It's working for Meghan Splawn, Food Writer, Recipe Developer and Podcast Host
I live by having a visible family calendar as well as a very loosely formatted bullet journal — it functions as a planner but also a place for brain dumps and more.
The honest-to-goodness truth is that I never dreamed of being a mom, so I spent a lot of my early pregnancy waiting to feel like one. Had I know how much becoming a mom would change me later, I would have relaxed a bit. My advice would be to enjoy the journey of pregnancy and new years as much as possible instead of waiting on some non-existent destination of motherhood.
There are small, sweet regional differences to be sure; For example, Southern mothers are more diligent about manners while PNW parents are really big on outdoor play. In general, all the parents I’ve met through working and now through Didn’t I Just Feed You share more similarities than differences. We’re all worrying if our kids are eating too much sugar or getting enough broccoli and I think the more we could open up about our struggles and concerns the easier it would be on new mothers to not “have it all together”.
Ha! I don’t know if I did. My husband and I certainly asked for as much help as we could in the early days of having babies and being freelancers but it always felt like a juggling act! If you say yes to a project, you’re sometimes saying no to being home for the bedtime routine or pushing back a family vacation. You have to think a little more abstractly about what making it work really means — some seasons family breakfast was a better time for connecting than family dinner and you have to be ok with your life looking a little different from your neighbors.
The only big change, for me personally, was working with my husband more. Before Covid every recipe I developed for Kitchn got photographed in their studio in NYC. While the studio was shut down I worked with my husband to shoot photos and videos remotely. It was sometimes really fun! But it was incredibly chaotic too — imagine a photo studio in your kitchen with kids on virtual school and the dogs trying to steal food off the set. It was a hoot!
First, I don’t manage everything — my husband has been the primary school drop-off, PTA volunteering, making doctor and dentist appointment scheduling parent for the last 3 years. And he’s run virtual school for the last year for the most part. That was a hard transition for us, but I really struggled with my mental health after we moved across the country a few years ago and that was the best solution for our family. Also, I live by having a visible family calendar as well as a very loosely formatted bullet journal — it functions as a planner but also a place for brain dumps and more.
Meal planning is a big sanity saver, because I can really feel my energy drain and drop when I forget to eat breakfast or skip lunch, plus having a rough outline for what we’ll cook and eat in a week keeps my husband from bugging me with ideas for feeding our kids during the day.
We really lucked out because my mother-in-law was our primary childcare for the first few years of both our kids’ lives. You know what people don’t tell you about those arrangements is though? You have to communicate a lot with your caregiver and if you don’t have a direct line of communication with your mother-in-law, or whoever it is, it gets messy really quickly. I adore my MIL but there were some bumps along the road getting our expectations to meet.
No one ever says this, but I hated the baby stage! Give me your toddlers! It took me about a year after each of my kiddos to find a new groove.
There’s such a push and pull that happens when both parents have ambitious careers and unfortunately the default is still “well, you’re the mother so you’re the primary parent”. We both, my husband, and I struggled for a few years over whose job was “more important” — spoiler they both are! — and there’s no road map for that. Now there are lots of working mother’s support groups etc. but even 10 years ago when I was pregnant there weren’t and we had to figure out balancing two careers and having kids.
Don’t Google anything after midnight. No 2 am feedings reading on baby forums.
Also a big lesson for me? It is your baby! And what I mean is you can politely listen to advise of other people but at the end of the day you will know what is best and you can act accordingly.
Friends — both friends who had children to offer solidarity and non-parent friends to offer distractions.
As a working parent, I never expected traveling would be so hard and boundaries would be so much easier.