Tag Archives: Working Moms

Reveling In My Land Of Nod

Greetings and salutations from my own little Land of Nod. I arrived here on Jan. 4 and it’s the best place I’ve been in about five years. I believe you would refer to this dreamy locale as “maternity leave.”

Image by Erica Lynn Photography

I’m one of the lucky few Americans who has a job waiting for her after taking a maternity leave that’s longer than the 12 weeks granted under the Family Medical Leave Act. I recognize and am soaking up this blessing (and it’s so sad that my situation isn’t more common, but I digress…)

When Logan was born, I took off seven months and it was needed. He was colicky, I had breastfeeding woes the first three months and despite all of my reading to try to prepare myself, I felt completely inadequate and lost. In short, it was a mindfcuk.

This time, it’s been loads easier because Ethan is an easy-going kid and I’ve got second-time-around-mommy-know-how. Plus Logan is still going to daycare, so many days it’s just me and my smiley infant. And it’s perfect.

I spend my days chatting it up with the little guy (he’s a great listener,) lying on the floor watching him play and listening to him coo. When he first grabbed a toy, or rolled over or sat on the floor without tipping over, I whooped it up so much you would have thought Publisher’s Clearinghouse knocked on the door.

Where’s that ballsy journalist who sharpened her elbows tussling in the Chicago media scrums? Or the one who would push, push and push reporters to get the right context in a story? She’s still here, she’s just sleeping. I wake her up if something goes awry at my daycare or if a parent pisses me off, but for now, she’s sleeping.

And a more chill, happier me is in the driver’s seat. I’ve had time to catch up with my friends, toting my little guy to lunches, hanging out at friends’ homes or gabbing on the phone to my BFF every day. That hasn’t happened since college.

I have been hesitant to blog about how great it’s been, I mean, it seems like no one wants to hear about how happy people are… And aren’t working moms supposed to hate staying at home? You know, since poopy diapers aren’t as scintillating as Powerpoint.

My days aren’t sunshine and lollipops 24/7, but they’re pretty damn good. Though I love it at home, I’m returning to the ranks of the working. A couple of working moms I’ve talked to said they felt the same way with their second maternity leave. And maybe we love it so much because we know it’s temporary, so we’re milking the stay-at-home experience for all that it’s worth.

I’m not sure, I can analyze it later. Right now, I’m still enjoying the ride.

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Mommy Guilt: Save The Guilt For Late-Night Ice Cream and Pizza

When I’m at work, I feel guilty for not spending more time with my kid. When I’m with my kid, I feel bad for not doing more for work. Either way, I feel guilty.

It’s like that for moms. We feed bad, we feel guilty, we feel responsible when things don’t work out “right.” And who can blame us? Guilt trips are given by many: from our friends, grandparents, spouses, colleagues, doctors, the list goes on and on. And it starts early, are you getting an epidural? Circumcision or no? Will you let your baby cry herself to sleep? Breast or bottle? Using Time Outs? It’s enough to make your head spin.

Why should we moms add to the list? Also, do dad’s feel the same way? I know Hubby regrets not spending more time with Logan, especially since he logs 60 to 70 hours a week, but I don’t think he mentally flogs himself like I’m prone to doing.

In my sensible mind, I know Logan’s fine at daycare and loves it and I know that at work I’m busting my ass. But in my heart, well it’s not as reasonable as my mind, and that’s where the guilt comes in.

So I try to lean on my brain power to help figure out a better balance.

  • Hire help. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. If you can afford it, get help. We have a cheap cleaning lady come to do the heavy duty cleaning. That way we’re spending our weekends doing fun stuff as a family instead of scrubbing toilets. There’s other help that’s out there, hiring someone to drive your kid to and from daycare can eliminate your daycare commute, freeing up more of your time.
  • Be creative with your work schedule. If your employer allows, see what you can do with your schedule to make it work for your family. My bosses let me come in early and leave in the late afternoon and I often take lunch at my desk, which for some is inadvisable, but it helps me plow through my To Do list. One friend of mine works an extra hour Monday through Thursday so that she can have a short work day on Friday, allowing her to spend extra time with her daughter then.
  • Change. If the guilt is too overwhelming and the flexibility is not there, look to change your situation. Easier said than done, especially in this economy, but still it’s worth a try. In the end you gotta be honest with yourself and ask, is it worth it?

Finding a Balance in Juggling Demanding Careers

As a journalist, my job is demanding. The hours can be long and are often inflexible, but I love it. I was bit by the bug when I was 16 and haven’t turned back. Hubby’s job is no cake walk either. He works at least 60 hours a week, the past few months it’s been closer to 70. What do you do when both parents have demanding jobs?

