Tag Archives: working mom

Adding My $.02 to the Age-Old Debate

20 Nov

Since everyone and their grandma has opinions on the working vs. stay-at-home mom debate, let me throw mine into the mix.

I went back to work 3 days a week when Emma was about 4 months old. I was blessed to have such a long maternity leave – I think both Emma and I needed that time together. But even though I was a little nervous at the thought of someone else taking care of Emma, I was ready to go back to work. I needed some structure to my week and was looking forward to having a reason to shower and get dressed nicely.

I enjoyed working 3 days a week. Having 3 days at a computer allowed me time to think coherent thoughts and feel accomplished in a professional sense. It also enabled me to send personal emails, schedule appointments, and play fantasy football (haha) during random downtimes. Even though getting bottles ready, pumping and commuting an hour each way made those days a little hectic, it was nice once I got to work to be able to breathe and have a break from baby stuff.

Working those 3 days also made the days I stayed home with Emma extra special – we stayed in our jammies until noon, did random stuff around the house, ran errands and hung out with friends. I felt more energetic and creative as a mom when I was with Emma as a result of having the time away from her.

When we moved to Minnesota, I stopped working. My employer had already made a special concession to let me go down to 3 days – I doubt they would’ve approved working from home on top of that. I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay anyway. On top of no longer working, we lived 10 minutes outside a town of 300 for 3 months. Talk about a huge shift.

I knew that I couldn’t judge what being a stay-at-home mom is like based on those 3 months, so even though I wasn’t *loving* it, I was patient. I have now been a SAHM with Emma for about 9 months – equal to the time I was a working mom. Emma and I have gotten involved and have a fairly regular weekly routine, so I feel like I have a fairly accurate idea of what being a SAHM is like. And I can say that I prefer working part-time. Don’t get me wrong. There are many things that are great about staying home full-time. I like the ability to get things done during the day instead of taking care of them after work or on the weekends. I like cooking dinner at a reasonable hour. I like seeing Emma grow and learn new things, and being the one taking care of her. I like going to playdates and MOPS and spending time outside.

But just like working outside the home has its challenges, so does staying home. You don’t get a break. You have a little needy person (or persons) with you constantly. It’s impossible to get anything done without being interrupted and some days, you need an extra gallon of patience that never seems to arrive. So sure, hypothetically you have all the time in the world to bake and clean and craft and Facebook, but in reality, you’re just chasing a kid around all day, keeping them from injuring themselves, drawing on your furniture or yanking on the dog’s tail.

More than that though, I miss the personal fulfillment of working. When I gave birth to Emma, I became a mom, but I didn’t stop being me. I am happier and more myself when I have a creative outlet, a personal goal, time to think and accomplish things without a little person tugging on my leg or the worry that naptime will be over soon.

That’s me though. I am not a natural ‘kid person’ and never have been. Some people are, and that’s great. Some moms love staying home, and that’s great. Some moms love working, and that’s great. There are tradeoffs, sacrifices, challenges and benefits of each way. I truly believe that every family needs to do what is right for them. Travis and I are fortunate to have the financial means to make the choice freely. I know other families do not have that option.

What I would like to see is for women to stop picking sides and declaring which way is ‘right’ or ‘better’. Just the other day, I read a supposedly objective essay on this debate, and the author was clearly biased toward staying home (because she happened to be a SAHM). Just because you do things one way doesn’t make it the right way. And let’s be honest, fellow SAHMers – do we REALLY want all of the college-educated, intelligent, driven women to check out of the workforce once they have kids? Do we REALLY want a society run by males? We do not! Women are a crucial part of the workforce.

I realize that I may come across as slightly hypocritical by saying that, since I am not currently working outside the home. Even though I would prefer to work part-time, I have found that the number of professional part-time jobs out there (especially where I currently live) are virtually nonexistent. I know plenty of women who work full-time, but I personally would prefer not to (and I’m blessed to have that choice). So that might make me a hypocrite, but so be it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the age-old debate of working vs. stay-at-home mom. Neither is easy. Both have challenges. Both have rewards. All moms love their kids.

A Day in the Life {At Work}

18 Nov

Before I went back to work, I looked online for examples of what working mothers’  schedules looked like. How did they handle dinner? When was bedtime? How did they get stuff ready for the next day? After scouring the interwebs, I didn’t really find any examples of workday schedules. So I thought it would be interesting, and hopefully helpful to some, to write a “Day in the Life” post about a typical day in the life of a working mom (and a 7-month old). 

