Seeking Advice from Full-time Working Moms -- How Do You Do It?

Updated on September 27, 2010
L.S. asks from Chula Vista, CA
34 answers

Hi moms,
A little bit of background ... I've worked 20 hours a week since our daughter was born 5 years ago. We've had the luxury of having the grandparents watch our daughter when we weren't working or when she wasn't in preschool. Flash forward, our daughter just entered kindergarten and our financial situation has gotten much tighter and I've just been offered a full-time position, 8-5, that will alleviate the financial stress that we've been under.

I'm going to accept the position, but I'm very, very emotional, sad and worried. Our daughter will be in a school site after-school program from 11:30 (when she's dismissed from kinder) to around 5:45 p.m., when I'm able to pick her up. The program seems to be high-quality and well-managed. Right now, w/ the part-time job, I'm picking her up at 2:00 from the after-school care. With the evening pickup, that's a very long day for a 5-year-old to be at school, but it is what it is.

I just need some support here. What tips do you have for me? I'm looking for emotional support tips for our daughter, for me, but also practical running the household type of tips. Our daughter now goes to bed at 7:30 p.m. and wakes at 6:30 a.m. We'll adjust that to an 8 p.m. bedtime going forward. But how do I fit in dinner, prep for dinner, homework, bathtime, cuddling/bonding, etc. etc. along w/ grocery shopping, cleaning the house, making meals, etc. I've already discussed sharing more of the household chores w/ my husband, but he gets home most weeknights between 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and he also works every other Saturday and he has his care of the yards, maintenance, etc. to handle, as well.

Friends tell me that it will all work out, and I'm sure that it will, but I need some help here. We have not told our daughter about any of this as of yet.

Thank you so much, moms; I greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts.

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?

You moms are so very fabulous!! I truly appreciate the ideas, suport and run-down of how you all do it -- THANK YOU!! I've gotten some great ideas; I'll definitely do meal planning. I'm a neatnik by nature, but that may have to change for my sanity :) Grandma has offered to pick up our daughter one day a week from school (actually she offered 3 days but that will actually increase my drive time home as she does live out of the way from our home) so we thought Friday would be perfect for that. (Also, the after-school childcare doesn't pro-rate; it's one flat fee so whether you use it 2 days a week or 5, you still pay the same.) And my husband says that he'll start scheduling in one day a week where he leaves work earlier to pick up our daughter. He's also willing to do more around the house and I think an actual schedule will do the trick very nicely.

I love the take a shorter lunch or going in earlier suggestion -- and believe me that is part of my plan but I want to get through the probationary period of 6 months and even see if that is do-able in the work culture that I'm entering into before I even broach the subject.

Thanks so much moms, you've all really made my day w/ your support! What a great resource all of you are!!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Since you both are working why dont you hire someone to come into the house to help you with what ever you need i hope it works for you good luck A. no hills

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You can do it! The important thing is have quality time when you are with her. My little one is in KinderG too and I leave her at 8 and pick her at 6. She is truly happy and enjoy the afterschool program. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Los Angeles on

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE the advice you’ve received so far. Honestly, take it! I’ve schedule myself exactly as the Moms have suggested and although life IS stressful and hectic, my kids are happy & loving - at the end of the day that’s all that matters. My hubs has a schedule like your BUT he does help a lot when he is home. We try to make everything as fun as possible when it comes to chores, dinner, baths, brushing teeth, whatever!

Start now making a to do list and schedule your day. Everyday you will realize what works for you and you’ll revise that schedule all the time until you find a groove.

Enlist the help of friends/neighbors. That is what we do. Help each other out. If I’m going to the grocery store I ask my neighbors if they need anything. We pick up stuff for one another all the time. Obviously we don’t do full grocery shopping but if they need milk, eggs, bread, etc. we get it.

I agree. Quality outweighs quantity!

Yesterday after working all day I was so super tired and my DH was working late. As my kids are brushing their teeth at about 8pm last night, my daughter asks me all upset “Why is it that my brother has to make a mess at my sink? Why can’t he use his own sink?” (they share a bathroom that has 2 sinks). My son just looks at me all innocent like and instead of making a big deal of it (as I was cranky!) I broke out in song and started my version of Opera making up a song that went like this “I don’t knnnooooow, I don’t knooooowwwwww! You’re brother is crrrraaaazzzzzzzzzzzyyyyyyyyyyy!” with my arms up in the air! My kids started cracking up so hard, they tackled me onto the carpet and we began rolling around tickling each other! The best part was when they looked at me and both said “I love you Mommy!”

When we stopped we all hugged and kissed then I tucked them each into bed. We all fell asleep so happy!

It’s those bonding moments that make life great!!!

YOU CAN DO IT! It will be o.k. and your daughter will be just fine. You sound like you adore her to pieces and that will help her grow to be super happy!

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I've been working full time since I got divorced when my son was 4. Now he is almost 11 and I am remarried, which makes things much easier, but here is what I've got:

1) Don't panic! It will be an adjustment for everyone, but it will work out all right. You are NOT a bad mom for not being home- you are doing what you need to do to keep your family solvent and together and that is important.

2)Keep in communication with your daughter's teacher and afterschool program. Good communication is the key thing to keeping your child happy and on track. Get your husband involved in this process as much as you possibly can as well.

3)Talk to the other mamas in your neighborhood! When I got divorced, I found out who my REAL friends were and how generous and supportive a school community and neighborhood can really be! Seriously, many other moms will be completely willing to help with car pooling and playdates, even if you can't reciprocate, just because they are home and want to help.

A good friend of mine who is a SAHM who works 2 days out of the week and has 4 kids always said she never minded having my son over, because after you juggle 4 kids and their different schedules, etc. one more is no sweat :) Even though we could not have her kids over as often, I would drop off a Starbucks card or a note or some cookies I made, just to let her know how much I appreciated her help.

It totally cemented our friendship and it's just one more mama on the block who is looking out for my son when he walks home from school.

4)The house is more work :/ I ALWAYS feel like I am behind on housework, lol! But- then I talk to my SAHM friends and they feel the SAME WAY. So- I think it is a mom thing, as much as a work thing.

