“Managing” the Home: Moms and the Paradox of Technology

I cannot get out from under my computer.

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE being at my computer. Unfortunately, my kids hate when I am hooked to my Mac. I’ve been thinking a lot about two important areas in my life: 1) being a mom and 2) the paradox of technology.

Let me back up a bit. Over 25 years ago I will never forget asking my aunt, whom I just adore, what she “did” all day. At the time I found her response comical: “I manage the house.” I remember thinking: Manage the house? Are you kidding?! Granted, she did have nine kids – but I simply couldn’t imagine merely “managing the house” as “enough.” Not me – no way – I was a newly minted MBA, loving my work and certain I’d be doing things far more important than managing the house!

Here I am 25 years later. I can safely say that “managing” my house is a lot of work. I do not care whether you are Sheryl Sandberg or soon-to-be Marissa Mayer – the number of moving pieces required to manage a household are, quite frankly, ridiculous. In fact, the time I spend behind the computer raising my now 10 year old versus the time I spent raising my (now) 20 year old ten years ago? Crazy. My kids think I am working each evening while I am at my computer and say, “Mom, stop working! Pay attention!” (I am working on a kind response to this request.) The reality: I am “working” on “managing the house” because SO MUCH IS BEING PUSHED TO MOM’S EMAIL INBOX! I can assure you that this was not a problem for me 10 years ago. At least back then I had a clear 24 hours to get something done. I could check a child’s backpack and manage on MY time. Today, if I do not check one of my THREE technologies (iphone, Mac or iPad) several times daily, I will likely miss: a birthday party invite for a child, a bill, a sports schedule change, a to-do form that is required for one of my seven household members, a volunteer duty request, a friend in need who simply needs to be heard, a back-to-school registration link, a survey that needs to be completed, etc. AND I could GO ON!

The reality is: a working mom MUST have flexibility because a mom’s job has been so severely influenced by this “wonderful” thing called technology. And it is..or at least CAN be..wonderful. The interesting thing is that when I talk to other moms they feel the same way? How can that be? It seems we are all feeling the same way but no one has the perfect answer or solution.

As long as I remember to power down, unplug, reconnect and “manage the house” by managing MY technology usage. That’s the only way I can truly be the mom I want to be.