Aug 4: My Thoughts on Working Part Time

The more experience I get with this motherhood role, the more I realize that there is a secret to happiness out there. Are you ready for this novel idea? Balance. Yes, the old balancing act seems to be the biggest influencer on how content or stressed I feel any given day. On a day when I feel out of balance, pulled in too many directions, wearing a hundred hats and unable to give anything 100% of me....that's when I feel stressed. (Actually, there are tons of other reasons I may be in a funk or feel stressed such as but not limited to hormones, lack of sleep, crappy weather, bad hair day, etc.) But the balance is key, my friends. Because on a day when I feel that I'm able to devote some time to myself, a good part of me to my kids, my husband, my friends and my job....that's a day when I feel pretty content with life. (Again, generalizing, but bear with me here).

So anyway. What does this balancing act of motherhood have to do with my part time gig as a PT? I know I have to be really careful here because if I've learned anything in my 3+ years as a mommy blogger, it's that we all have different circumstances surrounding our choices. It cannot be cut and dry, 'this is the best choice for all of us', because we are all different people with different families and different lives. Right? But I do get asked the following question rather often: "If you could afford to stay at home with your kids full time, would you?"

Did you cringe at that question along with me? Because is there ever a 'right' answer to that question? If I say 'yeah, I would stay at home' it means I obviously HATE my job and feel forced into the work force, suffering each day as I'm separated from my children. Who are being 'raised by a stranger' (don't even get me started on that ridiculous statement). But if I say, 'No, I would still want to work even if we were totally rolling in dough,' then I seem like a mom who loves her job more than her kids.

And honestly, I never really know how to answer that question because I don't spend a lot of time thinking about the option to stay at home full time. Because 1. We do need my income in order to maintain our current lifestyle, 2. I'm honestly very happy with my schedule. I have no desire to change it anytime soon. It helps that I love our daycare lady, and I wrote a post about different daycare options back in 2011. If I wasn't happy with Lori I know I wouldn't be happy at my job--the two go hand in hand, for sure.

I work Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays right now and I like this schedule a lot. I used to work four long days each week after I had Truman, totaling 36 hours per week and that was entirely too much for me. The balance was skewed because of that added time away from home but also because of the job itself---much faster paced, demanding, required to work weekends and holidays, etc. When I changed to home care and then dropped to my three day per week schedule, I started to hit my stride as a working mom. No more holidays or weekends, nice short 8-4pm work days, a flexible schedule that I make for myself...the list goes on.

Most days I truly love my job. I get the privilege of helping people each day, stepping outside of my own very blessed life to assist others when they are need it most. I get to use my college degree that I worked so hard to attain while helping to pay off the loans I took to get said degree;) I can contribute to my household financially and don't feel too much guilt when I buy something nice for myself, although that happens very rarely because I dislike spending money. It feels good to use my Physical Therapist brain for a few days each week. My job is nowhere near perfect, though. It can be emotionally and physically draining to give myself to others all day long. There isn't a lot of downtime for me to have  a break, so I always feel like I'm on the go-go-go. There are a lot of 'behind the scenes' phone calls, emails, and tons of paperwork that I have to fit in when I'm home with my kids. I like to compartmentalize my roles but I can't always do that nicely with this job. It can be a lot and it can be tiring to flip flop between mom and PT throughout the week. But I'm still grateful that I work part time and it's the right decision for me and my family.

I feel like if you have a job that you love that's the first big step in being proud of your Working Mom badge. But also, it helps to have a flexible job that has you working as little or as often as you want. I know I'm very blessed to be able to work part time and don't take it for granted at all.

I don't know if I'd want to be home all day, every day with my kids if we were 'able to afford it.' I guess I probably would because my days at home with them are mostly awesome, if not totally challenging in a different way from my PT job. I wouldn't have to deal with the hustle and bustle of workday mornings getting us all out of the door in time. But I don't feel unsettled working three days per week, which is a really nice thing to say as a mom. I couldn't always say 'I am content with my working mom status' but I can now, so yay.

