Lisa Bloom, author of "Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World," believes busy moms still deserve time to think, to dream, and to revel in their own passions. With wisdom and humor, this TV host and mother encourages all working moms to reach higher.
I know that no one can think when life is nothing but work, laundry, kids, dinner, dishes, sleep deprivation, repeat, repeat, repeat. Don't you deserve better than just dragging your sorry ass from home to work and back again, sleep deprived, carelessly pouring baby formula into your coffee mug? (Shudder -- a mistake I made only once.) Your first step must be to take a clear look at your life and unearth some fresh new time each and every day to call your very own: to dream, to imagine, to think.
If "having it all" means having a family with kids, outside work, and enough "me" time to be able to shave both of your legs on the same day, I am here to say that it's definitely attainable. In fact, we can shoot higher. But to get there, I'm going to have to shake up some deeply held mindsets that are holding us back. We've talked about work-life balance for decades, after all, and still we're not progressing. This calls for some blunt talk and drastic action -- because we can't focus on big issues like climate change or genocide or the sorry state of our kids' schools when we're exhausted from our own lives.
First, My Credentials
I worked straight through my kids' childhoods, first as a civil rights attorney and then as a full-time television host and commentator. I also now run my own busy law firm.
Just like millions of other working moms, my kids were always my main concern. I was a single mother for much of their childhood. Making a home-cooked dinner nearly every night was a priority because I wanted to get healthy food into them at least once a day, and sitting around the table over big bowls of pasta is the best way to get to know what's up in each other's lives. We laughed, we cried. Sometimes they laughed while I cried. We had an ornery, occasionally vicious rescue terrier named Whiskey who only we understood and loved, and we were distraught when she died. We still have our other family rescue dog, Soda, who we all adore so much we've become Crazy Dog People. I got married and divorced twice when they were little and vowed that would be it for me, and then I had a nice, long-term boyfriend and when we broke up, I felt guilty guilty guilty; my kids told me it was okay, Mom. And that, in a nutshell, was our family.
My Happy Reality
The thing is that I didn't weep from exhaustion. I didn't have a nanny. I had time to read books and work out and talk to my friends, and without that, I'd have gone around the bend. Oh, also, during my single working mom years, I trained for and ran two marathons, prayed with Buddhist monks in Laos, sat in on the Prime Minister's Questions in British Parliament, saw Picasso's Guernica in Spain, volcano boarded in Nicaragua, slept in a mud hut with a Berber family in Morocco, practiced yoga on a cliff over a desolate beach in India, backpacked up 13 of the highest peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, canoe camped along the Delaware River, and skied down a double black diamond run in a Vermont blizzard, ripping my knee in half. Geez, do I have fun.
I'm not saying this to brag; rather, I am saying it to persuade you that you can be a working mom -- even a single working mom -- and still live.
How? The biggest change you need to make is to your attitude. You have to toss out dusty old myths that hold us back. We're not in the 1950s anymore, homegirls.
Housework Is Not Your Job!
What is the heaviest yoke around our necks that is preventing us from moving forward? Housework.
In the twenty-first century there are still commercials featuring women delightedly dancing around their bathrooms with their new soap-scum products, singing along with animated characters. In real life, we'd call these women deranged.
I am not talking about child care here, only cleaning. There's a world of difference between time with the kids and time doing housework. Your kids will grow up fondly remembering the times you threw a ball with them, played Monopoly with them, and chatted around the dinner table with them. Your oven will not fondly remember any of the times you scoured it. The less time you spend doing housework, the more time you'll have with your kids -- or for yourself, to read, to dream, to strategize, to think.
Housework is a job that, ideally, you are going to farm out. That is more doable than you may think. And if you are so strapped that you can't pay for a little help, then you are going to make sure that everyone in your home who sullies the kitchen and fouls the toilets shares that job equally.
Once they are walking and speaking in sentences ("Mommy, don't!" is a complete sentence), children are old enough to clean up after themselves. If they can expand photos on an iPhone, they can do chores.
For more of Lisa Bloom's empowering "reclaim time to think" tenets, such as "it's okay for your kids to be miserable sometimes," find some actual time in your day to read her actual book. (Or visit www.think.tv for a sampling.)
Lisa Bloom, author of "Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World" (Copyright © 2011), from which the above is excerpted, is an award-winning journalist, legal analyst, trial attorney, mom of two, and the daughter of renowned women's rights attorney Gloria Allred. She is currently the legal analyst for CBS News and for The Dr. Phil Show.
Also see: Family Health: How Your Stress Affects Your Kids