Welcome to the official launch of TheOrganizedChaosMom!!

Welcome to TheOrganizedChaosMom!!!  I’ve been building content for a few weeks now and working on different designs of the website to see what works best and I am finally ready to share it with all of you in my official launch!  I’ve had the Instagram account, glassceilingbreakers, for almost 8 months now and I’ve seen it grow exponentially over the past few months and I’m so thankful to all of my followers!  I still want to focus on that account on a more daily basis, although it will be more geared towards general women empowerment and motivation.  As always, if there are any topics you have questions on or want to see more of let me know for future posts!!  I’m also on twitter now too at orgnzdchaosmom so follow there for more content from me on a personal level!  However, there is still an area near and dear to my heart that I felt like I needed to address and dive deeper into:  working moms!

First, a little bit about myself.  I got married when I was 29 years old and was gifted not only with a great husband but two amazing daughters as well, who were five and seven at the time.  Even though this was a second marriage for the both of us (I didn’t have any kids from my first marriage), there was still a learning curve we had to go through.  The girls had to get used to a new routine and step mom, and I had to get used to being a mother.  Motherhood is definitely one of those parts of life that in theory you think you know and are ready for it, but in reality you have no idea.  I struggled with a lot of different situations and was extra hard on myself because I didn’t want our family to fall into the stereotypical traps of blended families.  We tried very hard to have open communication between all the parents involved (their dad, their step mom – me, and their mom) and be a united front for the kids.  Parenting is hard enough, without throwing co-parenting into the mix.  On top of that, I now had to adjust to working full-time while having the girls during the week (our time was Monday through Thursdays).  I am an electrical engineer and had been in the automotive industry for about eight years at this point, so at least I had the whole working thing down (being in a male-dominated field, however, is a whole other story).

I was so busy making sure the girls adjustment went as seamlessly and smoothly as possible that I really didn’t have much time to analyze my own situation.  Every decision revolved around the girls and what would benefit them.  My husband was very good at making sure I was adjusting as well so overall we weren’t doing too bad.  There were so many situations that would come up and my husband and I would continue to be hard on ourselves.  But when I would talk to other moms who had kids around the same ages, I would find out that the issues we were having were normal and not necessarily due to their situation.  This was such a relief and we realized kids are so much more resilient than we gave them credit for.  I also realized that other parents were going through the same struggles, and other working moms had similar hardships to what I was going through as well.  The more I talked to people, the better I felt that we were doing the best we could and we tried to not be as tough on ourselves as we were.

For me, adjusting to working and taking care of kids wasn’t so bad, mainly because they were somewhat independent at those ages and could verbalize what they wanted and how they felt.  My husband and I tried to help each other out as much as possible, and we managed to get into a good routine.  It was definitely a challenge for me, though, to all of a sudden have to juggle motherhood and working full time.  Little did I know, it was nothing compared to the struggle of having my own child and working full time with three kids now.  The girls are now ten and eight years old and the newest addition to our family, our son, is 17 months old.  I took off five months for my maternity leave, and let me just say going back to work was one of the hardest and most emotional things I’ve had to do.  It’s been a learning curve for sure, and the learning never ends.

My main goal of starting glassceilingbreakers was to help motivate and empower other women because I know what it’s like to feel unappreciated in the workforce and have the odds stacked against me.  It took me a long time to adjust to being in a male-dominated field, I was also struggling with being the youngest (with large age gaps for years when I first started at 21) and sometimes even the only woman in an entire department (of about 40 engineers).  It took me a long time to learn the hard way how to make my way and have my voice be heard, and I’ve had a difficult time of defining what success means to me in my career and personal life.  I’ve been in the automotive industry for over ten years, and I’ve learned so much that I only hope to help other women get to where they want to be in life easier through my difficulties and lessons learned.

