Turning Into the Mom With No Time to Say Yes

By Kathy Zucker

Anyone who knows me knows I am a hot mess when it comes to time. Working from home means I have no off switch. I am constantly racing from kid activity to work meeting to the grocery store. The beginning of each season is the worst – it takes me time to get into a routine that encompasses naptime for the baby with gymnastics practice for my older kids.

familytrip-thumbnailThe New York Times recently wrote about a mom who spent the first few years of her baby’s life hovering. She removed choking hazards, allayed frustrations, and spent hours lying motionless in bed waiting for them to fall asleep.

I was that mom with my first two kids. My husband and I spent all our waking hours checking the recommended ages of gifts, babyproofing the house, and buying educational toys for Christmas. The kids would play with the toys for a day and then ignore them. Living in a two-bedroom apartment, we ran out of space quickly and had to declutter every few months. The decluttering signal? When my kids started using the toys as ballast, heaping them in piles in an orgy of messiness.

So how did I become the mom who says no? By becoming so busy I have no time to say yes. With three kids and as a partner in three businesses, I am efficient in ways I could only dream of in my early mom days. My husband and I maintain a joint Google calendar called “Zucker Family.” On it we place birthday parties, camps, and all evening and weekend engagements. My husband is getting geeky at Gilt? It goes on the calendar. When I log into Gmail, the first thing I do is open a calendar tab next to my inbox. My personal calendar appears in blue, the family calendar in green. Green items get priority because I need to figure out child care. My husband and I typically get two individual events per month plus one joint full-day family engagement like a zoo or beach trip.

The result? My third child is the most relaxed and precocious child I have ever seen. At 16 months, she rarely throws tantrums, accepting having pencils and legos grabbed from her without a fuss. She is walking, talking, and doing chores like putting her own dishes in the sink and getting a washcloth to wipe up spills. She goes down for her three-hour nap in different rooms – as long as she has a soft fleecy blanket (I have about eight leftover from the big kids) she snuggles into the sheet and goes right to sleep. Naptime delayed because we were out at a swim class? She goes to bed two hours early and sleeps through the night.

Did I get lucky with my third child? Absolutely, she has a wonderful temperament and strong verbal abilities. But she also benefits from constantly being around people and the fact that she rarely gets her way. There is something to be said for not having enough time to cater to your child – they grow up able to take care of themselves. And isn’t that what every parent wants?

kathyzucker_roundKathy Zucker, CEO of Metro Moms Network, mother of three young children and winner of the New York Life Keep Good Going Shorty Award, writes about juggling career and family in an urban setting. Read her MomCondoLiving blog, follow her on Twitter (@KathyZucker), or friend her on Facebook.


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