I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom for two years now, so I thought I’d write up my thoughts. I’m not sure I have any fresh or new insights, but perhaps some part of it will be interesting anyway.
First, let’s start with the obvious:
I know I’m in a very, very lucky minority who has the luxury of not working. This is the thing at the top of all the other things. Most parents in America don’t have a choice about whether or not to work. And really, living on one income isn’t exactly sustainable for us so I’ve always viewed this as a temporary situation and I value it highly.
I also refuse (REFUSE!) to engage in mommy-wars. I don’t even want to read articles about mommy-wars because I feel like it’s feeding the beast. I don’t think there is any one right way to raise your kids/find professional success and I am mostly interested in how everyone (from individuals to companies to government) can help support ALL moms.
Working part-time is the key to my happiness. I actually do work, just very part-time. I currently have two non-profit clients and I help them with advocacy, fundraising, and research. Those few hours per week (anywhere from 2 to 10, generally) are enough to give me a mental break, engage my brain to do professional things like talk to other adults about complex topics, write/research/strategize, etc. It also gives my kids time with another adult who loves them and who teaches them things I don’t even think of.
Even though I’m grateful, sometimes I just need to vent. I may be one of the luckiest moms out there, but I have crappy days and sometimes my kids can be six notches too crazy for whatever amount of patience I have. Until you have swept the floor for the 7th time in one day, you just don’t really know how soul-draining repetitive cooking/cleaning can be.
I worry a little about the consequences for my professional life. I feel like I’ve kept my skills current over the last year, and even added some new skills through my consulting work, but I still worry it will be hard to jump back on to a career path. I went out with a group of new girlfriends a few weeks ago and as I looked around the room, all of them worked full-time and had pretty nice sounding jobs/titles and I honestly felt a little behind. They all manage people or complex projects or both. I hope that when I do go back to work, I can find something that is not a step backward from my last job.
And maybe something less obvious:
One of the hardest parts about not working is reconfiguring what an equal marriage looks like. Before we had kids, we both worked and made similar-ish salaries and worked similar-ish hours. We did somewhat equal amounts of chores and cooking and household maintenance. Now that I’m not working (out of the house), but also working (unpaid 24/7 child raising) and also working (paid part-time consulting), I’m not even sure what fairness looks like anymore. Is cooking and cleaning part of my job? Is sitting down with the kids to watch an episode of Super Why considered my break? Shouldn’t Andrew get a break at the end of his work day? When 5pm comes, we are both more than ready for some down time, but that’s the time of day when things get the most harried (dinner + cleanup + bedtime shenanigans). We are both tired. We are both itching to do what the other person gets to do all day long.
Ultimately, I think we’ve navigated our way through this and made changes as the boys have gotten older. Basically, no one gets a break between 5 and 7pm; there is just too much to do. We often split up dinner cleanup and the bath/bedtime routine, but sometimes we do both together. Andrew generally gets up with the boys in the morning and lets me sleep an extra 30 minutes or so. On weekends, we each get one morning to sleep in while the other parent gets up early. We try to give each other occasional evenings off, or free time on the weekends to exercise or just escape for an hour or two. But before, it was naturally equal. Now, we have to navigate issues of fairness all the time.
Me not working out of the house is easier on EVERYONE in the house. Yes, it’s a luxury for me to be able to focus most of my energy on my kids. But it’s also a luxury that when the kids are sick, I can be home with them. And when someone needs to come to the house to fix a broken appliance, I can be home to meet them. And when Andrew needs to travel for work, I won’t also have to travel for work. And in the mornings we don’t have to wake up the kids and hurry them to eat or get dressed or get out of the house by any specific time. I truly think everyone in the house has a lower stress level than we would have if we both worked full-time out of the house.
Everything could change tomorrow. I don’t really have an “end date” in mind where I will go back to full-time work. It could be next year or it could be never. I don’t really think it will be never, but perhaps I will find something really amazing that is part-time, and that would be hard to give up. My feeling all along has been that we will do what works until it is no longer working, and then we will do something else. I feel strongly that I like being with my kids every day and I don’t want to give that up yet. But I also know that as they get older, they will need less of me each day and more other things (other teachers, other kids) and that it would be nice to be making more money.
My guess is that most of you reading this will find my thoughts pretty familiar. I’d love to know what you think, though, whether you stay at home with your kids or not (or maybe if you think about doing it one day in the future). Work-life-parenting stuff is not a binary situation and I think it’s helpful to know how other families make it work.
Hi friends! Has it really been a month? I was on such a roll for awhile but lately I’ve been working more (yay for money!) and we were traveling last week (yay for travel and also YAY for coming home). Here’s what’s going on.
Making: plans for our NEXT trip out east, even though we just got back from a weeklong trip. Advice to people with babies: FLY EARLY AND OFTEN, and then when your children become toddlers just never leave your city. Got it?
Cooking: I made dinner two nights in a row this week so where is my gold medal? Two nights ago was homemade chicken Caesar salad and last night was sausage and peppers in the crockpot (with mushrooms and tomatoes on the side). I’m actively trying to eat more veggies and protein at every meal. I also bought some little eggplants and am thinking of making this.