Because I'm blogging daily, I don't expect a ton of comments on each post (nor do I normally, I guess). But I'm curious: is 'balance' key for you, whether you are a mom or not? Whether you stay at home full time, work full time, or somewhere in between? Am I making too big of a deal on this balance concept? And most importantly, how in the heck do you keep the balance once you find it? Or do you just hope for the best each day and roll with it? I find myself embracing that mindset more and more lately.

Gotta do a few pictures now.

First day as a working mom! I remember having mastitis and getting very little sleep the night before here, hence the tired eyes. Also might have been puffy from crying so much the days leading up to my first day back. Turned out the anticipation was much worse than the reality. Also, fat baby Truman!
First day of Daycare! Bright and early...

Last day of work before having Cecelia. Really happy to start maternity leave after this!

And first day as a working mom of two kids. Truman is the only one crying here because he did NOT want to take a picture. But this time around I wasn't dreading it like I did before. Probably that part time status thing helped a lot here.


  1. First off - holy cow, Truman looks SO little in that picture! Amazing what a year can do.

    I found this post very interesting - and it's a topic my husband and I just discussed last night, ironically. Balance is SUCH a huge aspect of my life - I work much more than I wish I had to and with my job there are days I have to add on or extra hours added in when patients call me on the holidays/weekends and I tend to get very upset about that. I feel like I give, give, give all week to them and then just want time to myself/my family on my days off. The weeks where I can just go to work and come home and everything is going well are so much easier for me, I feel so much more calm because I have achieved that balance.

    I tend to always say that I really wish I could stay home full-time with the kids. And, I know that I really would have a good time with it - however, I do think that I tend to sugarcoat that option, thinking it's the greatest thing ever and not hard at all because I don't have the option - we need my income for our lives and I will never be able to cut back my hours. So, it's "easy" for me to say I want to stay at home with the kids. I totally understand what you're saying though about using your PT brain and your skills and all the work you went through to get the job - sometimes I wonder if I would feel like I gave up part of myself if I stayed home because all that schooling and knowledge would go to "waste." But, on the flip side of being able to be home with the kids all the time and not miss out on anything... I would be hard pressed to say that wouldn't take priority. The one thing that irritates me the most is when people tell me that I could stay home and I would just have to make it a priority - or they say they stay home because it was something they wanted and they knew how to make it happen. It's not as easy as that, there are families that need two incomes and there's no way around it. I tend to feel like a bad mom when someone says that because it's like I chose to work when all I really had to do was make some changes in my life and I could stay home. Sorry for the rambling, really good post!

  2. I think balance is so had to get. Just when I start to feel balanced, something changes beyond my control and there I am juggling again. And I'm a SAHM right now. I recently started looking for a part time job that would use my MSc degree but I can't find one! So I've been applying to full time ones and I'm so worried about finding the right daycare option. Plus missing my kids! William is only 8 months old and in Canada Mat leave is 1 year so it is REALLY hard to find care for a baby under 1 year of age.

  3. I stay at home and "don't work" although I do the accounting for my husbands small business which keeps me busy for about 5 hours a week. Then, I give piano lessons for another 7-8 hours a week. This "balance" works so well for us because I get out of our normal day in day out ruts and can refresh and fill up my tank so to speak. My kids get to spend time with their cousin at grandma's (who watches him full-time while his mom works for their business). It works out well! Grandma and Grandpa get to see their grandkids, I stay sane but also get to stay home with them for the most part. Balance is so important.

  4. I miss having a job sometimes. I liked my old job and I was really good at it. But my old job was demanding. 50+ hours a week and travel monthly. It was way too much as a mom - especially as a mom whose husband works 80 hours a week.

    I was able to work part time for quite a while and that was amazing. Still spending the majority of time with my children - but getting that adult recognition of using higher level thinking, negotiating, planning and solving. I was lucky to be able to do it.

