Wrenches as Tools

By Kara Richardson Whitely, author of Gorge

Last week, I sat down for what I thought was a regular conversation with our au pair, a babysitter we had hired from Poland. Out of the blue, she announced she wanted to leave our family to work for a family with older children.

The job, working with my kids ages 9, 4, and 1, was exhausting, she said.

Now this was a wrench in my plan. I was feeling so on top of my game when it came to my workouts, my food, my body, and my career. 

We had done so much for this person — brought her across the ocean, threw her a welcome party, worked with her requests, took her on an amazing trip from Chicago to Vermont via Niagara Falls. She wasn’t willing to negotiate ways to make it better. We had the door open for her but she was already gone.

At first I was stuck, weighed down by what felt like an emotional betrayal — someone had hurt my family. I had to find another au pair, who would feel confident, brave, and kind, and able to juggle my three wildlings, and I did, but she wasn’t going to arrive for another couple of weeks.

I was going to be without childcare when I really needed to buckle down and finish the revisions to my manuscript.

Make that, I was going to be without childcare with three weeks left of my kids’ summer vacation and I had work to do.  Oh, and my in-laws, who were always my backup plan, were out of town during that time. It was all incredibly overwhelming.

I needed a bunch of life hacks to stay on track. I didn’t want this disruption to break my progress and stride.

I remembered back when I was working on Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds. I had a full-time job. Granted, I only had two kids then. However, since it felt like every hour was filled, I had to make more time. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to do my writing. I actually loved the quiet of morning and the lack of disruptions. This was my magical morning time.

I needed to rely on the kindness of others, including the YMCA to make sure I took time to exercise. Thank goodness they provide childcare so I could do so.

I needed to really think in advance.  Each day, I made a schedule so the kids would know what to expect — time to work out, time to work, and time to play. It also gave me a chance to see where there were windows to get two things done at once.

It was a great opportunity to develop some better housekeeping habits for my kids. For example, in order to limit messes in the house, we ate outside.

Now that my kids are a little older and able-bodied, I re-evaluated our household tasks such as laundry, and found places where they could help out more. They were happy to do so.  

For example, I had my 9-year-old run into the store, with cash in her clutches, to find a missing ingredient for a recipe we were going to make together. It made her happy and proud to accomplish this.

All this being said, this experience has been kind of awesome because this disruption of our everyday life had us rethinking how we go about things and learn that we can get them all done.

This wrench in my plan turned out to be a great tool.

Follow Kara on Connect @gorgegirl15

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