Since my last post, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work from home with my little man (he is 6 months old today!). The job is right in my wheelhouse and the company is led by people that truly believe in and foster healthy work life balance for all of their employees. Today I’m going to share some of my helpful tips for balancing child rearing with job duties and home responsibilities all while not burning out.
Preface: When I had my daughter 9 years ago I was forced to go back to work two weeks after her birth due to money issues. This time around I was bound and determined to stay home if we could afford it. After he was born, I wasn’t interested in putting my son in a childcare facility just so I could go back to a 9-5 job and pay for daycare. The ratio was just not profitable enough and the quality time I would miss out on was far too valuable to me. So after many conversations, my boyfriend and I decided I would quit my job to stay at home until the baby was at least 6 months old.
Recently, I had been vetting a few opportunities that had me back in an office as well as a work from home option. I accepted the position to work remotely from home. “We want to give this a try” is how the job was presented to me after very positive phone interviews I am a month into the job and have learned a lot about my threshold to manage it all at once. Here are a few things I have learned that might be helpful to other moms and dads out there struggling with the age old question “to work or not”?
1 – Be Picky! Wait for the best possible option for you and your family!
Find a company that supports your needs and praises your ability to be an amazing mother/father and key employee. During the interview process vet the company for these important topics:
- Do they support you working from home part or full time?
- Do they allow children in the office/ is it a safe and healthy environment?
- Do they have a safe private space to nurse/pump at work?
- Are they flexible regarding doctors appointments and school functions?
- Do they use video conferencing and online chat so you can be in meetings/stay connected from home?
- Is there a local childcare facility that you have confidence in if you want to increase your physical presence at work?
2 – Sharing household responsibilities
Like most moms, I am lucky to shower alone once a week or get to the grocery store without the kids in tow, so we do our best to support each other every day. I cook and he does the dishes. He starts the laundry and I fold it. We swap dinners with our neighbors to lessen our burdens; we eat at their place and then don’t have to cook or do dishes and then they come to our place the next time around. We also have cleaners come once a month to help me get a break. Be mindful of your partner’s capacity to work a tough day and then come home feeling like they just need to relax too. Having kids is rewarding and tiring, so give each other credit for each doing your part and pick up each others slack when needed.
3 – Be honest with your employer about what you can commit to.
Don’t over extend yourself in the fear of not being as valuable as other employees. If your child needs to nurse/eat in a quiet environment, excuse yourself from a conference call or reschedule it. No sense in upsetting your little one and not pay attention to the meeting. Make time during the work day to run quick errands so your weekends are not packed with to-do’s and you have down time to enjoy your family and friends. Avoid after work rush/traffic at the grocery store so you aren’t stressed just from a simple shopping trip. With the right employer, you can always put in the time after dinner is cooked and the kids are off to bed or even over the weekend.
4 – DON’T do it alone!
Our kids know even as infants if we are actually paying attention to them. Better to rely on help from your neighbor, family member, partner or even external childcare than give poor care yourself and regret it later. Even if you find a great job working from home, you may not be able to fully care for your little one all day. Look into some part time help that allows you to fully focus on work a few hours and not half ass your precious mommy-baby time.
5 – Dedicate time to your other kids.
One-on-one time with my 9 year old daughter has been extremely important recently. She was a product of my first marriage which adds another level to her feeling of being less important than her new half brother. As much as I try to make her feel special, there are simply times that she is the very last on my busy to-do list. We try to do something every day just the two of us even if it is as simple as snuggling on the couch or playing a card game while Daddy watches the baby. I fully admit I MUST improve here! I recently caught myself telling her that I didn’t have time to teach her how to use her new pottery wheel that she got for Christmas. When I realized what I had done, I felt awful and I’m sure she did too! I quickly fixed my mistake, but I wonder how many times a day she feels second fiddle…
Whether you decide to be a full-time mom/dad, part-time employee, or full-time both, put your whole heart into it! Each day we teach our children to mimic our actions by simply doing what we do. If they see you working for a company that values your skills, treats you well, and honors your need for work life balance, they will likely land in similar jobs when they are older. They will also learn that family comes first if you dedicate yourself to that philosophy and actually live it. Put down that smart phone, turn off the computer, and have some real face time each day.
Thanks for reading!
Jillian Hufnagel, proud Mom of 2, loving girlfriend & business woman