    But with old job being over an hour away - and two kids - it wasn't in the cards to keep up. I feel incredibly lucky that I have the choice to stay home. That it works for our family situation, but I would still like to find that perfect 1-2 day a week parttime job that came with a great sitter.

  5. I stay home, but I think balance is still a huge issue in our house. The fact is, while I don't miss my old full time job, I did plan to pursue my photography and design business more fully once Blake was done with school. However, his job right now is extremely demanding timewise. After lots of back and forth discussions, we decided that while I might feel more balanced as a person if I could work part time (and I would definitely enjoy being able to contribute to our household financially), it wouldn't be the right balance for our family as a whole at this time.

    So there's my two cents- yes, balance is a big deal, but sometimes family balance can be different than personal balance. Honestly it's something I struggle with a lot:(

    Does any of that make sense?

  6. Ugh, I typed out a super long comment on my phone and then it disappeared. Here is the more condensed version:

    Balance? What's that? Kidding...I totally get my balance by getting the summer off. I wish it came in the form of part-time work, but unfortunately, that isn't an option in my career. I feel a great balance over the summer. I have time for myself, because I workout. Obviously, I have time with Ethan and I love it. I get to spend time with my family and friends, and just feel so freaking happy! Then the school year starts and the stress begins. I have a hard time balancing life from August to May...but, I do it. We definitely could afford for me to stay home (really I think *almost* anyone can do it, but you totally have to change your lifestyle priorities), but we aren't quite ready to give up the life we live right now. And really, I don't think I could stay home 100% of the time. I love it over the summer and think it is super easy. But all of the time? During wintertime? NO WAY! Like you, I would be giving up a career and passion (that had a lot of education-money/time behind it) and not just a "job". I totally get women wanting to stay home when they don't have a passion for their job. That would be miserable. And I am SO thankful that I don't feel like I have missed Ethan growing up. Like a "stranger has been raising my kid". Feeling like that would be so horrible and make the balance so much worse. Being a working or stay-at home mom is so freaking hard, any way you look at it. I definitely think the golden ticket (for me) is finding something part-time...but I know that won't be an option for me. So until then, I will be jealous. (While I know so many moms are jealous of my summers off:) So glad that you are finding your balance more. Ok, babbling done. In other news, kudos to you for blogging every day. I feel so out of the loop that I'm not even sure how to get back in.

  7. 1. I love this blogging daily thing, love it. And I feel like I"m going to be commenting even more than usually because of it!

    2. Working Mom vs Stay at Home. Oy, you're right, such a trap! I'm feel very lucky and blessed to be able to stay home right now, for multiple reasons. It's something I always pictured doing, even with my dual degree and working hard to climb the ladder prior to kids, I just always wanted to stay home a few years to watch them grow if we could afford to do so. However, as sorta mentioned, I worked really hard and had a pretty decent job... as in decent pay. Cutting me out of the income wasn't a 20-80 thing or something so it's not like it wasn't a big loss, however, we made adjustments and realize we are going to have a tough few years until bigger things happen for my husband and I go back myself. Also, I was laid off exactly when my Mat Leave ended (it was planned, they closed our whole office, so it wasn't a sudden thing). So technically I had no job to return to. I would have had to be interviewing while 5m+ pregnant and started a new job after baby which I think would have been soo tough, not to mention, getting pregnant about a year after the first wouldn't probably get me any gold stars with a new employer.

    3. Balance. Unfortunately, I don't have it . I give a lot of myself (all?) to being a mom. I really don't get me time and I think because I"m a SAHM I feel guilty taking it. As its my role to be "on" 24/7... I feel like Working Moms have a better grip on this. I just feel guilty leaving her because I never really get the chance. If that makes sense. It definitely something that needs to be worked on because I definitely get burnt out and while it doesn't effect my role as mom, it effects my role as wife ;) I think you have a really great thing going, if I found my past career path enjoyable I would be definitely looking for something with a PT set up like you unfornatuely I don't think I'll be returning to that career as I don't find it enjoyable, and it would kill me to be working and miserable instead of home and happy.

