“Wash the dishes to wash the dishes.”
–Thich Nhat Hahn
By Deanna Shoss, President, Intercultural Talk, Inc., and mom to Lucca, 15.
1. Teach everyone to cook and do laundry
One red sock in my husband’s white load and a missed iPhone left in a pocket, and I am officially banned from washing anyone’s clothes but my own. (All by accident, I swear!). Seriously, you literally just have to put the clothes and soap into a machine and push a button. It’s the logical evolution of their delight, no, insistence, to be first to push the elevator button. Here, sweetie…look what happens when you push this button!
Teaching my son to cook was a joy…starting with baking muffins together as a toddler (a positive outcome of an early peanut allergy) and evolving from there. Dad’s “hot dogs marinara” is a perfectly fine meal. “Delicious…thanks for cooking!” Your child’s early disasters (leaving the mixer on in the bowl and walking away) are just lessons on what not to do next time.
2. Become allies with “Bin Mom”
It’s easy to be room mom when it mostly entails marking it on your calendar as a “meeting” and showing up close to on-time. How? Be a “co-room-parent.” You love that she (SAHM) has bins full of decorations for every occasion and offers to do the shopping. She loves that you collect the parents’ email addresses and send reminders about money and due dates, and that you can get 20 ten-year-olds to eat Oreos from their foreheads with no hands (how is that different from a strategic planning meeting?).
3. Defy the rules and make your own traditions.
There will always be another meeting, another deadline, another “I just have to finish this one thing!” So why not make pancakes on a school morning (if you do it often enough it gets quicker and easier). Call in sick (and stick to your story.) Take a vacation day for an adventure in your own city. Establish that the first Friday of the month is Breakfast Out Day. By setting it up in advance, it’s easier to say “not today, sweetie…it’s not First Friday, but I can’t wait until it is!”
Build a tradition that’s family first and special.
Really, it’s that easy to be a happy working mom?
I won’t lie. I’ve almost spontaneously combusted getting from downtown Chicago to after-care pick up by 5:59:59 (not yet six!). My son has proudly announced to a client that he was only at her event because I promised him ice cream. My inner voice coaches me to stay focused.
My inner voice wasn’t always a coach. She used to be quite mean. Now I realize she’s being constructive when she says things like “don’t be a jerk put down your phone your son is talking to you.”
Wash the dishes to wash the dishes. Dishwashing being an allowance chore aside, be present where you are. When you are at work, think about work things. When you are with family, don’t let anything in the world get in the way.
Deanna Shoss is a marketer, writer and interculturalist in Chicago. She is Founder and President of Intercultural Talk, Inc., a marketing and communications firm helping non-digital natives (aka 50+) be found on social media and the Internet to support their business or passion project goals. Deanna loves living in an intercultural, interfaith world at home as a Jewish Midwesterner with a Brazilian husband and a Gen Z son. Who knew “oy,” meaning “everything hurts” in Yiddish is a friendly “hello” (“oi”) in Portuguese?
Photo credit: Lilly Singh/Superwoman on YouTube