Life as a Parent: Work and Play (What Would Grandma Say?)

[Quick note: If you’re not too busy eating at the newly-opened Panera Bread on Maple Avenue, take a moment to vote in the Best of Vienna survey!]

The focus for me lately has been on how my work is going, and where to find the ever-elusive play for me in the Vienna area.

I’ve been running my own consulting practice, MKM Strategies, for nearly two years. With just me on the payroll, I’ve supported various organizations focused on improving education in America. I mainly serve as a writer or project manager in the context of my education policy and program experience. But I’m also trying to get further into the field of outdoor and experiential ed – bringing kids outside to learn about and in nature, and connect the natural world to all parts of classroom studies and life.

Having my own business provides me with immense flexibility: I work from home, so no commute to worry about; I set my hours so I can dedicate time to mothering Bug. Yet my business also presents me with challenges: I need to obtain new business; I am lonely working at home and solo. I’ve learned much about myself: I don’t like being home all day; I like collaborating to create progress; I am motivated to connect people and ideas.

I am fascinated by how in some ways the workforce accommodates people like me who are trying to be a worker and parent, and in other ways the workforce ignores that families exist in America. I’m not the only one interested in this. A Washington Post reporter, Brigid Schulte, has been writing about women, particularly, in today’s workforce. Her latest is a piece about burgeoning part-time staffing agencies that get work-experienced moms jobs a few hours a week. She’s also written about an increase in the number of moms with ADHD and about busy mothers (that’s my favorite).

Lately, I’ve had trouble making the work part work. It’s hard to keep dedicated time to work at home when there are many distractions. It’s also tough to get into the outdoor ed world. I’m making inroads, but haven’t yet been paid to support that work. I need more energy to truly market myself in that way. Is it possible to be simultaneously excited, yet tired?

I’m also wondering where I can go to take a break. Calgon, take me away. I yearn for simplicity. Like, I was remembering the joy of experiencing an iPod playlist for the first time – it was the ultimate mixed tape, right? Such simple joy that’s now standard! Now we are all plugged in, trying to connect with our kids’ grandparents who live hours away, while we figure out how much we want to spend on a babysitter to go to dinner for two hours. I find myself thinking a lot lately whether my deceased Grandma would think our lifestyles are crazy in 2011.

So about that break: I’m looking into places nearby where I can escape alone, with hubby (childcare??) or with girlfriends. I have no answers yet, but there are some promising contenders. This winter I did take a one-night getaway to nearby Landsdown Resort. It was nice to sleep late and laze about, but 24 hours just didn’t renew me like a few days will. I found a nearby log cabin in West Virginia that looks nice (Jacuzzi!). The Jefferson Pools seem awesome – a natural hot tub 200 miles from Vienna. I also found a far away place for an inspirational journey in Utah. I think the biggest contender now is Virginia Beach to visit some family – but with the Bug in tow. Maybe a change of scenery will at least count for something?

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9 thoughts on “Life as a Parent: Work and Play (What Would Grandma Say?)

  1. Great post! Something we all think about, even those of us who don’t have kids yet. I think I mentioned this to you before, but never sent along the link — The Juggle at the WSJ is a great source for working parents: http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/

    Also, so long as it was super affordable, I’d go in on renting a cabin in the woods some weekend (with Bug, too :); I’m craving getting away from the city.

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  2. I know what you mean. I spend a lot of time working from my home office also, and although my 8 year old daughter is in school, I find it very difficult to focus on work and get all of my personal tasks done. I’m always way behind on the personal stuff. One escape that we’ve been taking for years and is only 1 hour away is Annapolis. Just being near that beautiful water and all of the boats floating on it lowers our respective blood pressures! My goal is to eventually have a house there again (we had a condo for awhile) but in the meantime, we try to get out there when we have a free weekend and we have weather like we had today!

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    • Hi Heather. Good to meet you at Red Mango.

      Thanks for your comment. There’s something about the water that makes things better, don’t you think? I love Annapolis, too. Haven’t been there since before I got married, to get my marriage license there!

      I think you’re on to something about having a future goal. I’ve been thinking much lately about what my goals are for the years ahead. Perhaps if I had long term goals about the life I want to live, I could navigate through the nitty gritty of each day.

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  3. Great post! And thanks for the links. I’m just starting book leave – about time and busy mothers – and finding myself all alone in a cluttered home office still in my work out clothes at 2 pm with laundry that needs folding upstairs and the barf stain on the carpet (from the sleepover friend on Saturday night) that needs attending … oh and piles paperwork I have to figure out what to do with … and bills … this is going to be quite a change!

    For an escape – I once went on a weekend silent retreat by myself at a monastery in Berryville, West Virginia, just past the Dulles Greenway. Slept. Read. Took walks. Slept some more. Very rejuvenating. (could have used a massage and a yoga class in there, though …)

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  4. Pingback: Where’s the Wife? | So Very Vienna: A New Mom's Adventures Around Town

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