  8. I can't honestly say right now I long for balance but I think I'm still in survival mode. My daughter is 3 years old, one month younger than T and I have a 3.5 month old son. I have been a SAHM mom since before my oldest was born (I got laid off right before I got pg and didn't find another job before we found out we were expecting). Balance is key and I feel happier and healthier when I have it I just can't wait to feel it again once we are past the newborn/holy crap I have 2 kids phase. :)

  9. Wow, lots of SAHM comments so far! I'll bring in the working mom perspective. ;)

    Eh, you already know my thoughts. You're so right that loving your job is KEY to being happy being a working mom. If I dreaded going to work, it'd make it a heck of a lot harder to leave my boys each day. But it feels really good to me to go to work each day and have a major focus that's outside the home and my kids. I know it's not for everyone, but I do feel lucky and happy with it most days.

    I miss my boys like crazy and absolutely wish I had more time with them, but it's just not in the cards right now. One day I will work four-day weeks - to me, that will be the ideal balance, I think!

    But yes, you are super fortunate to have your part-time schedule - I think you get the best of both worlds!

  10. Hmmmmm...I'm not sure balance actually exists and sometimes I think the constant striving for balance is part of why we don't feel balanced.

    Even as a SAHM, the fact is, it just doesn't all get done. I can't get all my projects done, keep my house clean, spend time on me, spend time with Chad, and spend quality time with the kids every day and many times, not even every week. It just can't ALL happen. One big thing I've learned as a mom is you just have to let some things go, and really, that's where the balance is. Not in that you got it all done, but that you prioritize and let something go, and therefore had time for everything else. What shifts is the thing (or things) you let go while focusing on the other items.

    Kind of off topic, but I'd love for you to talk more about what it's like to have kids in daycare. I don't at all think that a "stranger is raising your kids". That's ridiculous. Obviously, you know and love Lori, as do your kids!! But you essentially have someone helping you raise them. So does that mean you talk about things like how to discipline Truman or how to comfort CeCe? And how much of a concern is it that your kids may hit major milestones when you aren't around? Obviously, that can happen regardless of if you work or not, but it's more likely if you are working. Does T ever whine about wanting to stay home on daycare days? Or vice versa, want to go to daycare on days you are off? And is that hard to deal with? (I hope none of this sounds judgy...I'm genuinely curious. I have several working mom friends and I'd love to understand more of the nuances of having your kids at a daycare.)

  11. I stay home full time with my boy but also manage to slip in teaching an online class pretty much year round. While I don't contribute a lot income wise, it does make me feel like I'm doing something PLUS I engage my brain in a distinctly non-toddler way. I'm happy to stay home for another year or so as it's the right balance for my family as a whole as my husband has a demanding job. :)

  12. I'm hoping to find a similar level of balance - due with our first in November. I'm a NP and am hoping to return at 50%. Currently in negotiations about this with the job...

  13. Balance. This is the main thing I have been struggling with since having my daughter 10 1/2 months ago. I work an hour (with traffic- it only takes 20 mins sans traffic) from home. I work 9 hours each day. So I am away from home for 11+ hours a day. My husband is a guitar teacher/musician. So he works in the evenings and on Saturdays. He takes care of her until about 3p each day. Our schedules are totally opposite and we do not see each other more than about an hour a day during the week. It works because we keep DD out of daycare other than 2-3 hours in the afternoons. My daughter does not go to bed until about 11. She's a nightowl like Mom and Dad, but this means I do not enjoy that "after the baby is in bed" time. It is incredibly stressful, and I feel like I cannot give all of myself to any one thing. My perfectionist self feels like a failure. I am the primary bread winner. So I really don't have an option to change at this point, but I really wish my husband would step up to the plate in terms of house work. Aye. I am extremely envious of your balance.

