Submitted by Cliff
My wife and I work opposite schedules: I work during the day and she works at night. Four days a week, she leaves for work about 20 minutes after I get home. Sometimes it's hard, but I really can't complain. We've found a way to make it work. It's what we do for our three kids. We have a great house in a great neighborhood and a good life.
Our teen is a cheerleader. Our middle child is in martial arts. Our toddler ... toddles. You could say our hands are full, especially now that school is in session.
On Wednesdays though ... I want to pull my hair out, get Rogaine, grow more hair, and then pull it out again.
The morning usually starts at 6:00 am as my toddler wakes up looking for me. I make him a waffle, and he watches Sesame Street while I get ready for work. At 7:00 am I get my middle kiddo up so she can get dressed before I get my toddler dressed, and then I go downstairs to make lunches for my teen and middle kid, pack myself my own lunch and figure out an "on the go" breakfast for myself. At 7:40 am, we pack up the car, drop the teen at school, and make it to daycare by 8:00 am. That's when I head to work. My wife then comes home from work, takes the middle kiddo to school, and then goes to sleep so she can go back to work again in the evening.
At work, I enjoy being with adults, drinking coffee, and not watching Toy Story for the 300th time.
I come home at 5:30 pm only to kiss my wife goodbye as she takes our teen to cheerleading. At 6:00 pm, I pack up in the car with the toddler and middle kiddo and head to martial arts. While middle kiddo learns, the little dude and I go to the supermarket for a few things. (e.g. Daycare ran out of diapers and wipes.) If you have a toddler, you know that "stopping for a few things at the supermarket" is not a quick in and out experience. I'll just leave it at that.
I make it back home by 7:00 pm to figure out dinner only to leave again at 7:10 pm to get the karate kid and come back home. Karate Kid then showers and gets in her pajamas.
Once I finally figure out dinner (THANK YOU, GOD, FOR THE INSTANT POT), I give my toddler a bath and change him into his pajamas. (This, of course, results in the age old debate: monster vs. train PJs).
Dinner is ready by 8:00ish, and we can finally eat, clean up, and be done by 8:30 pm. I make a dinner plate for my teen so she can eat when she comes home from cheer (Thank you, carpool moms) and then text her instructions so that she doesn't blow it up and burn her hands when she puts it in the microwave.
Bedtime is 9:00 pm! Karate kid goes to bed. Toddler and I pick out books, check his diaper, he checks his teddy's butt to make sure teddy didn't poop, and we read a few books before bedtime. He is usually asleep by book three. I put him down and ninja vanish out of his room by 9:35 pm making sure I don't walk on the spots where the floor creaks.
Back downstairs, I clean up the toys, put the dishes away, go check in on my teen that came home during bedtime, and see her for five minutes before she goes to bed.
It's now 10:00 pm, and I'm EXHAUSTED. But I need some me time, so I don't go to bed until midnight. I spend the time watching TV and then need to go back into my toddler's room because he hears me and needs to be comforted back to sleep.
I make it to bed by 12:10 am. And I'm out until 6:00 am when the toddler wakes up, and it starts all over again.
Would I love a vacation on a beach with a cold Corona? SURE! Would I trade all of this for said vacation? Nope.
We do it for our kids. They may not understand now ... but they will. And it's worth it for those little moments like seeing my toddler fall asleep as I read to him at night. It's worth it to see my karate kid get her green belt and kick some butt. It's worth it to see my teen do her back tuck, handspring, spinny ... thing-a-ma-bob, and how excited she is when she lands it.
But I still want that Corona! ;)
There it was again: the “sting”. Let me explain what I mean. I was talking to another mother about my work and how I manage it all; young children, an 80% work schedule, and a husband who is out-of-town traveling for business most week days. The other mother, who works a 40% schedule, has grown children, and a husband who is home most evenings, asked, "How can you work that much? You don’t have any time with your kids." Ouch. That hurt.
I noticed that I became defensive when I replied to her, “I have time with my kids in the mornings and evenings, on the weekends, and during our joint vacations. And all my female colleagues in the United States work full time, and they often have more children than I do.”
Why did this bother me so much? I think it was because her statement implied a judgement; she does it right, and I do it wrong.
These opinions and judgments often come from mothers who have the luxury to work just a “little” or not at all. And sometimes their judgments contain defensiveness because my situation highlights the fact that they could be working and earning more.
Why can’t mothers respect each others' choices? Why do some feel compelled to provide opinions and even judgments? Do fathers criticize their peers who work full-time and/or travel as part of their jobs?
It makes me sad that women and mothers criticize each others' career choices. Maybe we do it because we sometimes have more choices about our lifestyles. And women probably spend a lot more time than men questioning whether or not we've made the best choices for our families and ourselves.
But, please, do not burden your fellow sisters. Let's support each others' decisions. That would be much more helpful for ourselves, our children, and our society. We're all trying to do the best we can!
Recently a hard-working and much admired mother read one of our stories and commented that stay-at-home parents and working parents all want similar things. I totally agree. I've yet to meet a parent who isn't striving to do their best whether they work full-time, focus on their family full-time, or something in between. All parents I encounter seem to want the best for their children, their partner, their parents, their siblings, their friends, and their employer (when they have one). I'm guessing there are people out there who aren't trying their hardest, but I don't know them. For years I've suggested that any parent who wants to make a case for leaving the workforce to stay home full-time should gather data points from working parents. We've got some real horror stories about our own missteps and the consequences, but we're careful about sharing them.
So why focus exclusively on stories of inspiration and encouragement for working parents?
The great thing about the Internet is that there is something for almost everyone. Stay-at-home moms are able to access a ton of info to support, encourage, and enhance their lifestyle. Stay-at-home dads are also popping up all over the blogosphere and on Twitter and Instagram. Some are especially funny and entertaining. And now, Working Parents have another resource designed to inspire, encourage, and support their lifestyle. Oh, and we try to find a little humor in our missteps too.