Drinking: my latte with zero sugar/Splenda in the morning. It’s actually still quite delicious! Also, I’m thinking about making some sangria for a girls night tonight because….sangria + girls night = perfection.
Reading: The Underground Girls of Kabul. It’s about girls who are raised as boys in Afghanistan and it’s well-written, amazingly researched, and more complicated than you’d think. If you like books about gender, foreign culture, or just longform non-fiction, I highly recommend it! I liked it so much I kept it for two days past the library due date AND stayed up until 1am to finish it.
Wanting: a whole day to lay on the couch and watch 12 hours of shows on my DVR, without kids
Looking: forward to date night this weekend — dinner and Gone Girl!
Playing: with trains, cars, tricycles, balls, and more! Also playing outside a ton while the weather is still nice.
Wishing: that Holden did not have a cold. His leaky sick face is just tragic.
Enjoying: the lovely weather we are having this week. Warm with a tidge of fall in the air.
Waiting: for the election to be over so I can have my husband back.
Wondering: if I should cut a few more inches off my hair. (like this length?)
Loving: I mentioned this on twitter, but I got two Chatbooks subscriptions. One is for me to have my Instragrams nicely printed and bound. The other is for the boys to look through pictures of themselves and they LOVE it! They love finding family members and pointing out bottles and pacifiers (weirdos). Highly recommend!
Hoping: that the kids will enjoy Halloween this year. I’m planning to dress them up as panda bears if they’ll let me!
Marveling: at how kids learn to talk. It’s like I’m getting a lesson in slo-mo.
Needing: someone to tell me it’s fine to skip a birthday party for the kids. I feel like I should do it, and it would be fun, but it would also be some amount of work and it turns out I am lazy.
Wearing: yoga pants and Andrew’s sweatshirt. Sexxxxxxay.
Following: I kept reading about the Serial podcast on twitter so I’m jumping on the bandwagon and following along (still on ep. 1).
Noticing: My neighborhood goes Halloween crazy. Maybe I need to get some decorations so we fit in?
Knowing: that I NEED to make myself a couple of doctor appointments yet I just haven’t done it. I also need to give the boys haircuts because they are totally shaggy.
Feeling: Sad for my friends who are trying to get pregnant and having a hard time. It seems like there are a lot of you out there right now. Sending lots of hugs your way.
Bookmarking: some ideas for pumpkin carving/decorating. I’m thinking about making a chalkboard pumpkin and then maybe painting another pumpkin something metallic and drilling polka dot holes into it. (The boys LOVE using the drill.)
Opening: my ballot and voting! It’s super awesome that in Colorado our ballots get automatically mailed to us. No need to register absentee or go in person.
Giggling: at how the twins still call Holden “Hobo” (both of them, all day long).
Thanks for the blog post idea, Jen!
I got my new fall/winter boots in the mail! I admit I’ve been shopping more than usual lately. I need to get some winter clothes for me, winter clothes for the boys, and fancy clothes for two upcoming weddings. I found these boots at Kohl’s and I’m really happy with them! What do you think? (Aside from the fact that they totally match my floors. I seriously need to hang a full length mirror somewhere in my house so I can take a legit photo.)
I put on a dress and makeup and did my hair, left the kiddos with my parents for the evening, and went to a gala dinner for an ovarian cancer organization. I honestly didn’t know much about ovarian cancer before tonight, but I was very touched by the speakers at the event and got emotional a couple of times. The keynote speaker was 33 when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. That’s my age!
Did you know that ovarian cancer is not something that’s screened for at your annual gyn exam?! Really the best/only way to be diagnosed early is to pay attention to any weirdness going on. 95% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer had 1 or more of these four common symptoms:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Urinary urgency or frequency
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
Those symptoms seem so…mundane. It worries me that there is no other screening/testing for something that is not uncommon. Sorry to get all serious about a really crappy disease, but if prevention and knowledge is the only thing that might lead to an early stage diagnosis, I wanted to share what I learned. (You can learn lots more here.) Thank you to my friend K for taking me tonight!
is a busy day. In the morning we are starting the process for speech therapy for Holden. To be honest, I am really not worried about the little guy, but we took him in for a (free) evaluation and he was about 5-6 months behind in expressive language, so he qualified for (free) speech therapy IN OUR HOUSE. So I can literally be in my yoga pants and they will come to my house and help me with my kid, for FREE? We said yes. (And I know it’s not really free, because this is what taxes pay for, but I’m happy that these resources exist.)
In the afternoon/evening, I am helping my mom photograph a wedding, or as it’s called in the business, “being a second shooter.” This is my second time being a second shooter, and I’m excited and nervous! I don’t really have any desire to be a wedding photographer, but I like weddings, and I like taking pictures, and it’s a fun and different experience from my normal day.
This is my fave photo that I took from the first wedding I did. It kind of helped that the bride was basically a supermodel.
What are you lovelies up to today, tomorrow, or yesterday?