I find myself struggling with this a bit, looking for ideas and inspiration, but have found in many couples, one parent has a demanding job and the other’s is either part-time, very flexible or not too stressful. If both parents are operating at a breakneck pace, they’re usually in a tax bracket higher than ours and can afford paying for more help around the house or have family members that can mend the gap.

We haven’t figured out a good formula on how to make this work, because we’re constantly revising our approach, but some of the mainstays have been compromise, communication and courage.

Compromise. What that means depends on the situation. Hubby often works late and in return I get spare time on the weekends to sleep in and catch up on my snooze deficit. This week he’s gone at a conference and I am a single parent all week long. Next weekend I’m staying in the city with a high school friend who’s in town. There’s yin and yang. We don’t have formal agreements of who gets what and I’m sure it’s not always 50/50, but that’s OK. We talk about it, understand and respect each other’s priorities to make it work. Both have to give a bit so that one isn’t resentful of the other. The resentment can easily pop up, but you have to talk about it to squash it out and move on.

Communicate. Not only talk to your spouse, but talk to your employer about what’s going on in your life. I know, moms, we often feel bad about pulling the “child card” (i.e. “Sorry I can’t stay late, I have to pick up my kid from daycare.”) But remember it’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation. Often your back is up against the wall and there really isn’t anything else you can do. Until someone invents a machine that can create two of you, all of us, moms and dads, have to realize that your employer is going to have to accept you saying “No.” You’re never going to be on your death bed wishing you spent just one more day in the office.

Courage. If the situation really isn’t working out for you and your family, and you find it’s tearing your home apart, have the courage to change. Whether that means a new role in the office, a new job entirely, even accepting a pay cut, give it serious thought. In this economy especially, it’s hard to walk away but honestly, Americans (me included) overspend tons, so take a hard look at those finances and take a look at what life would be like with less: less work, less cushion, less juggling, but will it mean more happiness? You decide.

The Sleep Battle: Will This War Ever Be Won?

I got kicked in the nose. Time: 1:53 a.m. Place: My bed. Alleged Offender: My kid.

Sound familiar?

Hey fellow moms, what is it with this sleep, or lack of sleep, thing? He’s almost three and we’re still struggling with sleep issues. He used to be a good sleeper, but that was ages ago. Now going to bed is increasingly a chore because all he wants to do is play with mom and dad, even pulls out the “I miss you” line which yanks at ye olde heart strings.

Then once he’s down, he gets up in the middle of the night, probably three times a week. We try not to bring him into our bed, but sometimes you know that you’ve got a tough day tomorrow at work and you’re already at the end of your rope, and you just. need. sleep. He comes into our bed once a week and last week I slept on his floor one night. (My back loved that.)

Most of my mommy friends stay at home or as I prefer to call them: Work Inside The Home. Most of their kids don’t do this. I know we shouldn’t compare our kids to other kids, each one is different yadda,yadda,yadda, but the truth is we do. So anyway, most of them don’t have this issue. Many of the working moms I do know struggle with this problem.

It all makes me wonder if it’s because moms who work inside the home are able to be tougher on letting their kid just cry for an hour or two. It sucks if you’re tired all day and home alone with the kid. You’re grumpy and struggling not to kill them. I’ve been there. However, when I’m going into work the next day, I’m grumpy, struggling and I could screw something up, causing even more ramifications later in the week.

I obviously don’t have a solution, or I would have written a post about that. I am just curious as to if anyone’s has noticed that same difference or if it’s just that I need to get a better balance of friends who work inside the home vs. outside the home. Or maybe I just need to stop comparing my kid’s sleeping habits to others, accept that this is how things are and suck it up.

Thoughts?

Working Moms Hustlin’ Through The Rat Race

We’re busy. Everyone’s busy. In this 24-hour, gimme now, result-obsessed, I’ll-sleep-when-I’m-dead-society, we’re all just too damn busy. I know this, you know this. We can talk about changing it later, when we’ve got time.

I do, though, want to discuss some of the creative ways we’ve handled the hustle. Just last week, hubby and I had to do a car hustle because one of ours was in the shop. We’ve got two: a Jeep, the family car, and a two-seater left over from our wild and free days. Anyway, the two-seater is an Audi TT that has been chipped to go even faster and we get it serviced at this high-performance car place light years from our house.

After a long day of work and I know we have to make that haul from Chicago’s Loop to the suburbs and then travel another 20 miles to another burb all means that Logan isn’t going to make his 7:30 p.m. bedtime. He probably wouldn’t eat dinner until 8 p.m. So before picking him from school, I busted out three ziploc bags and filled them with diced chicken, broccoli (I know, he’s one of the weird kids in that it’s his favorite veggie) and grapes. That and a huge vat of juice and we were good to go.