Just get as organized as you can and make housework a FAMILY THING. Seriously, my son is great with chores and we started out early! Make a schedule you think you can manage of what night or weekend day you will do laundry, clean the bathroom once a week, vacuum, mow the lawn, clean the cat litter, etc.

Put the chores on a list and assign each family member a chore and the day that chore will get done. If you miss one here or there, DO NOT WORRY ABOUT IT. Seriously- keeping your house clean enough to be sanitary is important, but some weeks you miss a few things and that's just how it is. But if you all work together and try and keep a schedule, it will help a lot!

5)For meals- menu planning is essential- especially if you are also packing work and school lunches and snacks. Someone gave me a GREAT grocery pad list with all the items categorized on it and you hang it on the fridge and check things off as you run out of them.

But I also keep a recipe file so I don't get caught in a 'rut'. I get 2 cooking magazines ( I like to cook, but I know not everyone does!) and I can really recommend Cooking Light for good, quick recipe ideas that will keep you from just making the same few things over and over and over. The internet is also a great site for recipe ideas.

I have a Recipe Binder with plastic sleeves and categories (Main, Veggies, etc.) . When I get a new magazine, I read it and corner the pages with a recipe I think I would like to try, or that I think my husband and son would like. Usually on the weekend, I show them the recipes and if they say "Ick!' that one is off the list!

But usually I end up with two or three new things to put in my file and try next week or later. We also have our 'old standards' that no one seems to mind eating at least once a week, like spaghetti and marinara sauce.

I look at the upcoming days of the week and assign a recipe to each day. Usually I leave one day for pizza or ordering Chinese food. If that can fit in your budget, I STRONGLY recommend it. If you have a day that you know you will be working late, have a really hectic deadline etc- or if you just have a crappy day and cannot make yourself do one more thing when you get home- having that 'pizza' night option penciled in is a real lifesaver! It also is more 'fun' for everyone once in a while!

My son helps me add the ingredients for the recipes we picked to our shopping list and I make sure to include the other stuff we need, especially things for school and work lunches, afterschool snacks, etc. and it makes it easier. I also spend less, because I know just what I need to get.

6)If you don't own a Crock Pot or slow cooker- GET ONE. Now!!! They are the BEST time savers ever. There is nothing better than coming home late with a cranky child after a long day of work on an icky winter day when everyone is starving and opening your door to the delicious smell of a pot roast or pot of soup ALREADY COOKED AND READY TO EAT! Hooray and viva la Crock Pot is all I can say!!

7)For lunches, both kids and adult, we try to utilize leftovers as much as we can. Mostly though I use a 'bento box' system. You can get as crazy with that as you want to or have time for, but the things about it that have really worked for us are: cut things (veggies, especially) into smaller pieces and everyone eats more of them, everything is more fun to eat in small portions with little tupperware containers, we use up more leftovers and (especially for my hubby who needs more food) combine them with other things- get yourself away from the traditional 'sandwich and chips' lunch! It's just as easy and better for you and more interesting if you are going to be 'brown bagging' it every day.

Hmm, I guess those are the highlights I can think of. It can get frustrating, but just be organized- oh! I keep a datebook/calendar in my purse and trained myself to write EVERYTHING on it. We have a larger calendar on the fridge and I periodically match the two up and make sure everything is copied in both places! That keeps us from missing early dismissal at school, doctor's appointments, etc.

Good luck- you can do this and you're working hard for your family!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It will work out. I have always worked full time and sometimes it is hard and I have had regrets, but everyone does. The weeks that go the best are those that are planned ahead. Cooking meals ahead of time on the weekend is a HUGE time saver during the week. Cleaning - during the week consists of doing the dishes daily, at least 1 load of laundry daily and picking up what I can before I go to bed (kids pickup too). Other stuff is saved for the weekend. You have to learn to let some things go and expect it not to always be perfect. It is better to keep relaxed and enjoy your evenings as much as you can than to stress over what isn't done.

If you have a good daycare provider, your daughter will be fine and probably enjoy the time with friends. She will react to how you deal with it, so if you try to not stress over too much she will probably accept it ok. If you are stessed and nervous about it she will probably react similarly. Change is always a little stressful but you will all adjust.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Well first you need to know that all though we do it all, it isn't easy and anyone that tells you otherwise is LYING! It is hard, we can't give everything our 100% and we can't do it alone and keep our sanity. You will want to prioritize....for instance meals, cleanliness, and family time will need to be your priority but not necessarily neatness (meaning you may not have everything in it's place and completely done the way you would like but as long as the necessities are done you are good). That said, if everyone is good about picking up for themselves as they go it will make your life a lot easier.

We do our grocery shopping on the weekend (maybe you could go early in the am or late in the evening when your hubby is home on the weekend). You can prep for the next night's dinner after your daughter goes to bed and it will make starting dinner easier when you get home (or you could have it cooked already and warm it up). Making a weekly menu ahead of time would also help because you can use the menu to do your grocery shopping and you don't waste time figuring out what you want when you get home.

Best of luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Take a deep breath and know that it will take a lot of organization, planning and honest dialogue with your husband, but you will get through it!

I work full time (7:45-4:00) an hour away from our home. This was an amazing opportunity that I almost passed up b/c I was worried about the "logistics" and extending my son's day at daycare.

