Moms Make it Work: Alicia from Minnesota

Today we have Alicia posting from A Graceful Disaster and I was especially excited to read her take on being a part-time working mom. I've been reading Alicia's blog for at least a year (probably longer?) and love when she posts because they are always very honest and thoughtful, and it's like climbing into my own head a lot of times. So happy to have Alicia posting for our series--you can read all of the posts here, but for now: Enjoy! (P.S. Sorry about the wonky formatting of paragraphs and spacing. I have no idea what happened to this post as I plugged it into blogger and I cannot deal with broken html codes anymore!)


Hello to Julia's lovely readers! I'm so flattered that Julia asked me to be a part of this series, I'm thrilled to be a part of the conversation happening here and I can't tell you how much head-nodding and virtual fist-bumping I've been doing as I've been following along with the other women's stories.  Also, it's simply fascinating getting a peak into the twists and turns of other women's lives, and how the choices they've made have brought them to where they are now.  I can certainly relate, as we're all entrenched in what is likely to be an intense period of our lives, raising small children.  My name is Alicia, and I am a 32 year old part-time working mother to two little boys.  I work in corporate finance for a government defense contractor in the Minneapolis area, and I've been working for the same company for eleven years.

I've been blogging VERY inconsistently about my life for over 9 years, over in my own little corner of the internet. Do me a favor and if you click over there please do NOT read anything before, hmm, let's say 2009. There is some really ridiculous and embarrassing twenty-something navel-gazing going on in my archives. 

I say 2009 because it was a big year.  It just so happens to be the year I found out I was pregnant and then became a mom, and ever since life has been one giant freaking trip, to put it bluntly. It's been an emotional roller-coaster, a million laughs, almost as many tears, stretch marks, sleep deprivation, a lot of worrying, making difficult decisions, and (thank goodness for this) SO MUCH JOY. 


Gus is 4 and Louie is 2

My husband and I dated in college for a year (we were at different schools 2 hours away from each other, so it was a somewhat long-distance thing), and then got engaged right before graduation in 2003.  The whole story of us, however, is a bit more convoluted than that, since our first date was actually in the 1997/98 time-frame when we were both juniors in high school and completely off-limits to each other, as he had recently gotten out of a one year relationship with one of my best friends. We went to the local mall on that first forbidden date and coincidentally (karma?) ran into a girl from school with a big mouth who blabbed all over the school... and let's just say there was a healthy amount of teenage angst and drama surrounding the two awkward and supposed-to-be-secret dates we had in high school.  Good times! And a total digression!  May that serve as a warning to you, because I tend to do that. (Digress I mean, not secretly date my friends' exes.) 


We found each other again during college through happenstance and the magic of the internet (AOL instant messenger was a big catalyst in our relationship: HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!). The summer
after graduation we both found jobs in our respective fields, and a year later in 2004 we were married.

We waited to have children for a number of years after getting married because not only were we comically young (though at the time of course I didn't think so), but we just weren't ready.  We
wanted to do the DINK thing for a while; we bought an old house that needed a lot of sprucing, did some traveling, adopted a puppy, and focused on our careers.  We pretty much enjoyed doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, which would obviously change big time once kids were in the mix.


We also hosted some pretty raucous
Halloween parties back in our pre-kid days.  Picture courtesy of one of the greats, Halloween: 2007.  Host and hostess Bret Michaels and Rafael, at your service. 

Just when we both started feeling the itch to start a family (in all honesty, he was feeling it a little earlier than I was), we both decided we also wanted to get our Master's degrees, and we knew it would be much easier to accomplish BEFORE having a baby. Also, and this is a biggee, both of our companies would pay for our education. Going back to school was definitely a no-brainer, we both overwhelmingly agreed that we had to do it while we had the opportunity.  He had a Bachelor's degree in Engineering and I had mine in Finance (with a minor in Spanish), and thus we both ended up deciding to take the GMAT, and together started a 2 year MBA program through a private college here in the Twin Cities. 

