Hope you all have enjoyed your Saturday so far. Ours has been BUSY but fun! Today, I’m happy to introduce you to my new blog-friend Amy. She lives in Portsmouth, Virginia with her husband of 14 years and their three boys – Sam (12), James (10), and Bennett (8). In addition to teaching full time in a program for elementary school kids with autism, Amy is also finishing her master’s degree in special education this May, helping to care for her mom who has MS and lives next door, and training for her 10th half marathon!! In her email, she said “I’ve never even commented on a blog before, much less done something like this…” So I hope y’all will give her a warm welcome!!
1. What is your typical day like?
On weekdays I am up at 5am. When I leave at 6, my husband and oldest son are just getting up. I have a nice quiet 25 minute commute to work that I actually enjoy! My students get off of the bus at 7:30, so I usually have a good hour before they get there to get things done. While I’m already at work, my husband is at home getting our kiddos ready for the day. My middle-schooler gets on the bus around 7:45. My younger two don’t have to be at school until 9:00, so most days my husband leaves them with my mom (who lives right next door) and she drops them off at school. I teach elementary students who have autism, so while we try to keep everything pretty structured, I never know what kind of day we are going to have! I can count on being “on” all day long and being exhausted when I put them on the bus at 2:15! Depending on the day and what meetings I have, I leave work anywhere between 3:00 and 4:00. If I get out early enough, I’ll pick up the kids from school and if I can’t make it, my husband will. Then it’s off in different directions for swim and baseball practice. Usually 3 out of the 5 weeknights we all sit down together for dinner around 6:30-7:00. We try to keep dinner simple but healthy, and sometimes it is cereal or grilled cheese! After dinner we have a chaotic but productive homework, shower, and chores rotation going! Sometimes if I’m motivated and lucky, I’ll squeeze in a run. By 8:00, the boys usually settle down to read or watch TV, and I settle down to attack some more work or grad school assignments. The boys are in bed around 9:00, and I sadly don’t make it much past that anymore!
2. Why do you work?
Before I had kids, I taught first grade. After having my first son, I decided to not work outside of the home. For ten years I was a “stay at home mom”. Two years ago when my youngest was finally in school all day, I went back to teaching. I thought I was going to slowly get back into teaching by being a substitute or assistant, but I was hired to be a teacher the DAY BEFORE SCHOOL STARTED! It happened so fast, I didn’t really have time to process it. It just felt right, the timing was perfect, and we needed the income and insurance. While I stayed at home when my kiddos were younger, and I don’t regret that at all, I always knew I would go back to teaching one day. I’m one of those dorky teachers who feels called to teach. I can’t imagine any other career. (I love hearing that this route has worked for you. SO many of my teacher friends take time off when they have babies with the full intention of returning when they are older… I definitely believe that teaching gets in your blood too – once you’re in, you can’t ever really leave it.)
3. What’s the best thing about being a working mom? What’s the worst or hardest thing?
Because I haven’t always worked, we’ve had to make a ton of adjustments the last few years. It’s been very challenging, but I’m so proud of our family for making it work! One of the great things about being a working mom is that I feel like it fosters a sense of teamwork for our family. To make it work, we all have to give a little more of ourselves, our energy and our flexibility. The hardest part is that I feel spread pretty thin the few hours a day that I’m not at work. There’s always laundry to do, groceries to be bought, lesson plans to write… Since my kids are older and in school, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on precious time with them while I’m working, but I still miss ball games or field trips or even helping them with homework some nights depending on work or grad school demands.
4. What items or tips do you recommend to help “make it work”?
Most days I feel like things work because of my husband! He is so helpful around the house and with the boys! But, since I won’t share him with any of you, I guess I’ll have to think about what else helps to make it work…
I do think it helps as seeing your family as a team. I know it’s harder with younger children, but having our kids physically help (chores, getting stuff together for their lunches, or putting away clothes) makes a huge difference and gives them a sense of responsibility. We also are a team relationally. We try to be a family who shares our hearts, seeks forgiveness and embraces all of our imperfections.
Practically we do a few things that help with the weekly chaos. Did you know you can freeze PB &J sandwiches!?!? I make 15 on Sunday afternoons and put them in the freezer. In the morning, I take them out and put them right in their lunch boxes. My boys also have baskets in the pantry with their snacks for lunches in them (raisins, pretzels, applesauce, etc.). They’re responsible for putting it in their lunchboxes at night. I add the sandwich and fruit in the morning and they’re good to go! I know it’s boring having the same lunch, but it’s easy and works! (I love the idea of making all the sandwiches on Sunday and having them frozen and ready to throw in lunch boxes. Genius.)
Probably the most important tip to make it work though, is to not compare what you’re doing to what others are doing! This is always a real struggle for me, so I have to actively make an effort to stop comparing!! Sometimes when I get on Facebook, or blogs (not yours, E!), or Pinterest, I feel like I’m doing everything wrong. We don’t eat healthy 100% of the time, we aren’t as “green” as we should be, my house is definitely not a Pottery Barn catalog, we don’t look like we belong in a clothing catalog, and that’s OK! We’re generally healthy, clean and happy! (AMEN.)
5. What encouragement, scripture, etc. has been important in your life and might be meaningful to another working mom?
I always have to remind myself to enjoy the journey! Frequently I feel myself wishing for Friday, or for the summer, or for when my kids are out of their current stage. I realize that I’m not enjoying where we are now! Even with the total chaos and challenges, I want to enjoy these moments before they pass. I’m confident that all too soon I’ll miss being a taxi driver, staying up late trying to get stains out of baseball pants, dealing with puberty, refereeing three boys, stepping on Legos all of the time, wiping dirty handprints off of every door knob, and listening to arguments over screen time. It wasn’t that long ago that I was up all night with a screaming newborn, potty-training a toddler, or reasoning with a 3 year old, and I miss those days. (You wipe off your door knobs?!? I’ve never even considered that! Haha. Just kidding… Great word here.)
Thanks for being here today Amy!
Now back to binge watching Daniel Tiger on Amazon and grading papers…