How Do You Balance Life

Updated on June 14, 2010
J.C. asks from Plainfield, IL
10 answers

I used to be one of those "supermoms" and was a "supernurse" at my job. I finished my masters degree and was on this path to a career. At the height of my career and journey, I had my daughter and it changed everything. She was sick often, we figured out the problem, and now she's grown out of it. I've been lost and stuck in where to head in my career ever since. Working night shift as a nurse is hard and I hate it, but I feel like that is what is best for the kids now that my son is 6 weeks old as well. If they are sick, I never have a backup to daycare so I would have to call in on a day job. I now have a few opportunities and am interviewing for a few day positions, but I'm nervous about working Monday thru Friday, having the kids in full time daycare. One is a teaching position which will require a lot of work that may cut into my time at home. My husband remembers how stressful it was for me the last time I taught--being up all night preparing for nursing lectures, etc. I just feel like while taking into consideration that working nights and on weekends is what is best for them so I can be available during the week, I know i will be miserable going back to night shift and at the bedside where I am burnt out. How do i find my path and balance in all this??

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answers from Chicago on

You need to ask yourself what makes you feel fulfilled. Only you can answer that question. What do you WANT to do? You have an open door to make it happen, so it's like one of those 'design your own adventure" books.
The good news, is that no decision you make in this way is irreversible. If you find that a choice isn't working out for you, go in another direction.

Don't let anyone guilt you or persuade you in one direction or another. It's time to take care of YOU. Once you decide what you want to do, balance will come. You will figure it out, I swear. I'm a full time working mother of (soon to be) 2 kids. I could NEVER stay home with them. I'd be homicidal. So DH and I do what we need to do so that I can work and feel fulfilled.

Once you choose your direction, the rest will fall into place. Rest assured.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Unfortunately, I don't think you CAN balance it all. That's why you have to decide what your priorities are...what's most important to you. If it's your career, then you have to do what you want to do and deal with sick days as they come up. There's no way to know how often or when your children are going to be sick. Can your husband call in sometimes? Do you have family who could come in and help when a child is sick?

I know a lot of moms who are nurses but in each case they balance it by not making a career their priority. The one has a work at home husband so it's easier for her to work Monday through Friday but she still takes off on occasion for the kids. Another one works 12 hour shifts three times a week. She MIGHT work one extra day but usually it's only to get extra hours after a vacation. The other one works nights so she can be with her children during the day.

Unfortunately, you can't be super mom AND super nurse. SOMETHING is going to have to get "less" of you whether it's your career or your children/family. For me, the decision would be easy...I became a stay at home mom when my oldest was born 9 1/2 years ago and I wouldn't have it any other way...except to work from home. Just reading your message, it sounds to me like you actually know what YOU want too. Maybe you don't actually feel this way, but reading your post I almost feel like you will be miserable doing anything but making your career your priority. If not, there are ways to work nightshift without being miserable and burnt out. I've seen other mom/nurses do it and the one has 4 children, the one only being 2 months old.

Please know, I am not judging you. I don't think anybody should set their lives up so they can be home with their children just because that's what they think they are supposed to do or because anything else is a hassle. I think resentment then gets passed onto the kids even when the parents don't mean for it to and that to me is worse than the parent not being there.

I have to say, I find the post saying "it's time to take care of YOU" interesting. You are a mom now. You mention your one child was sick and now you have a newborn. In my opinion, your children DO weigh in this decision heavily because it is time for your husband and you to take care of THEM and do what is best for THEM. Parents have to sacrifice all the time when they have children whether it's time, money, or whatever. Your kids aren't going to be little forever and they WILL get to a point where they don't need you as much but at the age of YOUR children? No, it is not time to JUST focus on have to think about ALL of you and how your decisions affect the whole family. Of course don't ignore your own dreams and if making your career makes you happier and therefore a better mom when you are around them, then that is what you need to do because in the end it is still best for ALL of you, INCLUDING your children.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Are you working a true EVENING shift or a GRAVEYARD shift? I don't think you are helping yourself or your children if you need to sleep 1/2 the day and I don't think you would help yourself or your children if you don't sleep more then 2-4 hours per day when you can get them to nap or hubby or someone lets you sleep for a bit.

If you work an EVENING shift you likely need someone to care for the children at least part of the day when your husband would have not come home yet. So I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say you are working the overnight shift and that's why you hate it. If you do the 3 day, 12 hour shift thing then I know many moms just do without sleep and exhist on 2 hour naps. Again, it's horrible.

I care for children from time to time with moms that work these shifts. It NEVER lasts very long. They change jobs often because of how hard it is.

Missing a little time here or there for a child's illness is just part of the mom territory. I honestly believe from what I've seen in 24 years of providing care and seeing how these shifts wear down moms and families, not to mention no time for the marriage, full-time daycare is better than mom trying to be super mom and keeping them out of daycare at the expense of so many things that will fall through the cracks.

