Monday, April 14, 2014

All Laid Out: A Cross Section of an Employed Mother

I’m getting ready to write a guest post for Haley about being a working mother, or as I prefer it an "employed mother", and realized that I don’t think many of your know the why’s and how’s of my daily life.  To be honest, and this is what I’ll be writing about for Haley, my job is not my priority so I try my best not to even think about it when I’m not there.  However, it is a very real part of my life and one that I don’t always handle with perfect grace.  I grumble, lament and curse the necessity of my outside job, a lot.  It is something I’d leave behind me in a heartbeat, but for now it is a very real part of my life.


The Whys -


The long and short of it is that before my first child was born my husband and I changed our lives 180 degrees - we left jobs that didn’t allow for family time, required long commutes or high levels of stress and started over just months before our first son arrived.  With this change came the dreaded pay cut, which just over three years later we are fully recovered from.  We could have tried being a single income family, but my battle with ante-partum depression and severe anxiety during these life changes showed us clearly, through the Grace of God, that what we needed was something resembling financial stability.  My anxiety is triggered strongly by financial problems, and though I often forget I do know that I’m a happier, more carefree mother by not having the constant stress of insufficient finances to deal with.  

*My heartfelt and sincere appreciation to all those families who are able to thrive on smaller incomes than I feel comfortable with.  You are amazing people and have my utmost respect for the sacrifices you make and work you put into run comfortable, stable and loving homes on your budgets.*


The How -


So we took jobs, just regular jobs - he at a call center for a major Insurance company and I as a Pharmacy Tech for a local hospital - that gave us what we needed to move on from such a drastic upheaval.  We use our schedules to keep our son at home with one or both parents, or a visiting family member about twenty-four days a month or more while both of us work full time.  The jobs are not flashy or really that important in the grand scheme of things, but the unique, flexible schedules, benefits and moderate incomes have been the gift we needed to grow as a family.  We are more open to life, charitable, healthier and happier than we ever were in our previous careers, but our jobs are not our lives.  They are things we do to support the life we want; at the heart of the matter we are family focused parents to the core.


The Details -


My husband and I make just over our ages followed by three zero’s.  Together our incomes mean we’re comfortable and after the last years raises we’re once again making a dent in debt payoff and savings.  My husband’s income is enough to cover our bills - student loans, housing, utilities, etc.  My income provides our budget for food, necessary childcare, other necessities and a buffer for carefully budgeted wants.  My job also provides our insurance which, thanks to my wonderful employer, costs us nothing monthly and we have had few to none out of pocket expenses (even after my two surgeries this last year).  We both receive other insurances and retirement contributions as part of our comprehensive package.  Despite our additional income we still budget carefully, and focus on spending wisely - we do not have smart phones, cable, new cars, fantastic vacations or anything of those things a dual income family is thought to have.


The Schedule -
To get a good feel for our lives you have to look at it in two week periods, because that’s how my schedule rotates.  (Note - I also work a 7 - 3:30 shift, but 6:30 is my main start time)

H= husband's schedule M= Molly's schedule


Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
H -
8:30 - 7
H -
8:30 - 7
H -
8:30 - 7

M -
6:30 - 3
H -
8:30 - 7



M -
6:30 - 3



M -
6:30 - 3



M -
6:30 - 3
H -
8:30 - 7

M -
6:30 - 3
H -
8:30 - 7
H -
8:30 - 7

M -
6:30 - 3
H -
8: 30 - 7

M -
6:30 - 3



M -
6:30 - 3



M -
6:30 - 3



The kiddo goes to grandma’s every other Sunday and day care most Tuesdays and then every other Wednesdays.  Henry’s great-grandparents love to come visit and try to plan their trips with our daycare needs.  In a great month he only goes to daycare twice. The rest of the days are with me or Daddy.  On all of my days off the husband works a 12 hour shift except for the two Saturdays every month together, all day.  We have a lunch date tradition where the husband and H. come to my work every Friday and H. and I try to be home during daddy's lunch break on his work days as often as we can.  An average day starts around 5:30 a.m. and ends around 11 p.m. and somewhere in between all that is what you see on this blog.


The How’s -


I look at my life in “work days” and “ home days” and there are particular things I do on one that I don’t do on the other.



Work Days
Home Days
Things I Do
Full job requirements, commute, pick up from daycare, make dinner, bathe child, read books with kiddo, take a bath while kiddo and daddy are playing and basic family oriented activities like taking a walk together or taking dinner to the park, Mass when applicable.
Laundry and house cleaning (though I’m rarely on top of this), run most errands (major grocery trips, bank, post office, doctor’s appointments, etc.), trips to the library, storytimes, pool, park, etc., learning or art activities, make dinner, bath kiddo and Mass when applicable, most of my blogging.
Things I Might Do
Quick run into a grocery store or Target for an absolute necessity, a load or two of laundry, dishes, put away laundry, a trip to the park (usually as a family activity), Mass on the big days, time with extended family, occasional blog work.
Deep cleaning (usually tackled with husband on rare days home together), date nights, extended family time, socialize with friends.

Things I Don’t Do
Most housecleaning, run most errands, socialize with friends, educational/art activities with the kiddo, date nights.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Think about my outside job - I just switch it off.  


