I came across an article from the New York Times the other day on the pressures of modern parenting. While not all of it was relatable to me, there were some parts that really struck me.
One example toward the end: “Parents, particularly mothers, feel stress, exhaustion and guilt at the demands of parenting this way, especially while holding a job. American time use diaries show that the time women spend parenting comes at the expense of sleep, time alone with their partners and friends, leisure time and housework."
The basis of the article was that raising children in our current society has become more time consuming and expensive.
The expensive part is easy to identify. It’s hard for me to find a pair of shoes for an 8-year-old — which will only be used for a few months before they get outgrown or worn out — for under $40. Spending a couple hundred dollars every six months on, essentially, a new wardrobe adds up.
Food is a huge expense, too. It seems like everyone in my house but me is a bottomless pit. I try to buy stuff that’s on the healthier side and am hit with a constant chorus of, “There’s nothing to eat,” when the cabinets and fridge are indeed stocked with food.
Activities take their toll, too. There’s the registration fee and then the fundraisers. Equipment costs are high, too. The other night we were looking at bats for Colin to use in Little League. Some of the under-10 bats were on sale for $160. Jason said he saw one top $200. For bats these kids will outgrow in a season or two.
But the time-consuming part is the one that struck me.
This article, “The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting,” said, “Mothers who juggle jobs outside home spend just as much time tending their children as stay-at-home mothers did in the 1970s.”
Of course, I wasn’t alive in the 1970s to compare. But I do work hard to try to make sure I spend as much time outside of work with Colin as possible. I try to read to him every night and play a board or card game with him a couple of times a week. He comes in almost every morning and lays with me for a few minutes before we get up and around before school and work.
I also take him to most of his activities and sit and watch him. One time I got a phone call during his swim lesson and went to the lobby of the Y to take it. He came out of his lesson, upset that I had missed it. It was one lesson out of probably 20 he took this fall and winter. I made sure I sat through the next one.
The other night, one of his activities ran long. Colin was upset that there was no time left in the evening for him to play his video game. My response? “It didn’t leave me time to exercise, either. That’s how the world works sometimes.”
I was quickly told I didn’t “need” to work out. “Well, you 'need' to play your game even less, buddy.”
The following night, full of a double-header of baseball, didn’t leave me any time at home to exercise, either. So I made a choice. I made time for me while still watching my child by working out at the ballfields. I got some weird looks, but it worked for everybody.
Don't get me wrong. I love being a mom, and I know I would bounce off the walls at home if I didn't work. Balancing it all, though, takes concerted effort and is a challenge.
Now I just have to make sure I make time for “Avengers: Endgame” this weekend.