The Never-Ending Struggle to Balance Motherhood and Work

by Dagmar Bleasdale on October 8, 2010

motherhood and work,

How Do You Balance Motherhood and Work?

I’m fried. Recently, I’ve been downing Bach Rescue Remedy drops like they were candy because my heart is racing and I’m so anxious all the time.

Juggling motherhood and work is getting the better of me.

It’s nobody’s fault, although I’d love to blame someone else for these feelings. It’s not my husband’s fault I took on so much work as a blogger and social media consultant, but he certainly encouraged and was in favor of me bringing home more money.

Here in Westchester you basically need two incomes to make ends meet, and so far we’ve only gotten by with mainly his income because I’m so frugal and Don’s only indulgence is buying books.

Don immediately thinks I’m blaming him when I’m expressing how overwhelmed I feel lately, which makes everything even worse.

I want a sympathetic husband, not one who resents me for thinking I don’t appreciate him taking our little son all the time so I can work. Sigh. Deep breath. And another one. That’s supposed to make me better, right?

This is not about what my husband isn’t doing, this is about what I can’t do: be a good mom, friend, wife, keeper of the household, office organizer, my husband’s secretary, AND breadwinner at the same time. Something gotta give.

I’ve been working a lot more lately than I usually do, and I’m getting really stressed out. I took on a huge editing project before I went to Germany with Landon a couple months ago (which Don thinks of as a vacation – ha!). Then BlogHer 2010 happened, which required hours of preparation, and I’m juggling other clients and my blogging for Dagmar’s momsense, which I take as seriously as my other jobs.

I truly love my work as a proofreader, editor and social media consultant and want to contribute to our family’s income. I’m blessed that I have this many wonderful clients at the moment.

But I’m sick of feeling like I have to ask for permission to work.

Asking for permission to work — that sounds so odd, but that’s what it feels like. I don’t know how to better express what I mean. Men don’t have to do that. Whereas Don just up and leaves in the morning to go to work (he is a finish carpenter and project manager), I have to somehow fit my work into my busy schedule, which ends up with me working until 3 a.m. — a lot.

I don’t remember the last time I’ve had six hours of sleep in a row.

I resent that Don, and most men in general, get to go to work and don’t have to wonder about how all the other stuff is going to get done and who is going to watch and take care of the kids.

Must be nice. When I go to a blogging events, which is fun but also necessary for networking reasons and to make connections with future clients, I have to make sure that it’s okay to go and make arrangements because then Don or someone from our family has to take care of Landon.

Besides not having a budget for a babysitter because we are already paying oodles to have him in preschool for 10 hours a week, I also wouldn’t trust a stranger with our son.

Don takes L often after he comes home from work, and I appreciate that so much, but he wants brownie points for taking him to his sister’s or mother’s house where L runs around and plays with his cousins while Don gets to hang out with the adults.

I would love that gig — but I’m at home working or cleaning the house or tweeting or blogging (fun, but also part of my job).

Where are my brownie points for having L most of the week? It’s hard to be a WHAM — a work at home mom — because something or somebody always needs attending.

I realize that much of this is my own doing — I take pride in having a neat house, I take pride in meeting my deadlines, I like a full fridge, and it’s my decision to do as much as I do.

After finishing this never-ending editing project I’m going to rethink if working this much is really worth it — I’m done feeling bad for having to carve out the time to get my work done and taking that time away from being a good mom, friend, and wife.

“Me” time, what’s that? I have a cavity that should have been filled months ago and I haven’t had a physical in two years, so it doesn’t look too promising that I’ll get a massage any time soon.

I tried to explain that I feel like I have to ask for permission to work to Don and he didn’t get what I meant  — at all. He thought that sounded ridiculous and it ended up in an argument.

I tried to explain my point in a different way but couldn’t find the words. He thought I was blaming him, which isn’t what I was trying to express. I feel pulled in so many directions, I want to do a great job at everything, meanwhile my son is sitting in front of the TV way too much lately so I can get my work done, and I feel terrible about that.

When I asked one of my sister-in-laws, a mother of five who works when she can,  if she gets what I mean with “having to ask for permission to work,” she just knowingly rolled her eyes — she totally understood where I was coming from.

I was so relieved that I’m not going crazy here.