I also wanted to mention that at first, going back to work and figuring out what to do when and how was very overwhelming (I seriously made about 15 different schedules trying to ‘nail it down’). But after a week or 2, we fell into our own rhythm and it works pretty well. Mornings when Travis isn’t home are definitely more hectic but we manage. Anyway… here was our day last Thursday.

3:00 am – Emma’s crying. She sounds pretty upset. I find her on her belly in her crib. Since she usually wakes up to nurse about this time, I nurse her and put her back down after bouncing her a little.

5:50 – Emma’s crying again. Usually when she wakes up for the day, she’s happy and just coos in her crib for a while. Not today. I find her on her belly again! Silly girl. It’s like she forgets that she knows how to roll over. I change her diaper, clean out her stuffy nose with saline drops and a bulb syringe, and nurse her.

6:15 – Emma plays on her playmat while I let the dogs out, feed them and brew a cup of coffee. I turn on the news and play with Emma while I drink my coffee. Ahh…

6:35 – I give Travis his 10-minute warning (he was up late playing hockey) and feed Emma mango for breakfast.

6:45 – I put Emma in bed with Travis while I jump in the shower. Then I do my hair, makeup and get dressed while Emma jumps in her jumperoo.

7:10 – While Travis dresses Emma, I make my lunch, get the bottles and diaper bag ready, make another cup of coffee and 2 pieces of peanut butter toast, and load my car with the following: purse, breast pump, pumping cooler, Emma’s bottle cooler, diaper bag, lunch bag, water bottle, peanut butter toast and coffee mug. So much stuff!

20131114_174059Travis was going to pair magenta pants with this shirt… I will never understand what goes through his mind regarding color combinations. 

7:30 – We’re out of the door on time! I eat my toast in the car as we drive to daycare.

7:53 – Arrive at Charlotte’s house. We chat for a bit and then I drive to work.

8:28 – Arrive at work.

9:50 – First pumping session. I get 5 oz!

10:30 – Back at my desk for snack time!

20131114_10322311:30 – I’m still hungry so I eat lunch.

20131114_11285812:45 – Second pumping session. Only 3 oz this time.

1:10 – Back at my desk.

1:50 – Snack time again! I am a bottomless pit today.

20131114_1352042:40 – I’m yawning so I go get a peppermint mocha from our on-campus coffee shop with a co-worker.

3:30 – Third (and final) pumping session. I get 3 oz.

4:30 – Leave work to go pick up Emma. I’m done for the week! (Usually I leave at 5, but today I need to pick Emma up early.) On the way to my car, I run into a co-worker who had a baby 3 weeks after me but then moved to our Seattle office. We catch up for 10 minutes.

5:05 – Pick Emma up from Charlotte’s. She had a good day at daycare, with one fussy period, and has been awake since 4:00.

5:30 – Get home. Emma has a poopy diaper, so I change it and feed her pureed spinach/banana for dinner. It’s the first time she’s tried it and she really likes it! Then while Travis watches Emma, I make dinner for us – homemade macaroni and cheese with mixed veggies. It’s the best I could do – I need to go grocery shopping tomorrow. (Often, Travis makes dinner while I feed Emma.)

20131114_1824396:30 – Bath time! We read Emma some of Little House in the Big Woods while she splashes. Then we put on her diaper, lotion and jammies, sing a song and pray.

6:50 – I nurse Emma.

7:15 – Emma’s asleep! I’m glad that she went down easy instead of being wide awake for another 30 minutes. I drink a couple glasses of wine while Travis and I watch Breaking Bad and hang out.

9:20 – Bedtime!

11:30 – Emma’s awake. Ugh. Apparently she traded going down easy with being awake for 2.5 hours in the middle of the night. After nursing, letting her play in her crib, bouncing, rocking and everything else, I’m at the end of my rope. We let her cry for a bit until she gets really upset and then Travis goes in to get her back to sleep. It takes him about 30 minutes.

And that’s a wrap!

……………………….

If you missed A Day in the Life {At Home}, click here.

Learning Our Parenting Style

21 Jun

I’m supposed to go back to work in 2.5 weeks. This has caused me to panic just a bit.

I feel like we’re just finally getting to know Emma. For the first 3 weeks of her life, she was pretty easygoing and slept quite a bit. Then we had the month of her crying almost all day, every day, due to her swallowing too much air during nursing. When she started feeling better, we were on vacation for 2 weeks. So we’ve really only been at home with Emma alert and happy for about 2 weeks – and Emma’s almost 3 months old!

