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!


A Mom’s “work-life balance”

While stealing a few moments from a VERY busy day, I decided to check email, FB postings, and the latest news on I came across a MOST FASCINATING headline/link: Worklife Balance for Moms? Yeah Right.  Of course, this became a MUST-READ while gulping down last night’s leftovers.  The topic is PERFECT for the week I’m having and for Mother’s Day this Sunday.

The article (in case You don’t click the link and read it yourself) has 3 real-life mom stories–2 working moms and one work-from-home mom (the author) about whether they have “Work-Life Balance.” Clearly the answer is NO. One working mom was clothes shopping for her daughter at 9pm. The other working mom had to clarify to her son that Santa does exist because clearly Mom doesn’t have the time to go out and buy/wrap presents. And then the author, who was doing a radio show, was being constantly interrupted by her child.

As a STAY AT HOME MOM (and you know the VP does not care for that moniker), I can say that it is incredibly difficult to find “work-life” balance. Some folks might have the impression that I drop the kids off at school and then either go to the gym for the next 3 hours (Not me. You should know that by now) or sit with a glass of wine and read romance novels (I wish).

Since this week has been incredibly busy, I’ll try to break down how a typical couple of days are for me. 

For starters, the alarm goes off at 5:30am. This is when Hubby goes to shower and get ready for work, while I stay in bed (I need 8 hrs). We go down at about 6:15-6:20 for breakfast together. T-man, my early riser is usually downstairs by 6am. Sometimes M-man joins him, sometimes M, who likes to sleep, sleeps. And Little Guy will venture downstairs between 6:30-6:45am.

After breakfast, Hubby and I go over our days, any “honey-do’s” (usually directed at me), check email/news, and then he’s off to work at 6:45am.  From 6:45-7am, I get breakfast for the boys. At 7am, I shower and dress. I’m usually done by 7:20 (PLEASE, I have no extra time to spare). Go downstairs, get Little Guy’s snack (and lunch, if necessary) packed, empty dishwasher, put in dirty dishes. At 7:30, I get the kids upstairs to dress. I help Little Guy out, put my contacts and eye-make-up on, put in a load of laundry. Back downstairs to check on backpacks. And then, 8am….shoes and pee-potty time.

Climb into the mommy-van.  Drop the twins at the bus-stop, and go pick up preschool friend for our little carpool. Drop the kidlets off at preschool.

NOW THE FUN BEGINS. (Here is what Tues, Wed, and Thurs of this week were like)

TUESDAY: Call the BFF to “quickly” catch-up (I have hands-free in my car) before I reach my destination, which just happens to be home. I walk the dogs and pick up their poop. Check on the  laundry, put it in the dryer and put a new load in.  Go the hairdresser for my perm. Yes, perms take 2 hours, and so you may be thinking “Well, there’s time for yourself Ms. VP.”  What if I told you I haven’t had a haircut since OCTOBER???? I think I’m due, thank you very much.  Luckily, Little Guy was invited to a spontaneous playdate on Tuesday, which was helpful because my hair appt was running late, and then I had to go to the grocery store to buy Milk, Juice boxes, fruit, and other necessary items. Oh, lunch? Hmmm….grabbed a sandwich and took 2 bites in the car while I drove to the elementary school because I promised T-man I would be there for the book fair. (his scheduled time was 1pm).  Guess the trip to CVS to buy Mother’s Day cards and Birthday cards would just have to wait.  Done with book fair, go home and take out the groceries, say “Hi” to the dogs. SIT FOR 10 MINUTES…with a cup of coffee…and back in the car to pick-up Little Guy. Then BACK to the elementary school to pick-up T&M.  Back at home, I divvy out snacks, go take out the clothes from the dryer, and put the wet clothes in the dryer. Back downstairs to start homework at 3:30. And did I mention….Tuesday the boys were scheduled for baseball practice, so they HAD to finish the homework quickly and I had to make dinner early. And check my email to take care MOT club stuff and plans for this weekend (mine and the kids).  Again, a small bit of luck fell on me….baseball practice was cancelled due to rain. I got to rest on the couch for 30 minutes or so. Then the fam decided to go to CVS and get those cards. And an Ice Cream Treat. Yay.