So babies got put on hold for another 2 years while we studied.  Together.  The couple that studies together, stays together! ;)

MBA graduation

I try to tell myself we haven't visibly aged that much since kids, but WHOA. This was 5 years ago.  Babies.

We actually had a blast being back in school, the program we went through was a cohort model, so we were with the same group of students for the entire two years, which made it possible to make
some really amazing personal and professional connections.  And there were a lot of Thursday night happy hours downtown at the Monte Carlo after class. Best. Wings. Ever. 

Shortly after finishing up our MBAs, project baby officially commenced.  



We had our first son, Gus, almost exactly 1 year after finishing our MBA program, which was very nice timing, and I'm so thankful that things went as planned for us in that way.   

And then I went on maternity leave.  About 6 weeks into it I started thinking about what it would be like to go back to work in 6 more weeks, and I started to panic.  Yes, we had an amazing daycare lined up.  Yes, women do this ALL THE TIME.  Yes, I could do it.  But did I want to? 

Professional Pics Gus
4.5 Months 130
Paper Lemon Photography 

Actually yes.  I wanted to go back to work, I liked my job, I didn't LOVE it, but I was good at it, and I was excited to get back to doing something that I was good at (babies are hard!).  But the idea of doing it as I had done before, 9 hours in the office, a half hour of lunch, plus at least an hour of
commuting time every single day.  It seemed so daunting.  And leaving my baaaaybee!  I was really freaking out actually, I got myself into a bit of a tizzy.

And then I decided to take the bull by the horns and send a proposal to my boss.  This gist of it was that I felt I could do my same job, for the most part, in 3 nine-hour days per week.  (My office normally works a 9/80 schedule, which means employees work 9 hour days and every other week have Friday off.) There was some turnover of work-load within our department happening around the time when I went on leave, and I knew that management was looking for work to keep everyone in the department busy, so it seemed like perfect timing.

He went for it, his boss agreed to it, the cross-functional teams I supported were okay with it, and the rest is history.  Ever since I've been working part-time, I am only in the office 3 days a week, Tuesday through Thursday, and on average work a total of 27 hours.  I am able to work from home if needed, and often log in an hour or two on the weekends or my days off to stay on top of things. 


What are the best parts of your situation? What are the biggest challenges? 

When people find out about my schedule they almost always say it sounds 'perfect' or 'ideal'.  And yeah, on paper that is exactly how it sounds.  My weeks consist of 3 days of working outside the home, and 4 days "off" and able to be with my family.  No doubt, that is AWESOME.  Not only do I

have long weekends every single week, but Iím also able to work in to our lives some of the things that stay-at-home moms are able to do with their kids during the week.  We've been able to take ECFE classes, have play-dates, make trips to the zoo on quiet Mondays, go for long walks through the neighborhood, and spend a lot of time with my mom and mother-in-law.  I absolutely love being
home with the kids those two days.  Also my boys spend plenty of time at home, which is pretty important to me.  I think there is a lot of value in children having a healthy amount of unplanned, unscheduled time in their own environment.  Time when they're not necessarily being entertained and they're able to just be kids.  Be bored. Get into trouble. Get dirty.  Learn and play on their own. Develop strong relationships with their siblings.  Not have to be on all the time, like they are at daycare or in school.

gus park


And like I said, no doubt, 4-day weekends pretty much rock.  There is actually enough time during my days off to fit in plenty of family togetherness, alone time for each parent, couple time, AND social activities, and not feel like weíre in a constant state of ìbusyî. 

That aspect of it is great, and I do feel like it leads to a good work-life balance, when the ìlifeî part doesn't feel too particularly crazy or fast-paced.  If I'm being honest, most of the time our weekends feel downright leisurely.  At least for me.  My husband has a full-time schedule so I'm sure Monday tends to come quickly for him, but still, Sunday night there is no scramble to organize our week, get the kids' stuff ready for daycare, even grocery shopping, we still have Monday for all of that!  I think it's that extra day at the beginning of the week that contributes the most to our family's balance, not having to waste any of our Sunday on that stuff.   

