Pointer to an article by Kathy Macaraeg - Volunteering at our kids' school was always an enlightening experience.
One night at dinner my husband was discussing his plan to visit our daughter's elementary school the next day. He'd be working as a volunteer with a small group of students in the library. She warned him that some of the students in the group caused problems for some of the other volunteers, so my husband told her, "Well you'd better let them know that there's a new sheriff in town!" We still laugh about that conversation. The meeting went pretty well, but afterward he admitted some of those kids were pretty challenging.
Volunteering at school often provided us with unique insights into what our kids were experiencing and learning. We could see for ourselves what we going on, and it didn't always align with the stories they were telling us at the dinner table. Sometimes the two of us shared a volunteer slot which was easier to manage, but there was no getting around the disruption it caused to our work schedules. Still, we knew we were lucky to have jobs that enabled us to do it at all.
Some working parents don't have jobs that provide that kind of flexibility, so they may find this article helpful and encouraging. It offers suggestions for parents who aren't able to take a break in the middle of the day: How To Be Involved At School When You're A Working Parent.
Submitted by Sherene Abrahams - "I've let go of the idea that I need to be just like everyone else."
Before my children were born, I assumed that I wouldn't work outside the home after they came along. I figured that a part-time work schedule wouldn't be an option, and I didn't want to work full-time.
But things don't always go according to plan. When my eldest was 9-months-old, I was given the opportunity to return to work on a part-time basis. I was told that I could work from the office two days/week and from home one day/week. I accepted the offer, held the job for five years, and even had another baby during that time.
When my eldest started school, I was ready to make my career a higher priority. By that time I could do my job with my eyes closed. It was easy and convenient for me as a working parent. But it was no longer challenging.
I found a new job that sounded perfect; there were shorter hours, it was closer to home, and it was a step up on the career ladder. Unfortunately, it didn't go as well as I hoped it would because it just wasn't a great fit for my skills. But luckily, after nine months on the job, I found and landed my dream role. It was closer to home, super flexible, and involved work that I love.
While it took some adjusting to find the right fit, I'm happy to report that I've found it and am balancing my roles at home and at work. Here's how I do it.
In an attempt to help other working parents, I created The Working Parents Hubshub. This site, which currently serves parents in Australia and New Zealand, helps working parents find services they can use to achieve better balance between their families and their careers. It is also a place to share tips and experiences with other working parents. We share lots of great info on our Facebook page also, and we even have a small Facebook group dedicated to discussing these things in more detail.
Submitted by Mark Haselmaier
As a kid, Halloween was obviously a big deal. A costume ritual was involved. I would wear it around the house a couple of times before the big day (to make sure it worked and all), and then be near euphoria when it was finally time to reveal its awesomeness to the world.
I always considered myself lucky at Halloween because my parents took me to the store and let me pick out my own costume. Very rarely did we do stuff like that. Usually, if I wanted something, I either had to work around the house to earn enough money to pay for it, or I had to save money from my allowance to purchase what I wanted. But it felt like during Halloween my parents and I were on the same wavelength; this kid needs a costume, and it needs to rock.
So it came as a shock when just this past weekend my mother experessed embarrassment because she had to buy me costumes all those years instead of making me something more special. What? You’re embarrassed? Why are you embarrassed about something that totally kicked ass? You let me pick out whatever I wanted from the costume aisle. That was the only time you let me just walk into a store and pick whatever I wanted and then you paid for it. For a Haselmaier child, this was almost unheard of.
After further discussion I learned that the purchase of a Halloween costume, instead of the creation of one, saved a lot of time for my working parents. It seems funny to me that they were embarrassed that they resorted to a K-Mart or Walmart aisle at Halloween. For 4-year-old me (and 11-year-old-me for that matter) it was the pinnacle of Halloween fun.
Chill out parents. You may be taking things a little too seriously.
Submitted by Tina Schmiedel
After our third child was born, my husband and I were discussing whether or not I should stop working to stay home with our kids. My oldest daughter, who was 11-years-old at the time, joined the conversation to inform me that I wouldn't be happy if I didn't work and that working made me the "best mom".
That comment put a smile on my face, because, of course, she was right.
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! ;)
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!