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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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!

In a Happy Place…

(for the moment)

My Honey sent me an email today (in response to an email I forwarded from T’s teacher)….Hubby wrote “Great job A.  We have great boys and you are doing a great job helping them.”

It made me think……I’m feeling very in balance at the moment…in a very happy place….

–My kids *ARE* awesome. They are all doing well in school and sports and doing well in life.  I’m always being told that they are good kids. And yes, as the parent, I see the other side as well….but, ya know what? They are pretty good kids.

–I’m pretty proud of the fact that I can talk with my kids and (help) solve their problems. I’m proud of myself for deciding to talk to my kids about bullying, and discovering we “had a situation on our hands,” and tackling the problem.

–I found a tutor for T to tackle his spelling/phonics issues. They will start working together on Monday.  I’m proud of the fact that I realized my son has a problem, and discovered that despite my attempts at helping him, we needed to go for “outside help.” I’m even prouder that he understands that he needs help and that he actually seems excited to get help. Plus, we met his tutor yesterday, and she seems WONDERFUL!!  AND, I’m happy to report that M was invited to participate in a Book Club in school!!

–All 3 boys are pretty great friends. I love watching them play and interact, not only with each other, but with their friends. It’s nice to see that they’ve chosen some good kids to be friends with too.

–Hubby and I are in a good place too.  It’s nice to know that after 13 years of marriage, and knowing him for 15 years, we are still learning and discovering things about each other.  He hasn’t travelled as much lately, so we’ve been able to do a lot more things together and talk more and share more.

–I like the fact that I”ve been able to take more time to work on developing my business as well as spend more time with friends. Makes me a more balanced person.

–I have made some great friendships over the last couple of years. Once upon a time, I had very few friends and had trouble making friends (a cross of being shy and being “not like the others”). And that combination led to low self-confidence. But that seems to be changing. Because of my past, I’m a better judge of character now. And I’m happy to say (see a theme here?) that I have GOOD (hopefully, LIFELONG) FRIENDS around the world–England, Poland, California, Washington State, Idaho, Michigan, and even here at home. I even hosted a Bunco night at home last week–I can’t tell you how excited I was that I had 12 friends to invite (even more that I “could have” invited).  So, for those reading….thanks for being my friend!

–Love watching my boys play sports. It’s something I didn’t get to do as a kid. I love being their cheerleader and #1 fan!

–As much as I miss the warm weather already, and all the grilling we do in the summer, I’m enjoying all the “comfort food” I’ve been making….Yummm…..

I think I’ll have a glass of wine tonight to celebrate life, family, friends, and happiness……..

QT

Building a 550 piece puzzle w/ my boys.

Having a family water gun fight.

Family swim.

Watching my two big boys be good brothers by letting Little Guy on the torpedo while they paddle around the lake.

Hubby taking M on a Father-Son fishing trip. M catching a huge large mouth bass! M’s grin was bigger than the fish

Hubby letting T drive the boat back to our rented cottage.

Playing the game of Life with T and Little Guy.

Daddy teaching his boys to play the game of Risk.

Watching my 13.5 yr old dog go for a swim. And having to help her get back on land.

Watching Aspen almost jump off the dock to go duck-hunting.

The whole family trying to coax Lily into the water. First day, no chance. Second day, she got her feet wet. Third day, up to her belly. Fourth day….she actually paddled.  We all clapped and cheered her on!

Having a cup of coffee with my hubby on the swing by the water, enjoying the peaceful morning.

Family Fudgsicle Time.

More to come………….

The Times are a changin’

change.

Something I’m not always good at. But at least for this, I knew it was inevitable and I could prepare for it.

T&M celebrated their last day of school on Wednesday.

T had 2 requests:

1.  Could their bedtime be extended (currently 8pm, with chit/chat til 8:30pm) for the summer? AND for 4th grade?

Definitely for the summer. I’m all about being the flexible-fun mom.  And most-likely, yes for 4th grade we could move it to 8:30pm.

They are old enough. They are ready.  T has never needed as much sleep. And M just likes playing the role of a “grown-up” (using that term VERY loosely).

However, I have always enjoyed my end-of-the-day quiet (aka KIDLESS) time. Especially since I am with them from 6am (sometimes 6:30–BIG WHOOP).   And I don’t go to bed very late, usually by 10pm, so MY time will be shrunk.  The other night, when we let T&M watch a 1/2 hour of NBA Finals Game 6, I had a “preview” of what my future holds.  I had one of either side of me, and the ENTIRE time they were yabberin’ about.  Yes, most of the time they were asking questions about the players or referee calls, but if they would SIT QUIETLY, we could hear the what the announcers were saying, and most likely answer the on-slaught of questions pouring out of their mouths. Yes, it was cute. But yes, it was  a bit annoying.