If you make enough money to pay around 375-450 per week, you could likely find a middle aged mom, newly empty nested and previous stay at home mom type to nanny for you. In that case, you wouldn't have to worry about missing work to sickness. But I honestly believe the kids are better off with mom when they don't feel good.

I did want to clarify that one of my moms keeps very strange hours, is in nursing school and often does overnights. But she pays for full-time daycare during the day so she can sleep or study or work, whatever is needed. She makes time for herself, as little as it is, and keeps her sanity. The point I'm making is that no matter what shift you are on, you need help if you want to have your sanity, keep your marriage alive, and not short change your children by being tired and stressed out all the time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

this is such a hard place to be. i had to work when both of my babies were tiny and putting 'em in daycare for long hours was so hard on us. listen to your body. when you consider one option, does your stomach knot up more? it's good to be logical and practical, but sometime being physical gives us the best clues as to what is going to work for us. sit down and let yourself get mentally immersed in each scenario for about 10 minutes, imagine your day from the time you get up until bedtime, then write down your impressions about it. putting aside sensibility, which one of them FEELS better than the rest?
and really try to arrange things so that you can work part-time if it's at all possible. i know it's not always an option, but if you can it will sure help.
good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Hi J., I am in a similar position (albeit I only have a toddler, but I am older -- 43, so with a bit less energy than I would like these days :)). Before getting pregnant, I used to teach one or two courses at a local college per semester and work as a "consultant". Basically full time.

My balance choice: I am going to go back to work slowly and part time in the Fall -- one course per semester and maybe some consulting from home. I do not want more than 12-15 hours per week of work, as I want time for my family and for myself as well.

My son will be in a part time small day care in the morning at first. If that does not work out, I will hire a part time babysitter 3 hours a day.

HTH. Jilly



answers from Chicago on

Momma, I know you can't see it now, but your babies will grow up "in the wink of an eye". And this dilemna will be a thing of the past. Sometimes, a job is just a job. You have to find joy in all the little things everyday. I mean, your a nurse - all the people you help and get to meet. Don't cut into family time - if you thing you are burnt out now. What about home health care? When my mom was recovering from surgery she had a home health care nurse who we got to know very well. She had children and found this was the best way to balance being a working mom. The thing about working full time and having kids in day care full time - day care is expensive and you might find you are working to pay day care.



answers from Chicago on

When I was growing up my mom worked the midnight shift, she was an OB nurse, and I never realized how tough it was on her. Now as a mom myself, I am grateful for all the sacrafices she made to be able to be at home with us during the day. She worked 3 - 12 hour days. The nights she worked she would come home and rest on the couch while we played toys or watched a little TV. She would nap when we napped then she would get up to play with us and make dinner. After dinner she went back to bed and slept until it was time to get ready for work. She was always home with us, we never had to go to daycare, we were all very healthy children, and had a great family life. You can be a great mom and a great nurse and be home with your children, if that is what you choose to do...I know one personally! :)
I can't help you make your decision but I thought I would share.



answers from New York on

Your mind seems made up regarding how you will respond to night shift work but you didn't really explain why you hate it. Perhaps if you made the choice to rethink the night shift and focus on what you like about it or perhaps it wasn't really the shift but the workload or the people or the lack of sleep or other things then your could figure out how to make it work for you or think of a different situation that will work for you.

If you don't like teaching and the amount of preparation time it takes to teach, why are you determining to teach? It seems to me like it would be more beneficial to write down all of the things you like about work and the things you like about your specific career and then try to find a work situation that fits into your lifestyle. It may not be the limited box you have painted yourself into.



answers from Minneapolis on

I's a choice you have to make. I am a working mom of 1 with one on the way. While I would love to be home with my son...I know there is no way I could provide him with the structure, socialization and skills he has been exposed to. He loves his daycare and the fact that he gets to be around his friends all day. And it's more of a school for him than just a daycare so he is learning at the same time. I take days off every now and then to spend with him and make sure that my evenings and weekends are spent with him. I guess my best suggestion is that if you are concerned about having them in daycare, make sure you do your homework and don't skimp. You can't put a price on your childs care and education. And your kids will be happier and healthier if you are happier and healthy! They will feed off you and if you are not happy, they will pick up on it.



answers from Chicago on

I work nights currently in an ER, have 3 kids and only do 2 12's on weekends and feel like I don't do Mom well on the 2 days after and feel like I play catchup the rest of the weeK. I however never have missed a field trip, being room Mom for class parties or picking them up from school if they were sick, I have never said no to going for a playdate or a birthday invite. We are close but we also forgo tradtional family meals together for snacking on cut up veggies, cut up chicken and fruit so I am not taking time away from a family bikeride or playing to prep,cook and clean it is done 1 time a week. I can't say what the other half does who work days but I plan to find out when my 2 year old hits jr high

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