Friday, October 1, 2010

The Art of "Improv"

A pregnant friend of mine sent me an email the other day expressing fears about her upcoming years as a working Mom. “How do you do it?”, she asked. I promptly replied to her email as follows….

“It’s simple…my trick to being a working Mommy is one word. IMPROV”.
I am very proud of the fact that (so far) I have been able to live two lives. By day, I am passionate civil litigator who loves getting in front of juries and battling cases ranging from medical malpractice to employment law. By night, I leave my briefcase at the door and settle into the role I am most proud of: Mommy. I have been able to, for the most part, live my life without these worlds colliding.

I do not pretend to have all the answers of how to keep these worlds in perfect alignment, but the art of improvisation has made my life much easier. Can I do everything with my kids that I could do if I stayed home? Can I be the world’s best civil litigator? Of course not. There are simply not enough hours in the day, But with the power of “Improv” I can give my kids the benefits of having a  "Stay at Home Mom" and still put my law degree to good use!

Here are some examples of my World of Improv:

(1) I Embrace Technology. I am a big scrapbooker. I have scrapbooked since I was in college and it is the way I like to spend my “Me” time (what little I get). My goal has always been to do three separate sets of scrapbooks for each of my children and scrapbook their adventures as they grow. But, as a working Mom I couldn’t keep up with the paper and scissor scrapbooking. So now I have entered into the world of digital scrapbooking, which means I do all my scrapbooking on computer. This allows me to basically draft biographies of my children’s lives on my short time clock. People are shocked when I tell them that my children have nearly 1000 pages of scrapbooks amongst them and my oldest is only 4! I can do everything that people who have so much more time than I have to scrapbook can do…all with a click of a mouse.

(2) When there is no time for “Vacations” we take “Staycations”. Because Todd and I work we don’t have a lot of time to vacation. So, every now and then we do a staycation where we will take a long weekend and just stay at home with the kids. We even went so far as to buy a fire pit for our back yard so we can “camp” without leaving home. The kids love it and the best part…no packing! When we are craving a little beach time, I set up a “beach” in our house (i.e. beach towels, bright lamps, and a bathtub swimming pool) and the kids and I have a beach day. I seriously have just as many memories with our Staycations as I do on our Vacations. And the cheaper price is nice too!

(3) I am a “lunch dater”. Todd and I have always been good at putting our marriage as a top priority. This means we understand that as a couple we need to go out on dates and take time for us. But that has never been easy. I mean we really haven’t been alone since we got married because I got pregnant with J two weeks after our wedding! Date nights are hard for us to plan because this means we have to impose on my Mom or get a sitter. So, we now do lunch dates. We meet for lunch about once every two weeks. We get to catch up and be together…without distraction.

(4) I have established a strong “Social Network”. As a working Mom, I unfortunately do not have a lot of time for my friends. This is one part of my life that has really taken a back seat and that bothers me to no end. It’s funny, but after you become a Mom you realize how badly you need your friends! Because of my crazy schedule I don’t always have time to call my friends and catch up. So, I embrace my “social network” and keep active on Facebook and emails to keep my bonds strong. My Social Network has opened the door for me to catch up with old friends and rekindle our friendships. Friendships take work and my social network helps me keep my friendships on track!

(5) I teach my own “classes”. My children are involved in a lot of activities and I am constantly trying to expose them to different things. Because most of the museums or park districts around here have classes during the day when my kids can’t attend, I make sure and set up times to do our own “classes”. For example, in our house we have Creative Sundays, where every Sunday (well as often as our schedule allows) I let the kids do something crafty. I look online and try to come up with new projects. We’ve done paper flowers, made puppets, masks, etc. I have even rolled out a roll of paper on our kitchen floor and let them body paint with their feet, hands, etc. (Note: this activity has caused me to basically have stock in Crayola washable paint).

(6) I am a Freezer and Crock Pot Chef. I love to cook. It is something I have always enjoyed. And I love sitting down with my family over a big meal. But as a working Mom who often parents alone at night it is not always possible for me to cook elaborate meals. So one thing that I do is cook or prepare meals in advance and save them for the week. I also have joined several crock pot recipe exchange sites and use my crock pot often. Presto…family meals without the work!

Life handed me a working Mommy’s life. So instead of feeling guilty or sad, I am going to take the time I have and truly make the best of it...with a little help from the Art of Improv.


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