The Life of a Working Mom

What can I say? It’s been….what….3 or 4 months since my last blog post? I checked my stats before I hit “New Post” and was shocked to see that I still get approx. 14 hits per day.  I was expecting….ZERO.  But I guess that is the Life of a Working Mom….having to make decisions on where one’s time is spent.

Today is my 6 month annivesary as a Working Mom.  And I have the day off!! (HAHAHA)  Somewhat by design…..today is also the boys’ last day of school….and I wasn’t about to give up our tradition of going somewhere fun (their choice) after I pick them up. I am, after all, a MOM first.

Today’s plan….Ice Cream for lunch, and some mini-golf.  Ok…..Ice Cream for Lunch….I guess I do influence their decision a bit.

How have the last 6 months been? Are there any battle scars? Is everyone surviving?

IMO, they have done very well.

In terms of the “flow of the day”…..very little has changed. I take the kids to the bus stop or school…then I go off to work. And I am there either to pick them up from school or the bus stop. [As I feared, Lily was the only one who struggled with the transisiton.] For the most part, the kids didn’t really notice a difference. Their lunches/snacks are put together, dinners remain “normal” (maybe a few more crock-pot meals than I would normally cook), everyone was on-time to their sports games/practices. The only noticable changes are that I would have to sometimes drag them to the grocery store or some other errand after school (whereas a SAHM mom would do the errand while they were all at school), and that on the weekends I would get a pass to go run errands….Target, mall for Bday pressies, etc.

What about sick kids or school activities?

I have to say that my employer has been stellar. Very understanding and accomodating. In the past 6 months, we have had 2 major injuries in this house. First, M-Man broke his arm in February–which required surgery, a hospital stay, and several follow-up appoinments. My supervisors were great about letting me take the time off I needed to help my son.  Then in March, Hubby broke his foot….such a long story….but it required me to take up a bigger chunk of the responsibilities at home….as well as taking M-Man to the Doctor appts that Hubby had volunteered to go to. I will admit, it exhausted and overwhelmed me at times.

And, I have had to make choices. As a SAHM, I attended every school function that I could. And I think if it wasn’t for the time off I took for M-Man’s injury, I think I would have made a greater effort to attend some of the events these past few months.  I chose not to attend any of the boys’ spring concerts. I couldn’t volunteer for field trips. I made a choice to attend T&M’s Yearbook party rather than the “move up to Middle School” ceremony. And there is some Mommy-guilt for sending my kids to camps for vacation rather than hanging out with them and doing stuff (or not doing stuff).  But I counter that with *knowing* that each summer they HAVE attended summer camps for most of the summer (this year, it just happens to be all non-traveling weeks)…Some of them are 1/2 day camps, so that makes me feel better.  And again, my employer is being fantastically flexible in allowing me to work around the boys’ camps schedule.

On the flip side, going back to work has been such a confidence and morale booster. On an almost-daily basis, one of my boys will ask “How was your day, Mom?”  This was not a question that they asked often while I was a SAHM. I have had several of the hiring managers or directors at the agency stop by my desk and say “You are doing a great job” or “Thank you for your suggestion–it worked out great!”  I have stream-lined processes and solved database problems that have plagued the department for YEARS.

I was originally hired through a staffing agency (and actually, am still working through the staffing agency). I was told this was a “temp” assignment, and at some point they would be looking for a FT 40-hour person. They asked how long I could stay on. I was honest—I would/could stay through the school year. I figured I wasn’t going to go through the hassle of arranging camps for my boys on a “maybe” work schedule. At the end of April, I approached my supervisors reminding them that they should probably post the FT job if they intended me to “train” my replacement.   Well, one day, my direct supervisor came in and said…”we love you so much, and our department finally has some stability, I don’t why the 30 hrs can’t continue to work.” She went on a CRUSADE to keep me–she wrote a 2 page proposal and then personally met with all the decision-making “powers that be.” And everyone agreed, “She fits so well….keep her.”

So here I am…..a working mom.

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Getting Hosed

Call me a traditionalist. Say that I’m a glutton for punishment.

