Every month, as I prepare for our How She Does It column, I get a chance to reflect on the passing month, on our blessings, on our struggles, and on the values that help shape my decision making process for the future. Last month was the first time that our family decided to skip travelling. We took our days off and stayed put. We felt reluctant to let go of the safety of our base at this point in time where the pandemic seems to be striking harder every day. We played a lot, we reconnected with one another, we got to play, read, and practice new knowledge, skills and abilities. Dad began to draw, Mom picked up singing and guitar playing, and little J started to use the potty. This weird in-between phase serves, surely, as an opportunity to grow, and at the same time it’s a wake up call to reflect, and to practice Gratitude for all that we have. Good health. A family. A home. A support network. Old friends willing to come forth to share their unique stories.
Mariangela Chatzipanagou and I go back a long way. We used to work together: she was a Business Analyst when I was starting off as a junior Project Manager, and I always liked how smooth and kind she showed up at work, even when schedules got hectic and demands where unreasonable. Although we work in different companies now, we still seek ways to support each other. We exchange ideas and positive vibes. Mariangela was one of the first people I reached out with my idea for this space, and her raw enthusiasm was one of the reasons I decided to take this leap of faith and bring these Parenting stories forward.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Mariangela, and I am 42 years old. I work as a Systems Requirements Analyst on a multinational IT company . I have a bachelor in Economics and a MBA. I am married for 10 years and I have a 8 year old boy. My family lives in Athens , Greece. My passion is travelling, which opens my mind by bringing me close to other cultures.
Stemming from your personal experience, what is the toughest part of being a Mom, and how do you manage it?
The toughest part of being mom? Deal with TIME! It’s never enough! Not enough time for the child, not for the housework, not for your job, not for your husband and certainly not enough time for you as person! How many times have I heard that mothers get locked in the bathroom, just to enjoy a few minutes of…freedom! I wish the day had 36 hours but even then, time wouldn’t be enough !
I try to manage my time (not always with success!) by making a “my tasks calendar” every week. I cook different meals on the weekend in order to avoid cooking on 11pm and I have hired a very kind woman to do most of the housework for me.
My working week is tough! I get up on 6am every day in order to get ready for the office, to make breakfast for the three of us and to wake up the little one on time, in time for the school bus ! Thank God , my boy does his homework straight after school so we don’t have to read math on 8pm! In the afternoon, if I am not stuck in traffic I spend some time with my son, listening to his school stories or playing with his Lego heroes. He is a young football player so I am learning about football as well!
I struggle to find 2 hours per week to hit the Gym (I haven’t succeed in this task yet) and I try to spend at least 1 hour every evening with my husband talking or watching our favorite Netflix shows. I hardly find some time for me during the working days, except for 6 in the morning while the others are still sleeping.
Weekends, I try to get an extra hour of sleep, (if my little boy does not wake up on 6 am – he still does that!) and I try to secure one or two hours to watch a webinar for my work or to see my friends. However, most of the weekend time is devoted to my family.
Who is (are) your go-to person(s) when you need support as a Mother? What type of support are you mostly in need of?
My big supporter is my mother, Antiopi, who stays with my kid after school. She is my hero because she prepares my kid’s meal, she helps him with his homework and stays with him when he is ill. She does that with joy and my kid is very happy with her!
What’s the No1 Skill (or Ability, or Knowledge) you have found handy in your role as a Mom?
My number 1 skill as a mom is my calmness even in crisis situations. I do not panic when something bad happens, but I focus on finding the best way out. This skill helped me very much on the first two years of being a mom.
Back then, my husband was working in Thessaloniki as an HR director on a multinational company and I was in Athens alone with the baby and my full 10-12 hours working day as a project manager in a bank . My father was seriously ill, and my mother couldn’t help me as much as she wanted. Most of the time I was raising the baby completely on my own and unfortunately, my managers did not care about it (no maternal working time for me!) I was struggling to return from the work on time in order to take the baby from the kindergarten before it closes . Back then I was doing everything on my own (cooking, feeding , ironing, house cleaning, etc) and after the baby was sleeping I continued to work from home until late at night .
The hardest period was when my baby got seriously ill, I was seriously ill as well, and we both spent a week in the hospital. At that point in time, I was feeling that I had reached my limits as a human. Fortunately, these days belong in the past, but if I was not calm I wouldn’t dealt with it. However, I did spend some nights crying, trying to find the strength to go on…
What advice do you have for a new Mom?
My advice for new mothers is to realize that this is the role of their life. Raising a child is not just feeding, reading fairy tales and attending baby parties. It is about raising a reliable and fledged personality. They must focus on the kid’s character, bearing which one will grow into a mature adult.