  14. Oohh, I was reading this last night on my phone and couldn't WAIT til I got a free minute today to respond ;)

    I basically think balance is almost entirely about your attitude. Part time, full time, SAHM, any of them can not feel balanced. I do think there is some element of finding work you at least like, AND a schedule that works for you though. If you are working, that is. And if you are staying home, you also typically would need to do SOMETHING to get "me" time without feeling guilt about it. Guilt is 100% mental obviously, and I am really happy that I don't feel that emotion much anymore.

    You know my thoughts on this topic but for anyone else reading this - I am PROUD to be a full time working mom and NO, I would not want to stay home full time with my kids. I love daycare, I love 90% of what it does for my kids, I LOVE my job and the fulfillment it gives me. Much of the reason I CAN feel this way is because I have a very supportive husband and we both have flexible jobs and don't have long commutes at all. I'm honestly not even sure I'd want to work part time. I DO know that once the kiddos are in school, I'd love to swing a schedule where they don't need daycare, where one parent goes into work later and the other works later so that someone is always home when they are. We'll see if we can make that happen! I think at our current places of employment, usually we probably could.

    Also, I do think Kristal's question about daycare is interesting to think about. Somehow in the past 1.5 years, having a 2nd kid has made me relax SO much about things like discipline, sleep, eating, whatever. I KNOW that daycare is a very different environment than we have at home but in general I trust her judgement. I am also pretty laid back about most things - if she gives them time outs, whatever. I know she's not doing anything like spanking and she disciplines with love so that's all I care about. They eat food I would not choose to serve them, but at home they still eat generally well. There are conversations that happen amongst the daycare kids that are not necessarily things I LOVE Annie to know about already but hey, that's just life. Not everyone is going to have the same views as me and daycare means they are exposed to that far earlier but I like that. It's a good jumping off point for great conversations. I LOVE that my kids are adaptable and fairly good in social situations so young. I know that can happen with a stay at home parent too but I attribute a lot of that to daycare for my kids.

    Sorry for the hijacking, maybe I should just write my own post on this topic ;)

  15. I definitely struggle with this myself. I was fortunate to have 6 months off after the birth of my daughter (not all paid). And I am so thankful for that time. I had mild PPD and didn't seek help until suffering for 2 months and a baby with collic until about 3 or 4 months so having that 6 months allowed me to really get a few, good solid months with my little munchkin.

    I work at a public accounting firm so the normal work week is not even close to 40 hours most weeks. At my level, my average week should be around 45-47 hours a week. And that's hard to swallow even without kids. But we need my income and I do like my job. So I knew I'd be coming back.

    Thankfully, our firm really strives to keep good talent and recognizes that balance is important and women definitely have a tougher time advancing because of their responsibilities at home. I was able to create my own tailored work arrangement. So I work in the office 4 days a week leaving around 4:30 and then from home on Fridays (with Zoe in day care). It's working for us. Is it always perfect? No. But I'm happy about it the majority of the time.

    I too have that feeling of, if I say I love my job and I like going to work, are people judging that I don't love my kid enough? But I'll be honest, I need to get out of the house a few days a week. It makes me a better mom to have a little time to regroup. I give SO SO SO much credit to stay at home moms. I did it for six months and it was one of the hardest things I've done (but so rewarding).

    I'm finally getting some balance with Zoe and work and suddenly I have a 9 month old, and I'm thinking, I don't want baby #2 to be too far from Zoe in age. How will I ever do this with two kids???? I guess it's one of those things that maybe just magically works out.

    Love the every day posts btw! I'm hoping it inspires me to finally start blogging more :)

  16. I work full time M-F 9-5, because we need my income to help support our family. But I always say in an ideal scenario I would work part time because
    1. I like being able to get out of the house and having an identity separate of my child.
    2. I like being able to contribute financially to our family.
    3. I think my son actually gets a lot out of being at daycare. He learns so much there that I don't think I could teach him at home.

    With that said I do wish I could spend more time during the week with him. I think your setup sounds perfect.

