I remember thinking in 2009, as a newly-wed, how wonderful it would be to start a family. How nice Sunday family dinners would be, the entire house packed full of family and friends, laughing at old memories around the table.
We started a family in 2011. And what a wake-up call. It’s not 1980. My family is not next door, there is not free help around. No cousins to play with. No school to walk to. In fact, our family is an hour and a half away from us. My husband landed a great job in a city 90 miles away from our family, that’s just how it worked out. In fact, almost 15% of American families do not have close family members living within an hour of their home (Pew Research Poll, 2008). Advanced degrees, and other reasons, take us to different types of jobs that aren’t necessarily where we grew up, where family is.
We had to change our thinking once our daughter was born. We couldn’t do it alone, and I certainly needed a break from being with baby all day! Along with how our world has dramatically changed (would you trust your neighbor, who you just met on the elevator to watch your kid? Me neither).
We needed to think about who was going to be our village? Who was going to be our help?
Usually, it’s family, because they are your family, duh. And to our wonderful families credit, we all do an AMAZING job of getting together, planning outings ,and sleepovers and great meals together. However, its the day-to-day items that I’m talking about here.
Right now, we’ve just begun. We have a 5 and 2 year old. I stay at home full-time with the kids. Our oldest is in a wonderful 4K program, so that is very nice to have her in an activity 3 days per week, meals included. My husband works a ton of hours at work, then usually has something after he comes home. Usually a conference call, net meeting, is on-call with the hospital, and is trying to eat, spend time with the kids, and help put them to bed. By 9pm, we’re exhausted.
Here’s what I’ve implemented as our modern day village to help us out. Please don’t judge. Everyone’s situation is different – and we have a lot to maintain on a daily basis. If you have kids, you know how crazy the household can get by just trying to keep things going: meals, dishes, grocery shopping, reading a million allergy labels, paying bills, cleaning, laundry, laundry, laundry, car pools, kid activities, time with spouse*, etc.
- Housekeeper comes twice a month on Thursdays.
- Thursdays that the housekeeper does not come, we clean as a team (our kids WILL know how to keep a clean home, and scrub a toilet)
- Pick-up and delivery dry cleaning service for husbands work clothes (I don’t have time to iron. Seriously?)
- Lawn service that comes 1 time per week
- Pool service that comes 1 time per week (secretly, I’d love to fill it in with dirt.)
- Babysitter every Wednesday daytime (for volunteer work) + Thursday night for date night with the hubs (LOVE this time)
- Other mom friends
- Swimming classes, little gym classes, preschool
- Amazon.com + my delivery peeps at UPS, USPS, and FEDEX
- Occasional grocery delivery from Metcalfes or HyVee
These services are my village, and they know it. I rely heavily on them. When our nanny of 5 years moved last year, I cried. For 3 days. These are the people that we rely upon to keep us going, to take some of the intense stress away from juggling so many things at once.
When the kids are a little older, we will be able to drop some of these services, but for now, with how crazy life is with little ones, this is what works. So thankful to be able to have the help that we do.
As much as I’d like to “go back to the way things were” in the 1980s, it’s not possible. Our world is a different place. Our neighborhood isn’t full of young kids to play with, so its up to us to have some fun options for our kids, like swimming, gymnastics, dance, parks and rec, soccer, etc. There are different worries, stressors, environmental things to consider now that we have young kids in 2016. I have a child with severe nut allergies, so naturally, my stress level about her independent play time is a little higher than normal. But we deal with it.
We are more knowledgeable as a society and information is at our fingertips. In many ways, this is more difficult because we know so much. I think being a kid in the 80’s was great because ignorance was bliss. Our news only came on 1 time each day, there was no such thing as the 24 news channel. TV turned off at midnight. Now we know too much.
Our world is changing every day, all the time. Whether we want to or not, we need to adapt to keep swimming (Finding Nemo, love that little guy). This is how I’ve adapted to where we are living now. It works for us. Maybe it will help you too. Hopefully you don’t think I’m a spoiled princess by now. I probably am a little bit. Ok, a lot, but I am thankful and always remember my ROOTS.
*Spouse – That person you married because you were so madly in love with them. Remember that day? It was magical, wonderful, full of family and good times. Don’t let the day-to-day stress ruin it. Don’t let the splattered breast milk all over the night stand ruin it, even though you’re crying and covered in spit-up, dried milk, probably poop and little pee, oh and Spaghettios because that’s all you had time to make for dinner. Don’t let the magic marker on the wall ruin it. Even though you have another project to do now. Don’t let the little boy peeing all over your new rug ruin it, even though you want to scream. There is a reason you chose this person. They HAVE YOUR BACK. THEY LOVE YOU. Don’t shit on them by being in a bad mood when they get home from work. Love each other. Make time for each other. Keep date night alive. The rest of the stuff can wait. Without the two of you in love, there would be no family. KEEP IT GOING. Be a good example of what a good marriage looks like.