Thursday, February 9, 2012

Balance: Working Inside and Outside of the Home

Being a mother is a tough job.  Whether you work outside the home, inside the home, or both…our job is hard.  We make decisions for tiny people that put all of their trust in us.  We take care of sick kids, change diaper after diaper, and somehow make it through those early months of sleepless nights.  So…when I see or hear mothers talking like we are on separate teams (between working and stay at home) I am so sad.  Instead of banding together and sharing common ground, sometimes we look at the other side of the career / home mix with negative viewpoints.  Working part-time outside of the house, I sit somewhere in between those two groups, so I hear both sides of the career statements… “I don’t know how you stay home that many days a week.  It’s just not for me.”  Or, “I don’t know how you can leave them to travel for work.  Don’t you miss them?”  “Don’t you worry that you will miss a milestone while you are at work?”  Is it possible that it is just our own insecurities about the decision we made (or may not have had the choice to make) that causes disdain for the other “team”?  I think we need to support each other through the tough parenting decisions that we have to make.  In today’s world, is one choice better than the other?  Of course not.  Working outside of the home is a very personalized issue that only has to be right for one person.  You (and your family).  My decision to work part-time works for me.  It may not work for you for a dozen or so reasons, but for me…it works. 
Over the last several years, I have been asked a countless number of questions about working part-time.  How did I get them to let me do it?  How could you get off the “career track”?  How can you do your job part-time?  What made you decide to do it?  Will you ever go back full-time?  And the list goes on…
Before I had Myles, my career was my top priority (along with my marriage).  I had held four positions in five years and I loved every minute of it.  A corporate relocation to Chicago had let us live our dream to live in the big city for a while, and brought us back home, just as we had hoped.  I wanted a baby, but there was no way it would change how I felt about work.  I wondered how I would manage all of the travel that I did, but I knew I would find a way.  A great husband and a daycare I trusted, and I could continue to climb the corporate ladder with a baby in tow, no problem.
Then, I saw him.  I still cannot fully explain what happened to me.  Maybe some sort of short in my system.  I tried, but I couldn’t fix it.  I had to find a way to stay home with him, at least a few days of the week. 
Looking back, I still can’t believe what I did next.  Despite the exhaustion of a newborn, I decided that becoming a real estate agent was the only way I could stay home, at least part-time.  Honestly, I assumed that working part-time for my current employer just wasn’t an option.  I travelled quite a bit, and as a product manager for the largest accounts that my division sold to, there was just no way (at least that I could see) that they would allow me to work part-time.  What if my customer called?  It’s not like they could just wait until tomorrow!  So, during every sleeping moment Myles had, I studied and took an online class to get my real estate license.  I took the test and made a plan to leave a company that I loved, for more time with Myles.  Financially, it was going to be tough.  Really tough.  BUT – we could work it out, I was sure of it.
All too soon came the dreaded day that I would have to resign (I can’t bring myself to say quit) from my job.  I had talked through the meeting in my head a dozen times, came with a formal written letter, and was as prepared as I could be for the meeting.  All the prep in the world didn’t change the fact that I was preparing to leave something I loved, but I was sure that I wanted more days at home with Myles.  What I wasn’t prepared for was their response.  They wanted some time to work out a position that I could do part-time.  I never expected such a progressive response.  They could tell I was having a hard time with the decision and wanted to try and make something work that would be mutually beneficial for both parties. (Just as a side-note… I would never advise resigning from a job with the hopes for a counter-offer to stay part-time.  Only quit if you truly plan to quit.  I have heard of people trying to use leaving after maternity leave as a way to negotiate something further.  Quite a risky venture if you ask me.)
Fast forward four years… I am still loving my part-time working arrangement.  As a Market Development Manager, I love my job, the people I work with, and the company that made it possible.  I have “pulled over” on the career highway, but I still feel like I am on the road (with carseats in the backseat). 
Sometimes I think that working part-time just makes both parenting and working harder on me.  Conference calls and emails can make my days at home harder.  Trips for work or extra meetings can make scheduling care for my days off extra hard as well.  It almost seems like if I worked full time (the care would always be there) or stayed at home all the time, some things would be easier.  Yet, I wouldn’t trade the balance I have found for anything.  It works for me.  That is what is important.  Just like each mother has to find a balance that works for her.  I’m sure someday I will return to work full-time.  My husband asks me at least once a month when that will be… not yet, Ben.


  1. I have started struggling with it myself. And I never thought that would be me. I love my job so much. Luckily I can still work full time but be "part time." I will be middle of the road with you and a car seat in the back too! love you!

    1. You will do great, Bri. I'm sure of it :). The nursing profession is awesome and your hours are just too cool!

  2. How wonderful that your company was willing to work with you like that!! Best of both worlds! And I agree every mom has to find what is right for her!

  3. That's great that you're able to balance the two. And that your job was able to accommodate you in that way. I also work outside the home, except I own my own business, so often times work and worries come with me. Loving your blog and following...


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