Many women nowadays have to split their time between a full time job and their kids (and their husband, and taking care of their home, and and and…). Another group of women is able to work from home, at least part of the time, or to work some at home and some in the office. If you, like me, are in this second group, some days it might seem like there are two women chatting in your head, the Professional working mom and the Homemaker. For me, a typical work day outside of the home goes more or less like this…
Professional – Oh my gosh it is so great to be able to get some work done in peace! I love to work!
Homemaker – The kids are growing up so fast… soon they will be teens and won’t even want to look at you!
Professional – The kids need to see their mother working and doing something she likes.
Homemaker – Come on, don’t be cynical, you don’t even like your job that much! It’s just a way to escape the kids a bit!
Professional (ignoring the Homemaker) – If only I could work outside of home for more days I could get sooooo much done!! My career would skyrocket! Maybe I should put the three-year old in play school next semester. Imagine, working in peace five mornings a week!?
Homemaker – Oh yeah? And where would you find the extra money? What about the car pool? You can barely find rides for two to come home from school, three would be worse! And he is so little…
Professional – Oh no! I can’t believe it’s time to go home already!! I didn’t do ten percent of what I needed to!! Ahhhhh! Another sleepless night awaits me!! I am so tired! I need chocolate… Sob…
On other days, a typical day at home goes like this…
Homemaker (at the park) – Oh, look at them. They are so cute and cuddly. I love being a mom. I can’t believe the youngest is already three. I will miss having little kids around. Should I have another baby?
Professional – Are you out of your mind?????
Homemaker (ignoring the Professional working mom) – If only I could afford to stay at home all the time… And then, when they started to grow older, I could work in what I really like. I would also have time to take better care of the house and to exercise and get in shape again.
Professional – My job is stable. I can’t earn enough money to raise kids doing only what you like. That’s so naïve.
Homemaker – It’s so peaceful here with them. If only I could stay at home in peace and not need to hear you worry about work and deadlines and…
Professional – Oh no! That deadline! You need to drop them off at grandma’s now!!
Homemaker – You know they only stay at grandma’s once a week max. Otherwise they get stressed out. You can work tonight.
Professional – I need to sleep!! I already worked last night! You know I can’t work all night two days in a row! I am not twenty anymore!
Homemaker – On that we agree! We get so crabby when we don’t sleep enough. It’s not good for the kids. Maybe you should stop working nights and work only during the weekend when they can stay with their father.
Professional – No!!!!! I have so much to do!!!!! Weekends are not enough.
And so it goes….
And you… Do you work from home, from an office or both? How do you find balance? Please share your story below.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Ecoziva in Brazil. Photo credit to the author.
Indulging in ice cream on a hot day in Krakow’s main market square
Free time. Sometimes I feel like I would give an arm and a leg for a little bit of free time. To have lunch with friends. To go to the gym. To take a nap. To read. To go to the grocery store all by myself. To do nothing.at.all. I knew when I signed up to be a stay-at-home parent that I would have little time to myself. I also knew that with my husband’s job, which has us moving to a different country every two or three years, that having a set of grandparents (or two) close by to provide some regular child-free relief was not going to happen. In our journey across the globe, we’ve been fortunate enough to find our place and develop our circles of friends. The expat communities in Thailand and Poland have been good to us, and we know that if we have an emergency, we can call on the support of our friends to help us out with the kids if need be. That is the way it works when you are abroad. You help each other out. And I am so grateful for these friends and their support.
But, still, when you are a stay-at-home parent, particularly not near close friends and family, you spend an extraordinary amount of time with your kids. This is of course exhausting, but also wonderful. You get to witness every little new thing they discover, the days their mood begins to change and they develop new facets of their personality, and watch the bond between siblings grow (yes, a time does come when they stop fighting constantly). Your life is so wrapped up in theirs that it is hard to imagine a time when it will no longer be that way. Their every little move is known to you, and yours to them.
Enjoying waffles while visiting the Easter markets in Krakow
But, one day they will go off to school – all of them (in my case, three) – and then, you will actually have free time. Think about that for a minute. You, without needing to feel guilty, will be able to do what you want to do – whether that is going back to work part-time or full-time, or taking on a new hobby or two, or just enjoying the peace and quiet for awhile. This is your time. So what will you do?
I am not going to lie. I have about 18 things on my plate that I would like to do when the kids start school. I’d like to start writing more often and for more publications, I would like to write another children’s book (and hope that it will be successfully published this time). I would like to train for and run a marathon. I would like to learn to swim and bike correctly and try my hand at a triathlon. I would like to become a good photographer. I would like to get back to writing thank you notes, planning ahead of time, and reading. I would like to cook and not be rushed. I would like to explore the city – take tours, visit the non-kid friendly museums, mosey about Krakow’s beautiful old market square.
