The past month, I've been "trying on" the idea of a full-time working mom. I accepted a long-term substitute school counselor position. The PERFECT opportunity for me to really see how that works for my family. (FYI: I'm off today because my babysitter was unavailable, but then will work full days for the rest of the week.)
PROS: it feels good to be a professional! I enjoy my career (which was a pleasant and semi-unexpected rediscovery). I'm in a small school with about 70 kids in each grade, grades 7-12. SLOWLY, students are figuring out who I am and drifting in for college guidance, friendship issues, family troubles... I love how my career offers such a cornucopia of things to do! One minute I'm writing an article for the monthly newsletter that the counselor disperses, the next minute I'm researching colleges and brainstorming with a student, then it's crisis mode to help a young teen who has lost all her friends, and finally a meeting with a team of teachers to discuss student concerns.
Also, though the 7am start time is DIFFICULT, it is good for me to be forced to be up, clean, and dressed... it's so true that I am more efficient when there is a set timetable. (Not to mention the new clothes that are a necessity for being a professional!) And lastly, the PAYCHECK with the future possibility of HEALTH INSURANCE (if this turned into a permanent position).
CONS: Hazel who?! I might get a few minutes with her in the morning, but then most days I don't get home till 5:30. She goes to bed at 7. See the problem? UNACCEPTABLE! She has a wonderful babysitter, but I hate not knowing exactly what she ate, played with, hours slept... Not to mention that she is a SPONGE and I want to be the one teaching her and watching her grow. The mornings are also a big shift for my husband who has to wake up an hour earlier...which is a big deal for a guy that tends to start major home improvement projects at 10pm. Add to this the cost of a babysitter and once baby #2 comes along, I'll bring home less than 1/2 a paycheck!
WHAT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE THAT NEEDS TO GET DONE? How is it possible to get a healthy home cooked dinner on the table every night? Especially when my baby is ready to eat the minute we walk through the door? What about Doctors appointments and the multitude of phone calls it takes to keep a house running? When do people do these things? I haven't even mentioned grocery shopping and cleaning the house. Seriously, all on SATURDAY? And where do I get this vast pool of energy from?
It's such a tough decision. I've been talking with some of my coworkers and the moms of young ones seem to all wish they could stay home, but feel that it isn't an option. They need the money, the health insurance, the difficulties of getting another job in this rural area... Major concerns, yes. The "seasoned" moms seem to think that they'd be BORED if they stayed home. Probably some people would, but that concept blows my mind. Actually, the woman I'm subbing for is on maternity leave and has been texting coworkers about being bored and the lack of good daytime TV. So clearly, there are many people who are truly happier working. A good thing for me to remember... and accept that I am not one of them (or maybe my baby was just a little more difficult. I was too busy soothing cries to even think about the boob-tube.)
Right now, I can say without a hesitation, that working full-time isn't what is best for my family. Yes, we need the money, but my husband and I are pretty good with stretching a dollar and have always figured things out. I think that a 1/2 time position would be the best of both worlds... getting to spend most of the day with Hazel while still having a balanced household budget. As for health insurance, my husband and kids are covered (he through his work, the kids through the state), so I will be content with an inexpensive emergency plan... and stay away from germs! So, we'll wait and see what choices we have in the future. For now, I'm THRILLED that I'll be switching to 1/2 days for January and February (a necessity to keep my pregnant woman health insurance). I need a little more sanity in my day-to-day routine.