  17. I work evening hours M-Th and I work Saturdays. I'm home everyday with my 2 year old until 4PM when it's time for me to take her to her grandparents so I can be at work by 5. Her daddy picks her up from her grandparents house and takes her home and feeds her dinner and does the evening routine of putting her to bed. I have the coolest job ever I'm a family/marriage support counselor. I kind of view my job as my "adult time" and I think i'd go nuts without that. My schedule feels overwhelming sometimes but honestly at this point in my life I wouldn't change it.

  18. The elusive 'balance' :) such a good topic. i don't know that it has anything to do with how much or little you work but rather how your day goes. i work PT from home right now, which means multitasking at it's finest. if i'm having a great working day then i can feel like my life is super balanced: get some work done, take care of the toddler, make some dinner, and hopefully sneak some exercise in. however there are days that are total chaos and mostly due to things out of control like the toddler's attitude or 'emergencies' that come up at work. i do love being about to be in the workforce and have so much time with my kiddo, but i do worry that she misses out on things because she's stuck home with my while i'm working. we're expecting baby #2 at the end of november and i've told my job that i won't be coming back as i can't do this juggling act with two kiddos. i'm both excited about being a sahm and nervous that i'm going to miss the intellectual stimulation and feeling of accomplishment. glad that you've found a balance that works for you and your family and i would agree 100% that finding good childcare is a huge part of that equation.

  19. Such a great post! I've been reading your blog for some time (my Reagan is close to Cecelia's age!), but I don't think I've ever commented. I "have to" work full-time right now and I strive to find this balance you speak of! I am super lucky because my mom keeps Rea, but I always feel like my time with her is rushed.
    Everyone's situation is different, but it sounds like you've found what's right for your family!

  20. Balance is key, for sure. And most days I feel like I can't even say that word let alone see it as apart of my life. It's a very big struggle.

    You want to have that "I can do everything" attitude, but in reality, it's very hard to find that balanced place. Especially when there are kids involved.

    I'm glad that you wrote this. Good timing.

  21. Like many here, I struggle with finding the right balance. I work full time and find myself away from home just over 10 hours 5 days a week. I also have a high demand, stressful job. I wouldn't give up working for the world, but I wouldn't mind working a few less hours and perhaps a little less stressful.

    I don't think I could stay at home full time. I love my kid, but it just isn't in me. I love being able to use my brain in a way that I don't when I'm with my kid. And I like the adult interaction.

    What makes balance seem even more askew for my family is that my husband works 7 - 2 Monday - Friday which means he gets more time at home by himself. I envy this greatly, but on the other hand he always has to do childcare pick up and drop off. We often find ourselves comparing what we contribute to this family and have to be careful since we're really comparing apples to oranges.

    I've actually been working with my company to find an adjusted schedule, but it's already been 8 months worth of discussions. Hopefully, in the end we can find some compromise that will fit with our family. I'm not really surprised that more companies don't offer schedules other than 8 - 5, but think it would be a smart move.

  22. This post really resonated with me. I'm realizing more and more as Henry gets older that I'm the same as you are describing - I need need balance and I have to be present with Henry while I'm there. That means no (or more fairly, little) multitasking.

    It's not easy for me, but I'm trying to remember what I want to be my priority. And it's not a clean house or my blog or sewing (although I'd like all those things, too). It's my little man. And that means that sometimes I eat a bun-less hotdog and a pickle for dinner. =)

    As for working, it's just hard no matter what decision you make. Right now, I'm struggling with it because I feel like my family gets the most tired, stressed version of me after a day of work. There are options and I'm working through them all, but suffice it to say that I think going part time would be a good solution.

    Also - the comments about kids being 'raised by a stranger' REALLY tick me off. Actually engraging. People are ridiculous. Especially when the moms say something like that and I see them playing Farmville on FB all day while they are "raising their own kids."

    Rant over.

  23. GREAT post! I feel exactly the same way! Would I stay home? Who knows!


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