I like pantyhose.

I like how they make my legs smooth and shiny.  I like how the “control top” keeps things “together” a la spanx. I like how during a New England Winter, it ads that extra layer of warmth.  And along the lines of New England winter, they add color to my pasty white winter legs.  (But just for MORE information, I don’t wear hose in warmer weather).

So I have to admit, that over the last 15 or so years I have rarely purchased pantyhose/nylons. For four years, I lived in California—no need for warmth or tanned-looking legs—I had the real thing going on. The last 10 years, as a stay-at-home mom, I rarely had an occassion where I needed pantyhose/tights.  Once a year …….maybe.

But now that I’m working, I seem to be wearing more skirts, and hence need pantyhose.

My Go-To store…..mainly because of convenience and reputation for “good deals”…..is Target.  Do you know how much ONE PAIR OF PANTYHOSE COSTS AT TARGET?!?

$8

A Pair.

And they are NOT super-strength that last for several wears.

I don’t want to date myself here, but last time I was buying pantyhose/tights “in bulk” I was paying $3-5 per pair.  GRANTED….. that was a WHILE ago, and I have to take inflation into account….but I really don’t think the technology has improved (clearly) or the material is in short supply.

Sigh.  Seems like I have to go to the mall and start some comparison shopping. For Hose.

Really?

The Return to Work Experience

Because I documented my desire to return to work as well as the details of my job search, I figured I should write about my Return to Work Experience.

Since December 12th, I have been working for a Social Service Agency who aids the Elder community.  My title is HR Administrative Assistant, but my duties are much more of a Recruiting Coordinator. I am happy to report that I was actually able to find an organization that would let me work from 9am-3pm.  For now, this is a temp assignment so it is offering me a “taste” of returning to work–to see how I like it, how I handle it, how it affects the family.

My first 10 days were mostly administrative Grunt-Work—filing, filing, and more filing.  I would have been tasked with data entry, but my supervisor was having problems getting me access into their HRIS systems.  I pretty much impressed/surprised them with the speed and efficiency of my filing skills.  ;>)

I then went away for 10 days for the Christmas holidays, so I consider my “First Day of Real Work” as January 3rd.  My supervisor had fixed the HRIS issue, so I now had the ability to go into the system and update evaluation dates, change of addresses, new job titles.  I was also given the responsibility of handling all the job postings and resume intake, as well as meeting with candidates, sending out offer letters, and much more.

There have been times  when I have wondered if this is actually a 30 hour a week job.  Either it is not, or I am too quick and efficient, or they just haven’t given me the “meat” of the job yet.  I can’t say that I’m being “challenged” but I am feeling very productive. Luckily, over the past 2 weeks, I have been given more and more responsibility and autonomy. My supervisor and the HR Director are *very* pleased with the high level of detail and integrity I show in my work.  I am constantly being complimented, and have been asked to extend my assignment from March until the end of May.

How has my return to work effected our home life?

Well, for starters, I haven’t heard any squawking from the peanut gallery.

My morning routine with the boys is *exactly* the same.  Lily and I take the boys to the bus stop each morning, and she and I go on a quick walk.  Lily gets the raw deal, as her walks are quite short now, and she is home alone for 7 hours.  The boys now take the bus after school, instead of my picking them up.  When the boys come into the house, they grab a snack and start their homework. On occasion, I have to remind them that their “unwind” time was the 30 minute bus ride. And each night, I make a nice dinner for the family–sometimes it’s casual, sometimes I go all out–just like before I worked.

I have done a few 7pm grocery trips during the week, and I have done “full grocery runs” on either Saturday or Sunday.  It doesn’t bother me all that much, but it’s definitely not the same as going to a nice, quiet, relatively-empty grocery store at 9am on a weekday.

What I have noticed, and perhaps this does bother me a little, is that since January, I have done a ton of errands on Saturdays or Sundays in between basketball games, church, or other commitments. When I mentioned this to Hubby, he hasn’t noticed. But I guess this is the reality of a working mom.