The other problem–Little Guy. He does not handle it well when his big brothers get to stay up later them him, because he, of course, can’t/doesn’t want to miss out on ANYTHING.  Typical problem of the 3rd child who from the beginning is forced/dragged to any event involving older siblings. We already give him the same bedtime, 8pm, as T&M….which when T&M where 5, they were going to bed at 7pm. Luckily, Little Guy has ALWAYS been a GREAT sleeper, and he will sleep longer if tired (unlike T–whose body clock gets him up btwn 5:30-6am EVERY DAY–REGARDLESS of how tired he is).  So, we will have to deal with that issue come September.

2. The other request (you probably forget there was a #2!)  T&M wanted to stay up and watch Game 7 of the NBA Finals—Lakers vs. Celtics.   I had agreed that if there was a Game 7, we would let them stay up (games started at 9pm here on the East Coast) and watch the ENTIRE game.  What you may not know, is that one of my children is a LAKER FAN.  Grandma M is a MAJOR/HUGE/ENOURMOUS Laker fan–and T has always been close with Grandma M–therefore he follows after her–and she sends him Lakers jerseys, towels, notebooks, pens, and yes, even a 2009 Champion 8×10 photo. (Big sigh…at least he’s not a Yankees fan). 

I was totally expecting a total repeat of Game 6 jabber from the boys. They behaved very well. We made a big bowl of popcorn and munched away, watching excitedly. With every shot/rebound, one of them would say “In your face!” It was quite cute, actually!  But then it happened…..at 10:30pm…..T was out-cold asleep leaning against Daddy.  The Laker fanatic had fallen asleep!!!  Despite some heavy eye-lids, M stayed awake for the entire game that ended at midnight.  The 3 of us weren’t happy, but what was surprising, T never found out who won until  morning!!

It was actually kinda cool watching a sporting event with all my guys.

The times are a changin’……..

Me & Da Boys

Enjoyed a fabulous afternoon in the city! 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE living close by to one of the most awesome cities! I simply love Boston.

Today was the start of the Scooper Bowl. It is an annual event held at Boston City Hall Plaza to raise money for the Jimmy Fund. An admission fee allows you into an “all you can eat” ice cream sample-alooza.

Back when the twins were 2, I braved a trip into the city on my own with them.  I haven’t been since (no, it wasn’t a terrifying experience—bad weather, bad timing, or living abroad prevented us from going).  This week, hubby is traveling again, and to make a long week (sans Dad) fun, I thought if I picked the boys up from school, we could head into town for an ice-cream fest and fun.

We had such a great time!  T-man is very impressed with my ability to navigate the subway system and the streets of Boston. It doesn’t matter how many times we go into Boston with the kids, or how many times I tell them that (a) I grew up here in Mass, and (2) I went to college and worked in Boston for a while….will they realize that I just know my way around. It still impresses them.  Today, I explained to T-man that Boston is really a walking city, and that the best way to get around (i.e. not get lost) is to look for landmarks, learn the buildings, and remember what is nearby. I pointed out the Custom House (the tall building with a clock on it) and said “When you see the Custom House, you know that Fanueil Hall is nearby.” I pointed out the Long Wharf Marriot, and Little Guy remembered that the Aquarium is behind (God, did THAT impress me!).

At the Scooper Bowl, we sampled Ice Cream from Brighams, Breyers, Ben & Jerry’s, Baskin-Robbins, Garelick, Haagen Daz, and Hood.  Our tummy’s were starting to get full, and we decided to skip the Edy’s and the Gelato. (we had to save room for dinner, you know!)

We then walked over to Faneuil Hall and did a little shopping. We found an end-of-the-year gifty for T’s teacher—a man who LOVES history (and Boston is such a great place for it!). Then we wandered through the CROC store…..and then off to….

THE NORTH END!!!!!   YUM YUM YUM  (for all you non-Bostonites…….the North End is Boston’s version of “Little Italy”)

I dined in the company of 3 handsome men at Il Panino Express on Hanover Street. We shared the most delicious sausage pizza…..with leftovers for lunch tomorrow……It just doesn’t get better than this!

We came home Happy, with Happy Tummies, and very exhausted!  (too bad daddy couldn’t be with us!)