The Grass Is Always Greener, But There is Poop On Either Side of the Fence

I went to work today escaped from home for a few hours while my mother-in-law watched the girls. I needed to catch up on things since I missed last week due to Amelia’s pneumonia, which thankfully she has fully recovered from. I realized other than going to the pediatrician’s office, a trip to Walgreens, and visiting family on Christmas Eve, I haven’t left the house in about two weeks. It was kind of nice to eat my Chick-Fil-A sandwich in peace at my desk without small children tugging on me. This is the fuzzy kind of Hallmark moment when I realize I don’t think I could be a full time stay at home mom. I work four days a week and although I’d love to cut back to three days, most of the time I don’t mind working. But I’m always wondering how I could change my schedule to make the life/work balance, if there is such a thing, more attainable. When I worked from home last year after having Amelia it started getting more and more difficult to work during the day with an increasingly mobile baby and I started to get a little antsy to return to the office. Now on days when my workload is light I find myself wishing I still worked from home. I guess my “ideal” job would be part time, would allow me to come and go as I please, would offer full reimbursement for childcare (I will wholeheartedly admit I’m counting down the months until August when Caitlin starts kindergarten and we no longer have double daycare expenses), and would offer free Starbucks coffee in the break room. Surely that is not too much to ask?

So what about you? What is your “ideal” work scenario? Do you long to be a stay at home mom, work part time, or work a full 40-hour week? There are pros and cons to each and I’m trying to fully appreciate my current work scenario, as most of the time I can leave early or come in late as needed which is an absolute must with small children. Even though the other side of the fence might seem greener, at the end of the day there are still noses and bottoms to wipe, bedtime stories to tell, and kisses and hugs to administer. And that is the most important “work” of all.

22 comments

  1. Nicole says:

    This is an interesting topic. We’re thinking that we’ll make enough money on the sale of our house for me to be able to stay home while we’re in Charleston for a year. (It would be hard to find a job in my field for just a year, regardless.) While I’m excited about that possibility, I’m also reluctant to give up my working mom identity. I’ve been home with Ron AND Claire since Dec 14, and I went into work today too! There were things I wanted to do there, but part of it was just what you said: escape to an environment that is under reasonable control. Bottom line: I’m not sure what my ideal is. Right now, I’ve got it pretty good and should not complain.

    P.S. What does tomorrow afternoon look like for you and the girls?

  2. Charla says:

    Well, I really do have a great schedule, 8:00 to 3:00 every day, summers off. However, if I could change anything, I would persuade the school board to go to a “year-round” schedule like many school districts are doing. The mere mention of it makes people hiss in horror, but it is actually more time off than it sounds like. The one I like is 6 weeks off in the summer, go to school 9 weeks, off 2 weeks, go 9, off 2 (Christmas), go 9, off 2 (Spring Break), go 9, off for summer vacation again. I just think it would help alleviate the “burnout” nearly all students and teachers get.

    I agree with you, I know I couldn’t be a stay at home mom, even though it sounds great. I would go stir-crazy, and I would miss adult conversation very bad.

  3. mayberry says:

    My schedule is pretty great — telecommute 4 days a week, with kids in day care all 4 days. It was even better when I worked 3 days a week spread over 4 days, with 4 full days of child care. Then I had an extra couple of kid-free hours every day for household stuff/freelance work/*cough*blogging*cough. Next year when Jo is in kindergarten (WAHOO on the cheaper child care) I plan to work my 4 days spread over 5 which I hope will be more like my old 3 over 4 plan. If that makes any sense.

  4. Lindsay says:

    My fantasy is to be making enough money from home to justify hiring a helper for about four hours, three days a week. That seems like a perfect plan to me- I’m still home and available if there’s a problem, but I also have a chance to work uninterrupted for long stretches of time.

  5. Liza says:

    Ahhh… my struggle in life…trying to balance work and family….

    Like you, my β€œideal” job would be part time and would allow me to come and go as I please. My kids are now both in school so gone are the days where we have to pay childcare for 2 ($560 each – caused us a fortune!).

    I am blessed with an excellent employer so I “can’t” (should not)complain… I’m sure I’d talk more about this topic in my blog later. In the meantime, I need to get ready for work. Thanks for thib blog. It helps to know others have the same “issues” I have…

  6. Anne says:

    Your ideal is my ideal…part time work would be absolutely perfect, espeically with a job that does not entail checking people out at a cash register or flipping burgers, I just don’t see how possible it is. There doesn’t seem to be a large cache of employment for SAHMs who are interested in breaking into the job market this way. So eff ’em.

  7. Blonde Mom says:

    Thanks ya’ll for all the great comments. I think this is definitely something all moms can relate to.

    It’s difficult, especially when your children are very young, to find a good work situation. My employer is very family friendly, but there are a lot of days I’d like to cut back another day so I have more time to focus on keeping our home in order because, uh, it’s kind of nuts right now. Amelia has also been so sick this winter and that’s been really tough. I’m SO ready for her to stop bringing every bug home from daycare. At the same time, I know if I kept her home this winter she’d still get sick because Caitlin is in the preschool program at daycare.

