I can’t believe we are already halfway through the month… THANK YOU so much to all of you who are reading and taking the time to comment, email, etc. about how much you are enjoying the series. I’m so honored to have so many talented and hard-working women contributing here!!
Today, my friend Heather (you might remember we were roommates for Blogher a coule summers ago) is sharing about her life as a part-time youth director/administrator and full-time mom/stepmom to four pre-teen/teenagers… I love her perspective on balancing a busy schedule with older kids and feeling called to work. Enjoy!
1. What is your typical day like?
For me, no two days are the same. Working 20 hours a week in ministry as well as 10 hours a week for a local small business owner, my hours vary day to day. What does remain the same is the 6:30am wake up call so that I can make sure the kids are alive and functioning. Once I get them out the door, then I have some time for myself. That might include household chores, or it might include watching an episode of Blue Bloods (love me some Donnie Wahlberg!)
The afternoons are always chaotic. With four kids, all of them involved in something, we’re always on the go, and many times diving and conquering.
2. Why do you work?
The main reason I work is because I’m called to work and because I love to work. I never dreamt of being a stay-at-home-mom and I don’t think any less of them or their role. That just wasn’t what God had in mind for me. So I’m doing what I’m called to do with my part time ministry position in the church. The additional 10 hours are not really out of necessity but rather as a buffer. With a high school senior this year comes high school senior expenses and so it was more so to make sure that we weren’t having to sacrifice elsewhere. (You know I can relate to the feeling of being called to work… I think that is so powerful!!)
3. What’s the best thing about being a working mom? What’s the worst or hardest thing?
The best thing about being a working mom is the ability to get out of the house and have a life outside of my kids. While I love all of our children, I’m careful not to let them define who I am. Yes, I am a mom. But I’m also many other things and have many other talents and gifts. (Amen.)
The hardest thing about being a working mom is missing out on things. I’m so very blessed that I have a flexible schedule and that I’m able to attend most things but not everything. It’s also hard to plan around all of these activities and events and not feel like you’re running all. the. time.
4. What items or tips do you recommend to help “make it work”?
We have some guidelines in our house. Keeping in mind that our four children range in age from almost 10 to 17, we have a 24 hour notice rule. This rule states that unless I don’t have 24 hours notice I don’t have to feel guilty and they can’t be mad for an answer of “no”. (This is so great. Genius.)
All of our children have access to the online calendar and are expected to use it. We have another rule that states “If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist.” meaning, if we say “yes” to a birthday party, etc., they have a certain responsibility in making sure it’s on the calendar. (Because I’m human, and I allow them to check up on me!) (My husband has really been on my case to join the google calendar craze – I’m still totally stuck on my paper planner. I love the idea of using it with our kids when they are older too though… Jeff thanks you for the plug.)
Additionally, we set guideline in how many activities they are encouraged to participate in. Our general rule is one activity per season and three of them are very active in sports. We do this so that they aren’t overworked and so that we are able to take them to and from without being taxed. Even with this guideline, we still have nights where I can’t figure out how we’re going to get it all done.
We are also very good about not giving in to the illusion that we can do it all ourselves. We are a blended family so one might thing that between four parents it can all get done, but it can’t. So I’m no longer shy to ask a friend to help transport if they are already going that way. Since I would, and do, return the favor, I don’t feel guilty in asking.
Finally, I try to plan ahead wherever possible. We meal plan and grocery shop with a list based on that plan. It’s on the calendar (most of the time) so if someone gets home before me, they can start dinner.
5. What encouragement, scripture, etc. has been important in your life and might be meaningful to another working mom?
When you’re called to work, it’s easy to beat yourself up because you feel like you’re “cheating on your kids” with your job. You’re not. You’re answering the call. I believe I’m dishonoring God when I’m NOT answering the call he’s placed on my heart or if I’m NOT using the gifts He’s blessed me with. (Man, I love this SO much. Such truth!!!)
Thanks girl! For more from Heather, check out her blog Desperately Seeking Sanity and her own 31 day series going on now…
Check back tomorrow for another great working mom post and (finally) a little pregnancy update from me.