Monday, March 14, 2016

Home vs Work

After two full weeks at home I am more than ready to return to work on Thursday for however short or brief it may be until baby boy makes his arrival. The battle of staying home verse being a working mom has been an internal battle my whole motherhood life. Maybe that's why it's the biggest mommy wars battle too because we each have our own internal battle with it.

I've always been a working mom but have had short stretches with the longest being summer vacation to experience the "stay at home" mom life or what my "stay at home" life would be like because part of my argument for the whole stay at home mom verse working mom debate is there are so many different individual factors that make each of our experiences easy or hard; it's not just the choice itself.

The two biggest points in my mom life where I thought I would really prefer the stay at home mom was first when my babies were babies. I feel a lot of guilt for not being around, present more that first year or so. Once they turn two I've found the outside stimulus necessary for my kids. The second point was dependent on how work was going. When I was having a rough patch at work I hated work  and assumed that meant I hated the working mom life too (my husband likes to remind me that for that one year I claimed constantly that I wanted to be a stay at home mom).

Again I fully believe there are different individual factors that make each of our choices to stay home or work easier or harder so this is my personal experience with the two. This is my positive and negative of me being a stay at home verse a working mom.

Some of the great things about being home is definitely being around in the morning to get my girls up and off to school in the morning. The other thing I love is there is SO MUCH time to get so many things done. My house is clean, my laundry is fairly caught up, I can tackle little cleaning and organizing projects around the house. There's plenty of time throughout the day to rest and not rush but feel productive and not overwhelmed at the same time so my evenings are not stressful at all. Because I've had the day time to do things I can focus without the rush on my family more in the evenings or even look forward to the girls' evening activities because it's something out of the house to go do.

The negative is I get bored really quick. I like to be busy; I like to be on the move. These two weeks I've worked from home for three hours every morning grading, planning for this leave and my maternity leave, answering emails (sometimes for well over an hour!), and working on my yearbook project. If I wouldn't have had that I would have ended up even more bored than I currently am. Now obviously with a newborn soon those three hours will probably feel a lot different and busier, and if I was home with 2-3 older kids I would so use that time to workout every day, but again I wouldn't need three hours to do that so I would need some kind of at home job, project, or something because I have to feel productive otherwise I would drive myself crazy.

Now that I'm happy in my job again, besides the shorter amount of sleep that a 530 am alarm leads to and the sometimes hour + awful commute the worst part of my actual job is the sometimes overwhelming grading and lunch duty; other than that I love it. I love the teaching aspect, I love the relationships with the kids, I love the sense of productivity with planning, grading, and whatever other projects teaching allows us to take on.  The plus of getting up so early is even though I miss my kids in the morning I am home to get them off the bus by 4 and get them to and from any evening activities or just enjoy the afternoon/evening with them.

I have a love/hate relationship with the chaotic craziness that results at times from being overwhelmed as a working mom. When it's a full work week with packed evenings, I love the busyness and sense of productivity/living, but I get a little overwhelmed that things around the house, especially the laundry, get abandoned during the week. We sometimes fall into too many dinners out for the week and talk about rushing through the kids' homework. I hate homework on those  weeks!  Any working out (which I've abandoned for most of this pregnancy anyway) routine I had gets missed.  My weekends become a work day of housework catch up where when I'm home all the housework is done during the week and there's no need to even worry about laundry over the weekend.

This is probably the part that makes my working mom life the hardest. With no family and a husband that has been pursuing career opportunities since the birth of our second daughter his evenings were first filled with grad school classes and now he has leadership responsibilities in his current position it seems like 2-3 nights a week so I am what I call parent 1 most of the time, and though he will help on the weekends when I get way behind on things I am technically home more during the week to do the running with the girls  and take care of the house too even though he is still the primary dinner maker so that's a huge help when we're both working. But balancing it all-house, kids and husband, full time job, myself with working out and other interests tends to get a little off balance during those chaotic weeks.

The good thing is the working mom life is not always the crazy chaotic extreme. It has its moments at different points in the year, but they pass and a nice even balance occurs for awhile. I know when it gets crazy again it is just for the short time being and then it too will pass.

One of the most annoying things to me with the stay at home mom verse working mom debate is the whole stay at home job is 24 hours and doesn't have a quitting time like the working mom except a working mom is still a mom and still goes home and does the job of mom and housewife after her working shift is over so if we're so set that everything about being a mom is work (which I could make a whole different argument about another time) they are both 24 hours. For me without a doubt the working mom life is more work than the stay at home mom life, but it's also one that the majority of the time I prefer. It's a better fit for me; doesn't mean it's a better fit for everyone.

I have a career I enjoy that contributes to our current and future financial security, and I even though I'm not there in the mornings for my girls and feel a little guilty that I don't make it to very many during the school day activities (field trips, lunch dates, or parent visit drop ins) I have a great relationship with my girls and rarely if ever miss those evening activities so most of the time I've found a nice balance as a working mom. I think really the stay at home vs working mom battle isn't with each other; it's with ourselves. Finding contentment in our choice and letting whatever guilt we have go.


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