The same goes for TheOrganizedChaosMom, but with a more focused theme of working moms and the different struggles we go through on a daily basis to be the best at everything we do while trying to ease the Mom Guilt we inevitably go through.  Life with a career and kids and a husband while still trying to maintain some semblance of a social life can only be defined as organized chaos.  It’s completely chaotic and we usually have no less than five different things going on at once and even though we set impossibly high standards for ourselves, we always manage to get it done.  I’m also going to start “TheOrganizedChaosMom’s Hack of the Week” where every week I’ll share different ideas and anything that has helped make my life a little easier with kids and work.  The purpose here is so that we can all share the different techniques, products, or hacks that help us get through our weeks smoother and more efficiently.  So join me on this journey of motherhood while we pave the way for our careers and help motivate each other along the way!  Make sure to subscribe so you can stay up to date with all the latest that’s going on!

Can we really have it all and keep our sanity?

Is it possible for women to have it all?  A career, family, friends and a social life, and still maintain some semblance of sanity?  Can we really juggle all these different hats (and for most women, even more) without dropping the ball on anything?  This question is what keeps us up at night.  Literally.  We sit and try to plan and figure everything out, but often seem to come up short.  But are we really coming up short?  Or, as I believe in most of our (women’s) case, we are just holding ourselves to impossibly high standards.  Not only that, but we set high standards for each area of our lives.  We expect to climb the corporate ladder (or excel in whatever field you’re in) and if we aren’t then we are failures.  We want our kids to be in all the extracurricular activities and sports and get awesome grades.  We want to have a girls night out with our friends and still have time to be social.  We want to pamper ourselves (theoretically for most of us) but never quite seem to find the time.  We expect ourselves to be the best in everything we do, and then tell ourselves “Well I can have it all just not at the same time.”  However, the problem isn’t with us.  It’s with society.  As women, we have more pressure to succeed than men for many reasons.  We feel like we need to prove our worth and have to make a bigger effort to get noticed.  At work, we hear the excuse “Well she has kids so she can’t put in 100%”.  Even worse is when you are seen as not being a team player, not reliable because you have to pick up and drop off kids or take personal days to take care of them, or even as a liability because your priority isn’t work.  So we end up feeling guilty and putting in more hours and push ourselves even harder to prove that our family and kids have no effect on our work and we are no different than the men.  But then we get stuck feeling guilty because we aren’t spending enough time with our kids.  Since now we’re stuck at work we might miss some of their games or not be able to make a home cooked meal every night.  The mom-guilt kids in hard and we feel like we aren’t spending enough time with our kids and not only are we missing out on their milestones and fun but also they are missing out on having their mother around full time.

The pressures of society on us to be perfect and have to prove ourselves in every aspect are not only exhausting but very unfair.  Men don’t have the same pressures.  Even if they are mediocre in their careers, they are never seen as a “failure”.  However, if women are “only supervisors” we get pressure from all sides saying things like “She could be so much better if she focused more on her career”.  So somehow we are achieving higher but looked down up lower.  This is the pit we are falling into, and the pressure to “have it all or nothing at all” doesn’t help.  The solution is easy, yet hard to actually accomplish.  We need to change our mentalities.  We need to not accept the criticism unless it’s constructive.  We need to not be so hard on ourselves.  We can have it all, and at the same time.  We just can’t expect ourselves to put 100% in every area.  And that’s ok!  We don’t need to!  The saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none” for me is my motto.  It can be taken as a negative connotation.  I, however, like to look at the positive.  I’d rather have a lot more tools in my tool belt instead of just one or two.  I can know enough about many different areas, excelling in some that I need to, to get by.  I can be good at a lot of different things without needing to be an expert.  We don’t need to be perfect in every area, just good enough that we are satisfied and getting things taken care of.