Okay, enough venting — back to work.

Your thoughts? Do you fell like you have to ask for permission to work? How do you balance motherhood and work?

Will this ever change for women, the struggle to balance motherhood and work?

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Mystery Case August 8, 2014 at 3:16 AM

I hear you! I’ve been working from home as a virtual assistant since having my three girls. Mainly because my husband’s work comes first and we move a lot with his work. Now that my girls are getting older and we no longer have to continually relocate I was just warming to the idea of putting my career first but health issues have gotten in the way. Thank goodness for blogging because it’s definitely given me food for thought with my VA business and more options when I’m up to returning to it.

Thanks so much for linking up for our worth casing blog of the month at Agent Mystery Case. We announce our winner tonight and open the link for August.

Just love your blog and would dearly love to feature you in some way.



Dagmar Bleasdale August 8, 2014 at 7:15 PM

Hi Raych, thank you so much for your sweet comment! Hope your health issues will be a thing of the past soon. I’d be very honored if you’d feature me at some point :)


Jackie K July 7, 2011 at 12:31 PM

I just came across this while following a link to another of your posts from Twitter. This is a great post, and very honest.
I have 2 kids and work full-time currently in a corporate role; you kind of have my dream job, but in fact I know there is no dream job. Nothing combines perfectly with raising kids, and to be successful at anything you have to put a lot of extra hours into it, so whatever you do for work is going to be hard, and take a lot of time. My husband and I do share housework but somehow it’s easier for him; even though we are both doing stuff every day, and no matter how many jobs I allocate him, he always seems to be able to sit around and relax at some point whereas I only do that when lying in bed! Not sure what the solution is – suspect there is none.
Thanks for this- hope things are not quite so frazzled since this was posted.


Natalie Nevares March 17, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Yep, I feel your pain and write a lot about this struggle and how to find more balance on my blog too. I want to live in a world where all parents are better supported in general and we never have to feel like failures at everything from being stretched so thin! Honestly, families weren’t meant to live this way…

Meanwhile, I keep pushing to streamline my life to be uber-efficient, resist multi-tasking, try to be fully present in each role, and get as much done as possible when the kids are in school!

Good luck with your juggle mama!


Gina March 8, 2011 at 4:47 AM

This post spoke to me so much, Dagmar. Especially the part where you talked about needing permission to work. I struggle with feeling guilty about keeping the kids at school a little longer so I can get more work done. I feel guilty when I go out at night to meetings & can’t put my kids to bed. I know my husband never feels that – as much as he loves our kids. Such a strange double standard. Loved this post!


Alice Turner January 15, 2011 at 4:59 PM

You hit the nail on the head. It’s hard to be a WAHM. When you have a free minute and you decide not to work you are always thinking “I should be working right now”.


Baby Making Mama October 16, 2010 at 10:34 PM

Oh mama I FEEL you totally! I read this after writing my post and I totally get you! I don’t have to ask permission to work my day job cause.. Well, it pays the bill, but all of the stuff I do when I get home for money has to be done after everyone’s asleep! *sigh*


Jasmine Fuselier October 13, 2010 at 11:43 PM


I cannot believe how you took the words right out of my mouth. For WEEKS, these feelings festered in my mind, but I could not find the words to translate my thoughts.

The moment after I read this piece, I read everything out loud (so it would feel as if I was clarifying my feelings) to my darling husband. The part where you state that you’re not mad or resent your hubby, and you’re glad he encourages you to work — but feel overwhelmed.

I want to thank you for this because shortly after, my husband and I worked out a workable solution. Today is a testimony of that because – I was able to get some of my planned work completed throughout the day. Granted, I was not able to work for three hours straight, but three hours here and there. Hey, that’s enough for me.

Keep up with good work.



Jenna October 11, 2010 at 11:57 AM

I am sorry but I am a single mom whose husband was having an affair when I was pregnant with my second child. I also was raising a stepdaughter who was 7 at the time. I left him, and to get a job had to move hours away from family and friends. I also got custody of my step-daughter. I drove an hour EACH WAY to work each day, plus getting kids home from daycare, cooking meals, cleaning, homework help for my oldest, etc. I had a 2 year old, a newborn, and an 8 year old.

