Welcome back to the fourth and final part in my mini-series on seeking work balance as a mother. We’ve talked about being a stay-at-home mother, a work-from-home mother, and a full-time working mother. Today we get to chat about the holy grail: working out of the house part-time. When I realized that working from home was not a long-term option (remember I was horrible at it), I began working regularly outside of the home two days/week. The timing coincidentally occurred simultaneously to my student loan payments increasing dramatically. Having this “break” from motherhood was refreshing and I felt myself coming alive again after a long hibernation. I was thrilled to leave home and thrilled to leave work at work to come home. Waverley greeted me with the most excitement towards me ever in her life or at least post-infancy. I felt like a rockstar, with greetings usually reserved for her dad when he came home from work. I was a bonafide:
Part-Time Working Mama
Then, as I mentioned last week, I just couldn’t help myself once I found myself on the work train again. I said yes to too many things and began working full-time with a newborn and a toddler. Not working full-time and being more available for my family is exactly what brought us to Alaska, so I grew frustrated quickly. I recently decided working full-time out of the house just isn’t for me at this phase of my life; I miss the girls too much and the extra income is not worth the stress it brings into our home. I feel too harried and lack any balance whatsoever. I constantly bring work home, which seems ridiculous considering I am out of the house all week long.
Could everyone just stop growing up so quickly, please!
I am incredibly grateful half of my work obligations (as a professor of occupational therapy) came to a natural conclusion at the end of the semester. I opted to not teach classes in the foreseeable future in order to spend more time with Waverley and Magnolia and to pursue other options that may allow me to be at home more (like writing pearls on a string!). This phase goes by incredibly fast and I fully realize that now. Time picks up momentum and my baby is almost one year old! My other baby is almost FOUR YEARS OLD! Could everyone just stop growing up so quickly, please!
It is difficult to devote the necessary attention to everyone and everything; something has to give. No one “has it all.”
I continue to work at the hospital two days/week (basically just enough to pay my student loan payments) and with two young children that even seems like a lot at times. It is difficult to devote the necessary attention to everyone and everything; something has to give. No one “has it all.” We made an ultimate sacrifice to live in Alaska while our children are young to provide as much family time as possible. Living here gives us this opportunity, for better and worse.
I felt a renewed sense of self identity, both as a mother and a professional.
One of the most difficult aspects of working part-time is the feeling of fluttering in and out of two realms without being fully connected to either. Also, everyone says they understand prioritizing family yet actually putting that idea to fruition is unlikely. The 5:00am work calls and holiday weekend coverage still happen, family time or not. Despite this, working part-time out of the home is the best sense of balance I’ve felt in a long time. Like any work situation, there are a plethora of pros and cons. Time for a list! My favorite!
Pros of Working Part-Time
- Many of the pros from working full-time! A few of my favorites:
- Leaving the chaos of tiny humans a few days/week and letting someone else deal with it
- Getting dressed in something other than jeans/yoga pants (although now I am just getting dressed in scrubs…)
- Gratefulness for time spent with the kids
- Professional stimulation
- Coworker camaraderie
- Deeper empathy of everyone (e.g., patients, their families, my students) than when I worked before having children
- Personal enjoyment
- Ease with scheduling appointments when childcare is already arranged
- Demonstrating the importance of hard work and determination to the littles
- Statistics show that a stay-at-home mom is more likely to suffer from depression
- Many of the pros from staying-at-home! A few of my favorites:
- Children grow so, so fast. It is wonderful to be there for nearly every milestone and new development.
- Lunch dates with the kiddos and/or with friends
- If one so desired, it’s perfectly acceptable to stay in pajamas until 10:00am on home days.
- Gym daycare!
- Play dates and mom friends.
- It is easy and convenient for the partner who works to leave, knowing everything is being taken care of.
- Mornings are much less stressful than when both parents are trying to get ready to leave for work.
- Mid-day baking experiments
- A feeling of having the best of both worlds
- Sense of self identity, both as a mother and a professional
- Feeling more connected and involved with the kiddos than before (working full-time)
- Financial contribution to the family
- Keeping a foot in the door professionally to return to full-time work when the kiddos are older and/or out of the house
- Maintain professional licensure
- Being sympathetic to two opposing viewpoints (full-time working mama vs stay-at-home mamas)
- Long weekends = local trips without having to take time off of work
Cons of Working Part-Time
- Difficulty feeling enmeshed in the work culture.
- Being passed over for promotions or more opportunities due to part-time status.
- Constantly playing catch-up not being there full-time.
- Missing a day = a mess. Last week I had to call-in sick to take care of my sick girls and myself, and it was CHAOS because then I was out for an entire week.
- Finding childcare for 2-3 full days per week is nearly impossible. IMPOSSIBLE!
- Disconnect between those working full-time and part-time.
- Responsible for the household duties of a stay-at-home mom while also working outside of the home a few days per week.
- Realizing that every penny earned goes towards childcare and student loans is completely defeating.
- Change in protocol is that much harder to integrate when you’re not there as often.
- Learning/needing to say no to professional opportunities to maintain part-time hours. This is SO HARD FOR ME!
- I still miss the girls on the days I work. It is still hard to say goodbye in the morning!
- Living in two worlds.
How To Make The Most of Working Part-Time
- Stick to the same schedule every week (e.g., I work Tuesdays/Thursdays)
- Maintain boundaries to avoid extra shifts/hours being added
- Use non-work days to make freezer meals or big meals with leftovers
- I try to run an errand after work each day to avoid dragging the girls on all of them on my days off. This way we can squeeze in fun things and I feel like my time with them is more meaningful.
- Let go of household perfection. Sound familiar?
- Be grateful for the opportunity to work part-time. I know so many women who do not have the opportunity to work part-time– only full-time or not at all. I am grateful for my profession that allows me to do this!
Thank you so much for following along on my work/motherhood journey! It has been one of great trial and error, which I am sure will continue as the girls grow and my professional goals continue to evolve. Again, the point of this series is definitely not to prove who has a harder job! I really just want to share my experiences because it has been such a difficult journey thus far, especially leaving my beloved job in Baltimore immediately after having Waverley to move to Anchorage. All mamas are part of the I Want What Is Best For My Family Club and are making the tough choices that go along with it. It’s important to all support one another regardless of what work paths we choose. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this series, too. What did you like? What do you disagree with? I’ve been getting so many Instagram DMs and emails (which I adore!), yet would love to have a discussion right here so everyone can participate. Please leave your comments below!