At first I felt a little guilty for having him eat out of bags, but then I loved the time it saved. I briefly considered always picking him up from daycare with dinner in a bag, but dismissed that idea. But if I’m really pressed for time, dinner in a bag it is. Though I love McDonald’s fries as much as the next chic, we try to limit our fast food.

Other ideas to shave some time:

  • Morning hustle to daycare force you to wake the little one too early? See if the daycare minds if you bring kiddo to school in her PJ s. I don’t know about your babe, but 10 to 15 minutes of extra sleep can mean the world to Logan (and his mama!)
  • We all know we need to plan and prep our meals for the week ahead to make life easier. I try and only get it together about one week out of a month, but still. Be better than me. Do it.
  • Grocery shop online. Tired of cajoling hubby to watch the kids while you grocery shop? Or worse yet, bringing them with you and have them beg you for every eye-level, brightly colored sugarbomb along the aisle? Take your shopping online. (If you’re big into organics and don’t want to spend tons of money, many communities have local organic farms that can deliver to your area, it’s the new big thing and it’s catching fire. Google around, you might be pleasantly surprised.) You can take the time you saved and do something else. Preferably read a book, go for a walk, but honestly it’s more like getting on top of the laundry or cleaning the kitchen. Regardless you’ve reclaimed some time.

 What are your time-saving tips? Post them here. I’d share more but can’t, you guessed it, I’m busy.

Moms Zipping The Lips From Pooping Sagas To Office Dramas

Let’s rewind to before I became a mom. Sitting at my desk at work, my co-workers and I swapped stories about great movies we just saw, fabulous vacations, interesting plays and dinners and just random stuff from our adult (child-free) lives.

When you’re one of the few people in your work environment who has a kid or even if you’re one of the first in your group to have a baby, there’s yet another mommy adjustment that must be made. After taking time off with baby, you slip back into your chatty roles in the office, except you haven’t been to a movie in ages, your last vacation was a water park at the Wisconsin Dells and the only play you’ve attended is where you were the puppet master.

There seems to be two options that lie before us: Share what you’ve got or listen more than you contribute. Along the sharing route, there’s an interesting line in the sand that’s been drawn. Sure you were amazed when little Clara rolled across the room by herself, but do they get what a feat that is? Can they appreciate the miracle of her sleeping in until 8 a.m.? And should you really subject them to the story about the diaper blowout at Target that was so bad, you walked out wearing a plaid dress from clearance and your Clara sporting a diaper and nothing else?

I don’t think I’ve shared any poop stories and I try to limit my Logan ones because I know that BC (Before Child) I didn’t really care to hear about the details of my friend’s kids lives. Yet there are times I catch myself talking too much about Logan, you can tell when you’ve gone on too long because the courteous smile on their face begins to look a little forced, pained even and their eyes get vacant. I abruptly stop, switch it up and ask them a question about their life.

It’s just an interesting situation actually and I think we all find our own way navigating through it. Part of me thinks it’s a bit sad that I don’t feel like gabbing about all things concerning Logan at work, but when I step back and look at it objectively, I don’t talk much about work with my mommyfriends. When I do that, there’s that familiar forced smile, vacant look and I quickly ask about little Johnnie.

Work Evaluations vs. Mom Evaluations

 

Work evaluations, we’ve all had them. Each year (or about that) managers reach out to discuss our performance. There’s often an e-mail that gives you a heads up that a review is coming, which is sometimes followed by a self-appraisal. There’s forms with words like “Exceeds Expectations, Meets Expectations, Needs Improvement.” Also eventually comes the conversations where “stretch goals,” “development” and even “career paths” are discussed.

It’s all very structured, very tidy.

Very different from mom evaluations. Those come with no warning, no forms, no regular timing and certainly no structure. And when you get a bad one, it can cut. Deep.

The review on how good of a mom you are can come from anywhere. This morning my little guy turned to me, unprompted, and said “Mommy you’re my best friend.” Or it can be a teacher who brags to you about the thoughtfulness of your 16-year-old.

Then there’s the disapproving looks at the store when your child is screaming, thrashing and essentially frothing at the mouth. Your mommy friends who are surprised your toddler is *still* using a pacifier. The tween who screams she hates you, and the fire in her eyes lets you know she means it. Then there’s the jarring heart-to-heart with the 30-year-old who tells you all of the pain you’ve caused.

And we can’t forget the harshest critic of all: Ourselves. How many times have we flogged ourselves for misdeeds minor, major or imagined?

Momevals are hard to receive constructively because it’s a judgment on something we hold dear, our life’s passion. But all evaluations are hard and no one wants a bad one.

The thing to do is to put them into the proper perspective. (He’s not going to take his pacifier to college and she won’t hate you forever) If you’ve made mistakes, admit them, learn from them and move on. After all you’re trying your best.