Workin for a livin

**Disclaimer–this post only speaks about MY experiences as a working mom, a stay at home mom, and a part time work from home mom.  I am in no way making gross generalizations about any of the above groups.  I’m just  talking about how it is for ME**

I went back to work when S was about 4 months old.  It was hard but we got uber organized and settled into a routine.  I actually had to do lists for both the hubby and I posted on the kitchen cabinets listing out each and every step that had to be done in each night and each morning.  Might sound anal but it helped SOOO much.  There were parts about working that I loved: being around other adults, feeling competent, feeling productive, going to the bathroom by myself, and generally doing something I loved.  Of course there were the sucky parts: feeling like I wasn’t working enough because I never stayed late anymore, missing out on time with S, cramming all of our errands and to-do’s into the weekend and not being able to do fun family stuff.

After A was born I decided to stay home.  Paying for 2 in daycare would eat up most of my salary, plus I had always wanted to be a stay at home mom.  This was hard at first.  I had a newborn and was trying to figure out new routines for all of us while also adjusting to one income.  Just like any job, there are parts I love and parts that suck.  I’ve noticed that stay at home moms job description is filled with minutia, it’s mundane…making dinner, washing dishes, doing laundry, etc.  It’s hard to feel like a productive member of society when you’re big accomplishment of the day was peeling potatoes or matching socks (I swear I can NOT stand matching socks up).  But I really love it.  I don’t mind the days school is cancelled for S.  I love the art projects, the silly games, the amazing imagination she has.  I love watching them be sisters.  I love it in spite of the fact that I find it much harder than when I was working (**before one gets all irate and comments about who’s life is the hardest, please see disclaimer above).  Just imagine for a minute that your boss has the emotional maturity of a three year old and the constant immediate demands of a 10 month old.   Yeah, no matter how unreasonable a work demand may be, it does not beat someone saying ” I want apple slices with no skin” and after you peel and slice said apple, crying and screaming on the floor “I changed my mind, put it back, I want it whole” for 20 minutes. 

We planned and budgeted for me to stay home.  We had savings set aside for this and were planning on drawing from those savings for 2 years.  By then we figured A would be in preschool part time and S potentially in kindergarten or pre-k and I’d go back part time.   But then life happened, as it always does.  My grandmother died which necessitated an unplanned trip to Florida, our HVAC broke, car needed repairs….you all know how it is.  Husband did not get the raise he had hoped for, or the promotion he had been all but guaranteed.  Now his agency is facing lay offs and furloughs as Congress slashed their budget. 

Things are tight but I’m very fortunate to have worked in a field that allows me to be able to do private consulting work with families.  So now I am a work from home mom.  And for me, it is by far the hardest gig I’ve had yet.  I’ve got the girls on a schedule were they both nap at the same time in the afternoon (I am very big on sleep schedules and protecting the nap at all costs).  The second their little heads hit the pillow (metaphorically in the baby’s case), I have to decide.  Do I prep dinner or start to work?  Do a put on a load of laundry or answer those emails?  Do I unload the dishwasher or finish that report?  And it sucks.  I try to cram as much work as possible into those naps because I am useless at trying to get anything done once they go to bed at night.  I don’t even want to think about how I’m going to get everything done when S drops her naps.  Then I spend the weekends seeing clients.  So zero family time. Husband has been taking the girls to all these fun fall festivals and I’m so jealous.  I do all the crap work during the week of making her eat her veggies and fighting with her about brushing her teeth while he gets to play hero and take her to the pumpkin playground.  I want to stomp my feet and whine “It’s not fair”.  I know I’m very lucky that I can do this and bring in some money to help stop the hemorrhaging but it sucks.  I feel like I’m doing nothing well and the days I set S up with a movie in the morning so I can work I feel like the worst mom ever.  I could get a babysitter for a chunk of time but then that just eats away at my earnings. 

I think I need to find a balance but I hate that word.  When I was working I always said there is no such thing as a work-life balance and just vowed to be 100% in whatever moment I was in.  That’s easy when your work and your home are different.  But right now its just not possible and I think that’s one of the reasons I’m having such a hard time with this. 

Has anyone mastered this?  Or at least are you doing it better than me (meaning you cry less often than 2-3 times per week and regularly shower)?  What has worked for you logistically in terms of time management and emotionally in terms of being actually there for your family?

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September 28, 2011. Uncategorized.

5 Comments

  1. Bean replied:

    UGH – I’m so sorry you’re having trouble with this. I can’t offer any advice (my first thought was “babysitter”, but then I kept reading). All I can say is good luck and I hope some other readers can offer you some good advice. When one of the kids is sick, I no longer pretend that I might be able to get a few hours of work in, so I can only imagine what you’re going through.

  2. HereWeGoAJen replied:

    Ah, that sucks.

    I feel like the “bad parent” all the time too. It’s a little more balanced here because I don’t work on the weekends like you do, but I know that feeling of being the one who has to do all the disciplining and all the making her do things and then having Matt be the one who says “let’s go to Chuck E. Cheese!”

    My only thought is to try and do as much of the housework with the girls so that you can use their nap time for work work. Elizabeth likes to help me with the laundry, she thinks it is fun to put all the things in the dryer. Is there another mom around that could take your girls for a while so you could work and then you could trade?

  3. BigP's Heather replied:

    I wish I had advice. I don’t have a paid job but I do a lot for my church. It is hard to get anything accomplished with K, so I can’t imagine with two. I try to cram everything into the afternoon nap. It never works.

    Thinking of you.

  4. Emily replied:

    I also work from home part time… very part time these days with a newborn. I think there are seasons where you are only able to give so much to work because your family requires so much nurturing. For me, I used to get up early to work. When that became nearly impossible I would use naptime. And now that I have a kindergartener who comes home at the start of naptime, I need to spend that time with her, so work happens at night. Yes, this morning my 3 year old had to entertain himself for longer than normal so I could squeeze in some work, but that’s what needed to happen today. Oh, and I can relate to the fights about veggies and teeth-brushing. For the teeth, I’ve found this Mom’s Guide to have some good tips. For the veggies, just keep at it… or sneak them in! Hang in there!

  5. Mel replied:

    I’m not doing it better, but I’m writing to commiserate. The work at home mum is sort of the best and worst of both worlds. You’re just pulled in so many directions.

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