Mom life is crazy. The life of an actor is equally, if not more, crazy. Mix the two and you have a recipe for true momsanity. And trust me: I speak from experience! So does Liz Samuel, a mom of two who recently wrote, produced and starred in the very funny and very relatable short film and soon-to-be web series Momtress. There she is below in that brand-new film, which is making the rounds on the festival circuit right now. Recognize that OMG-there-are-a-million-things-to-do look on her face? I do!
So I asked her to share a few tips about how to manage everyday life as a working mom with a weird schedule—and keep a sense of humor about it all in the process. –Dawn
OK, moms: Raise your hand if you start your day with a huge cup of coffee, a long list of stuff to do and the giant hope that everything will work out without tears—for your kids and you.
I’m not the only one, right? Phew! In all seriousness, it’s not easy to juggle a million and one things and not only hope it will work out but also hope that you’ll still hold the title of Great Mom or even just Pretty Good Mom.
I’m a busy mom to two tweens, and although they’re somewhat independent (read: they dress themselves), they still need me to have all my stuff together so that they can have their stuff together. I’m also an actress—a “momtress”—so I often have to rearrange schedules on a daily and hourly basis. But there are a few things that keep me sane when it feels like things are out control—and hopefully they can help you, too.
Have an on-call sitter in your contact list. Make sure the sitter has a flexible schedule, a key to your house and doesn’t judge you for being disorganized when you call just hours in advance. Also, if you’re in the suburbs, make sure that sitter drives. This saves me when I get a last-minute audition and it’s my turn in the carpool rotation or when my kids have after-school activities to get to. It also helps to have a sitter who doesn’t ask too many questions when you return, like how your audition went, because you just don’t want to keep thinking about it and wondering if you did OK and I mean, jeez, it’s hard enough!
Always have snacks in the car. Do you ever notice that kids always seem to be starving when you pick them up? This will save you the stress of listening to them whine in the car all the way home. It might push dinner off a bit, but I’d rather have happy kids than perfectly scheduled kids. I just don’t recommend whole fruit in the car. Inevitably you will find a piece of rotting apple in the cracks of the backseat and realize that that was the mystery smell all along.
Make sure your kids finish their homework as soon as it’s in front of them. If your kid says it’s not due for a few days and you think you’ll have time tomorrow to sit down calmly and help them, chances are something else will come up. So make sure the assignment gets done now. Then, if you have free time the next day, you can use it for something fun…or for them to help you with your homework. For me, it’s learning lines. Just make sure that the language and material are appropriate. I’ve made some mistakes before with that one….
Get your workout done in the morning. That way, it’ll actually get done. But sometimes, if one of my kids stays home from school and I can’t make it to the gym, I do the workout with them next to me. I put on a video or I do the 99 workout. (Look it up—it’s great!) If you really, really can’t get this done because the kids are physically ON YOUR BODY, then make them part of the workout routine and use them as weights! Get them on your back and do push-ups, or have them hold your feet while you do sit-ups. You’ll be laughing with them and getting exercise.
When you don’t have time to get ready, all you need is CC cream and mascara. I keep them in my bag and use the car mirror to throw some on right before hitting the road. Of course you can do this at home before you leave, but who has time to do that when the kids are asking for a million things? It helps when they’re strapped in the car, waiting for you to drive them somewhere. Don’t worry: The kids will ultimately be happy because “you don’t look mad when you have makeup on.” Or maybe that’s just my kids.
Get creative with bedtime stories. Sometimes I use the lines I need to learn and turn them into a story. And if you’re not a momtress, even a laundry list of things that need to get done can become a story. It will either bore them to sleep or you’ll surprise yourself with how creative you can get!
Don’t stress about cleaning the house. If you’re really busy with work and can’t get the cleaning done, let it go for a day or two. It’s OK—it will be there waiting for you when you are ready. If your kids are old enough, ask them to help you. I taught my 9-year-old how to do laundry. He knows that his dad isn’t “allowed” to do it because he’s messed it up too many times, so he makes it his mission to be the best boy in the house at laundry. I even pay him $1 per full cycle of wash, dry and fold.
Commit…but don’t attach! This applies to so many things in life, but in particular, I think it applies to moms who have crazy schedules. We try to schedule everything perfectly, but things fall through. A kid could get sick, or someone might cancel, so have a backup—always—and don’t beat yourself up about it.
Liz Samuel is an actress, writer, producer and….mom! She produced for networks such as MTV, VH1, Bravo, PBS, WNBC and many more before turning to acting about 12 years ago. Liz has appeared in commercials, TV, film, web series and regional theater. Her short film and pilot, MOMTRESS, was accepted to numerous festivals this year including Soho, Montclair (July 26–27), Hoboken and Long Island (July 18).
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