Here's what we did:
- I discussed my work hours with my supervisor openly and directly before signing, letting her know that if I needed to stay late I would need some advance notice and flexibility. She was fine with it and appreciated me telling her upfront.
- My husband and I discussed the daycare arrangements and he was able to shift his work hours to do drop-off/pick-up which only extended my son's day by an hour
-We hired a housekeeper, which was an enormous help. Before we hired her, though, we made a cleaning/chore schedule that clearly delineated "who-did-what-and-when" and stuck to it! It wasn't always fun scrubbing the bathrooms on a Tuesday night, but it got done and we held eachother accountable... "um, honey- it's your night to..."
-Buy in bulk so you aren't running to the store every weekend for toilet paper
-Cook in bulk and freeze! Ground turkey can make an instant meal in tons of ways, as does frozen ravioli!
-I have a little photo album that I have my "regular" weeknight meal recipes in. Every Sunday afternoon, I sit down and plan the meals for the week and shop for all items (no mid-week runs)
-keep a running grocery list so that you can just grab and go (no hunting around to see what you ran out of)
-cook/prep as much as I can ahead of time (including chopping a whole onion if I need it throughout the week,etc).
-See if a family member can pick up your daughter one or two days a week a little early so that she's already home when you get home! This isn't an option for us, but I have friends whose parents don't want to be full time care, but do an afternoon or two to alleviate the time stress
-Get up an hour before your daughter in the morning- that's when I do the quiet, but mundane things like unloading the dishwasher, taking out the recycles and getting the lunch boxes packed (actual meals are made the night before)

I have also found that my son LOVES to be in the kitchen with me, helping. He's little, so no knives or direct heat, but he likes to stir and be the "taster". He'll sit at my feet and play until I need a helper. Your daughter may really enjoy that too! Have her use that time to tell you about her day.

Most importantly... you are NOT a bad parent for ordering take-out after a really long day. The laundry may take all day on Saturday, but it will get done and if you can afford to hire help, do so and don't ever feel guilty about it! Hiring our housekeeper (who does laundry while she's there) is the single most helpful thing we did- it gave us our evenings back!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I would see if she can do her homework while attending the after-school program. If you have a refrigerator at work and a store nearby - try doing your grocery shopping during your lunch break or if your work will allow it - see if you can work through lunch so you can leave early. Make meals during the weekend that can be frozen and re-heated during the week and stick with simple recipes for weeknights that you do make something. Try picking up as you go along instead of setting times for one big clean e.g. I sweep the kitchen after doing dishes (usually after my LO goes to bed) and pick up toys, etc - usually takes me less than an hour.

I guess we are a little different at our house - my LO (2 1/2 years old) goes to bed around 8:30. Giving us a little more time to hang out. My daughter actually likes school (daycare) and at first I felt guilty about having her there and going back to work, but I can tell she gets bored with me on the weekends and enjoys the social/learning environment at school. I don't have a 5-year old but I would imagine that this is the time when they become more independent and wanting to interact with others rather than Mom and Dad?

Above all else, don't beat yourself =)

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answers from Washington DC on

Where to start. It won't be easy in the beginning but you'll find a way. I can't say that it gets easier...but you learn to manage.

I am a single mother that works full time with a 23 month old. I complain to myself but then I look at my cousin who has 4 girls (5,7,9, and 13), works in law enforcement and she's my superwoman - so then I attempt not to complain.

In regards to meals...there are tons of quick options these days. A lot of things come pre-made. Veggies are quick to steam up - we eat a lot of veggies. As for meats well, I put everything in the oven - season it, wrap it in foil or a baking dish and 30-40 mins. tadaaa! Unless I"m using my wok or it's a roast - it's the slow cooker over night. Sometimes on Wednesday we have sandwich night (sandwich and soup) or pizza-pizza night. This allows me to play catch up on house chores,errands or otherwise I get things done when my son is asleep (he goes to bed at 8:30/9...shhh) or I do these things on the weekend. Weekdays in the AM it's oatmeal and on the weekend we have what I call "fancy breakfast" - pancakes, eggs, french toast, etc.

Also, I sometimes cook a few items on Sunday to have throughout the week which helps a lot. Do you have family near by? Once in a while my cousin and I will switch up on meals which helps (meaning she will cook and invite us over or I will cook and invite her family over).

Talk to your daughter, let her know what's going on. Possibly she can help you prep simple meals. When you are cooking she can read you a story, tell you about her day, or you can sing songs vice versa (all part of bonding).

Grocery shopping I save for weekends and if I MUST do it on the weekday I will pick my son up, go to the market and pick up a pizza on the route home. He will eat his pizza and babble to me while I put away the grocery's OR I make sure the night before I have a pre-made meal and we eat dinner and then head to the market - we usually get back in about 8PM...late for some but it's what I have to do.

I could go on and hopefully I've provided some ideas. Just remember you can always make a schedule - that's what I'm currently doing, as neither my son or myself likes to get up in the morning (I get up a hour to 2hrs before him to prep his lunch and get myself ready).

Also, keep necessary telephone numbers in your car or on your cell phone for the pizza place, pharmacy, your favorite restaurant, always help me on those days where I just can't find strength to do it all.

p.s. my 23 month old is at daycare from 8-6:15 everyday. It will be fine - especially if the after school program is awesome. Some days I do feel bad about leaving my son at daycare long hours but then the weekend comes and we have blast or he drives me crazy by Sunday.

Let me know how it works out!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Dunno if you are still checking for responses, but I am also a full time working mom to a 5 year old and soon our little boy who is due in November..
First off, full time daycare/kindergarden will do wonders for your daughter emotionally, intellectually, and socially. She will blossom and make new friends and gain confidence.
Like you, I have work (am a medical professional too), the house to run, and taking care of my daughter (and hubby - I swear they are like 2nd children too).
- Like others, I carefully plan and make the week's dinners on the weekends. I also make the week's lunches as well on the weekends. I make a weekly list of what we will eat every night. My daughter also has her list on the fridge what she eats every night, so she knows what to expect. I shop and complete all the groceries by Sunday.
- On Sundays (or Saturdays if I get the time), I usually make 2-3 food items for the week to eat, and store them in the freezer to take out as needed for dinner. They are easy to eat recipes that u can also find on this site.
- For the lunches I make several sandwiches for my hubby, and for myself I cut up my salads in several tupperware containers. I season and cook chicken on the stove to add to my salads. I cut up the chicken, and individually bag them and put them in the freezer. Then on weekdays I just grab a ziplocked bag of frozen chicken and throw it into my lunchbag to eat w/my salad. It thaws by lunchttime. Just an idea :-)
I also eat Lean Cuisine, which is very healthy and low-sodium, and yummy. But whatever brown bag lunches work for you. We find it a great $$ saver to bring from home rather then buying lunch daily.
- With all the lunches prepared, in the mornings, all I have to do is grab my salad (or Lean Cuisine), yogurt and a fruit and stuff it in my lunch bag and go. Same for my hubby - I can just grab a sandwich and a fruit and put it in a bag for him to go.
- On weekdays after school, I try to follow a very strict regime.
-I try to get my daughter home by 5 pm, let her play a bit and spend quality time with her.
- 6 pm it's dinnertime, no matter what. On the table, all together, no TV.
- 7 pm, it's all done (my daughter is a slow eater), she helps me clean up the kitchen, put the dishes in the wash, etc. She knows it's her job.
- Then it's doing homework together or whatever assignment she gets from her kindergarden teachers until 7:30 pm.
- At 7:30 pm we end the homeworks and let her play with us or with her toys until 8 or so.
- Around 8 pm or so, we take her up, give her her bath and put her to bed.
- After 8 pm, it's studying time for me (I'm just taking a language class for fun on Saturday mornings) or spending time with the hubby on the couch.