Still, most women are naturally overachievers.  I know I am, and I’m never satisfied with just sitting still or coasting.  Recently, I took a long hard look at my career.  When I got hired in, there were three other engineers in our organization.  Now, ten years later, all three of them are supervisors.  Except me.  I’m the only one who hasn’t really risen in the ranks.  At first, I was bothered by this because I don’t think I’m any less of an engineer.  I started thinking about being treated unfairly in a few positions and being held back from promotions because of almost discriminatory reasons (nothing I could prove concretely).  Was that why I wasn’t a supervisor?  Was I not enough of a hard worker?  On the other hand, I knew a lot of phenomenal engineers who have tried to interview for supervisor positions that have not gotten it.  So why not?  What’s the catch?  Well sometimes, it’s politics.  Managers like to put people into positions that are not only good engineers but also have good leadership qualities and know how to interact with upper management.  For me, however, I didn’t think that was what was stopping me.  I know my assets, and my communication skills are pretty good.  So what then?  I literally spent weeks being so hard on myself.  While I was very happy and proud of my peers, I was frustrated for myself.

Then one day, I asked myself, “Do you even want to be a supervisor?”  And the answer was unequivocally no.  I didn’t.  Further, I never really have either.  For various reasons throughout my career, I’ve never wanted to be a supervisor.  Not because I don’t believe I’m capable of it but more because I didn’t want to deal with the politics of the position and feel like I’m not tied to my job.  I knew I wanted to have a family, and while having kids it would have been tough to be a supervisor at the same time.  At least not with the way I imagined myself.  I knew that when I had kids I would want to take an extended maternity leave, which as a supervisor is near impossible due to the physical duties and job responsibilities.  Which is understandable.  Also, I knew there was a possibility I might want to work part-time while my kids are still very young (babies and toddlers).  Again, very difficult to find a part-time supervisor.  I’ve known women who have job-shared (where both are the supervisor with the same responsibilities but each are able to work part-time and share the job).  However, that’s not something that interested me.  So I knew that at least until I was done having kids, being a supervisor was not really on my radar.  So why, then, was I so frustrated at not being a supervisor?  Again, it was because of the pressure of needing to be the best.  Once I realized what I really wanted, I was relieved.  Glad, even, that I wasn’t a supervisor.  When I was taking an even further look at my career goals and aspirations, I was realizing I might not even want to be a supervisor in engineering.  I’m reaching the point in my life where I know I need to be passionate about something.  Although there are some aspects within engineering that I know I would not only love but also excel at, I still question the other politics and timing involved.  To me, more important is the flexibility I have for now to be able to balance my work and my family.  So I’m perfectly content with staying in the position I’m in.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have any ambitions for the future.  I’m always looking for something to do, and even though I have my career and my kids I’m working on other various and completely unrelated projects as well.  That’s how I balance.  By doing what I need to do (my career) while growing my family and having a little fun on the side (for me that’s writing and helping make a difference).  So while I’m open to the idea of possibly one day being a supervisor, I’m content at staying where I am for now.  I’ll wait for the best opportunity for me, in something I am passionate about.  I won’t become a supervisor just because it’s expected that I climb the corporate ladder or it’s the next logical step.  I won’t do anything unless I feel it’s the best step for me and my family.

I’ve realized that the main action we need to take is to create realistic goals for our lives.  Tailor your goals to what’s most important to you.  Change your perspective and aim for what you want, not what society tells you to want or you need.  You can have a career, and a family, and still balance your friends and social life as well.  Just as we budget our finances, we have to budget our time.  Manage your time wisely, some days your career will have to be a priority and some days your kids will be a priority.  It’s ok to change your priorities daily.  If I know I have an important meeting that I need to prepare for, I might have to take some extra time away from my kids for a bit.  But other days if the kids are off school or I just want to spend some extra time with them, then my I might take a vacation day because my kids will be the priority.  I’m lucky enough to be in a flexible working environment and understanding management.  This is definitely helpful, however I would like to think that if I didn’t have the flexibility I needed I would do what I had to find it.  So don’t be too hard on yourself and know that you are enough.  You are always enough and you’re probably doing a better job than you give yourself credit for.

The Calm before the Storm…Sunday prepping

So “calm” is actually a pretty relative term in this case.  Plus, I’m not actually that calm.  I’ve entered depression mode.  Tomorrow marks my first full week back to full-time since re-entering the work force after my maternity leave.  I was very fortunate to be able to take off five whole months of maternity leave (granted only 8 weeks was paid).  We’ll save the whole parental leave discussion for another post.  I have enough thoughts on that one to fill a book.

After I went back to work, I was only part time.  I was in the office only three days a week, Tuesdays through Thursdays.  Which meant I had four day weekends, every week.  It was glorious and I was definitely spoiled.  I had the best of both worlds, so to speak.  I got to enjoy time with my stay-at-home mommy friends while still having my career.  Then about six months later I added another day, which I mostly worked from home.  So technically, I was still at home for four day weekends (I at least didn’t have to leave to go to the office).  So now, one year after returning to work, my husband and I decided it was time to go back full time.  Really, he said he wanted nothing to do with the decision because it was me who would be working, not him.  However, since he’s the one who stays with our son while I’m at work I still wanted his opinion.  So we decided.  Full-time it is.

This weekend was a pretty busy weekend for my family.  My sister got engaged, so we have had family activities pretty much the whole weekend.  So today when having our family breakfast, my sister was complaining about going back to work and how she hates Mondays.  As I was about to make fun of her and rub it in that I get to relax at home (again, “relax” is relative considering I have toddler running around), it hit me.  I wasn’t actually going to be at home at all.  I had work too!  Well, damn.  So naturally, my brain started working in overtime.  “What is the menu this week for the kids?  Do I need to go grocery shopping before the week to have everything prepared?  Are the kids clothes all washed for this week?  Do we have everything they need for lunches?  I should probably clean the house too so I don’t have to stress this week cleaning up after work.  What meals can I prep today to make it easier and quicker for dinner after work?”  These were just some of the thoughts that ran through my head in the span of about a minute.  My husband saw the expressions running across my face and knew what was coming.  He saw me go from happy, to sad, to what he calls my “wheels turning” face (me overthinking), to resigned.

So being the great husband that he is, he kept reassuring me that it would be fine and I’ve worked full time pretty much my whole career.  Telling me not to worry, he has everything handled.  Don’t overthink anything because we will work it all out together.  And he did somewhat calm me down.  Now it’s just a matter of sucking it up and going back.  Yes, I’ll miss those extra days with my son.  Yes, it’s going to suck being back in the office five days a week.  Yes, it’s definitely going to be a challenging dealing with the kids and school and a toddler and my husbands work schedule and my work schedule.  But, I know we can handle it.  I try to stay positive, to be thankful for the opportunity of even being able to work part time for as long as I did.  Be thankful for the extra time I got with our son.  But now it’s time to tackle this whole full time gig with kids.  I know that just like everything else in our lives, as long as my husband and I stick together we can get through anything.  Because also like everything else, our biggest stress is each other when we run into miscommunication issues or inadvertently work against each other.  So, wish me luck!  Time to get back to prepping and cleaning before the hurricane, I mean toddler, wakes up.

My smart phone is the only thing keeping me smart…

Well maybe not the only thing, but definitely top three things.  Without my smart phone, I don’t know how “smart” I would be.  There’s just too much to keep up with these days.  Between my busy work schedule (I work in the automotive industry as an engineer), picking up and dropping off the kids at school, being on the board of a non-profit geared towards empowering women, play dates, doctor appointments, birthday parties, and the million other social events I just can’t keep track of everything.  So basically if it doesn’t go in my calendar on my smart phone, it’s not happening.  I’ve even had to schedule movie night with my husband on my phone before.