WEDNESDAY: Same morning scenario as above. Do the preschool drop-off and I head home to walk the dogs and pay the bills. Change the sheets on all 4 beds. Make several phone calls, leave messages for the Sprinkler Guy, the Gutter Cleaning People, and ???? Get in my car….I go to the bank, I go to drop-off/pick-up Hubby’s dry cleaning, go to the grocery store to recycle the giant ball of plastic grocery bags. And I allow myself exactly 20 minutes to look through a clothing store to try to resolve my summer Tshirt issue (yesterday’s blog entry). And in 20 minutes I success in perusing, trying on and paying for 4 new shirts. Yes, I am the Queen of Speed Shopping.  Then, at 11am, I’m off to pick up T&M from school, because T has a Dr.’s appt at 12 noon. (why both? you ask…because it is actually an early dismissal day…which would be 12 noon, and I still had to pick up Little Guy). We zip through McD’s drive-thru for lunch (which was actually smart thinking, since the whole pedi experience took an hour) and then off to preschool to pick-up  little guy. Then off to the pedi. When we left at 12:45, I was just TOO WIPED to do the 2 errands (store returns) I had warned the boys about. Got home, helped T&M with their homework, then at 2:30pm, pack the swim bag, and off to swim lessons. Come home at 4:30, and start making dinner. Luckily, it’s Cinqo de Mayo and I get to “relax” with a very nice Margarita.

THURSDAY: again, same morning scenario. After dropping off Little Guy, my BFF calls on the phone with a parenting issue. I pull into my destination, finish my conversation with her, and go pick up the newsletters I need to send out for my MOT club. I get home, and I start washing last night’s pot, and other “hand-wash” items that I was too tired to tackle. Then I clean all the kitchen counters, kitchen table, and take down all the recycling. The dogs are nipping at my heals to go on a walk—not today Mutts.  Upstairs to throw in a load of laundry (the sheets from yesterday….guess I forgot earlier!). vacuum the upstairs, pack up the boys’ summer clothes (from last year) that don’t fit. Start cleaning all 3 bathrooms. Do another load of laundry.  Wow—people who I left messages for yesterday are calling me back–first the gutter cleaner, then the gym. Finish cleaning bathrooms. I then address the newsletters—no stamps. Damn. Off to the post office, and yes, I might as well return the library books too.  I come home….heat up the left-overs and here we are.  But the day is DEFINITELY not done……since I went to T’s book fair, I’ve been asked to go to M’s book fair today. And Little Guy is BEGGING me to play Wii with him. AND I was asked to donate my time tonight for an event. Because I  like the person, and I know she wouldn’t ask me unless she really couldn’t find anyone else, I agreed (yes, I have the “difficulty saying NO disease”). So I’ll be out from 5pm-10pm tonight “Working.”

Tomorrow’s not looking much better. At 9, Little Guy has his Kindergarten Evaluation. Then I have to drive to a friend’s to drop off a couple of belated Birthday presents and FINALLY return all the crap sitting in the back of my car to 5 different stores.

So there you have it. A “day in the life” of a SAHM. Actually 4 days.  And not a single trip to the gym (had to forgo the 1x/wk Pilates class due to T’s dr. appt) or a romance novel in sight.

I love it when my Hubby comes home all ragged from work complaining that he needs to restore his “work-life” balance. Meaning less work, more life. For him, that’s trips to the gym, spending time with his boys, being at home.

My problem is that I’m always at home, or running around doing errands (oh yes, I discovered MY CAR needs an oil change…when will I squeeze that in??), and spending time with the boys. But it’s not necessarily “quality time”—it’s getting their breakfast, nagging them to get dressed, watching over/helping/correcting their homework, nagging them to clean-up after themselves or their rooms. 

I have VERY LITTLE time for myself. Hubby’s solution is “get a maid.” But we’ve had that blog-chat before. It’s not realistic. From all the stuff I just listed above, how much of that would actually be done by a maid? And what about the times Hubby travels? Not only do I have to cope with the time he’s AWAY, but I’m still pulling “double duty” when he returns because he’s jet-lagged and needs to recuperate. When do I get to recuperate? And I haven’t even listed my job as President of my MOT club (I have to help plan an upcoming brunch, installation, and summer outing) and put some time into my travel business—which has been woefully neglected. Forget about attending seminars.

I think the message here is that whether you are a working mom or a SAHM, there are way too many responsibilities thrown at us to actually have “work-life balance.” And as much as I have to do, I really tip my hat to the go-to-work moms! How do they do it?

It is AWESOME when we can take/make some time for ourselves. But when we cannot, we have to really enjoy the occasional ice cream treats (which initially are more for the kids than for us), family beach trips (after we’ve packed all the stuff!), and the great margarita or glass of wine that we have with our dinner.

Maybe it’s just not easy for any one any more…..