As for cleaning the household, we have a lady that comes every 3 weeks to clean for only 50 bucks. It saves a lot of headaches and hassles. But I think you and your husband can come up with a list of his and her chores/ responsibilities. Don't accept the excuse that he has no time. We all can MAKE time if we have the motivation to.

- It sounds like a military household, but when u work full time and all, you have to be organized and discliplined. My daughter enjoys the routine and by the end of the day, we all have a sense that we spent good quality family time together. It's a bit of work on Sundays to get all the lunches/dinners prepared for the week, but it's SO worth it during the week!
And remember, it's not the quantity of time you spend with your kids, it's the QUALITY of time.
Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

They day isn't really going to be long for your 5 year old because she would have to be somewhere and has in the past been somewhere for that amount of time. The actual adjusting is you and what is taking place in your mind.

Your ability to facilitate household things will be tested and tried. Enlist the help of the "village". The village are all of the people you count on to help you with raising your daughter and watching her from friends, to grandparents, to local teenagers, etc.

For me, each day involved two parts (morning) and (evening). Mornings would involve laundry, light cleaning of the bathroom, dusting,sweeping, mopping. Things that must get done but don't take a long time. I usually alot about 30 minutes of my time for these activities. I put a load on laundry in the washer when I first get up, I shower, dry off and get completely dressed then I take that load out the washer and into the dryer and another load goes in the washer. I begin breakfast and then wake the baby. Evenings involve running errands like grocery shopping which only is a quick trip to pick up some essentials (I do a major shopping trip once a month to get all of the meat for the month and the staples for a month worth of meals. In the between time I may only have to get items in the between time like, milk, eggs, bread, and specialty items as needed. The major monthly shopping happens on Saturday a month and takes about the entire day. Evenings are also for preparing for the next day by taking out clothes and packing lunches and bags. It is also for doing homework. When cooking try preparing two meals at a time. One you are going to eat that day and the other for another day. This way you only have to cook everyother day and save the leftovers and eat them on a day when you really have no more energy for cooking. That day for us is Friday which we call "Fat of the Land" day. We love it. It's like having a restaurante with the variety and non of the work.

Don't be anxious. It will all be fine. If I can do this with 6 little ones. I'm certain you can manage with your one even though I'm convinced 1 is much harder than 6.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

I've always been a full-time working mom with a stressful job and lots of hours - even more stressful when I was laid off last year and took a position at ~40% my previous salary without the flexibility.

Our biggest challenge (our kids are in full-time day care) is that my current company has NO flexibility in hours. Even though my job is largely based via the internet, I must be in the office from 8-5 which includes a 25 minute commute each direction. My husband has to do all the heavy lifting with day care, doctor's/dentist appointments, etc.

The truth is that I couldn't have done it without my husband and all the contributions he makes and how equally he shares the tasks, chores, etc.

Our situation is unique. We don't have grandparents (or any family) within several hundred miles. So, we're on our own. We moved from a babysitter with our first child in our home to a day care facility with our second child 2 years ago. It was a blessing because a week after returning to work, I was diagnosed with cancer. Work was a salvation for me, and my employer at the time was flexible and understanding....until laying me off.

We quickly learned from that experience that your kids are first and foremost. We also do our shopping on the weekends. I don't preplan meals, but I do keep simple, fresh ingredients around to cook a healthy meal when I get home. Some nights, it's a ham/cheese sandwich with some fruit/vegetables. I may be the only person who's never cooked with a crock pot.

We always give the kids time to play, and try to prioritize them ahead of all other things until they go to bed.

I don't think people really appreciate how much the working parent does (I include my husband because he's fabulous) as we balance so much with so many responsibilities.

Good luck! The hardest part will be the beginning, but as long as you make the most of the time you have when you're not working, everything will fall into place with some trial/error.

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answers from Columbus on

If you think she's going to have trouble adjusting, give her a little picture of you and dad in a protective sleeve and put it in her backpack so she can pull it out to look at you if she needs to. However, I think she'll be fine once she adjusts.

Remember that it's about quality time, not quantity time. You don't have to buy her stuff to show you love her--just spend good, fun time with her after you all get home and have dinner. And involve her in dinner making if you can--most kids love the feeling that they are helping and that mom/dad appreciate it. After dinner, take her to the park or spend some time playing her favorite game--get down on the floor with her and really play.

Try not to get wrapped up in the "the house is a mess/I'm so stressed" cycle. Plan ahead for dinners if you can (even planning one meal per week ahead of time can help stress levels); do prep work for tomorrow's dinner tonight after; etc (plus this will likely help keep costs down if you plan around what's on sale at the grocery).

Help and support each as hubbie & wife. Listen to each other and be kind to each other; I know its hard to do when you're tired/crabby and there are mountains of laundry or the bathroom's a mess. Ask for each other's help and be sure to spend time with each other in a happy way every day (even just sitting & watching TV for a few minutes and holding hands on the couch).

We do most of the cleaning after my LO goes to bed, since he's too small to be left to safely play more than a minute or two alone (he's 22m and into everything).

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answers from Boston on

I'm at work myself, so I don't really have time to write, but my best advice, that I sometimes have a hard time following, is to really let go of the guilt that you are going to feel. There's lots of ways to be a great mom. Providing financially is one of them. You are going to juggle, not balance, and as some things go up, other things go down. It's okay. When you can afford to send your daughter to college, you'll be glad you did this.

