Friday, February 22, 2013

Working Mom # 3 - Communication and Support is Key

This is Mandy. I've known her since I was about 9. Woah. She encouraged me and gave me all the resources to use cloth diapers with Avery (which we have done since she was 10 weeks old). All the stresses of being a working mom can be overwhelming (especially in NoVA), but when you have a support system behind you, she shows how you can be healthy, enjoy your job, and your child without the guilt.

Here's Mandy:

My name is Mandy and I should probably start this off by saying one of my first full-time summer jobs was watching Natalie and her brother Tyler. (To be honest, I was really watching Tyler... Natalie was already old enough to take care of herself. Her mom and step-dad felt it best to have someone a little older there while they both worked and because Natalie and Tyler had some summer activities they didn't want them to miss. And so began my working career. And it has continued non-stop, in full-time or part-time capacity, to present day. I share this little story because working has been a very big part of my life for 17 years. And having a kid hasn't ended that, at least not yet.

I was fortunate to be able to take 3 months off from my job after I had "A." And to be honest, I was very conflicted about going back. I enjoy my job (I work for a newspaper in Washington DC) but having a tiny little thing that depends entirely on you really makes you think. We found an in-home daycare that is near my husband's office and she seemed really great, but I won't lie, that first week back was pretty rough... figuring out when to pump, worrying about A, even though I knew she was probably doing fine, thinking I was an awful mother for not deciding to stay home, etc...

But in the end, I stayed at work and A kept going to daycare. Overall, it is a good situation: I get 8 hours to interact with adults (not in my family) and do something I love to do and A gets quality time interacting with other kids her age, with some age-appropriate learning thrown in. And living in NOVA (Northern Virginia for those of you who don't know), having two incomes is a major plus, even if 1/4 of my salary is going to daycare.

The bads were there too: A got sick a record 10 times her first winter in daycare and she was still under 1. That has to be a record right? I can't remember the last time I had a cold until I had a kid. It is so true: they are germ factories! And then there was pumping... good lord. My office was "accommodating" as in they gave me a room with a door to pump in, but I had to coordinate with another pumping mother in my office and the door didn't have a lock, so we had this silly sign we had to put up that said "IN USE." I kept joking with my close coworkers that everyone knew what we were doing so we might as well have that sign say "MILKING." With my deadline driven job, it was really hard to find the 2-3 20 min times to pump with two women using that room. There were ups and downs, but with the help of good ol' Medela I was able to do it for 16 months before we started weaning.

Something that is both a positive and negative is my work schedule. As I said I work for a newspaper and it publishes 7 days a week. This means we have to have people in the office everyday. Thankfully by the time my husband and I were talking about kids, I had one weekend day off. My current schedule is Sun-Thurs. This means I watch A on Fridays while my husband is at work and my husband watches her on Sunday when I'm at work. It is nice to have one day just mommy and daughter, and I'm sure my husband loves daddy-daughter days but that also means we only have one day together as a family. That is pretty rough and one of the things I don't like about this working mom thing... it is even less time as a family then a "regular" working mom.

A typical day involves waking everyone up by 5:30 a.m., leaving the house by 6:15. My husband dropping me off at Metro by 6:45 and then dropping A off at daycare before he heads to work. Then working until 4 or 4:45 (depending on the day) and Metroing back to my husband who has already picked up A. Then the commute home usually takes double the time it does in the morning. When we get home its a run for me (if the traffic/weather isn't too bad), dinner, play for 1/2 hour with A and then she goes to bed. Then I get to breathe and maybe read or watch a show with my husband. Running, reading and TV are how I relax. (And thank goodness for recording/downloading devices or else we'd never see any of the new shows out there!)

As my daughter turns 2, overall, I don't regret my decision to be a working mother. I think she is getting a great thing by interacting with other children 4 days a week and learning how to be a little independent. I get to do a job I love and interact with creative people to produce a quality product. As you can see, it is super hectic on weekdays, so I can't deny I sometimes think about how being a SAHM might be an option if we have another kiddo. Daycare for 2 here in NOVA is insane and might not financially make sense. I dream of a day when I don't have to coordinate with my job, husband, daughter and dog just to get a run in during the week. I also think I'd enjoy doing all those fun kid activities I see on Pinterest. And after doing the mommy thing once, I'd like to think the second time might be a little smoother since I might actually know what I'm doing - at least a little.

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