Then on the other side of the equation I GET to go to work for the week every Tuesday, and I almost always look forward to it.  I get to sit in a quiet office and drink my coffee and check my email in peace. I mean, that alone!  I appreciate the opportunity to talk to adults about things that do not involve my children, because let's be honest, itís really hard to do that, even when you are out socially without them.  Somehow those social conversation always seems to go back to the kids, or parenting, and that makes sense because being a mom is such a huge part of my life.  But it's also nice to spend 3 days at work in an office where most people donít care about my kids, and don't necessarily want to hear about them.  Is that harsh?  I donít know, I don't think so.  It's a good reminder that the whole world does not revolve around my kids, even though sometimes it feels like it does because toddlers and preschoolers are so ALL CONSUMING.

I also like spreadsheets and complex excel formulas and report formatting and financial forecasting and modeling and all that nerdy stuff that my days consist of. I would never say I love it, that would be a lie, but I do like it. It pays very well. Iím quite good at it, and most of the time itís not incredibly stressful. 

Of course, there are also challenges to this schedule, to working part-time, as perfect as it sounds.

Those three days are really long and hectic. Our daycare doesn't open until 7:45, so I do drop-off, then drive another 40 minutes or so to work, and don't get going in the office until usually 8:30. Then I have to work 9 hours, so with no lunch that would keep me at work until 5:30.  I eat lunch (because duh, food is amazing) so I either work until 6:00 (and it's another half hour to get home) or I have to log in from home in the evening and get a little work done after the kids have gone to bed.  That leaves, oh, let me see, pretty much no time for ANYTHING beyond the necessities on those three days of the week. My husband picks the boys up from daycare around 4:00 and usually tries to throw together dinner to eat with the kids either before I get home, or the second I walk in the door, depending on the night.  Some weeks are better than others, definitely dependent on the moods of the boys after daycare, but needless to say, those three days are not relaxing.    

There's another aspect of me going part-time, when everyone else on my team is full-time, that has not been so positive.  Part of the issue could very well be with my own insecurities, or it might just be a reflection of my particular workplace or industry, but unfortunately in my experience it seems to be inevitable that when a woman openly puts it out there that she wants more time with her family, certain people are going to view that as her saying, 'I want to dedicate less time to this company.'  It's almost an open declaration of where her priorities are, and that kind of transparency has implications. 

Mommy track: whether or not it was my intention, that's where I've ended up, and I constantly feel like I'm trying to compensate for my part-time schedule.  I haaaaaate being the one that takes the day off or works from home when one of the kids is sick, even though technically both my specific job and the office as a whole is very flexible with that kind of thing. I'm already only there three days of the week, so it's as if I feel the need to prove something to people, to make sure it is clear that I really am dedicated to this job. I have to do more on those three days so no one notices or is inconvenienced by the fact that I'm not there the other two.  I struggle with feeling stuck and stagnant, because the things that will help you get further in my company, receive more recognition, accolades, respect, promotions, and yes, money, those are things that I just don't have time to do.  I should be participating in special projects, leading teams, working on process improvements, but I barely have enough time each week to get my regular responsibilities done.  It can be a struggle to stay above water.

Finally, finding consistent childcare has always been a challenge for us, and has definitely been the most difficult result of choosing to work a somewhat non-traditional schedule.  When it was official that I was going back to work part-time I had to break the news to the daycare provider we had lined up months prior.  As I expected, she wasn't willing to take children part-time, from a business stand-point it simply wasn't feasible.

We looked around a little bit but quickly realized that a traditional licensed daycare willing to take a baby part-time is very difficult to find.  So we went a whole different route, each of our mothers offered to watch him once a week, and I reached out to a neighbor that stayed home with her two children and she was willing to take him the other day for a small fee.  It was lovely to go back to work knowing that Gus was for the most part being cared for by family, it certainly made the transition easier, and well: it was practically free (grandmas don't charge you for babysitting!).  So I can't discount that big 'pro' of the situation. 

