First of all I would like to say that I respect whatever schedule a mother thinks is best for her family and kids. Part-time work, full-time, working from home, working early mornings, late evenings….If you love your family and make them a priority you are doing the best you can.
But in a time that there seems to be so much glamour and pressure in leaving our jobs to stay at home with our kids, I want to plea my case for us full-time working mom’s.
What sparked these thoughts was a conversation I had my my 6 year old daughter at the dinner table one evening. She has already shared with us her career aspirations (which I will be sure to remind her when she is 18!). Iris would like to be a babysitter when she grows up, a “salon person” as she calls it and a boss (she wants to own her own salon. An entrepreneur……you go girl!). After high school she has informed us in order to do this she is going to have to go to three different schools: salon school, babysitting school, and boss school. oh how I love the way kids think!
This particular night she says ” I am going to need to go to another school….teacher school! I think it would be really fun to be a teacher. And I want to team teach”. (Iris is in a team taught class at school, so this thought doesn’t surprise me). “I want to team teach so I can get done with school early to go to my other jobs”. (hmmm…..I am pretty sure this is not the way team teaching goes…but I let her go with it).
“That does sound like fun” I reply. “You are going to be busy”.
“Yep, but I don’t want to work Saturdays or Sundays, because if I have kids someday I want to make sure I spend time with them”.
OK….my heart melts…she understands the importance of spending time with family. Something that I hold very dear to my heart and try my best to ensure I have that balance in my life along with working full time.
Then I panic….why did she make that comment? Is it because she feels I work too much and don’t spend enough time with her? She doesn’t want to repeat my mistake and be like me?
So I hold my breath and ask……. “Do you feel like I spend enough time with you?”
My heart can barely take it …a big smile comes over her face “Yes of course!”.
I breathe and feel so proud of her. And then I feel proud of myself. I do work full time, and so does my husband. In her eyes we may make it look easy but we sure do try very hard to be there for both our girls when they need it and work hard providing for them the rest of the time. In the past we have done daycare, we have babysitters, family and friends help us out when needed. We are not by our girls side constantly. But still at the end of the day our girls feel loved.
How can we doubt that this may not be enough? Because really it is. Why do we let the voices of others creep in our heads and tell us that their way is better than ours? Why do our own voices tell us the same thing? Why do we feel guilt that our kids aren’t being loved and taken care of like other kids?
In reality our kids are totally loving being surrounded by other caregivers who care about our kids like they were their own. Their days fly by filled with friends, play time, and opportunities to learn. They have a team of people who love and want the best for them!
In our family we both work full time and also have our baby at home with us. We work opposite schedules to make it work. Arranging schedules and family needs can be a part-time job in itself. If we make it look easy then that’s awesome. But ask my husband and he will tell you that it has its own challenges and our communication had to go to another level to make everything work so everyone gets to where they need to and we both can work.
However you choose do this “mom thing” I totally respect it. It is the best job! I always knew I would have kids but I never knew how becoming “mom” would change my entire being and how it would speak to my heart.
How can working parents have it all and still stay connected to our children? I certainly don’t have this mastered but I have found little ways to sneak in those special moments that I believe are more important than material things we can give our children to show them love.
How do I connect with my kids and still work full-time?
1. Time alone. This is no big secret here. If you are are a parent of one or multiple kids you know how important it is to spend a special day with your child. I try to take advantage of the moments when it can be just me and only one child. I’ve noticed that it doesn’t necessarily need to be a special “date day” with our oldest. Going to the grocery store just the two of us is enough for her. All I need to say is “I love spending time together!” and she has a smile on her face. As far as time with our 4 month old its a little easier right now to have time special time with her when our oldest is in school. Regardless I try to make it a point to read a book or two with her everyday to make sure she has the undivided attention.
2. Bedtime routine. Since I start work before 6 am each day my husband is super dad in the morning and does the morning routine. I have to give him credit, over the last couple of years he can even do multiple hair styles with Iris and her long hair. I give him an A+ for his hair braiding skills. Because he does the morning routine with the girls I take on a bedtime routine with the girls. It’s nothing special, but at the end of the day my girls know that I lay down with them a few minutes before bedtime to chat about the day and cuddle before they start a new day.
3.Make things simple. It’s no secret, I am a planner. Knowing this about myself there are many times I have to make it a point to NOT run around and plan big elaborate days. A blanket fort in the living room, or making snacks and setting up a movie theater at home is plenty fun when they are little. And I would encourage anyone with a little one who can talk to take them to a local coffee shop to just talk, free of distractions. I have been doing this with Iris since she was 2.5 years old. They will feel special being able to drink a hot chocolate or juice with you and having you ask them about their day, what makes them laugh, what their favorite part of a holiday is, etc.
4. Having conversations. I recognize that we have different work schedules than others and what our oldest might see her friends parents doing. So during our alone talk times we have talked about why people work and what it can provide. Now I will admit I may have had a parenting “oops” during one of my first approaches at this. If you would have asked Iris why her mom and dad need to work, she would tell you that mom and dad work so we don’t live out on the streets. oops! Well its true, but there is more to it….
Kids are awesome…..parenting is awesome…..and life can get crazy. But I, for one, feel like with planning (see I told you I like to plan), communication, and by making it a point to show love that, yes….we can have it all!