My best piece of advice is to buy more underwear. When push comes to shove, you can wear a pair of pants that have been worn once, but you always need clean underwear. I've gotten pretty good at staying on top of the laundry, but I can't remember the last time any of us were on the last pair in the drawer.

Good luck. I'm sure it will be great for all of you!

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answers from Los Angeles on

I feel for you and am in the same boat!

First, know that your daughter will adjust to this better than you and your husband. She will have fun at school even later in the day and be just fine.

Here's how I handle the rest... I order my groceries online. I make the list on Friday or Saturday and order them online, they are delivered Monday night. I've been doing this for five years now (my oldest just started kindergarten too!) and it's been a god-send. One less errand to do, the prices are the same as the store, the quality is great...they aren't allowed to take tips and the drivers are very nice.
-Get a house cleaner. I have mine done every two weeks and can't wait until I can afford it every week. It's $80 each time for me and they clean the whole house as well as change sheets. Mine also put the sheets in the wash and fold my kids laundry each time. LOVE them! get a delivery of locally grown, fresh, organic fruits and vegetables every other week from them. It's $31.50 for the large box and awesome... and don't need diapers anymore, but they have toys and kids stuff at has now replaced my trip to Target for household stuff. It's the same company, so you can order stuff at either site and put them in the same shopping cart. There's no shipping once you spend a certain amount (I think that's $49) and there's no sales tax, so not only save me time, but money too and no impluse shopping for me! Also helps when I need a gift for a kid's birthday! BTW, they generally have your order to you the NEXT DAY! LOVE them!
-Have a schedule! We do baths Sunday night, Tuesday night, Thursday night and Saturday morning. This gets them bathed regularly but only impacts work days twice a week. Oh...and my husband does baths.
-I break out the laundry throughout the week doing sheets/towels on Mondays, darks on Tuesdays, lights/whites on Wednesday and the kids clothes on Sundays. I fold what I washed the day before the next evening.
-I make lunches the night before and then get up a little earlier in the morning to assemble them in the lunch boxes. I also empty the dishwasher in the morning so when I come home I can start making dinner right away. My husband cleans up dinner.
-We won't have to deal with homework until next month, but my plan is that he work on it at the kitchen table while I'm making dinner. Then, after dinner I can check it while my husband is cleaning up and I can help him while I'm cooking.

Hope that helps and gives you some ideas...and hopefully something will happen so that you don't have to work full time for do adjust but really, it's not easy.

Good luck! And, BTW...some nights give yourself a break and order out, forget the laundry and go to bed early...!


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answers from Las Vegas on

It will work. When you do tell your daughter don't make it a negative. I remember when I first left my son at school until I got off at 5:00. I felt horrible leaving him all day. When I got there he didn't want to go! He wanted me to come and play with him and the friends he was playing with. Kids don't do the math and realize that 'oh no, mommy left me for 3 more hours she must not like me anymore' they think they are getting more play time with friends. You'll get more efficient at the grocery and you'll figure out a way to prep food before you get home. Make double batches of stuff like lasagna and freeze one so next week you can stick it in the fridge to thaw while you're at work. All you've got to do is pop it in the oven to warm. Keep more sandwich supplies so you can have sandwich for dinner night. I loved it as a kid. My mother insisted on having a full hot meal on the table every night even though she worked 50 hours a week so sandwich night felt a little like breaking the rules. It was fun! The other thing you can do to increase your time spent with your daughter by including her in the cooking. For a time my mother worked evenings about 4 days a week. My dad and I would 'invent' recipes. Loved it!! I was cooking on my own by the time I was 8. When you're not lucky enough to have all the time in the world with your kids having a routine works really well. Growing up I'd see my Dad about 2 hours a day except Sunday when he took the whole day off. He was gone to work before I got up and went to bed about 8:30. Every night my parents and I would make dinner. We sat at the table together and after we each had a responsibility. I'd clear the table and put stuff in the fridge. My dad would rinse dishes and my mom would put them in the dishwasher. Whenever I visit my parents we fall back into the same routine. As an adult I realize how comforting it was to have this time with my parents. I hear people who talk about their parents being absent in their lives. I've probably spent (physically) less time with my Daddy than people who's dad walked out never to be seen again when they were in Jr High but we have an amazing relationship. I really have no early memories of my parents away from the kitchen table but all of those memories are happy. they'd ask about my day and listen as I recounted every second of what happened at recess that day! I don't live in the same town as my parents and part of the reason I'm able to deal with spending so much time away is from those early bonds help me feel close to them even when I'm away. You'll do fine and you'll appreciate your family time more.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I have not read any of the responses so I apologize if I'm just duplicating what everyone else has said.

When my daughter was first born (9 short years ago) I first went back to work 3-4 days a week. Money got tight and I went full time, but I only work 8:3-4. So most days lunch is at my desk working, but that hour in the evening was huge, HUGE for me.

I let housework go, especially when she was younger. I focused more on being a mom until she was in bed and then I worried about picking up. Basically her awake time was my time to be with her.

Some dinner suggestions. If you don't have a crock pot, get one. It will be your new bff. :) Find meals that take 30 mins or less to prepare. Precook your chicken and ground turkey/beef/chicken. It really saves a lot of time.

Good luck, it will all work out, it's just getting through the adjustment period that is hard on everyone.

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answers from St. Louis on

Sounds like you have some really great ideas already.

First question is would it be possible to only take a 1/2 hour lunch so you could get off at 430 instead of 5 and pickup your daughter at 515 instead of 515? That may ease your mind a bit. OR, could the grandparents help out and 1 day a week pick her up from school so that you do not feel like she's away from home / not with family all day? I would even consider asking them about this daily as it sounds like they were interested in keeping her before, and it would only be 2-3 hours per day. Just an idea!

I get home around 5pm and my youngest goes to bed at 7pm so our nights are brief, but I just remind myself that he had a lot of interaction/learning during the day so I don't feel bad when our nights are mostly comprised of eating/bathing/etc. I try to cuddle and play with the kids after dinner - we either go outside, play in their playroom, etc. But I also do not sit down and eat with them every night - instead I pull them up to the island and have them eat while I clean the kitchen/prepare meals for the next night/etc. My husband works evenings so this works for us.

