Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Working (Mom) Wednesday: Chaos comes to town

When I started this blog and chose the LONG name “Working Mom in Japan”, I was hoping to write a lot about my challenges and tribulations related to being a working mom. It’s been hard to do this though. I haven’t come to terms with all of it yet. I am constantly questioning my decisions, and I find that I don’t have enough distance to write about it objectively. Wednesday’s theme will force me to write SOMETHING though, whether it be about the trials and tribulations or the advantages of working while raising a family. We’ll see how this develops.

Today, I’d like to tell you about my evening routine. A perfect evening runs like clockwork. It is a minute-by-minute plan with no room for tantrums, injuries, toilet accidents and burned dinners. I am not tired at all, and after the kids fall asleep easily on their futon, I rise again to begin my 2nd part of the evening, which includes a few chores but MOSTLY my time to myself before Yusuke arrives home. Last night was NOT one of those evenings.

Here is what my evenings are SUPPOSED to be like:
4:50 pm – Leave work and go pick up kids from daycare.
5:45 pm – Arrive home
5:45-6:00pm – Put everything away, get Ailin’s snack, start running the bath
6:00-6:15pm – Relax on couch with kids, nurse Luka
6:00-7:00pm – Make dinner
7:00-7:30pm – Eat dinner
7:30-7:45pm – Clean up, tidy house, prepare for baths
7:45-8:30pm – Bathtime
8:30-9:00pm – Storytime
9:00pm – Bedtime
9:00-11:00pm – Chores & MY time for emailing, scrapbooking, American Idol-watching, reading, etc.

I have a few standing policies:
  • Always leave work at 4:50 pm.
  • Never do errands after work with the kids in the car.
  • Always have dinner at 7:00 sharp.
  • Always clean up dinner dishes BEFORE bathtime.
  • Always have the kids in bed by 9:00, if not before.
  • Never, ever bring work home with me.

Obviously, the above schedule and policies fail to leave room for, well, failures. Little failures throughout the day that can end up spelling disaster and chaos all at once. Like yesterday.

Here are some examples of my typical failures:
  • Leaving work 30 minutes late.
  • Forgetting to buy certain ingredients for this week’s menu.
  • Giving Ailin her snack in the wrong bowl which inevitably leads to a tantrum of some sort.
  • Taking too long to [quickly] check my email before dinner.
  • Forgetting to marinade something that was planned for that night’s dinner. (also, forgetting to defrost something.)

Some things lead to failure due to issues beyond my control:
  • Bad weather, which slows everything down
  • Lack of clean laundry due to days of rainy weather
  • Illness
  • Unforseen emergencies, such as lost data, emails that need to be responded to immediately, etc.

Let’s just say that yesterday was one of those days when everything that could go wrong, did and that it lead to chaos. I got called out on it though. At 9:35 pm, I was on the computer doing some “emergency emailing” while Ailin was running around playing with my cell phone and Luka was asleep in his bouncer chair. Neither had been bathed yet. I was afraid that if I put them to bed, I would fall asleep with them and, for the 4th night in a row, be unable to send those ever-important emails. Then, in playing with my cell phone, she accidentally video dialed Yusuke, and I suddenly could hear a very confused voice on the speaker phone saying, “Hello! Ailin! What are doing? Where’s Mama?” Uh-oh. I quickly hung up the phone and then he called back to ask me why Ailin was still awake. I explained it was just one big chaotic night and that we were running late.

We were running late! Ailin had a tantrum about the strawberry koala cookies I gave her, then she was upset about the drink I wouldn’t give her until she would say “please”, then she was upset because I bumped her on the way through the dining area and her drink spilled on the floor, then she peed her pants because of all this stress and crying. Then, I realized the meat had not defrosted in the fridge so I had to use the microwave to defrost it the rest of the way. After that, I noticed that the recipe for the dinner was too long and involved – there’s no way I could pay attention to it while looking after the kids, so I had to think of a good substitution. Luckily, it was ground meat and thanks to growing up in my mom’s house, I developed 3 old stand-bys for ground meat that never require a recipe – spaghetti and meat sauce, sloppy joes and tacos. So, I switched to sloppy joes and that took a while. By the time we ate, it was already 8:30pm. I still had that darn email to attend to and was determined to finish it up.

The night ended well though and I will include this part because I learned some things from it:
  • Not everything will get done.
  • Not everything will get done perfectly.
  • Yusuke does help out.
  • Some things can wait ‘til tomorrow.
  • Ailin needs to use the toilet as soon as she gets home.

When I awoke after putting the kids to sleep, Yusuke was already home, and I finished up some of my chores. Couldn’t do everything I wanted, but I did manage to fold the laundry that had been sitting there since last weekend, and I also put away the clean dishes which were in danger of toppling over and knocking someone unconscious. And, for once, Yusuke was in the mood to chat. He actually told me all about his day at work, and then we chatted about the weekend plans while he used the computer, and I scrapbooked on the floor next to him. We stayed up ‘til nearly 2am but it was a nice change from usual pattern of crabbiness and non-communication. I am looking forward to the weekend now.


Sherry said...

Interesting. I used to be one of those highly organized scheduled everything runs like clockwork people. Two kids and an immeasurable amount of chaos later as long as everyone is alive at the end up the day it's a success.

Mande said...

Sherry, I could have sworn you were still like that! My 11-month old is a breeze to take care of. It's the toddler that basically makes or breaks our organized schedule. I wonder if Luka will always be easy or if he too will be a toddler like her!