    Wow I need another cup of coffee to digest all this. πŸ˜‰

  8. Paige says:

    Great topic! I work 3 days a week. Wed,Thursday and Friday. I love it. I get to interact with grownups and have adult conversations. Plus my bosses are so family friendly and are always understanding if I have to miss work or make up a day.

    My only problem is that they are 3 -10 hour days. I only see my son for a total of 2 hours on those days. But the 4 back to back with him is worth it!

    I was lucky to find a job that fit for me with the State Dept of Education. It’s a professional job that dosn’t entail flipping burgers. I am so lucky because the pay is what I was making when I was teaching so it has not put a dent in our income. Actually we save money because we don’t have to pay the 2 extra days for a baby sitter. My husband teaches high school so he gets our son as early as 2:30 on most days.

    If you can find something that fits for you do it!! I was in the middle of the school year teaching when I found my current job and had to be released from my contract. Luckily it worked out- but I knew I couldn’t pass the position up.

  9. Busy Mom says:

    I’m looking for that job where I work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10-2 and it involves a lot of going out to lunch and shopping.

    All leads appreciated.

  10. Mrs. M says:

    Ideally I’d love to work part time from home with a fabulous nanny to care for the kids as I take my pajama clad self into the office for quiet working time.

    However I just hope that by the time I have kids I can afford a nanny as fabulous as I was to the children I cared for for 5 (and still going) years.

  11. Bluegrass Mama says:

    I worked 2.5 days when our son was little (back in the 80s–yikes!). It worked out fairly well, but I decided I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I did that for 12 years, and for the past 6 have worked very part-time, maybe 8-10 hours per week, with incredibly flexible hours. What I want is this arrangement with full-time pay.

  12. Amanda says:

    There’s very little flexabilty in my job. But both of my partners are understanding if I need to leave and take the kids to the doctor. Thet don’t my helping me out.

    I do love being home with my girls. I miss them after 4 hours.

  13. Jennifer says:

    When I was in school FT I couldn’t wait to be a SAHM, when I was a SAHM, I needed to work because my brain was slowly leaking out of my ear to the tune of “Toot Toot Chugga Chugga”.

    I started a business, and was content with the amount of time I could spend at it, but then I started to work mornings again. I started to get stressed and wanted some “me” time. Now that I’ve been off for a little over a week I kinda want to get back to it. Kinda. I think I need another week to decide.

    I don’t think anyone can be happy with any decision. Is it the guilt? Is it the pressure? I dunno.

  14. kara in kansas says:

    Wow. What an array of PT work hours here. I’m supposed to be 20hrs/wk sales, but have been covering extra hours since both the other FT salesmen quit, leaving just the boss and me. I’m struggling w/ wanting to build my clientele (which, as a PT’er, is of course hard to do), help by boss, who is a dear friend, and work those extra hours, yet keep those precious PT hours that made working so doable to begin w/.
    I DO like the adult conversation, but I hate I can actually tell my 6yr old son is suffering…
    I DO like the commission checks…I hate not having time to actually talk to my hubby…

    Big sigh…

  15. Traci says:

    Great post. I too, could not cut it as a SAHM, I like the adult interaction, plus I feel in control in the work environment. At home, forget it, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing most of the time. However, I have added some new job duties that require some travel and that sucks. I would like some free hours during the week to volunteer at my oldest’s class, shop, whatever. Oh, the Starbucks in the breakroom would be good,too. Since I work in government it doesn’t seem to be coming my way. I really enjoy your blog- thanks for sharing.

  16. Library Mama says:

    What interesting comments from all of you! BlondeMom, you’ve obviously hit the venting valve in all of us.

    When I was younger – and my kids were younger – I longed for SAHMhood. Now that we’re all a little older, I’m quite happy with my lot.

    I am fortunate in that, as a teacher, I have a chance to have my cake and eat it too because in the summer, I am a SAHM. By the end of August, I’m ready to head back to routine though, just like the kids are.

    I’m curious if any of you have read Caitlin Flanagan’s To Hell With All That, in which she explores these same questions. I found it an interesting read.

    (I know, I know, when do you have time to read? I hear ya.) πŸ˜‰

  17. Blonde Mom says:

    Library Mama, I have not read that book but I have heard of it. I need to check that out. One of my “resolutions” for 2007 is to read more (besides children’s books and blogs!) πŸ˜‰

  18. Heather says:

    Okay, this title made me laugh out loud! So much so, that my husband came in the office to see what was wrong with me! You’re very witty!

  19. Heather says:

    Sorry, forgot to answer the question! I work outside the home. However, I am lucky enough to be a teacher. In fact, my oldest attends the school where I teach. I have all the respect in the world for stay-at-home moms, but it is simply not for me. Holidays and the summer are good enough for me! I think it depends on your personality.

  20. Mrs. Flinger says:

    I’m really feeling this right now with my working from home/toddler/never leaving the house problem. I need the interaction of seeing people in real life but the flexibility of being a mom.

    I actually used to have my perfect work scenario. I was a “full time” prof that worked two days a week (all my classes were stacked back to back those two days). I graded at home on M/W/F on my own time (two hours here or there) and worked from 8-5 on T/R. Honestly? I miss it. Oh. So. Much.

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