Survival Mode

“Survival mode” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot among my mom friends.  In fact, search the CT Working Moms page, and you’ll find that there are three other posts that have this phrase just in their titles.  I’ve been a mom for 2.5 years now, so I think I’ve been telling everyone I’m in survival mode for probably three straight years.  There was this brief little sweet spot, I think those couple of months between when my older daughter started walking and I found out I was pregnant with #2, when I felt like I was holding things together alright.  Other than that, daily life inside the walls of my house has felt like some kind of messed up three-ring circus where the lions got loose, the clown car door won’t open, and the ringmaster is curled up in the corner in the fetal position. (In case you missed it, I’m the ringmaster in this metaphor.)

Here’s a glimpse into my life with a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old:

Eat. We rotate four no-brains-required, preservative- and GMO-laden dinners: frozen pizzas, spaghetti with frozen meatballs, chicken nuggets (frozen) with frozen broccoli/peas and rice, and mac ‘n cheese (boxed).  I don’t usually get it together enough to pack myself a lunch, so I’m often piecing together snacks from home and treats I find at school.  Needless to say, any weight loss plans I had are totally on hold.  Actually, since I returned to work, despite all the pumping and nursing I’ve been doing, I’ve gained three pounds!

Play. Screen time is the name of the game.  It’s not 24/7, and I’m not just plopping my 2-year-old in front of the TV, but I don’t discourage her from it either.  She is starting that phase where she’s a TV zombie too, like won’t acknowledge my existence when certain things are on, so that makes me feel like a pretty great mom.  It’s just that I’m. So. Tired.  My favorite game lately is “Play on Mama’s Bed,” where we go up on my bed, I log my 2-year-old onto my iPad, nurse the baby into a coma, and catch a few minutes of sleep myself.  Best game ever.

Dress. Thank goodness for flowy skirts and dresses, because pants are not my friend right now.  I have a wardrobe of maybe 8 or 9 outfits that I rotate for work, and I kind of just blindly grab one of them about 3 seconds before rushing out the door 10 minutes late.  I don’t even look in the mirror, it’s just discouraging.  On weekends, I have one pair of jeans that I wear that in my mind look like cool, hip, carefree, not-middle-aged-person jeans but, if we’re being honest here, are probably just straight-up mom jeans.

Sleep. I would like to announce with a heavy heart that I have become a reluctant, full-time co-sleeper.  I just couldn’t hold it together when our two-hour baby bedtime routine was falling apart the second I put her down, so now the baby sleeps either on my boob or in my armpit and is able to access her all-night buffet whenever she wishes.  On a serious note, mastering the art of nursing in the side-lying position has seriously saved my life and sleep the last few months!

The thing is, I’m not really complaining.  I am perfectly aware of how blessed I am.  I know a lot of people who talk about their “messy, beautiful life” – in fact, I feel like I have used that exact phrase on many occasions.  I know that there is a lot of beauty in my life, but the mess isn’t it.  All I’m saying is that I look forward to a time when I’m not just barely holding it all together.  Sooo only like 18 or 20 more years, right??

3 thoughts on “Survival Mode

  1. I look back at pictures from my survival mode “era” (crica 2005-2008) and I can now just laugh. Laugh at the messy hair, the mismatched “mom” clothes, the look of utter exhaustion on my face…you’re rocking your beautiful messy life my friend and I promise, you’ll look back and smile too. 🙂


  2. Emily, thank you for writing this! I coach clients in “survival mode” and there are just some things that you have to do in order to survive for a while. I appreciate your transparency! I’d also be so honored if you’d mind participating in a little tip sheet I’m creating. I’m asking great bloggers to write a brief tip for helping working moms stay/get organized. You can email me your tip if you’re interested. Thank you!


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