With my return to work looming, I have been feeling pressure to get Emma on a schedule – though we have been following the routine of eat-play-sleep for several weeks, it was at different times everyday. Emma went to bed at a different time, meaning she woke up at a different time. So each day was different. Returning to work, I’ll have to leave the house at a specific time, which means getting Emma up at a specific time. And with Travis traveling for work a lot this summer, I’ll be on my own for many of the days I work. I think a schedule would also be helpful for my friend who is going to be taking care of Emma, so she doesn’t need to constantly guess what Emma wants.

The only problem is, putting her on a 3-hour schedule hasn’t been working. I’ve discovered that Emma’s maximum awake time (from the end of one nap to the beginning of the next) is about an hour and 15 minutes – and that means starting to try to get her to sleep for her nap after about an hour. She’s not awake for very long but anything longer and she gets really fussy and it takes her a very long time to fall asleep.

So she’s awake for about an hour and 15 minutes, and her naps are usually 45 minutes long if I put her down. If I think she needs a longer nap, I’ll hold her for the first 45 minutes and then put her down. She’ll usually sleep an additional 45 minutes that way, but sometimes she wakes up when I try to put her down. Sometimes I’m able to get her back to sleep for a longer nap but lately, I’ve just been feeding her after 2 hours if she’s wide awake. Emma has taken longer naps in the Baby Bjorn, but I think she’s getting to the age when she’s too interested in what’s going on around her that she has to be really tired to sleep in there now.

And we’re still rocking, bouncing, and shushing her to sleep with a pacifier and swaddle, both at bedtime and for her naps. I don’t really see a way around that yet without lots and lots of crying – and I could totally see her being one of those babies who cries so hard they throw up. I’m not ready to go there – and I’m not sure I ever will be. I’m mostly hoping that as Emma gets older, her need for that amount of help to sleep will decrease. I know there are plenty of people who would say that we’re teaching Emma to depend on props for sleep, and who knows, they might be right. But right now, we’re parenting with the philosophy of “It’s not a problem until it is.”

Otherwise, it’s easy to drive yourself crazy. I know because I’ve been driving myself crazy. I’ve read about 6 different books on how to get your baby to sleep, plus countless blogs and forum posts. I’ve been so unsure and confused as to what I think we should be doing with Emma that I’ve changed my mind probably about 100 times. I’ve been tempted to laugh/cry when I hear people say, “Do whatever you know is right for your family.” Um, that’s exactly what I don’t know and what I’m trying to figure out. Travis has been very encouraging and laidback, reminding me to just focus on one thing.

The most helpful book I read was Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. It helped me see that going from being rocked to sleep and held during naps to being put down awake and sleeping on her own for naps (she does fine at night) would be a very big and unwelcome change for Emma. So instead of overcorrecting for everything we ‘shouldn’t’ be doing (I have more thoughts on parenting shoulds that I’ll share in a later post) with Emma, we’re taking it slow – focusing first on getting her to sleep in her Rock ‘n’ Play for naps (meaning we get her to sleep and then put her in there). But again, if I can tell that she needs a longer nap or would wake up if I put her down, I just hold her. That’s why I haven’t been blogging a ton! Though I am getting pretty good at writing posts on my phone (which is what I’m doing right now).

So what’s my plan for returning to work? First, I decided to take my full allotment of FMLA leave and not return to work until July 30. This will give Emma another 3 weeks to mature and me an additional 3 weeks to figure out how best to mother her. That way, hopefully I can leave Emma with my friend without worrying about her crying all day – not fun for Emma or Charlotte. But maybe the 4-month sleep regression will make that a hard time to go back too…

Second, I’m continuing the eat-play-sleep routine on a 2 to 3 hour schedule. It has been very helpful for me personally to be ok with feeding Emma every 2 hours if that is when she wakes up. It has taken so much pressure off to not have to make her get to a certain time. And I’m not frustrated when she wakes up after 45 minutes because I expect it (though I hope that she extends her naps as she gets older).

Last, I’m going to stop worrying so much. I’m going to surround myself with similar-minded mothers – those who didn’t let their kids cry it out but can testify that they eventually grow out of whatever phase they’re in. And most of all, I’m going to trust God to guide me and give me the wisdom I need to be the mother that Emma needs and that I’m called to be. Parenting is just one more aspect of the Christian life that requires a moment-by-moment dependence on the Holy Spirit and relationship with Jesus. I don’t have to fear ‘messing it up’ with Emma because God is actively at work in our lives. This verse has been a great comfort to me recently:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Parents – how did you decide on your parenting style?