Hello again mommas, Anna here.
I introduced myself as the stay-at-home, homeschooling momma in the first part of this series: Dear Moms. I put out into the world a question I ask myself almost daily, “What’s it like to spend a day in another momma’s shoes”? A single mom, a working mom, a mom who works from home. The responses I received moved me, inspired me, and opened my eyes to a bit of what it feels like in a different momma’s world.
Today we get to hear from working mommas. In part three, stay-at-home mommas, part-time working moms, and moms that work from home will share their experiences. (Note, these perspectives were collected pre-COVID.)
First things first, we all have challenges, so I asked:
“What is your biggest struggle?”
I think the answer to that question is about the same all across the board.
What do we want? Balance! When do we want it? Yesterday! How do we get it? We’re all trying to figure that out!
Shanti has to ask herself, “Do I leave a client hanging or my kid hanging? Is it okay to take time off work to go to my kids’ award ceremonies? Is it okay to tell my kids I can’t make this or that school thing because I have a big trial?”
Others added that it’s a constant question of if they’re doing enough, especially when it feels like a race to keep up with colleagues who don’t have children.
Basically, we’re all supposed to be superwoman.
Danielle noted that, “After spending time as a SAHM then returning to work 30 hours a week, I found my workload at home (meals, cleaning, laundry, kids activities) didn’t change; plus I had the professional work to do. I felt I didn’t belong to either “world” (SAHM, WM) because I have one foot in each door. Many events and playdates occur when I am at work, and I have to rush home so I don’t get to socialize with my full-time working peers”.
In an effort to find that elusive balance, Anastasia says “We utilize Toggl for one of my clients which helps manage the on the clock mentality, and I will announce to my family when I’m on the clock, and that allows me to finish my train of thought.”
Kimberley adds that she loves to be flexible, but to juggle it all she has to live and die by a schedule. Having a shared schedule between your spouse, grandparents, or nannies helps ensure all the kids are in the right place at the right time.
“I try to map out my week on Sunday evenings to see when and what each client needs done, so that I can manage the days that I have my kiddo with me, and see how much I can cram into the Mothers Day Out days. Then I communicate with hubs when he has to take night time routine because there is overflow.”
Another good reminder is knowing that “I have to be selfish and I am constantly reminding myself that’s okay. So if *I* think that stupid awards ceremony is important then my client can wait. And if I decide my energy needs to be spent on my clients, then my husband is totally capable of handling the kids on his own. I make sure I have outside interests too and I stick to them.”
Lastly, “DELEGATE where I can – grocery shopping, house cleaning, dog walking. I utilize services like Shipt, HEB curbside, and hire out when I need to so I can focus on my kiddos when home!”
With every challenge comes a reward. So I asked,
“What’s the biggest reward?”
“At work, I get to be judged for myself. I’m not someone’s “mom” or someone’s “wife”. I’m me and I stand or fall on that.” – Shanti
“I am my best self as a working mom. My kids get to see me go and do something *I* love everyday that’s just for me and I can’t think of a better example to encourage them to do the same! I also know working makes me a better and more patient mom.” – Elizabeth Perez
“I feel value in sharing my experience as a SLP supervisor and enjoy consulting with parents to help them navigate a variety of diagnoses. Starting my private practice has allowed me to assist more families and I feel grateful to be with children when they’re struggling with communication needs.” – Danielle Edwards
“If you could change something about your lifestyle, would you?”
“I would be able to take the same breaks my kids do and spend quality time with them over their holiday breaks or summer. It feels like they get gypped because their parents still have to work, which means they just go from school to a camp of some sort. They don’t get those long lazy days of summer I remember having, sleeping in and doing whatever you want for days on end.” – Shanti
“What do you want moms with different lifestyles to know about you?”
“I respect moms who stay home with their kids 24/7. It’s not something I could do. Being a working (in an office) mom makes me a better mother because it gives me a sense of self outside of my family. I recognize that we all have different skills, styles, and situations. What works for one mom isn’t going to work for another. So if you’ve found something that works for you and your family, I say GOOD JOB, MAMA!”
“I took my legally authorized 12 weeks off from work when the twins were born. No joke, by week 8 I was getting the twitches. By week 10, I had pulled out my work laptop and was working from home. I’m late to motherhood and maybe that’s why I still give my career priority in my world. If we have a long weekend, I’m usually counting the minutes until the kids return to school. I NEED work to keep me sane. The surprising side is that my family has become my sanity from work. Twins don’t really give you a lot of choices. It’s jumping into the deep end of the pool without a floatie kind of parenting. As a result, I didn’t have the ability to focus on work when I was home. It was all family as soon as I walked in the door. It gave me an escape from work. Now that the kids are older and a bit more self sufficient, they don’t take as much attention and I’ll admit that I’ve let work creep into my home. I need to get back to a better division of my time and attention so neither my family nor my career get neglected.”
“When does quality family time happen?”
“My husband and I lay down with the kids (almost) every night. We each take one kid and just snuggle for a bit until they fall asleep. We then get together and talk about some of the things the kids talk about in those moments. Sometimes it’s silly—like my son asking my husband about what would happen if he put too many rockets on his robot. Sometimes it’s painfully deep—like the night my daughter started asking lots of pointed questions about bullying and I got the feeling there was something going on at school. Regardless, this is when we get to really bond with our kiddos one-on-one. With twins, that’s a rare thing. We try to insist on family dinner at the table every night but, realistically, that happens about 3-4 nights a week if we are lucky. Recently I’ve been dragging everyone to the outdoors to go for a hike with the dogs, or even just to the playground to spend some time in the sunshine, with each other, and away from the lure of electronics.”
“Anytime I can squeeze it in! We try to be spontaneous and flexible and utilize free moments and take advantage! If work is slow for both of us one day we’ve skipped it all together for a zoo day—totally worth it!”
I’ve always imagined that a working mom’s life must be so different from my own. In a lot of ways it is, but reading this has also made me realize what similar challenges we face too. Even if my “work” distractions are less, or the other things that demand my attention like planning field trips, and coordinating potlucks are different, I still have so much to learn from these mommas like how to prioritize family time…more on that in part 3!
We would like to include your thoughts too. Have something you want to add? Let’s discuss it in the comments.
I’ll be seeing you again soon in part 3.
*Many thanks to all the writers on our team who contributed to this series. Shanti Day, Emily Ferguson, Danielle Edwards , Elizabeth O’Connel Perez, Anastasia Huffman, and Kimberley Maldonado.