Now, my step-daughter is grown, and my kids are 10 and 12, but I am still raising them alone. AND I work two jobs. I work until 3:15 everyday then work from home at night for a cyber school. I get them to all of their activities, cook the meals, clean the house, pay the bills, etc. I get no help from their dad, who lives several hours away and only sees them maybe 3 times a year. They are both in competitive soccer, so we have practices and games 7 nights a week between the two of them. If I am not up by 4am I cannot fit everything in and still have time to spend with them, which is the most important thing to me.

So sorry if I am not sympathetic… you have a husband who DOES help with your son, and also brings in an income. You are working at home, not having to go anywhere to work. Your post is very whiny and dramatic.

You really need to step back and be thankful for what you DO have.


Dagmar October 11, 2010 at 11:35 PM

Hi Jenna,

I AM very thankful for what I have, and I mentioned that in my post. Sorry you find the post “whiny and dramatic.” I know many people have it much harder than me, I am very blessed. The most important thing is that we are all healthy. But I felt like venting on my blog, so I did. Feeling much less overwhelmed already — it’s all in the attitude, right? All the best to you.


priest's wife October 11, 2010 at 2:05 AM

I hear you! Even when my husband gets up to take care of the baby- I stay awake- but when I do baby duty, I can hear him sleeping….


Natalya October 9, 2010 at 9:08 PM

wow….as just about everyone here i say – i totally get you and i could have written this post… i hope one day things will get better, but for now i don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.


michelle cantu October 9, 2010 at 8:58 PM

You sound like you need a hug, alcoholic beverage, massage, and babysitter preferably all today! Sorry it seems so rough! The phrase work hard play hard needs to get put into affect soon. I think most times our other halves don’t realize how much “work” goes into a wahm’s daily duties and they go unnoticed. Take it into your hands to not get into the daily funk. It’s not too late maybe just a little effort on your part to show him you need a little me/adult time too.
<3 your newest follower


pomomama October 9, 2010 at 6:17 PM

I too feel like I could have written this post (in fact I’ve been churning through similar feelings over the last year in my friday forte posts as I gnash, wail, groan, grump and grumble my way thru finding my (purposeful, rewarding, satisfying, uplifting, salaried) direction during my midlife crisis and ‘mature’ motherhood. My husband is essentially a wonderful and very involved parent but …… there is this automatic assumption of childcare that leaves me open mouthed …. and I’m trying to alter this.
Check out “Equally Shared Parenting” for equal delegation of parenting fodder and support


Whitney October 9, 2010 at 1:38 PM

I feel like I just wrote this post. Except, you’re lucky enough to have your husband home every day.

I work from home (web development and graphic design 40+ hours weekly), take care of all the critters (we have 8 animals), have Baby Q all day (no daycare/babysitters/preschool/etc) and try to get everything else a “wife is supposed to do” done.

Unfortunately for me, Mr. Husband travels for work and is gone all but a week (and not one week at a time, a day here and there) each month. Sometimes he’s gone more than that.

It’s like I’m a single mom with no time for anything. I’m hoping I’ll figure it out. Or maybe, this is just life and this is the way it’s going to be. No sleep for mothers.


Dagmar October 9, 2010 at 2:40 PM

Hey Whitney,

whoa, I’ll stop complaining right now after reading your workload. That’s crazy! How do you get 40 hours of work done with all of that? Hope you will get some me time soon.

All the best — try to rest,


Angela October 8, 2010 at 8:47 PM

I’m a S@HM and while although I don’t have to “ask for permission to work” I sure understand where you’re coming from. I’d love to work from home but I don’t ever see that happening. My hubs can be the same way, wanting brownie points for spending a couple of hours with the kiddos. I tried explaining how I was feeling over-tasked by telling him that when he comes home he is done working, I don’t have that luxury. From the moment I get up, to the moment I go to bed, I’m at work. Just once I’d like to eat a meal that was hot and didn’t need to be reheated. But enough venting here too, I smell a poopy diaper.


Melissa Taylor October 8, 2010 at 8:35 PM

I’m not sure it will ever change — and my husband works from home, too. It’s getting better for us both, with checking in about who is in charge of the kids and what we want / need to do for work or fun. It’s a juggling act no doubt. If you figure it out, let me know – then write a book. It would be a best seller!