The Master Plan -


Looking at this all laid out I feel exhausted and I know, truly, that I keep all this up because we don’t have any outside time commitments like sports, clubs or lessons for H.  I know how hard it was for my working parents to get all that done and work a full day, it was rough and they had to say “no” to a lot of my requests because of this.   And while I don’t believe in packing our schedules like a sardine can I want us to be to able to do these things with a little more ease.  


So right now my main goal is to be part time by the time Henry enters the 1st grade in 4 years (yay for late birthdays).  This is the age when he can really start to be a part of most sports and clubs in our area and about the time my skills a music instructor might be surpassed.  We’re working hard to finish paying the remainder of our student loans in that time, which is achievable, so we can add this flexibility to our lives.  


Will I ever be a full-time SAHM?  After a long reflection, no I probably won’t.  Currently my jobs benefits are worth part time work (I still receive my benefits if party time) and there is work outside of the home I still feel called to do - perhaps getting back to my theatre degree or completing my MLS, and I’m okay with that.


The Final Word -

Whatever you’re thinking as you read this, stop.  I don’t do it all and what I do accomplish is aided greatly by having only one young child, an awesome husband and family near by.  I do not keep a spotless house nor do I put elaborate meals on the table every night.  I really don’t do craft projects with my kid all that often, maybe one or two a month at most, and it takes me a long, long time to complete a fun project of my own.  The main reason I finish books is thanks to the 20 minutes I spend on a bus each work day and my lunch break I take by myself.  I am not superwoman, nor am I trying to be.  I don’t think it’s possible to “have it all” and I’m not remotely trying to.  As my tag line says I’m “Making the life I want.  Loving the Life I Have.”;  I make do with what I have to make a life I’m proud of.

I'm happy to answer any questions you have about this part of our lives, so please do ask.  I think this is a great moment for us all to understand each other a little better and I'll see you soon over at Haley's to share my thoughts on keeping "family first" as employed mother.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I too am an employed mom, and have three kids ages 6, 3, 18mos and baby due in Oct. Its so nice to find another catholic mom that works outside the home. Most of the blogs I follow are all SAHM's and I have a really hard time relating to all that they do. Thanks for sharing your story, my husband and I both also have jobs that we can "leave at work" and really focus on "home time" when we are there. It has been great so far, and even as we have had more kids, things always work out.

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    1. So glad to meet another employed mother, too! And one with (almost) 4 kids!

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  2. I'm also an employed Catholic mother with four kids. I also read a lot of SAHM homeschooling blogs which probably isn't good for my mental health, but I do it anyway.

    "I grumble, lament and curse the necessity of my outside job, a lot. It is something I’d leave behind me in a heartbeat, but for now it is a very real part of my life." <--- This, exactly.

    "Whatever you’re thinking as you read this, stop. I don’t do it all"

    I know I don't do it all and nobody who knows me would even pretend anything approaching all gets done in my life. The fact is that my job prevents me from doing many good things, some of which others might consider basic necessary tasks, but there just isn't enough time in the day. But, hey we do get to eat and pay the mortgage so there's that.

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    1. That's the majority of what I read too - and most of my friends are SAHM's. There are times I have to step away from them, but I've usually found that's because something has gotten out of balance in my own life.

      My guest post at Haley's will be about choosing what is right and necessary to focus on during those non-"work" hours. I hope you'll stop by and read it!

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  3. "My husband and I make just over our ages followed by three zero’s. Together our incomes mean we’re comfortable and after the last years raises we’re once again making a dent in debt payoff and savings. My husband’s income is enough to cover our bills - student loans, housing, utilities, etc"

    This really jumped out at me. I have no idea how old you are, but judging from your picture, I'm guessing it's less than 40. LOL My point is, I think most families with parents less than 40 would find it EXTREMELY hard to raise a family on one income that is "just over their age, + 3 zeros" Extremely, extremely hard. I only mention it because in your first paragraph you seemed to feel the need to justify the two jobs. In your situation, it sounds like the both of you working is the best thing for your family and it's exactly what you need to do right now.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Amelia! Yes, both my husband and I are 31 and he makes a little bit more than me. I know people who figure it out, and they're awesome and amazing people, but it you're right that it's hard! We definitely weighed the pros and cons of trying that in the area that we live in and what it would mean for our well being as a whole and you're right, this is the right choice for us. It's not my ideal, but hey, very few things in my life are "ideal", but they're still pretty darn good! ;D

      Thanks for stopping by and for the support!

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  4. You know it was really good to read this. I feel like I am a failing Catholic mother because I am a "working" mom. I have a full time job because; well we need it. I can see that we could *possibly* make it with some major cuts to the budget and some major changes but at this point I wonder if that is the best plan. I am a wife, a mother, a cancer patient and trying to be the best of all of those things I can be all while longing to be home with my daughter, homeschool her and untangle the life we've had for the past 7 years.

    I just feel less than what I need to be working but I am blessed to know OTHER moms are out there doing it too and it doesn't take away from their desire to be close to their families and faith.

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    1. Oh my goodness, you sound like an amazing mother! It's such a tricky path to navigate, but I know we're all doing our best.

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