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Working Part-Time Feels Like A Split Personality

Started by Candace , author of Naturally Educational: Lesson Plans, Activities, and Crafts for Early Childhood 5/30/2012 11:00:10 PM

Mommy, do you love your computer more than me?

Before having children, I imagined "work-life balance" like an old-fashioned scale. When things were out of whack, you just toss in a hot bath for yourself, a movie with your friends, and a date night with your husband. Now, I see it more as a tug-of-war with two giants pulling either of my arms in opposite directions while I try desperately not to get split in half.

Let's get this out of the way: I am extremely blessed. I have an involved and loving husband, three delightful children, and the ability to earn a decent income from home while working part-time, thanks to my degrees and experience in education.

And yet, I am torn between the powerful forces of motherhood and career. As I stress about deadlines and turn down additional work and leave my personal projects untouched, I worry that I am not the professional I could be. On the flip side, I feel terrible every time I miss a bedtime story or pop in a video (despite being very strict about limiting screen time) or hire a babysitter so I can meet a due date. There are days when I feel less of a work at home mom and more of half a mom, half a worker, and not complete at all.

My mother, mother-in-law, and father, all chip in but they also all still work.

Recently, the school changed the date of the Kindergarten graduation--thereby messing up the schedules of all the working parents. Then, they sent home a note, "no siblings, please," foiling the plans of the parents who have younger children and anything less than full-time childcare.

Are fathers conflicted, too? Sure. I know that all those missed games and plays have to cut, too. However, it is the moms that are more likely to work from home, take a modified schedule, or opt-out entirely. And from the full-time work-outside-the-home moms I know, they are still the ones who manage the doctor's appointments, write the permission slips, arrange the play dates, and generally keep up with the logistics of the home.

What is it going to take to get us to a place of work-life balance?

I could probably create a laundry list of items that would improve the situation for many families: reform of birthing policies, maternity and paternity leave, on-site daycare, etc.

Until there are profound cultural shifts in the way we view family and the importance we place on the work of raising a family, however, I think we are going to continue chasing this subject around in circles.

In the meantime, moms like me need to take care of ourselves and lower our standards if we are going to attempt to balance work and home life in a meaningful way. Sit down and have a cup of tea, leave the dishes in the sink for later, head outside and play with the kids on a sunny day, and go ahead and pop in the video for a half hour if you have a deadline or just need to take a shower (turn the soundtrack to French if it makes you feel better). Something has to give...just make sure it is not your sanity.

I’ve noticed how women so often feel caught between their interests in family life and their creative or career aspirations. I wonder if it has to be this way. What would have to change—in your life, in people’s attitudes, or in our society—for women to have an easier time managing work-life balance? Share your answer below and like Smarter Life Better Planet on Facebook to be entered to win a Haier microwave for your family along with an additional microwave to be donated to the Food Bank for New York City!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Haier. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Contest Rules.

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Reply by Candace

5/31/2012 9:43:10 AM
I think you said it well when you wrote: "Until there are profound cultural shifts in the way we view family and the importance we place on the work of raising a family....." and that can simply start with our schools. How many times have trips, meetings, special events been scheduled and then changed? How many more "NO SIBLINGS" are we going to hear? "FAMILY" needs to be viewed as NUMERO UNO...EVERYWHERE! Until we can not feel like "less of a person" because we put family first, things will not change. Schools are supposed to realize the importance of "Family"....it's about time they practice what they preach.

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Reply by Tara

5/31/2012 9:56:45 AM
There was just talk of this yesterday. The schools want parents at meetings but yet there is no childcare. Puts us in an awkward position. On one hand you really want to attend but on the other we don't want to make our children sit though the meetings. I love what Candace wrote about no siblings allowed. It all about family, we should have a community that is proud of our families and our close relationships. I also agree with the split personality analogy. When im at work I often find mysef thinking of ways to improve things by putting in a little more time. Then "mommy" takes over and makes me feel like I am doing the kids wrong.

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Reply by Beeb

author of Contest Corner 6/1/2012 1:04:39 PM
Oh man, there are more improvements than I could list here I think! Such kudos to all the hard-working parents out there!

Janice and I both struggle sooooo much with work/life balance and mom guilt. We both had to get childcare when our second babies were born and we continue to use childcare. I force myself to release the guilt, but it's always there a little. I think affordable and really high quality childcare options are super important, but moms will likely always feel torn.

I have two children and work full-time. I wish it were possible to pay for childcare with pre-tax dollars. There is a small tax deduction for childcare, but it is limited at $3000 per year. In an urban area, $3000 does not go far. Childcare is one of the biggest expenses for working parents, and I know many women who dropped out of the workforce because they barely made any money after paying for childcare.

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Reply by LaMeka

6/11/2012 9:34:03 PM

I totally understand this problem. I recently had to drop out of the work force because of the issue of child care. Now I am working from home with the four kids there which is a trial unto itself. But, I enjoy it and I work for myself. www.sheezbadd.com


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Reply by Candice

author of Surviving Life 6/15/2012 10:00:14 AM

I love this post! As the hubby and I discuss what will happen if we get pregnant, I find myself wondering how I will manage.  I have been pondering working full-time or cutting back to part time.  It's such a difficult decision, because as much as I want to spend time with my children when they come, I worked so hard in college to get a degree and get to where I am in my career.  Thanks for your thoughts! 


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