Please welcome Katie to the blog today! She is momma to Cannon (2) and expecting Baby Boy #2 in December. She and her husband just re-located to her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia where she currently is learning to juggle motherhood with two part-time jobs – a church administrator Monday through Wednesday from 9 – 4 and with Arise Campus Ministry at George Mason University for a couple hours each day on Thursday and Friday. Here’s how she “makes it work”:
1. What is your typical day like?
Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday are my full days. We wake up sometime between 6:30-7:00am. There are days when my husband, a teacher, is already out the door by then or if he is going in “late” he’ll be around until 7:30am. I get Canon changed and he’ll sit on the couch/play in the living room with a cup of milk and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I run around trying to get everything ready. I try hard to have some time in the morning to sit down with my cup of coffee as well, but most of the time I’m prepping dinner or packing lunch and don’t.
We’re out the door at 8:00am. It’s about a 20 minute drive to the small in-home daycare Canon attends and on the way there he likes to point out all the school buses, diggers, tractors and dump trucks we see.
I drop him off and am back in the car for another 40ish minutes to my work (which is about 10 miles away, but DC traffic – even going the opposite way of the city – is terrible).
In the afternoon I leave at 4pm and am there to get him by 4:30pm. Though he is typically happy to see me, he isn’t always ready to leave, which I take as a good sign. We get home in time to give the car to Aaron so he can do some tutoring and most days we spend the 5pm-6pm hour at the playground across the street. There are quite a few kids whose nanny’s bring them there every afternoon, so it is like a built in play date. (I love that you schedule time with other kids and moms even though Canon has been at “school” all day. That often gets thrown to the side during the busyness of the week, but it is SO SO important for momma too.)
At 6pm we head inside and I try to start dinner. I’ll admit, most days we put on The Goodnight Show on Sprout, which features 15 minute segments of the Bearenstein Bears, Thomas and Zou. Canon definitely doesn’t sit and watch TV for this whole hour, but he’ll play and watch and it helps me get dinner ready. We try to eat (without the TV on!) around 6:30pm, which some days is all three of us, but most days its just me and Canon due to Aaron’s tutoring. Some nights we do a bath after dinner, some nights we don’t. Bedtime is at 7:30pm. We just transitioned Canon to a toddler bed, and I’m glad to say the routine has smoothed out. Books and songs in the rocking chair, lay in bed for a few minutes, then I’m out the door. Clean up, watch some adult TV (aka ESPN or HGTV) and then its to bed for me at 9pm.
Thursdays and Fridays are a bit different. We still wake up at the same time, but the morning can be a little slower since they are kind of work-from-home days. So I’ll drop Canon off at daycare between 8:30 and 9:00 and then I get to have some me time! I go to a bible study from 10a-12p and then when I get home I spend a few hours on the computer doing Arise Campus Ministry work. These are the days I try to get errands, especially grocery shopping, done because it is so much easier to do it alone. And since I’m in my 3rd trimester, I also try to take a nap when I can. On Fridays I go to Campus to lead a Bible study and to the Arise office to finish a few hours of work. Then the evenings looks the same!
We decided to put Canon in 5-day a week care, even though my Thursdays and Fridays are more flexible, a) for the continuity, b) for the social interaction and c) so I would have the flexibility to be on Campus/at the real office when I needed it. This way he can play and paint and run outside all day instead of me fighting to get him to stay in the grocery store cart! (I love this thinking. Honestly, I think it really is so much better for them to just be at daycare the extra time than get drug around town running errands with us usually. Also, I think that giving yourself that time – for a Bible study, nap, etc. – makes you a better mom and makes your time with your boy more intentional. Well done mama!)
2. Why do you work?
The most upfront answer is because I have to. We live outside DC in a really expensive area. My husband, whose calling is definitely to Lutheran School teaching and he is so good at it, doesn’t make a ton of money. Essentially, if we ever wanted to move out of my mom’s house, I had to get a job!
But I have wrestled with this question a ton, always asking myself “If money wasn’t an issue, would I stay home?” I still think the answer is no. I really love the work I am doing, especially with the Campus Ministry. It is so life-giving and encouraging to me, especially when parenting a “terrible two”-year old can be so draining. I think I would choose to work, at least part-time, no matter what. (I love your honesty in this answer and the conclusion you’ve come to. Perfect.)
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 time away!? Is that awful? I just mean that as referenced in the paragraph above, parenting is exhausting. Working gives me a chance to get away and put my energy into something I really love and that gives me the same energy back. As we transitioned Canon to 5 day care this past August, and I started working more hours, I’ve found that I’ve been a better parent. I love the time we get together at the beginning and end of the day and I’m much more engaged in our time together because I’m not drained. I’m also much more patient. I can focus my energy on quality time, like running around on the playground, or planning fun weekend activities, instead of counting down the hours until bedtime. (YES. I totally agree with this.)
I think the hardest part is feeling guilty for everything I just mentioned above! I am of course worried that I am less of a loving or good parent because I appreciate my time away, or that I am being insanely selfish. I worry that I’m not cut-out for this mothering thing. So it is definitely an on-going internal struggle, even though I don’t really have a choice!
4. What items or tips do you recommend to help “make it work”?
Meal planning has really helped make it work for us! I have two part-time jobs, my husband teaches full-time and tutors most evenings, so if we don’t have a plan for dinner, its not happening. We try to plan 5 meals per week and grocery shop once for everything.
Communication between my husband and I is also huge. Each night, even though it is in my calendar, we talk about the next day because we have to rely on each other to pass off the car, make dinner and do bedtime. Then we try to make the weekends super fun. We just signed Canon up for soccer, which we both attend, and it is awesome. We are going to make a fall and pre-baby bucket list that should help us create some really quality family time over the next 11 weeks, too!
5. What encouragement, scripture, etc. has been important in your life and might be meaningful to another working mom?
I think the most encouraging thing for me is to remember that we’re all just doing what is best for our family. I have friends that work, that don’t, that do part-time, that have kids in diapers or in school, and ultimately what is best is for all of us to encourage one another in our own situations.
I think no matter what parenting stage you are in, it is hard. The one thing I can say that could be meaningful to another working mom, or stay-at-home mom, is find a community! Be sure to have relationships with other moms who can help navigate whatever stage of parenting and/or working you are in!
Thanks Katie!!! (Read more from this busy mama – and check out her adorable pregnancy photos – at her blog We’ll Be in Touch.)
*I’ll be back later this afternoon with my own little pregnancy update – finally, so check in in a few hours!