One of my favorite bloggers, CityMama, posted over on Blogging Baby about a mom who is struggling with the decision of whether or not to go from part-time to full-time work. When I checked out that mom's site, Baby Poop and Business Suits, I was intrigued by her request for input from other moms about how they maintained their full time jobs along with family and household duties. Here's my response to her survey:
How the heck do you do it? Some weeks are better than others. One week I might have my act together and have the house clean, have the kiddos in bed on time, and have things ready to go for the next day by the time I get to bed. Other weeks (like this week) the house is a mess, the kids are cranky because they've been up late every night, and I am overwhelmed with things to do. But I'm starting to accept that this is the way it is with 2 kids under the age of 4. :-)
What do you do for a living? (Cause you must be making a heck of a lot more money than me). I work for the federal government as the manager for computer policy (lots of writing, editing, coordination, and knowledge of technology.) I do make a good salary and so does my husband, but we live in DC which is expensive.
Who cares your child? Girls are in a day care center, which we all love. They have wonderful teachers and friends, and they thoroughly enjoy their time at the school. They are normally there 9 hours a day while hubby and I are at work.
What do you eat for dinner and when do you cook? My husband does the cooking when we get home from work each night around 6. I do kitchen cleanup. We make quick things (chicken, burgers, burritos) or prepare food on weekends to serve during the week. Kids share what we have or eat fruit, veggies, cheese sandwiches or quesadillas, yogurt, etc. We eat out or order in 2-3 times a week when schedules are crazy.
When do you do laundry, clean the house, etc? I try to keep up a little bit each night (but some weeks more successful than others). On weekends I do more massive cleaning and tremendous loads of laundry (wash and fold several loads in one day), but it's basically only enough upkeep to maintain some status quo in the house. Long term home improvement projects and serious deep-cleaning don't really get done unless we have a rare day off without the kids.
Do you have any additional hobbies? Not really. Reading when I have the chance (magazines mostly because they're easier to set down quickly than books). My blog writing and reading's the only extra luxury I allow myself on a day to day basis. We do have season tickets for the Washington Caps hockey team, so attending games will shortly take a lot of my free time.
What is the state of your social life? Up and down. Up because I'm starting to bond with other moms that have kids that are the same age as my daughters. Down because many activities that don't include the kids require a babysitter, and we've had a hard time with that since we don't have family in the area and our former babysitter's been unavailable of late. So "family social life" is good; my social life not so great.
Are you married? And if you are, how often do you REALLY spend time with your significant other? Yes, married almost 8 years. We commute together and talk for a half hour each night before bed. It's not much quality time but keeps us in sync on basic issues.
Do you get any exercise? When? How? Not much. Just bought a double jogging stroller so I can pop the girls in after work for a quick walk (theoretically -- we'll see how that really works.) Sometimes I squeeze in a walk on my lunch hour at work.
(And, most importantly,) What is your kid turning out like? Have they adjusted? Do they seem fine to be without you for so many hours of the week? What is your relationship with your child like? Our two kids are very sweet and happy, well-adjusted. I think it helps that they have had wonderful day care experiences and so they're in a loving and stimulating environment every day. I like to think we foster that at home too. The girls adore both parents and I think we're pretty consistent in our parenting style: loving but firm about rules, and we attempt to be consistent with them about the rules. We give lots of hugs and we have our moments when we get irritated but we try to remain respectful of one another (kids and parents alike.)
Bottom line: for me, I don't feel like the family relationships suffer much as a result of work. There are times I wish I had more time with the kids but I am confident that their days are well spent in day care. They're great with other people and time away helps them to appreciate the time spent as a family even more. What DOES suffer in our household is the non-family stuff -- namely, the appearance of the house, our ability to "entertain" and do things outside the house, and our follow-through with respect to long-term projects. Since I'm a perfectionist and overachiever, this bugs me, but I'm learning to accept it as part of the package. :-)