I have been able to keep up with housework.  Back in December, I called a couple of housecleaners. One did come for a meet-and-greet, and I played phone tag with the others. I try not to make phone-calls at work, so I say “I’ll call when the boys do their homework.” But I forget, and the next day I kick myself. But just like before I worked, I divide the household chores into different days, rather than cleaning the WHOLE HOUSE in one day/night. And it’s worked for me. But I am HAPPY TO SAY, I finally did another meet-and-greet with a house cleaner, which came recommended by 2 friends….and I really liked her….so she’ll start this week! (YAY!)

Where do I go from here?

Although I am capable of doing more than just administrative assistant work, I am happy that I decided to re-join the workforce in this capacity. I will admit that I very much underestimated the changes–laws, technology, procedures–in the last 10 years.  This has been a great refresher and tutorial all in one.  I know I’m not “manager” material (yet), but I’m looking forward to a bigger challenge.

The HR Director talked to me the other day about whether I would be interested in staying with the company on a “permanent” basis in a full-time role (the role/title/job description is still being ironed out).  As flattered as I was, I had to turn down her offer because I *really* don’t want to work 40 hours.  I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed filling 6 hours of my day with work I enjoy doing, being part of a team, being appreciated….but still able to come home, meet my boys at the bus, help them with their homework, and make a nice meal where we all sit together and share our stories of the day. I don’t want to give that up. I’m very fortunate to be in a position that I don’t have to work 40 hours (or more). And as I told hubby recently, By me returning to work, I am not breaking the family. If anything, I am enhancing the family because it shows my kids that “Yes, mommies are smart too. They can work.” I’m not deserting them for a job. I want to work while they are at school/work, as not to break the balance or the FAMILY WE CREATED.

I am fortunate to be working with 2 very lovely, dedicated ladies.  I plan on working at this agency through the end of May, or longer if they need me. Maybe they’ll change their mind and want to offer me a perm PT position? If not, that’s ok. I have thoroughly loved this experience, the “taste” of returning to work. And I will know what I enjoy doing, and can focus on that, and find something that “fits”.

Here’s to the future!

On the Job

I started my job on Monday!!

I have received many texts, emails, and FB posts from friends offering CONGRATS and Well Wishes, as well as questions of “How was your 1st (or 2nd) day?”

It’s a little too soon to tell, but for the most part….all is good.

The commute is great for me–it’s between 20-25 minutes in each directions–all “reverse” commute.

The two ladies I work for are very, very nice. Both mornings, the HR Director, once she settles herself in her own office, comes out and sits down across from me at my desk and asks me how things are going, asks about my boys, etc. She is being friendly and trying to establish a relationship. I very much appreciate it.

The Benefits Manager is very nice as well.  She is usually on “high” speed because she has so much to do, but she doesn’t mind if I interrupt her with questions or ideas. She stops and listens. I appreciate that too.

So far all I’ve really done is filing–all sorts.  Apparently, I’m very good at filing, as I finish my tasks within an hour and a half.  Each day I have provided suggestions or ideas that the HR Director and Benefits Manager hadn’t thought of, and they each wanted me to implement the change. Nothing monumental, but just something that was so intuitive to me, and it works!

Although my hours are 9am-3pm, I have been “done” with all my tasks by 1:30 each day.  I know it’s still the early stages of my employment and I am hoping that more “meatier” stuff will come my way in the coming days. Or maybe they just over-estimated how long it would take someone to do the tasks.  Hubby keeps telling me I have to pace myself better!

I think there was an expectation of sorts (by me? by Hubby?) that I would be tired from working 6 hours a day, PLUS coming home and helping with the Homework, making Dinner, doing Laundry, and everything else that falls under my umbrella. Surprisingly, I have had MORE energy!  I haven’t fallen asleep on the couch yet! When I come home and the boys finish their homework, I am *looking* for stuff to do.

So far the VP is happy, the boys are happy for me, and Thomas Inc. is running smoothly. All after 2 days.

I’ll keep you posted if anything changes!  ;>)