Journal of Nursing

10 Warnings For All Working Parents


By Shelly Lopez Gray

You will be tired.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, you don't know what tired is until you're a parent. Exhausted doesn't even begin to describe it. It's kind of like every ounce of energy has been sucked out of you, leaving you fighting a constant state of exhaustion. And when you also work outside the home, you come home to more work.

Someone will always need something.

It's not like you dress them and feed them and do a couple of dishes and your work is done. Someone will always need something. Your kids will want you to listen to every word of a very long story about Michael M. and Michael K. in their class. And they will want you to maintain eye contact with them until the very end, or they will start over. And by the very end, you still will not understand who was who, who did what, or why anyone cared, but you'll nod and pretend to understand everything. Your kids will only want your undivided attention the moment you are trying to give it to anyone else. Everyone expects to eat, and the kids have to be bathed. Was there homework? Where is it now? Has anyone seen that damn backpack? And by the end of your day, your husband will also want something from you 😏 (please refer him to #1).

No one in your family cares that you work.

This may sound a little harsh, but it's so true! They don't care that you're working outside the home. They don't care that you spent all day at work, when you get home you're still expected to do stuff. Like, it is also YOUR job. I seriously think there needs to be some sort of feminist class or equality class in elementary school. Why am I the one that is expected to do the dishes and the laundry and cook every meal? And then when my husband does it, he's applauded for "helping out"!?!? And to everyone out there that says "my kids care, my partner cares"....they may care, but they still expect you to do it! And if they don't, please pass on your secret!! My husband does do stuff, but ultimately, I have more responsibilities at home, even though I work more hours (and I'm still in school. for the record. just saying).

Everyone else's needs come first.

Seriously, I've always known that this is a mom-thing. But I just didn't know how much it would suck. And I hate to be the rebellious one, but whyyyyyyyy is it always okay!?!? The other day my daughter ate 10 chicken nuggets. There was a 50% chance she didn't get breakfast, but still....TEN!? There were two leftover that I had every intention of eating. In fact, I had already taken a bite out of one. But she saw I had two and asked if she could have them. When I said no, my mother looked at me like I was the devil. And I wanted to say, but I didn't eat breakfast either! And she doesn't need twelve! I own exactly three pairs of slacks, three black cardigans, a handful of blouses, and two pairs of shoes. I keep meaning to buy more clothes, but my daughter is going through jeans like they're not $25 a pair. And then my husband needs suits. And hello, he needs them for work 😑 And yet, I wait for the underwire to come out of my bra and stab me in my side-boob before buying another bra. Sigh. (p.s. if you ever see me, you'll find me in one of those black cardigans and slacks. I'm very aware there's a tiny bleach stain in one and a hole in the other. No need to point it out). 😒

You will get up earlier and go to sleep later than anyone else in your house.

Every night my husband begs me to go to sleep when he does. He either wants #2 (again, refer him to #1) or he doesn't want me to wake him up when I finally go to bed. But there is still stuff to do, still work to be done, and he doesn't seem to understand that the only time I'm actually able to do it is when the house is quiet and no one needs anything from me.

Being off of work does NOT feel like being off of work.

No one ever told me this. No one ever gave me a heads up. It kills me to take PTO because when I take PTO I'm taking imaginary time away from my imaginary real vacation. You know, the one where I actually go somewhere and have absolutely NOTHING to do. But whenever you're off of work, you're still working. You're just not get paid or any recognition for anything being done. And the work is harrrrrrrrrd. OMG is it hard.

All your jobs are neverending, except your actual job.

Seriously, if my husband made enough money, I would work just to have someone clean my house every day of the week. The work at home is endless. There are dishes, and laundry, and bathrooms that need to be cleaned, and who knows when the last time the floor was mopped or the baseboards dusted. Someone out there is going to read this and say "I do that every week" and just know I'd give you the dirty eyeball if I heard you say it. I once turned over a couch cushion because I just couldn't be bothered to try to get the marker out.

You will feel guilty.

I always thought I wouldn't care if I missed some school event because of work. After all, I was working, not hanging out at a bar. But no one tells you about the constant guilt you feel for not always being present. And no one warns you about your kids favoring the person who is always able to show up (but thanks anyway Mom and Dad). And you don't even have to actually miss an event to feel guilty. You will feel guilty when your kids don't do well an exam (you should have helped them study more), when they forget to turn in their homework (you should have put it in their backpack---btw, where IS their backpack?!), or when they ask for your partner to put them to bed because they read the story until the end without falling asleep 😑 Guilt feels heavy!

You become the glue.

Even if you don't always work or mother well, you somehow become the glue that holds everything together.

Something will fall apart.

If you learn to accept this at the beginning, the guilt and the constant needing and the permanent state of exhaustion will not be the death of you. The dishes may not get done. Laundry may not get folded. You may trip on toys. Some days your house may be one week away from an episode of Hoarders, and things may fall apart around you. You may not be able to give every single thing in your home the time and attention you should. You may neglect some things. But don't let it be your kids. And don't let it be your marriage. Accept that you may not be able to give everything 100% of your precious spare time. If there are dishes in the sink, be okay with that if they were left undone because you were sneaking kisses from your partner in the laundry room ;) If there is a basket of clothes somewhere in your house that hasn't been folded, be okay with that if you were playing in the backyard with your kids. Things will fall apart all around you, but keep your kids and your marriage together.


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