Friends, because I’m crazy, I decided on Saturday (September 27th) that I wanted to participate in The Nester’s 31 Day Blogging Challenge. I’ve tried this before and failed miserably because I wrote about something I wasn’t 100% passionate about (like diet and exercise) and/or because I tried to tackle it all by myself. This time, however, I’m wising up! I’ve invited 30 other working mommas (mostly YOU – my wonderful readers) to join me in the month of October and share some of the practical and heart stuff that help “make it work” day to day as we juggle TWO very different worlds.
As you know, this is a topic I care a lot about, and I’m excited to connect with other working moms over the next 31 days to swap stories, give advice, and – most importantly – encourage one another. I did a very similar series on my old blog a few years ago and the response was great. I know there is a need for this on the internet, and I’m excited to see how the Lord will use it (and these awesome women) this month.
Each day, I’ll be asking a different contributor to answer the same five questions and posting their answers here. It’s as simple as that. *Don’t worry, I’ll still be posting some other content too periodically, but I hope this series will be a blessing to MANY of you!
So, welcome to 31 days of “Making It Work as a Working Mom.” To start us off, I thought I’d share my own responses today…
1. What is your typical day like?
Typical? What’s typical? Seriously, I try SO hard to make and stick to a routine… But, it seems like every day is a little bit different for us. Maybe one day! Anyway, I’ll do my best —
I wake up some time between 5AM (on a good day) and 6AM and have breakfast, shower, and get ready for work. My school day starts at 7:30AM, so I’m out the door by 7:15 at the very latest. Ninety percent of the time, both of my boys (Jeff and Sam) are still in bed when I leave. Jeff takes care of Sam in the mornings and gets him fed, dressed, and off to preschool on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. On those days, our wonderful sitter picks Sam up from school at noon and brings him to our house for lunch and a nap until I get home around 2:30 or 3. (On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they just spend the whole day together at our house.)
I’m fortunate enough to work in a very non-traditional school setting… Basically, I work at a STEM Academy and teach in a special program for ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade students from all five area high schools that are interested in Mass Communications. They are studying graphic design, broadcast, photography, etc. English is their *bonus* class. 😉 Because these kids go back to their base high schools for classes in the afternoon, we only have students on our campus until 11AM. After that, I’m free to leave for a quick lunch if I want to, and then spend my afternoons assisting with the GED program/testing, working on special school-wide projects, offering remediation for other programs, and planning. I LOVE that this job allows me to do what I love – which is teach – but not come home with hours and hours worth of school work every day. Truly, it is a dream position.
When I get home at 3ish, Sam is usually just waking up from his nap. I usually chat with Jennifer for a little bit and sit with Sam while he has a snack, etc. Then, especially lately, I’ve been trying to be really intentional about spending time just PLAYING with him before we start our evening busyness. These days, that looks like a lot of football in the front yard (tackle, of course) and Candy Land (he cheats). Then, sometime around 4:30 or 5, I try to squeeze in an hour of light exercise (so I don’t gain 50 pounds again this pregnancy). This is usually at the gym where they have childcare for Sam (which he loves) or, lately, since the weather has been so nice, a long walk outside pushing Sam in a stroller and listening to a podcast. (Elizabeth Ivie recommended podcasts while walking on her blog, and I’ve become kind-of obsessed!!)
Jeff typically gets home from work (and the gym) around 6:15, and we make dinner. If I’m being honest, most nights he makes it. We started doing meals from Blue Apron about a month ago, and so far we really like it. (More on that one day maybe.) We eat at about 7, clean up, play a little bit, and then Jeff gives Sam a bath around 8:30/8:45 while I pick up a little bit, pack bags/lunches for the next day, etc. I usually read with Sam before bed and our little night owl is tucked in some time around 9 or 9:30. I wish I could say that Jeff and I spend quality time together after bedtime, but the truth is, we are usually exhausted by that point. Most nights we fall into bed with our Kindles and read side by side for a little bit before turning the lights off around 10.
*Of course, none of this accounts for Monday night Dancing with the Stars with friends, Wednesday night Bible Study, or any other “special” plans during the week – in which case, all bets are off.