This worked for a while, but then Annie, the neighbor who watched him on Tuesdays, moved away when he was about 8 months old. So we scrambled.  Found someone else to take him that day.

She worked out for a while, maybe 4-5 months, but Gus was constantly sick, just from being in her home one day a week with two other little girls, to the point where we went weeks at a time, paying
her for that one day but not able to bring him because her kids were throwing up, or her whole family had strep, or our kid had a fever.

It felt like we were still, always scrambling.

Eventually my mother-in-law offered to take Gus twice a week, since she was also going to start watching my baby niece. We jumped at that offer, and he had another good solid year before I had
Louie of being watched by the grandmas.  This was lovely for many obvious reasons, but also hard.  There was just so little consistency in ours' and Gus's day-to-day life.  We had a hard time getting him on any solid routine because every single day was so different.

While pregnant with Louie I hatched a plan for my sister-in-law to watch both boys.
She was working as a Pre-K Assistant Teacher and her and my brother were thinking about starting a family: she would start watching the kids in the summer, once school was out, and after that continue to watch them indefinitely... or until she decided to have her own kid and didn't want to anymore. 

Any outsider to the situation could probably predict what happened.  After just two months she admitted it wasn't all it was cracked up to be for her (What?  My children are perfect angels and super
thrilling to be around!). She got pregnant and decided to go back to work for one more school year before she had the baby.


We decided to hire a nanny, which was an extremely stressful process during which I nearly just up and quit my job. (I literally went in for my mid-year review with the resignation letter in my hand, but couldn't go through with it after an amazing, rejuvenating conversation with my boss about the work I was doing and the value they placed on my experience, as well as their continued commitment to helping me maintain a good work-life balance and part-time schedule. Yes, all of that in a 45 minute review, it was like they saw me and my letter coming.) 

Well we did find a nanny, and it worked really well for a while, but then it didn't. And then it got better after we confronted the problems, but then it got bad again, and finally there was something that happened discipline-related that did not sit right with us and it was the LAST STRAW.

"You're fired."

Scrambling for childcare again!

That brings us to this past June, when we stumbled upon the holy grail of in-home daycare (that welcomed part-time kids) where our boys are absolutely thriving.  Life finally has routine and consistency, the kids love it, they have made friends and grown so much socially, in a structured, safe, learning environment three days a week. They also spend a lot of time outside, and we were able to get Gus into a wonderful preschool because the daycare lady has 'connections' and has been transporting the preschool-aged daycare kids to and from there twice a week for years, the whole change has just been so incredible for our family.

But it was such a long time coming.  It was so hard to get to this place. (Did you notice all the scrambling?) My part-time schedule really handicapped us with finding childcare during the infant/toddler years. Thankfully, now that we're out of the 'baby' stage with both boys (sob!), if we had to find childcare again it likely wouldn't be such an impossible task. 

Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids?

I don't know what I expected life to be like as a working mother, pre-kids.  I knew it would be a juggling act, and I knew I would still want to and enjoy working, but I definitely don't think I really understood how much of an emotional burden it is to parent and make huge decisions for children who will someday grow up to be REAL PEOPLE.  It's very different when your children are no longer hypothetical.  Hard to describe, but it just, I don't know, you truly can't know. You don't know
what will really matter to you when you're in the trenches and you don't know what kind of kid you'll get. I think the hardest part for me has been adapting to how often and quickly things change with little children.  So many transitions, it's as if as soon as you master something, work it into the routine, he's not doing that anymore, or he's ready for the next thing.  All of a sudden what was working two months ago is no longer working.  That's a big thing to get used to. 

family photo

And then you start being asked to make these big life decisions on behalf of another human being (hello, SCHOOL!), and you're just supposed to have blind faith that you're making the right ones?

Yeah, hypothetical children and making hypothetical parenting decisions about them is much simpler than real life.