So yea, it’s safe to say I’ve thought about what I will do when the kids go to school. But sometimes I wonder if the thrill of free time will peter out quickly. The reason I stopped working five years ago was to stay at home with the kids.
Will I be able to feel that my life is fulfilling when they are no longer at home, nor fully dependent on me? Will what I plan to do with my time be “enough?” Will it fill the void of not having them around? Will my time be useful? And if so, to whom will it be useful?
Enjoying a morning of fun at the Engineering Museum in Krakow
I have talked to other mothers who have the same concern. One friend in particular who just went through the process of sending her boys off to school for the first time (she home-schooled them previously) has struggled with feeling whether what she is doing in her free time “enough?” When your role – for years – is to raise sweet little beings into strong, confident, and loving children, and then one day the time you have to do that is cut back significantly – what will that feel like? Will it be a blow? Will it be a relief? Will it be bittersweet?
At a minimum, it will be an adjustment. And while I don’t have any answers, yet, it is just one more milestone on this path of parenthood.
Are you a stay-at-home parent? How have you adjusted, or how will you adjust, to your kids going to school?
p>This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Loren Braunohler of Poland.
Think your intellectual and creative juices take a dive when you become a stay-at-home parent? Think again.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post for World Moms Blog about my decision to become a stay-at-home parent. Prior to staying at home, I was a U.S. diplomat for nearly ten years. Resigning to stay at home was not part of my plans. I planned for a career in the Foreign Service and never really considered doing anything else. When my son was born, that all changed. I wasn’t ready to leave him, so I decided to stay at home. Fortunately, we were at a place financially where I could choose to do this.
While I was happy that I could stay at home with my son, there were times when I mourned the loss of my professional life. With the decision to stay at home, I thought that it was downhill professionally from that point; that I wasn’t really qualified to do anything else other than be a diplomat, and thus I would likely move on to lackluster opportunities when the kids started school (I have remained a stay-at-home mom after the birth of my two daughters, as well).
But here is the good news: I was wrong. Completely wrong. Leaving a career that I knew I could not easily go back to opened up a whole new set of opportunities for me. Ones that I was not previously able to explore because I had boxed myself in to a specific career path.
Ones that allowed me to stay at home with my children and continue to work at my own speed, on my own time, and discover new things about myself and my talents.
Shortly after I became a stay-at-home parent, I took up writing and started my own blog to preserve some of my sanity amidst the at-home chaos. The writing not only allowed me to let our family back home know what we were up to (we lived in Thailand at the time), but allowed me to continue to do something I loved. While I often wrote about adventures in parenting and travel, writing time was my time; my chance to unplug from parenthood, reflect, and continue to challenge myself creatively and intellectually. I began to write with a purpose to help families new to Thailand learn where to go and what to do. I learned that I could be a valuable resource to others while getting my “me” time. This was fulfilling and exciting, but became even more exciting when I got a call from Travel & Leisure Southeast Asia to write for their family travel issue. The thought of being a freelance writer had never occurred to me. I had resigned to be a stay-at-home mom, so you can imagine my surprise when I received a job offer for something for which I had never applied. I was up for the challenge, but also nervous about trying something completely new.
Luckily, my article was well-received and I began to write for T&L on a regular basis during our time in Thailand. The opportunity also encouraged me to test my talent. I reached out to other major online and print publications and, within the year, had written for the New York Times, CNN Travel, and others. Developing and pitching stories, writing for large audiences, and working with different editors was both challenging and exciting.
Each day I could give my undivided attention to my children, and each evening I learned something new about myself and abilities.
In addition to the freelancing work, reading to my children a good hour or two a day inspired me to delve into the world of children’s literature and pen my own draft of a children’s book. I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and learned how to write for a young audience (note: writing for little ones is not as easy as it seems). I joined peer review groups, learned to give and take editorial criticism, and began the process of contacting publishing houses and sending my manuscript out for review. It was nerve-wracking to try something so new and unfamiliar, sure; but it was thrilling. Would I have ever done this had I not become a stay-at-home parent? Not a chance.
I began to challenge myself physically, as well. In addition to writing, running is another source of “me” time; one I use to recharge my batteries and reflect on my parenting, my relationships, and our transient lifestyle. After the birth of my third child in 2014, I trained for and ran two half-marathons. When arriving in Krakow this year, I formed a women’s running group. As soon as the kids start school full time, you can bet I’ll be training for my first full marathon.
All of these things – the freelancing, the children’s book, the running – they grew out of my decision to stay at home with my family. My assumption that becoming a full-time mom would inhibit me from succeeding professionally was false. On the contrary, letting go of my career and becoming a stay-at-home parent opened up new opportunities for me that I surely would not have explored otherwise.
Have you thought about what other talents and abilities you might possess? How does spending time with your children inspire you creatively and intellectually?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our mom to three and writer in Poland, Loren Braunohler.
The images used in this post are attributed to the author.