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I Don’t Know How She Does It: Annie

This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series I Don't Know How She Does It

Up next in our popular series, “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” Reno Moms Blog co-founder and contributor Annie McFarland takes a turn with this post about raising her daughter, bringing home the bacon and sharing life with husband Chris. We hope you’re enjoying getting to know our contributors through this series as much as we are!

-Jenny & Annie

Let me tell you about this one time that I had a perfect day as wife/mom/worker bee. In perfect coordination of baby gear and work gear, my husband and I got out the door smoothly. I arrived at work on time after dropping off my five-month-old at my company’s onsite daycare center. I had a productive morning in the office, then left for a lunchtime program for a professional association (of which I was chapter president at the time). I made it back from that engagement to my daughter’s daycare, where I fed her just as she awoke from a nap, full of giggles and coos for her mama. I was wearing an awesomely cute, postpartum-flattering outfit that she didn’t spit up on.

IDKHSD-RMBseriesAfter work, my family of three was welcomed home to a killer meal that I had prepped in the slow cooker that morning. My husband was on bath and bedtime duty, so I got to catch up with my girlfriends on Facebook and read my book, before spending some QT with Chris after the baby was asleep. It was heaven.

For whatever reason that day, all of my priorities were in perfect alignment and I was firing on all cylinders in every one. Good mom? Check. Good wife? Check. Good employee? Check. Time spent volunteering? Check. Me time? Check. Look at me! I had it all – nay, was actually doing it all. Such a perfect day is all the more memorable, of course, for one reason: it’s never happened again since. Here’s a peek into how I attempt to hold my family, my career and myself together these days.

What’s your work schedule like?

The word I’d use to describe it is “manageable.” It’s a traditional 8-5 cubicle gig, and it aligns with my husband’s schedule, as well. Travel is minimal and I usually have plenty of notice to make it work for my family. My day-to-day is also reliably manageable.  We all have those days where your life gets sucked away in a series of back-to-back meetings with no time for actual work, but thankfully, that’s not my norm (mostly because I am just not high up enough on the corporate food chain!). I take advantage of pockets of time during the day to check up on my other list of to-do’s as wife and mom (such as, walking back and forth to meetings on campus – oh yes, the location is big enough to be called that!).

How do you handle childcare?

My daughter is at a an all-day preschool just down the street from where my husband and I each work. We have grown to love so many of the teachers and caregivers there, and some of the other kids, too. We walk in every day with our daughter, say “Good morning, friends!” and with a hug and kiss from both of us, she’s off. Outside of that, we occasionally hit up Nana or Auntie (my family who lives here) for babysitting.

Where do you work during the day?

In a dreary gray cubicle deep in the heart of my huge company. I’m not one for DIY, but after the latest cube move, I did decorate the partition walls with cheery hot pink paisley fabric and a shower curtain, and added a colorful lamp, wastebasket, mouse and picture frames. Why not? I work with a team of five people, and we all sit right on top of each other. Not literally, but, you know. The team that drinks coffee together stays together, and we go through a lot of coffee. I like it here. I count my blessings every day that none of them eats tuna fish at their desks or is always saying dumb exclamations loudly, like “shut the front door!” and “cool beans!” (that’s my job).

What do you like best about your current set-up?

My husband, daughter and I are all within a half-mile radius of each other during the day, and we try to carpool as often as we can. Some days, it’s really fun to live what I feel like is a double life: the days where I have completely failed as a mom that morning in handling a meltdown with my daughter, but then come into the office and kick butt on a project – or vice versa – and then in the middle of all that, get to switch in to wifey mode and go have a lunch date with  my husband. I like the chance to be productive, connect with others, and succeed in lots of little different ways throughout the day.

What do you find so-so/tricky/hilariously bad about your current set-up? What would you change if you had a magic wand?

What a big, loaded, fun question to consider. So let me give a fantasy answer. If I had a magic wand, I would put time on pause during that golden hour with my husband between when my kid goes down and I pass out myself. My cooking skills would instantaneously improve, and I’d only need to sleep four hours a night to feel amazing and healthy.

Do you have any time for yourself?

I do, but only because I steal it from the buttcrack of dawn. I wake up at 4:16 a.m. four days of the week for Kaia FIT South Reno workouts. We all know plenty of moms (especially runners, it seems?) who talk passionately about their workouts as “me time,” when they can take care of and do something just for themselves. I was always skeptical about this, but now I kind of get it. I also get creative in finding a way to make time for myself  even if I am doing something for the family or household (e.g., treating myself to Starbucks before going grocery shopping, or listening to a great podcast in the car while running errands). My husband is a rock star at nudging me to check out with a book or take a bath when he knows I really need it.

How do you and your husband fit marriage into the balance?

Since it’s hard to make grand romantic gestures and carve out big blocks of time for each other in this season of our lives, we aim for the little things. Aside from trying to have one date night a month, we also try to go to bed at the same time as often as possible and spend time together during church each week. We say “please,” “thanks” and “sorry” a lot. We try to make each other laugh when our three-year-old is off the rails. And my favorite is the “high/low” game we play at the dinner table. Each person, including our daughter, gets a chance to share their high and low of the day, along with one thing they are thankful for. It’s always interesting to hear what comes up!

Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Have you talked to other women about it?

I do love hearing tips from other moms, especially when it comes to new ideas for routines (like, potty training, getting out of the house in the morning faster or helping my daughter get to sleep more easily). But I don’t really ask about how others handle the juggle, because I think the answer is the same for everyone (albeit with different paths): you just do it. What I am more more interested in is how the women in my circle would structure their lives if their families didn’t depend on the income these moms bring home. There’s a bigger conversation there that fascinates me: why do we do what we do? What makes it worth it?

What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?

I am going to go out on a limb here as a card-carrying feminist and say that a disservice has been done in A), asserting that we can have it all, and B), intimating that if we don’t have it all, we are missing out. Earlier in my life, especially my 20’s, I sometimes wondered if I was indeed falling short in one area or another – like, not living up to my potential as a professional. Becoming a wife and mother just added to the complexity of that.

The truth (for me, anyway) is this: You can have it all. Just not all at once. I would love to high-five the smartypants mom who must have said that first. The simplicity of that statement, and my faith as a Christ-follower, is what gets me back off the ledge when I feel completely overwhelmed.

Your turn! What piece of advice helps keep you grounded as you balance the different roles you have in life?

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About Annie McFarland

Annie McFarland
Happily married to her former neighbor, Annie is mom to three kids age four and under. She (mostly) balances life at home with working full-time in brand and media licensing. Off the clock, you can find Annie on the couch with her nose in a book (or pressed up against the Kindle), thinking about maybe doing some scrapbooking, or listening to NPR podcasts (she's what you call "indoorsy"). If it's football season, she will faithfully support her Southern husband by cheering on the Auburn Tigers and Atlanta Falcons.

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