Before we had kids, I of course had all the answers. I loved kids. They were so little and cute, sweet and cuddly, full of hugs and slobbery kisses and loved to draw you pictures and give you things they had made.
What’s not to love? I loved them so much I taught elementary school for 11 years. Everyone said that parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever do, but really? How hard could it be? (Stop laughing at me. Really. Don’t think I can’t hear you through the computer screen.)
Then we had kids.
Yes, all the above are true. Unfortunately, parenting doesn’t stop with the slobbery kisses and cuddling, which we so soon found out.
- When do I get a break?
- What do you mean all babies don’t breastfeed easily?
- Why do I have to keep disciplining them for the same thing over and over again? You think they would get it by now!
- Why are they so messy?
- What do you mean I am going to go through this entire pack of newborn diapers in just a day and a half?
- Why do they not want to eat the meal I’ve prepared?
- Why won’t they stop talking?
Oh the list could go on and on . . .
Now I say the above jokingly. I did know it was going to be hard, but did not expect it to be quite as challenging as it is on a day to day basis. My experience with kids was that they left at 3:30 pm each day. So if it was a tough day, I at least got a break in the evening. Your own kids never leave . . . they are with you 24/7.
While you love your children more than you could have ever imagined, you never get a day off of parenting. Some days will be easier than others, but there will always be a sweet (or not so sweet depending on the day) little person who needs you.
I truly do love being a parent. It’s hard to remember what my life was like 10 years ago before our first daughter was born. I love the time I get to spend with our girls and am so grateful for the chance to be their mom. Time goes by so much faster now that we have kids. I really have no idea where the last 9 ½ years went . . .
So now that we’ve established how wonderful and challenging parenting is, let’s throw the schedule of a Chef into the mix. AHHHHHHHH!!!
If your chef/husband or significant other has a schedule anything like mine does, it is full of long hours and can change at any moment!
Currently my husband is the Executive Chef at Palisade, a large fine dining restaurant in Seattle, WA. He works between 70-80 hours a week. I am a stay at home Mom and do a little website development and blogging while the girls are resting, sleeping, or playing nicely. 2 of our girls are in school and 1 is still home with me, anxiously awaiting Kindergarten next year.
Now fortunately, I am able to stay home full time, so whatever days my chef/husband is off, I get to see him. We can go out and do things in the middle of the week, and actually prefer this as things are less crowded. While his schedule makes it hard to do things with other couples and families, we make it work for us and we HAD a decent amount of time together as a family. We even managed to find time to talk with the kids around.
Then came Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade . . .
No longer were week days an option for us to do things as a family. Some of our family was gone most of the day and then there was homework, dinner, baths, etc. when they got home. Weekends are busy at the restaurant, so my chef/husband was usually working. So that now leaves us with no day our entire family is off at the same time. HELP!!
We have to try hard to find time to do things as family. Advance preparation (if possible) seems to help (most days). If I know the days my chef/husband will be off, we try to get ahead on piano and homework, so we can spend the evening together. On his days off, I try to be as organized as possible so I don’t have to spend as much time cleaning, cooking and doing laundry.
On his days off, my chef/husband also tries to find time to do things with the girls individually. It doesn’t happen every day, but even something as simple as playing Wii with “just Daddy” is special and they love every minute of it. (They also tend to follow him around like he is in a parade, making it a bit tough to relax. But that deserves a post all it’s own!)
Because of my chef/husband’s long hours, a lot of the parent responsibilities fall on me. This can get discouraging at times. Like we established above, parenting is hard work! It’s not easy to be consistent with discipline and to stay on top of homework, AWANA verses, multiplication tables, teeth brushing, etc. when it’s just me most of the time. It’s hard to ask for help when I need it, even though I know friends and family are there for support. We all get overwhelmed as parents, especially if much of the burden is on our shoulders. You’re not alone.
Because so much of the parenting falls to me, I find that if I don’t take time to take care of myself, my family suffers. It’s not easy to find time to exercise and do things I enjoy that don’t involve the kids, but those things are so important! If I’m stressed out and exhausted, there’s no way I can take care of my family.
So if you are feeling discouraged and ready to scream “Help!” remember you are not alone.
I would encourage you to communicate with your chef/husband or significant other about your frustrations and work through them together as a couple and family.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Hire a babysitter, ask a friend to watch the kids for an hour or two so you can get some rest of take a break.
And take care of yourself! You can’t take care of others if you are an emotional wreck. (Trust me, I’ve tried and it doesn’t work out well.)
We would love to hear your thoughts on how you manage to combine restaurant and family life. Let’s get the conversation started in the comments below! J
Jennifer Small is a stay at home mom and blogger who has been married to Chef Tom Small for 18 ½ years. They have 3 children and reside in the Seattle, Washington area.
Tom Small | Executive Chef and Proud papa