A.N. asks from Mission Viejo, CA on April 24, 2009
Returning to Work and Family Balance
I’ve been a stay at home mom and planning to continue that for my 14-month-old baby for the rest of the year. An opportunity came up and I found a job without even looking for it. Well, it’s thru my old employer and they don’t have openings very often. I’ve debated for a while if I should go back to work (and help my family financially – much needed) or stay home with my baby… I came to the conclusion that if I wait that long, not only that the opportunity won’t be there, but it would be harder to land a job given that I missed so much in a fast pace changing industry. So my husband and Ii decided that long term is better that I go back to work. Meanwhile I will have to find a good daycare for my son. Given that I’ll be at work about 9-10 hours, my son sleeps about 10 hours at night, there’s only 4 hours left in a day to spend together.
The questions I have for all the super-moms out there:
- how do you juggle everything: work, baby, errands, cooking, husband
- how do you deal with the guilt of spending so little time with the baby?
Please, I would love to hear any advice, tips, ideas of how other working moms handle everything and what they feel.
D.M. answers from Los Angeles on April 24, 2009
I am a full-time working single Mom, and you know the extra income is helpful and it's not selfish. If you and your hubby have a game plan, than it's okay.
What I do is every other weekend, when I have my son for both days, I plan Adventures. I look up on-line and plan day trip or weekends away that are just for me and him. We've driven up the coast to Santa Barbara just to hang out at the beach, local zoo or park. I make sure it's just me and him, since he sees his Dad M-F for four hours (more awake time than I get during the week).
As for the weekdays, I plan my meals for five days while on my lunch break at work I look up recipes and then do my grocery shopping with my son on the weekend. He loves helping me with the list and cart...it's a total adventure for us and he loves helping. It's also a great way to learn colors and numbers! I make at least one day a crockpot day or I make extra and freeze for the next week. The night before I make sure I have everything prepped and ready so all I have to do is cook when I get home or reheat. Meals are always simple, something like rice/pasta, veggie and protein.
Since, I have every other Saturday without my son I do my errands then, but you could pick a Saturday or Sunday and let the boys have 'boy time'. This will give you a little time to run errands and them, time to bond and have fun doing boy stuff.
It's tough to transition, and yes the guilt is awful...some days are worse than others. But, I know that this is the best thing I can do for my son's future. He gets to spend time with his Dad and my Mom and goes to preschool two days a week. Just remember this is not selfish, or silly, it's what you have to do for the good of your family.
Sit down with your husband and work out a game plan for errands, cooking and cleaning. Make sure you share in the duties for the house and work as a team. It will be okay!!
1 mom found this helpful
J.L. answers from San Diego on April 24, 2009
Hi Amanda, This will be an adjustment for the whole family, but sounds like you have a suportive husband. I have always been a SAHM it was a decision that my husband and I made before I was ever pregant with my first baby,but I have ran my own Home Daycare for almost 12 years now, and even though I work at home it has it's chalenges, taking care of my husband and my kids (now grown) has always been my first priority. The complaints I have heard from men who's wives work is a messy house and no dinner on the table/stove when they get home, if you are going to go back to work, make sure you have a couple of slow cookers, and a rice cooker, prepare your food the night before or early in the morning, and buy the packaged salad, so whe you come home tired and have not had time for your husband and your baby, yu can spend that time with them that you normally be cooking dinner, that frees up about an hour or so, and even though tyour son is 14 months old have famuly dinners, put your son in the high chair and have sit at the table with you and your husband. Daycare will be an adjustment cause he's never been in one before, and I'm going to tell you from experience your baby will bond with who ever spends the most time wih him, I'm not saying your baby will no longer bond with you he will, I will be honest it will be different. I would wave all the pros and cons before doing this. We had always live withing the bread winners means, but in 1996 my husband retired from the Navy, and retiremnet pay did compare to his Military paychecks, so i had to think long and hard how I could help, like I said early in this response we had already decided that i would be at home with our kids so i sat my family down and asked them how they would feel if i opened up a daycare in pur home, we had the room, we had the suplies, we went through the pros and cons, and the biggest pro for us all was that i would still be here for mjy family, it's good money and you make your own hours. Saturday's were always for family, Sundays we all went to church together, and spent the rest of the day in family time. You can make this work, and if you decide that it's not for you, and you miss your son, you can always quit, somethings, sometimes are more important than money. When you get ready to to daycare searching in your area let me know and I can give you some specific questions to ask. I think you can do this. J. L.
L.P. answers from Santa Barbara on April 24, 2009
I really feel for you! You have clearly thought the decision through and your husband sounds very supportive- such a blessing.
There is a really great free on-line domestic coach called "flylady." She helps you set up daily routines that keep your home in order. At first it sounded like it would be constrictive for me and I was skeptical. After trying it, I found that I had MUCH more time on my hands and that our home was clean and organized. Her systems work regardless if you need a little help or a lot, or if you are a SAHM or work outside the home. And, most importantly, she works AGAINST perfectionism, which is totally freeing. Having the extra time was essential to get the most quality time with our daughter. Not spending hours and hours "catching up" on the weekends is wonderful. If you want to check it out, her website is www.flylady.org.
Wishing you the best,
J.S. answers from Los Angeles on April 24, 2009
Think about the positive things! 14 months is the perfect age to start daycare. My daughter was home with family for her first 12-14 months or so and that was a nice feeling but she has blossomed so much since she has started daycare. Having the opportunity to be able to go to daycare and interact with other children has been wonderful for her. She has learned so much and has learned how to interact with other people and that is a great thing!! As far as juggling everything - Moms everywhere do it every day. Is it easy? No. Is is possible? Yes! You just have to learn how to prioritize your time. You won't be able to do everything you used to do so be prepared to let some things go. Something that has helped me is that I set a specific night to accomplish certain chores and errands. For example, I complete all of my shopping for the week on Sunday (this also forces me to plan a menu and will save one time when you're trying to decide what to cook for dinner that night. It can also help you save on your grocery bill). I review all of the bills and finances on Tuesdays. I set a specific night for family night and another for date night. I also schedule two nights to tackle the cleaning (or you may want to schedule this on the weekends). This helps you to create a focus of the time you do have and an outlet to let go of things because you know you have a set time to devote to it later.
As far as the guilt of not seeing your son as much...don't worry!! Everyone has it! I work 10 hours a day and have about 2 hours of commuting each day. Talk about guilt leaving my daughter at daycare for 12 hours a day! Thankfully we're are able to send her only 3 days a week. You are much more appreciative of the time that you do have with them!! I'm sure you're son will miss you but I'm also sure that he will survive daycare and not seeing you as often as well. Best of luck to you!! You sound like a really great devoted mom!
A.S. answers from Los Angeles on April 24, 2009
Hi A. - I have just one comment - it doesn't sound like your working is "selfish" at all. You mentioned that the job would help your family financially - much needed. So stop beating yourself up over it. Spend as much time with your little one as you can on the evenings and weekends. It's the quality, not the quantity that counts. Good luck!