Jane Blackmore October 8, 2010 at 8:26 PM

The balance is impossible to achieve, I feel guilty when I neglect my job to play and guilty when I play instead of work. Last year I took up marathon running as a means to get some me time, it sounds daft but after I got used to it those hours of pounding the street gave me some time on my own in my own head. However, it meant that six hours sleep became a luxury item. Its funny, though I am on mat leave at the moment and not as busy but I miss the manicness, I suspect you also relish being madly busy all the time even though it is completely exhausting, and yes I agree men don’t have the same pressures.

Keep up the good work,

try and book in a girls night soon



Erin October 8, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Ugh, I feel you on this one. I’m currently not working outside the home right now and I still really struggle with balance. Sometimes I feel like when I quit my job, I became solely responsible for not just the kids, but EVERYTHING that occurs inside the home. I’ve had my moments of guilt for putting the kids in front of the tv so that I can cook dinner, empty the dishwasher, or go to the bathroom by myself !

When I was working, I struggles with trying to put 100% into my job and then coming home and trying to be supermom who could do it all.

I think all moms struggle with finding balance in general in their lives, so I can tell you one thing, you’re definitely not alone !


Danielle October 8, 2010 at 3:14 PM

I don’t do nearly as much as you do, as I sit in an office 8 hours a day while my husband is at work and our son is at daycare, but I can totally relate to the no “me time” part. It seems us mom’s are in charge of so much more than our husbands. I cook, clean, do laundry, make sure our son has the supplies he needs (Diapers, etc), and the list goes on and on. I take our son to daycare and pick him up everyday. Now my husband, he goes to work, comes home and relaxes or plays with our son. For example, he is off work today due to his failure to get his drug test before it expired, and do you think he’s at home with our son? NOPE! He went fishing with his dad and our son is at daycare!

I get where you’re coming from!! It’s tough being a working momma!!!


Vic October 8, 2010 at 4:29 PM

Bryan will come home and say he wishes he could change places with me. Um no you don’t. He has no clue what we do. I work from home, take care of him, the kids, the house and if he wants to let me go outside of this house to work and trade places then lets get moving on it. Except the fact is, that i can’t bring home nearly as much as he does and so I try to do the best I can from home to have this second income.

I never get any sleep either. I’m lucky if 4 hours kicks in. So I feel you. We’re running all the time like the energizer bunny. Non stop, here we go and for as much as we do, we should be paid a hell of a lot more. It would be nice if we could get the President to stand up and say okay, each family gets this much a month to live off because we know how hard they work and they deserve it. I need to run this country. seriously.


A Daddy Blog October 8, 2010 at 4:07 PM

OMG… a guy was the first person to wander in here. Yikes. You’re definitely not crazy for feeling that way. I’m not for a second saying I’m any better than Don, because I recognize some of him in me… probably in most guys. It’s not fair, you’re right. When my wife was NYC for BlogHer this year, I took off work on Thursday and Friday so I could take care of our almost two year old for the four days she was out of state. Ah… but did I want brownie points for it. Sure, that’s a guy thing. Even leaving a comment saying I did it is probably a subconscious pat on my own back. Enough about me, let’s talk about what you think about me. Seriously, your feelings I suspect you’ll hear from other women is entirely normal and common. Call up some girlfriends and tell Don you’re going out tonight. Or just do whatever you’d do during “me time”… if you even remember. Have a great day!



Odie Langley October 8, 2010 at 3:48 PM

OMG girl as the saying goes here in NC (I feel your pain) and I am a guy. Really I “fully” understand where you are coming from. The big problem is, and I am “not” blaming him, your son. Sad to say, two adults with schedules like you and your husband have are perfect for a couple without a small child like my sister and her husband. They never had a child and really don’t want one so they do whatever & all is OK. So basically I am trying to say you have a pretty much unsolvable problem if everything is going to continue as it has. In the few months I have been blogging I have noticed that you my friend have so many talents and enthusiasm to go along with it. Somehow you are going to have to squeeze in some “me time” or the pain will make what you are trying to accomplish not worth it. I may not have helped at all but just wanted you to know that compassion is coming your way from cool, sunny NC.


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: