consider just two days a week or know that your sanity and marriage is far greater than a few more dollars in loans. Personally looking at our debt and then calculating the pay off rate helps me realize, its not THAT daunting and worth relieving a little bit of stress now.

Momma, we are designed to live in community and have help. Though our American culture has us thinking we need to be that Lego mom in the tank (feature photo) trying to be strong for our kids and our hard working husband. But that’s not how we are wired. There are a slue of studies and articles proving how loneliness is increasing as a result of our individualistic society and separation from face to face relationships. In addition, women who work outside the home are not working alone either. We need to remember behind every CEO is a team of employees. Behind every big Instagram account/blogger is a team of photographers, email marketing platforms, SEO specialists, and sponsors. Oh but a CEO has a LOT of work. She NEEDS help.

Well SHAM, Salary.com determined using its Salary Wizard that the median annual salary of a mother in 2018 is $162,581 with an average 90 hour work week. Your work is valuable and not just emotionally. The numbers prove it too! Hiring a mommy helper seems more reasonable now, right?

Love to hear if you end up hiring a mommy helper! Share your experience below!

Feature Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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Most people by the time they are 30 years old have graduated college and been established in their career or hometown for a few years, but that isn’t my adulting story. Living a nontraditional life I have learned a lot of maybe not so random skills, which has lead me to start this blog. I love helping women and their family find safer solutions to the not so regulated personal care industry, staying at home with Evelyn Paige, and dreaming with my husband.

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