The working mom gig is no joke. Now, I’m not here to bubble up any arguments about who has it harder, working moms or stay-at-home moms. That is a ridiculous argument with no right answer. All moms and families have their own challenges, and to whittle down a mom’s essence to whether she works in or out of the home is rather insulting.

I can only speak about my experience, which is as a full-time working mom. I’ve long dreamed about staying home with my babies since my first son was born, and it is still a dream I’m hustling to bring to fruition. But, for the time being, I work 40-hours a week outside of the home. 

What this means is that a lot of household chores have taken a back seat. Dishes sit by the sink often for days if they can’t go in the dishwasher. Vacuuming happens once a week or two (or whenever a thin layer of dog hair has blanketed the floor). Dusting happens less often. Bathrooms and the kitchen are kept to the bare minimum of cleanliness until a deep cleaning can occur.

Toys scatter the living room floor. Books and stuffed animals form chaotic piles in my son’s bedroom. Baskets of unfolded laundry often sit for a week at a time, with us pulling clean clothes out of it until it’s time to throw a dirty load back in. 

It pains me to write this. As someone who considers herself a clean and organized person, it has not been easy on my mental state to allow my home to fall to such standards. But I’m a working mom, and I simply don’t have the time.

When I pick my young sons up from daycare after work it’s a mad rush to get home, get the pre-schooler occupied with an activity and hope the baby takes a nap so that I can get dinner cooked. I also have two needy dogs who must be fed and let out.

After dinner, it’s about an hour of family time before rushing the older child into the tub, feeding the baby and getting him down for sleep. Then it’s books and pleading for my oldest son to go to sleep. By the time he settles for sleep, I am utterly exhausted from the day. It takes all the energy I have left to drag my tired body into the shower, and then it’s lights out. 

The weekends are spent on catching up on quality time with the kids and occasionally sneaking away for a date night with the husband. We try to devote a couple of hours on the weekends for necessary cleaning, but the reality is that it’s never enough. 

So when people ask how I balance a household with two kids while working full-time I simply tell them I don’t. Balance implies both are receiving equal attention and that is far from true. When I’m not at work, my children and husband are my priority. I’m raising kids and living my life, and our home reflects that. 

What I have found to be helpful when I’m feeling overwhelmed with household duties is to outsource or recruit help where I can. My husband has taken over a significant chunk of the house cleaning, and we’ve discussed hiring a housekeeper to come once every two weeks to do a more thorough job.

We started using a healthy meal delivery service three times a week for weeknight dinners. This has eased a lot of my plate in terms of planning a weekly menu and grocery shopping. We also have subscription delivery service on basic household necessities, which also helps cut down the weekly grocery list.

But the biggest tip has been to learn to live in the mess and disorganization. It’s OK if dishes aren’t washed every day or laundry sits idly in the basket. No one is going to walk through my door and believe they’ve stepped into a page in Better Homes & Gardens. All that matters is that my children are healthy and happy and I’m doing the best that I can as their mom.

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Kendra Perley

Kendra is a mom to two beautiful boys, and partner to an incredibly patient husband. When not wrangling boys or typing words, she has a fond appreciation of art, yoga, and humor. You can read more about her take on motherhood on her blog, The Maternal Canvas. Find her on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.