Sometimes I hate being a working mom. Other times I love getting out of the house and away from the kids. Most of the time I’m somewhere in between. One thing that frustrates me to no end is the way the world is only available to people Monday to Friday, 9 to 4. How are households with two working parents supposed to get their kids to appointments or other daytime only things when the kids are at school most of the day and then at afterschool care because both parents work?
It’s vicious cycle too. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. If you don’t get paid you can’t buy groceries, or keep a roof over your head. But if you’re not home for your kids you have to pay someone to watch them. And then you have to cram homework, dinner, fun family time and bedtimes into about 2 hours after work. Throw in there a trip to the grocery store once a week (at least – and not on the weekend so you’re not wasting that precious time “off”) plus extra-curricular activities and there is just no time to do anything!
Time management is a skill I am working on every day. My work schedule is not consistent day to day, but it is week to week. As such my husband and I have managed to collect the girls from daycare on a pretty consistent schedule. This year our world was a little shaken up because our daycare provider (of the last 7 years) had to let us go in favour of full-time kids. I totally get that, and there’s no hard feelings at all, but it meant we had to find alternate care for the girls after school (and on PA days, Christmas Break and March Break.) So now the girls stay at school for the after school program.
Emma is now having occupational therapy sessions once a week (on Wednesdays because that’s the day I can pick her up right when school ends.) The sessions are an hour and the place is only open until 4. I’m lucky the girls go to an early start/early dismissal school so I can get them on the bus before work and have an opportunity to schedule appointments for them after school. It’s still hard work to get everyone everywhere – I’m working on a post of how a “regular” week goes in our home. I think we are only home 2 nights a week and the rest of time is filled with extra-curricular activities. Stay tuned for that post!
I took my thoughts out to the Twitter-verse to see how other parents feel about the real struggle of working and parenting. Here are the few conversations I had:
My friend Ashley (@ashleyjperna) is a single mom with shared custody of her son. Right now she works 3 jobs and has recently been through some rough stuff in her personal life. Here’s her quote about being a working parent: “It’s like juggling with a ton of balls and one is always on the ground.” I thought that was a very apt metaphor! You can check out Ashely’s other writings here.
Iveth (@fortheloveto) had quite a conversation with me: “I used to work full time and hated not to see my kid during the day.. I most of the time got home and he was already in bed! I used to work so much…. Even over-time to give my kid everything .. But I was missing so much from his life” I asked her what is working for her now. She said “Since my baby was born I am working part time now… In a different job.. (Not my carrier) close to home.” After I told her I wish her luck in finding balance: “I think that I’m getting there … My oldest one is 13 am I missed so much I don’t want that happen again.” Check out Iveth’s blog here.
Julie Burton (@juliebburton), a working mom of 4 and author of The Self-Care Solution-A Modern Mother’s Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being shared this with me on Twitter: “Love the sense of purpose I derive from work but struggle w/time management & drawing good boundaries around work/home life.”
Ryan Bickham (@dadladuk) had this to say about his frustrations with working and parenting: “The childcare costs working full time for an extra few hundred pounds a month. Trying to get chores done when kids asleep.”
Robyn (@justsothankfulr) works from home so this is her quote: “I like that my boys see a mom/wife using her skills and education for others. I work from home, so no downside really.”
Gemma (@lifeasmummy) is in love with her working/parenting life. She works “term time in a nursery” where her children used to go (I think that means she works during the school year in a daycare – my translations from “English” to “Canadian” have become much better since I’ve started reading a lot of blogs from across the pond!) Now they are full time at school so she is able to meet them after school and spend that precious after school time with them! “I love the fact that I can go and work and still have time with my children.. What’s crazy is the pay lol!!”
Jennifer from Mama @ Heart (@mama_at_heart) wrote me a beautiful email with her thoughts. She likes that her husband works mainly from home and her commute is not too long, as it was for her previous job. She has the luxury of dropping her daughter off at daycare in the mornings, and has some extra time in the evenings that she used to spend driving home. Also with her husband at home and herself not too far, if the need arises to collect one of the children early (sickness, injury etc.) it’s not a big burden. She also said both of their bosses are very understanding when it come to kid emergencies. Her gripe, of course, is that lack of time that all working parents seem to feel. She says her days always feel rushed and she tries to let things like laundry and dishes slide, but then you still have to do them at some point, so no matter what you’re missing out on something! And, of course, she wishes should be more involved with her children’s school – join in for field trips, or volunteer for other functions. I have to quote her final paragraph in it’s entirety because it’s exactly how I feel as well!
“What doesn’t seem to be working for us but we are trying to get better at: finding balance! It can be tricky for my husband and I to find a good balance between work life and family life because our lives are not just divided between work and family. We also want to find time for ourselves as individuals and as a couple. For the past several months we have been trying hard to find time to do things on our own, schedule date nights and make sure there is quality time with our kids (all of this combined with our work schedules and that endless to-do list I mentioned!) This is definitely a challenge but we find it necessary for a happy family life.”
After reaching out to the Twitter-verse I feel a little better about my own frustrations at home. It’s amazing how sharing similar life experiences can make a person feel better. Just knowing others face the same challenges, and manage to make do as well. Nothing in life is necessarily ideal. As long we can all muddle through and know we’re doing the best with what we’ve got, and help each other out along the way, then life just is what it is.
If you have a two working parents situation, please share your struggles and successes with me! The comments section is just waiting for your input. If I get a lot of good stories I may put together another post along these lines – maybe more tips for 2 working parents or something. Let me know what you think!