At first, I felt so discouraged with needing to be constantly reminded of everything and always forgetting.  I was so hard on myself.  “Why can’t I remember that early morning meeting?”  “How hard can it be to coordinate pick up and drop off with my husband?”  “I can’t believe I completely forgot about that lunch date today!”  And that’s just the filtered version.   I would like to say that before I was married and had kids I was able to remember everything and schedule myself properly.  However, that’s not the case.  I was just a bit more delusional in my memory capabilities.  In other words, I thought I could remember everything only to have triple booked myself with dinner plans with my sisters and a coffee date with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and a movie night at my best friend’s house.  All for the same day and same time.  Only to be reminded when they all started texting me to confirm, or worse ask where I was.

Finally, once I had kids I relented and started making notes and putting every appointment in my calendar with reminders.  The reminders were key, because as I found out the hard way if they weren’t turned on it was completely pointless for the event to be in my calendar.  Usually, even if I checked it something was bound to come up and distract me to the point that I forgot what I had coming up.  I had no choice once I had kids because as I said before, there was just too much going on and I didn’t want to risk disappointing the kids.  Nobody wants disappointed kids running around bored and unhappy.  That’s just disaster waiting to happen…

So it seems having more responsibilities and other people to rely on me made me more responsible in finding ways to keep me on task.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Without all my notes and calendar reminders I’d be lost and over-booked and overwhelmed.  I’d much rather rely on my phone than forget everything.  Once I accepted that fact, that I needed help and it was alright to not have everything memorized I felt much less overwhelmed and somewhat relieved.  I was relieved because I was no longer putting so much pressure on myself.  So if we have the opportunities to make life easier wherever possible, why not take it and be thankful?

Weekends are for Yoga Pants

And leggings.  And no makeup and messy hair.  Working moms spend their week in professional attire and most likely heels and it’s an unwritten rule that their weekends are spent surrounded by the most comfortable things they can find.  I know I do.  And I’m all about efficiency so if I happen to fall asleep in my yoga pants, it’s one less thing for me to do in the morning.

Before I had kids, I spent my weekends dressing up and going out with friends and staying up late.  Now that I have kids, I’m still staying up late but for a whole different reason.  I need some “me” time.  So I struggle between the constant need to get rest and wanting to stay up to catch up on my T.V. shows.  I never used to watch TV before kids.  I was “too busy” before.  With what you ask?  I have no idea.  Dinner with friends?  Vacations?  I can’t really remember much pre-kids.  That’s thanks to the brain cells sucked out of me during pregnancy, and the overall general loss of focus on anything other than keeping the kids alive and getting my work done.  So now, unless I absolutely have to go somewhere, I not only choose to stay in and be comfy but I love it.

During the week it’s always go-go-go.  I am always rushing to get the girls ready for school while getting ready myself, dropping them off and getting to work late (still carrying my Starbucks because who functions well without their coffee?), then getting my work done and rushing to leave so I can pick the girls up and get them home only to work at a whole new job there.  Getting the toddler taken care of and making sure he doesn’t dive off the couch head first (this is a full time job in itself, he has so sense of self preservation and this shaves years off my life I’m sure), making dinner for all of us, getting homework done, then it’s time for showers and bedtime.  By the time 9pm rolls around I’m completely exhausted but refuse to go to sleep because I need at least an hour or two to myself.  And this is all with an extremely supportive and helpful husband who stays home with our toddler while I’m work (I work part-time during the week, and he works weekends) and we usually divide-and-conquer the rest.  I give major credit to all the parents who have to do all these things on their own.  They deserve an award.  Or unlimited free Starbucks for life.

By the end of the week I can barely remember what day it is let alone think about planning outfits for the weekend.  So yoga pants it is!  When I do have to go out, I have a whole selection of just-as-comfy leggings.  I bought a whole new wardrobe for post-pregnancy of comfy leggings and tunics/long sweaters.  Because regular pants post C-section is not fun.  And then you get so used to them it’s really hard to go back.  So even though my weekends are still pretty packed chasing after a 15-month old, I still like to get a small “break” from the chaos that is the week.  There’s no better way to “relax” when you know you really won’t be doing much relaxing other than putting on some super comfy yoga pants and be ready to tackle the weekend.