We also eat at my parents house 2x a week - could you maybe try to plan on going to your parents (or having them come over) with a pizza or something once a week?

I would plan on making a few extra meals Sunday and each night, I'd make up your daugher's lunch (and hubbys) so you don't have to do it in the mornings.

Always have your (and your daughter's) ENTIRE outfit down to the shoes/socks/jewelry laying out that way there is no second guessing/trying on things in the morning. I even go as far as putting the backpack/other bags I need in the car/etc into the car in the evenings.

Not sure what you all do for breakfast, but have things planned ahead if you want something more than a poptart or cereal. Have waffles on hand, make pancakes during dinner then put them in the fridge.

Don't focus on getting the house cleaned or doing the grocery shopping. Get that stuff done on the weekends and give your hubby some alone time with your daughter since it sounds he gets home later than you do in the evenings.

You said one thing that I wanted to comment on - that your hubby works every other Saturday and also has the yard / other stuff to do. I understand about the working part, but his yard / other stuff is just like you doing housework, so don't feel like you have to cut him slack because he's working 1 more day than you. You are a couple and should be doing stuff together. Also, in the winter he doesn't have the yard to take care of. If you want to get grocery shopping done faster, go alone. Or go as a family and make it a special time together.

Don't worry - you'll figure it all out!!! Congrats on the new job!

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answers from Washington DC on

Your daughter will probably have fun!! That being said, I still freak out all the time over my kids. I want them to be as happy in a day care setting as they would be with me...and they know this. So they are honest with me (ages 7, 5, and 3). My 7 year old only ever had family watch her, and my 5 year old only had family except for a few months...and my baby is full-time in a home day care and happier than he has ever been! They are so good at the school programs and I'm sure she will be fine. Just know that she is having fun and you'll be good too. Congratulations on the job offer!!

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answers from Detroit on

Here is my daily schedule-

6am- I wake up. Get clothes on and brush teeth. Begin packing lunches for hubby, daughter, and myself.
6:15am- Hubby gets up. Gets dressed and teeth brushed. Takes everything out to the car while I get the kids up and dressed.
6:30am - Take daughter to school (latchkey) and then son to daycare.
7:30am - Now at work.
4:15pm - Leave work (hubby & I work together but things would still be very similar even if we didn't).
5pm - Pick up son at daycare. Then daughter from latchkey (usually by 5:15).
5:30pm - Home. Hubby plays with the kids outside on nice days or the kids play together upstairs while I'm making dinner.
6:30pm - We all eat dinner together.
7pm - Kids are in bathtub. I give them a bath. I wash them immediately and let them play while I get their pjs and a snack ready.
7:30 - Out of bath. Snack and bed.
8pm - I take shower.

Usually in bed by 10pm.

There are times when I have the chance to make the entire week's worth of dinner on a Sunday. Then lunches for hubby and I and all dinners are taken care of. Just need warming. That makes life a ton easier. I do a little cleaning each day. I have a 'schedule' in my head.
On Sunday, I'll do laundry washing and folding and putting away.
Monday, I'll clean the bathroom (sometimes I'll do all except the tub while the kids are playing - I use Method cleaners so there are no harmful fumes) and do the shower when I climb in to clean myself.
Tuesday, I'll vacuum and dust.
Wednesday, I'll mop the kitchen floor.
Thursday, I'll change the beds.
Friday, I'll deep clean the kitchen.
Saturday, I usually take a break from all cleaning and just play with the kids.

And I usually wipe the counters and clean up the kitchen after we're all done eating in about 15min. Hubby helps with that most of the time. The dishwasher is usually run about 3x a week.

Hope that helps. If you have any questions. Don't hesitate to PM me.

My kids are pretty used to our schedule. My son is only 2 and my daughter is 7. My son has known no other way. He's in 'school'/daycare from 6:40am til 5pm when we get there. He loves it. He yells, "I PLAY WITH FRIENDS!!!" It makes me happy that he loves it. It took about 2wks of getting used to daycare vs a personal friend to babysit him though. He cried the first week and just got a little sad the second week and now shoves away from me and says, "Bye! See you later mama!"

Oh and as for grocery shopping... That's my 'alone' time. : ) Hubby hangs with the kids or I go after they're in bed on a Friday evening. It's pretty quiet at Kroger on a Friday at 8pm!

But be prepared for this sleep/wake schedule to still be there on Sat and Sun. My kids still wake me up no later than 7am because their little bodies are used to that schedule and they're still in bed by 8:30pm.

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answers from San Diego on

Thanks for posting this! So many of us are struggling with the same thing and though I've been single parenting (dad out of state) and working full time for a few years, there were a few ideas posted that I hadn't thought of yet. And, it was nice to hear that so many others have the same challenges and that they are on-going.
You do have to involve your kids in the family and household chores more than a non-working mom, but I think this teaches them numerous valuable life lessons and skills. And it is still together time!
I don't have anything vastly different to add, but saw your "what happened" response and am wondering if Grandma would be willing to pick up your daughter and bring her to YOUR house one or two days a week and feed her dinner before you get home? My parents have done this for me and it is awesome because it leaves you all of your after work time to play and relax and not worry about dinner. If she does do this for you, make sure that she knows that she is appreciated!

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answers from San Diego on

This might sound odd but it is amazing how your mindset can change when options are taken off the table. If you have to go back to work full time for financial reasons then just get in the mindset that is what you have to do and try and make it as good as possible. Look back on the last 5 years and realize how incredibly lucky you are to have had that time with your family. Its an incredible luxury to work part time or not at all. So now its time to work full time. my advice is let go of a ton of stuff. let go of a bunch of the yard work, the house work, etc. there will be many things you will have to sacrafice now, like social occassions, etc. just take on what you can handle. yep, the evenings will be packed and you will be tired a lot. welcome to full time work. you can do it and everyone will adjust. if you can afford it, hire a housekeeper to take the edge off. get help anywhere you can!