Thanks for reading the stories!
Submitted by Chatón Turner
I'm a "Working mom on a quest for balance in stilettos". My children are 7 and 3-years-old, and we have another one on the way. I'm a wife to Andre Smith. And I'm also an attorney for a healthcare system, an adjunct professor, and a public speaker. In my "spare time" I maintain a social media presence via my chatonsworld.com web site, @Chatonsworld account on Twitter, and @chatonsworld account on Instagram. Obviously I like to write and communicate.
Balancing all of my roles is my biggest challenge. Indeed, Corporate America is still not very accommodating to working parents, and many organizations do not have formal flexible work policies. The culture and lack of flexibility makes balance incredibly hard. Still, I'm driven by high standards and a vision for the lifestyle I want to provide for my kids. My income matters to my family, and my family matters to me, so I try to do it all. I also hope that my example -- trying, working hard, and persevering despite these challenges -- will serve to teach my children what is possible.
Luckily I have good role models at work, and my mom worked the whole time I was growing up so I know it can be done. Maybe being a working parent is like childbirth. After powering through my own drug-free child birth experience, just like my mom had done, I asked her why she hadn't told me about the pain. It seemed like it might have been worth mentioning! She said "Nobody talks about it because if we did nobody would do it." So, like I said, maybe it's the same for working parents.
People tell me that I need to power through the working parent struggles to get to the glory, and I'm in it for the glory of my kids. Hopefully these people are right!
Submitted by Jay Rooney
I was newly-married and knee-deep in my career when my wife found out she was pregnant with Josie. Like most expectant parents, we were excited, nervous, and bursting with anticipation to welcome the newest member of our family.
Then, just 24 hours after she was born, Josie was diagnosed with an ultra-rare heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia. (Jimmy Kimmel spoke about his son, who had the same illness, right around the same time.) She was whisked away to the cardiovascular ICU at Stanford University Medical Center, where she had open-heart surgery at just 3-days-old. For the next three months, we stood by her side as she recovered. Seeing your child sedated, scarred, and hooked up to so many wires is among the most horrifying sights for a parent. And being immersed in the chaos and isolation of the ICU for such a prolonged time took a huge toll on my wife's and my physical and emotional health, and severely tested our relationship.
Being a parent is hard sometimes. Being a parent with a job outside the home doesn't make things easier. And being a working parent with a special needs child often feels downright overwhelming.
As a working parent with a special needs child, I recently found myself so exhausted and heartbroken that I was confused. I didn't know whether I was feeling challenged by parenting, my special needs child, or my work environment.
So I did what I usually do when I am confused: research. I turned to Google and searched on "parents struggling with special needs children". I got a lot of results. There are tons of great blogs and articles from special needs parents, organizations, and medical institutions. It was unbelievable.
One blog entry from a mother of a special needs child was especially comforting for me. It said something like this: “If you have come to this blog because you Googled 'struggling with special needs children' you must feel very exhausted. Let me tell you: you are not alone. And believe me, what you do day in and day out is truly exhausting, and it is incredible! You are a Superhero.”
That helped me so much. Instantly. I felt validated, understood, and knew I wasn't alone.
Whether we are parents, working parents, or working parents with special needs children, what we do is important. And most importantly: we are not alone in our struggles, fears and feelings. There are others out there who feel the same way we do, and they can offer comfort, encouragement, and even inspiration.
So next time you feel worn out and tired by all of the challenges you face as a working parent, remember: You Are a Superhero!
Submitted by Ann Brauch
When my daughter Kirsten was a senior in high school, she called me at work one morning toward the end of the school year very upset. She had overslept. And wouldn't you know that it was the morning of her AP Spanish exam. She flat out missed it. I felt horrible knowing that if I'd been a more attentive mother, I could have prevented the situation and the angst that followed. Kirsten was no slacker, and I hated thinking about the consequences she would endure in spite of all of her hard work.
Another mother, a friend who happened to be at school that day, overheard the teacher ball Kirsten out for the transgression in no uncertain terms. Apparently she did not go easy on her. Kirsten was and is a strong young woman, and interestingly, she didn't tell me that part of the story. She accepted full responsibility for her mistake.
Luckily all was not lost, and a make-up exam was offered and taken. I'm sure you won't be shocked to read that Kirsten went on to college, graduated, and is now gainfully employed by a software company in the healthcare field. The mistake did not ruin her life. In fact, I think she learned a lot from it. For starters, I don't think she's overslept since!
As I look back on this experience with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that it was valuable. If I hadn't had my own work and priorities, I might have prevented the situation, and the lesson might not have been learned. At least not then. In some unexpected ways, I think the fact that both my husband and I work has required each of our kids to develop a strong sense of responsibility. And that is serving them well now that they are young adults.
Pointer to an inspiring blog post by Mary-Claire King on the Huffington Post UK
Read Dr. Mary-Claire King's blog post titled "The Week My Husband Left and My House was Burgled I Secured a Grant to Begin the Project that Became BRCA1" published on Sep 14, 2017.
The first 50 stories submitted by working parents contained a few predictable elements, but collectively they produced the following eight surprises:
Were you surprised by anything you read in these stories?
Submitted by Mark Haselmaier
When I was younger, I got hungry after dinner a lot. So I would ask my dad for something to eat. Sometimes he would oblige, but he usually looked at me and said, “Go get a snack. You know how to make a peanut butter sandwich or toast a bagel.”
As I think back on those experiences, I remember realizing that I wasn't the only important person or thing in my parents' lives. I learned that they had other things that were important too, and I needed to become capable enough to handle some things on my own.