2. Why do you work?
I’ve said this before here, but I actually don’t really work for the money. Sure, we enjoy the financial freedom that a second income brings, but I really do believe that God has called me to be a mom AND to be a teacher during this season of my life. I work because my job as a high school teacher is my primary ministry outside of raising my boy. I also believe that the structure and routine a job provides for me, as well as my family, helps me to make the most of my time and be the best I can be. Most of the time, I can honestly say (and my husband would attest as well), that I am a better mom when I am working (of course, there are plenty of times when things get totally crazy and out of whack too). Plus, I love that teaching still allows me lots of quality time at home with Sam, keeps me young, challenges my mind, and helps me to set an example of hard work and calling for my son.
3. What’s the best thing about being a working mom? What’s the worst or hardest thing?
I kind-of touched on the best things about being a working mom in my answer above. But, I’ll add to the list – I love that Sam is loved by SO many people. He has really grown into such a fun, outgoing, and secure little boy, and I credit a lot of that to the fact that he has been raised in true community and that there are so many people in his life that he feels comfortable with. Some might consider this a negative, but I like that he has many different voices in his life and that he is learning things that I never would be able to or think about teaching him – like Miss Jennifer’s sons introducing him to robots, his teacher at school working on The Lords Prayer, etc. etc. etc. etc.
The hardest thing – right now – is worrying that other people think I am less of a mom because I work. My heart breaks a little every time someone says that they “can’t imagine allowing someone else to raise their babies” – and you’d be surprised how I often I hear something in that vein (even from very well-intentioned people). Just because I’m not at home with Sam 24/7, doesn’t mean I’m not the one raising him!! There is a lot more to being a parent than just time. As much as I am confident in my decision to work, I still struggle with insecurities about what other people think of me and allow myself to believe lies sometimes. That said, being a working mom has taught me a lot about finding my identity in God and not in other people and about not getting caught up in comparison but trusting that He calls each of to different things, and this is where he has me right now.
Another thing I struggle with as a working mom is just the fact that I don’t really have “control” over my day to day. Even though I love my schedule most of the time, if Sam is sick or just needs some extra attention one day, I can’t just “throw my plans to the wind” and be fully focused on him. There are still bosses to call, sick days to count, sub plans to be written, etc. That’s hard. I fully believe that stay at home moms have a SUPER hard job, and I know most of their days are even busier than mine, but I do envy the freedom they have to change plans on a whim or adapt their routine as life calls for it.
Beyond that, of course I feel guilty sometimes or just sad about missing some of the everyday blessings of parenting – simple things like not being the one to fix Sam his breakfast in the morning or to pick him up from school – but, overall, I really do think that, in general, the positives (for me) outweigh the negatives.
(Thank goodness I’m in charge here and can list multiple best and worst things here if I want to!)
4. What items or tips do you recommend to help “make it work”?
I’m BIG on list making. I keep a master To Do List on my laptop for work (which I hardly ever look at at home) and my Simplified Planner from Emily Ley is packed to the brim with appointments, and “To Do”s. I’ve also, just recently, started using the Reminder app on my iPhone to keep track of random things that pop in to my head that need to be done, items to be picked up at the grocery store, etc. I hardly ever cross everything off my list in a day (like, basically, NEVER), but just the fact that it is written down helps me not to stress about it. I pretty much repeat the mantra “it will all get done” 100 times each day to myself. And, most of the time, (at least the important stuff) DOES.
Other than that, I just KNOW that I can’t do it all and am not afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Our sitter is AMAZING and does a lot of our housework and Sam’s laundry, Jeff splits duties with me 50/50 (sometimes even more like 60/40 since I’ve been pregnant), and we are blessed to have both sets of grandparents in town (and two sets of aunts & uncles) who help us whenever we need it. I used to feel guilty about relying so much on other people, but now I just know that that is part of the gift God has given me in this season of life. I try to appreciate it and pray that, at some point down the road, I will be able to repay it by loving and serving a young family in my life.
5. What encouragement, scripture, etc. has been important in your life and might be meaningful to another working mom?
A girlfriend of mine who was working on her MFA at the time had a professor tell her that the best gift she could give her child was a mother who was passionate about something. I LOVE that, and remembering it has gotten me through many a hard or busy week.
And there you have it! Stay tuned for LOTS more of these posts from some amazing women in all different walks of life!
P.S. If you would still like to contribute, please email me!! (firstname.lastname@example.org)