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answers from Los Angeles on

I understan your worries. I have been working for 22 years as a mom and I have a 22 year son and a 6 year old son and a 2 year old son. My world is not perfect. Dinner will be crock pot dinner and embrace that. I don't have a 3 course meal everynight sometimes turkey dogs with french fries are a favorite or breakfast is a big hit especially when we have pancakes. Homework is done at the breakfast bar while I am making dinner. Bathtime is when I usually read a book to them while in the bath. House cleaning is making sure you have a path way to the bathroom and kitchen. Grocery shop is done at sunday morning around 7am. Don't try to perfect as Martha Stewart; I gave up on that dream along time ago. I enjoy my boys and I rather cuddle and watch TV with them than clean the bathroom. You will make it because you are a mother of invention. Have your child remember you as a mom who spent time with her than a mom who tried to have a perfect clean home. My 22 year old remembers me taking him to the park and playing battleship and did not even realize that there was a pile of clothes to iron or wash. Believe me it will get done but not on my kids time with me.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Congrats on joining to the full-time working mom club ;)
I rouse my 2 little ones from sleep and drop them off off at Grandmas by 7 and pick them up at 4. Our evenings are precious! But a lot also needs to get done in the evenings so it's tough. I only stick to the chores that are essential to get through the week, such as keeping the dishes going, the trash emptied, and the mail sorted through. Making lunches and packing childcare bag. I ask hubby (the last person downstairs) to do a quick straighten in the livivng room before coming up to bed. Anything else (laundry, bathrooms, vacuum/mop) is saved for the weekend. And I have to be comfortable with doing the major chores less than I would like. Of course I want a clean floor but sorry I am lucky if it happens more than once a month.
A shorter time spent making and cleaning up dinner is the key for me. I HAVE to keep dinners simple, as much as I love to try elaborate and impressive dishes. It's just not worth it during the week to spend so much time. And I second the crock pot. It takes a bit of time in the morning but so worth it. Sometimes I make a casserole on the weekend and refrigerate it. Chopping and washing veggies on the weekend also helps. Much easier to throw a salad or stri-fry together when stuff is already chopped. I also ditto the people who said plan all your meals and shop on the weekend, no mid-week trips to the store.
Friday is my evening to look forward to... take-out, no cleaning, no prep... and occasionally I treat us to a mid-week take-out night. It really helps.
Sunday night, try not to schedule anything for sunday night. We need this time to prepare for the week, finish putting away laundry, ironing, try to start the week off with a tidy house.
One downer is the evenings get chewed up by work, and there is little time for private time with the hubby. Try to find a time in your work day when you two can connect on the phone to discuss household concerns and upcoming events and stuff. Then at night, when the little one is in bed and it's just you two, you don't have to spend that time discussing the busted hose, the credit card bill, the office party you need him to attend with you, etc etc.
:) You'll adjust and you'll be fine.

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answers from New York on

Dont forget to schedule in some fun. My first years with a full time jpb and little kids meant my weekends were completely house work, errands, laundry, shopping. I didnt have time to enjoy them. You need to schedule the time to have fun with your child!

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answers from Hartford on

Hi Leelee, I didn't read all the responses so I apologize if I repeat. I have been a full time working mom for most of my son's life. It can get hectic and exhausting but it can be done :) 1st you have to prioritize and plan. Do what you can to always be one step ahead so you don't get to stressed. If I'm pressed for time I get cranky and who wants to be cranky when you are trying to spend some quality time with your family. So I have lunches ready the night before, clothes laid out (most of the time) and everything I can get done before I go to bed means less I have to do when I wake up. I don't cook huge meals everyday. I do my big cooking on Sundays and my other day off. I will usually make enough extra for a few days of lunch. The other nights I try to come up with quick, somewhat healthy meals. Like, wholewheat chicken tacos, pasta and sauce, even a pizza now and the. Frozen vegetables are my friend and sliced cucumbers and celery are on my menu all the time. See if your daughter can do her homework at her after school program, then you can just check it over when you get home. Get her in the habit of taking a quick shower during the week, and she doesn't need one everyday. Do your basic housework after she is in bed. Save the grocery shopping and heavy duty cleaning for the weekend. You can do it! Best of Luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Dear LeeLee, check with your daughters school. Have her join a girl scout troop(daisy's) The meetings will probably be at her school and during her time that she is at the extended care. girl scouts is so great. she will do so much, crafts, singing songs, making life long friends. Please give her the gift of bieng a girl scout. J. H.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi LeeLee,

One of the things I do is plan my meals a week at a time and do all my grocery shopping on the weekend. The weeknights are busy enough trying to get everything else done. If I know what I am going to cook and know I have everything I need it takes a little stress off. I also try to stick to easy things and 1 pot or crock pot meals so there is less time in the kitchen. Also, anything you can do to pack your daughters lunch the night before is helpful like getting snacks, packaging fruit in the fridge and keeping it next to the juice that will go in her lunch.

Weekends tend to be laundry and housework so I make sure there are enough clothes that laundry doesn't have to be done during the week. Learn to settle for a little messier house especially in the beginning while you are getting your routine down and try not to stress. Just remember to enjoy the cuddle/reading time and not be thinking about the other 6 things you need to do.

Good luck,

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answers from Tulsa on

I actually think I managed my household better when I worked full time. It was much easier to maintain a schedule and plan time to do things like buy groceries.

You have to prioritize what you have to do. Like buying groceries and other shopping. You will have to do that on the weekends or after she goes to bed. You can also plan your meals better where you aren't cooking so much and it is pre-made, like making spaghetti sauce by the gallon then freezing it in quart size freezer bags. Then you only have to boil noodles and put the sauce in a pot of warm water until it slides out in a microwave bowl, it can be heated quickly. A lot of other meals can be made like this, I made homemade chicken and noodles this was, well the noodles were the cook-able kind from the store but the chicken and broth were made and frozen. I can think of some other meals that can be made in advance and there are whole cookbooks on this topic. Meatloaf, stew, lasagna, roast in a Crockpot on the weekends, pizza makings-just do the crust and top as desired then heat, and chicken enchiladas.

As for house cleaning, you should be able to complete one load of laundry each evening. You need to have hampers set up how you do laundry. I have them set up with one for whites: clothes I bleach, perma-press: light no bleach, then darks: all navy, black, red, brown, etc...anything that might fade. I keep towels and sheets for the weekend. If you go to bed late you may be able to do 2 loads a night and complete them, put away complete.

We do dance, sports, gymnastics, BMX, and still work in the other stuff like homework and bedtime routines. We get up at 7 so our schedule is a bit different than yours but it is still kids in bed by 9pm.

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answers from San Diego on

Hi LeeLee,

Both my husband and I are full-time working parents. We used to have a housecleaner come every 2 weeks which was a great help but have recently had to tighten our belts and let her go. When this happened, we instituted 3 ten-minute sweeps of cleaning throughout the day - each of us, including our 2 1/2 year old son takes 10 minutes 3 times per day to just pick up, do some dishes, clean in the bathroom, etc. We do it right when we come home from work (regardless of people getting home at different times), right before our son goes to bed and then again right before we go to bed. We take one to two hours each weekend to do any big cleaning - floors, baseboards, etc. If it doesn't get done in that time, then it doesn't get done - period. No one ever died saying they wished they cleaned their house more.

I take our son to daycare/pre-school and my husband picks him up. It's hard, but my time with our son is in the morning and my husband's is in the evening while I'm making dinner. I try to take at least 30 minutes just hanging out with our son in the morning. In the evening, he will sometimes 'help' me cook which gives us some more bonding time. We have also started using Dinner Studio which has fantastic, very cost-effective meals pretty much all put together for you, all you have to do is pop them in the oven or in the crock pot which gives us more time to spend together as family in the evening. We also do meal planning. You can find our meal plans on our blog at: Sometimes, my husband and I will just eat dinner later in order to spend more time with our son. When we do this, we make him a special meal that he likes (noodles) and a little appetizer and drinks for us while we all sit at the table together.

I believe firmly in creating 'my time' too - you have to put your oxygen mask on first in order to be able to fully help your children. In other words, if you're not feeding your soul, you'll be too worn out to be the best Mom you can be. We trade off weekend mornings - so I get to sleep in on Saturday morning while the two of them have special Daddy/Son bonding time making pancakes and my husband sleeps in on Sunday morning. Then we spend time together as a family. The idea though is that if there is something one of us really wants to do (get a pedicure), we can schedule it on our day and let the other know. We're not talking about all day things every weekend here, just the knowledge to know we have 'our' day to plan something just for ourself.

There is no question that you will still have times where you feel bad, wished you didn't have to work full-time and will feel totally exhausted. But, you will find your life to be more structured and will realize how much you can actually fit into a day and will be more cognizant of quality time over quantity of time.

You can do it and knowing you're not alone will hopefully help. Remember to talk to your friends and keep an open communication with other Mamas, especially those who also work full-time because they will totally get where you're going through.

Good luck!
p.s.: sorry for the long post;)

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answers from Reno on

Hi there!

After 16.5 years of being a full time working mom, here's what I've learned.

1. A good schedule is your friend. Find one that works for you and stick to it. It's what keeps you going when you're too tired to think and it gives children a real sense of security.

2. Check out for excellent home organization, cleaning and scheduling tips. It may sound hokey at first but IT WORKS. I've been a "flybaby" for just over a year and it has revolutionized my home and my family...all for the better.

3. Master 4-6 30 minute from-start-to-finish meals. Keep 'em simple and tasty. For my family, the basics are chicken and potatoes, hamburgers & baked beans, tacos, spaghetti, and steak. Find 1-2 frozen dinners that cook up quick (we do frozen pizza) for the nights you don't feel like cooking. (Calendaring your meals helps with the "what do you want for dinner" drama. Set the weekly meals on Sunday and stick to it.)

4. Find excellent day care and don't micromanage it. They have your way; you have yours. If your daughter is happy and her grades are good, let it go. You know you have good day care when you can drop your daughter off and not think of her well-being until you pick her up.

5. Use your drive time to recharge your batteries. Listen to good music or an audio book. Many of us like to talk on the phone, but I encourage you to use that time to decompress from home on the way to work and decompress from work on your way to get your daughter. In this way, you walk in to work refreshed and you pick up your daughter ready to hear about her day.

6. Take 15-30 minutes a day to feed your soul. For me, this is cross stitch time, reading time, take a walk time.

7. Take 15-30 minutes (more, if you can) to reconnect with your husband. For me and my husband, it's the nightly shower. And some days, those 20 minutes in the shower are all we see of each other! (Sad, huh? <wink>) A weekly date is good, too, even if it's just grocery shopping. Just as you care for yourself and your daughter and your home, you need to care for your marriage, too.

The bottom line is happy moms make happy families. If you're going to work, BE happy about it. When you're at work, BE at work. When you're at home, BE at home. If you're going to be wracked by guilt, it's not worth it, not even for the extra money. My husband and I have been married nearly 20 years, and working 2 jobs each for the last 4.5 years. This is how we've made it work for ourselves, our sons, and our myriad of bosses.

Good luck.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I didn't read all your responses and I know that you posted your followup maybe someone mentioned it but is great.

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answers from Los Angeles on

As a full time working and travel for business mom trust me you and your family will deal with the cards that are dealt. I often ask myself how can I do it all and still keep my sanity.

Answer: You can't. But I firmly believe you can make it work with planning ahead, having an amazing support system, and don't forget that it is OK! to find a little time for yourself.

Your family will be fine, at the end of the day, every family's dynamic and situation is different. What works for some don't work for others, getting advice and reaching out for help is great, but process all that information and figure out how it works for your family.

Lastly, remember to count your blessings. In these ugly economic times, having a job, a roof over your head and being able to pay your bills is major.

Best Wishes, BTW give yourself and the family sometime to adjust to the new routine.

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answers from San Diego on

I am probably going to answer differently than everyone else. I would do whatever it takes to stay part time. Move to a smaller house or drive a cheaper car if necessary. She will need you more than ever when she is in school. You will never get these years back. Having a child at school from 8-6 is way too long. They need a parent at the end of the day. Picking up at 6 and going to bed at 8 gives you hardly any time with her. Plus you will be exhausted. If there is any way possible to stay part-time I would do it. Especially with your husband's busy work schedule. She needs you.

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