Is this your ideal situation? If not, what is?

I think my work-life balance is as close to ideal as it's going to get right now.  My actual ideal situation looks pretty similar, and would involve simply cutting my commute at least in half and maybe even working about 3 hours a week less.  Yup, that sounds about perfect.  Too bad life isn't perfect.  ;)

Do you see yourself making a career change (whatever that means) in the next 5-10
years, or is this current set up staying put for the long haul?

Of course, now we're coming up on another big decision-making point.  Do we want to have another child, and if we decide to go for it, do I continue to work?  Three kids in part-time, but still expensive daycare?  Does it financially even make sense? Logistically? Gus will go to full-day Kindergarten in September 2015, and by then, if I'm still working, I plan to adjust my schedule so that I'm home before and after school every day (something that is really important to me), but that would likely involve Louie going to daycare every day.  I'm not against that, it would just be an adjustment. 

2011_01-20 072
Another one of these guys?

A whole new kid though?  That throws everything into a tailspin, and if we do have another baby, I lean towards giving up my job for a few years over juggling the logistics of two kids in daycare and one in school, plus my own pretty terrible commute.  And if I'm being completely honest with myself, I am coasting where I'm at with my career, and I feel a bit stuck, yet comfortable, because we've definitely built our life around my schedule and it would be close to impossible to find the exact same one somewhere new.  I'm starting to think I might never leave my company if I don't just leave the workforce for a while altogether.  Both prospects scare me.  I don't want to become a 'life-et', but at 11 years with the same company, I'm well on my way.  I know I would like to work in a different industry, build on my skill-set and see what else is out there in my field, but at this point in my life it's not a priority.  And yet, it feels like such a waste to coast when we could feasibly make it work without my income and I could take some time to focus on our family and our home and figure out exactly what is next for my career. 

It all just gets really complicated, again, when you throw in game-changers like school and/or another baby, so it's really tempting to uncomplicated things a little.  Cut out the fat, i.e. this job that I'm pretty 'meh' about.  But then what?  I'm scared of the difficulties I will surely have to overcome when I eventually re-enter the work-force.  I'm also scared that I'm not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom, I'm not the most disciplined and self-motivated person out there, and I worry that I'd fall down on the job.  I worry about the isolation, which was always the most difficult aspect of being home full-time with the boys during my two three-month stints of maternity leave.   

I still don't know exactly what the future holds, and my decision-making methods tend to be more in the vein of letting it go and telling myself future Alicia will worry about that.  Unfortunately for me, it appears we're getting pretty close to that point in time where future Alicia will have to step up and
be the decider.  (I promise I will stop talking about myself in the third person.)

Tips on how you make this work for you?

I can't claim to know what I'm doing any better than anyone else, but our set-up does work.  It's not always perfect, but it's more than good enough, if that makes sense. On the whole, I do have a pretty healthy work/life balance, and I feel very lucky to be able to work part time, and have the opportunity to play both a working mom and a SAHM role in the lives of my children.


There are a few key things that I think help make it all work.

My first 'tip' is one a lot of Julia's guest posters have touched on, and I have to agree with them.  My husband and I are a team, and we try very hard to be honest with each other and make it a point to talk when one of our needs aren't being met or if one of us is struggling with something specific. Being open about everything and just being really annoyingly 'talky' has helped stave off resentment on both sides.  Not to say there isn't any resentment, but usually we tend to get to the bottom of it relatively quickly. 

Our arguments are almost always about use of time.  Almost always.  So it's something I think both of us really try to be thoughtful about.  I know that my husband is much more of a homebody than I am, and as a pretty classic introvert he requires a lot of alone time to recharge, especially after a long
week at work.  So he doesn't love (hates is probably more appropriate) when I make plans for Friday evenings spontaneously, especially when I spring them on him the moment he walks in the door.  I try not to do that. 

On the other hand he understands that some days I NEEEEEED to get out of the house after being home all day with the boys, and he makes a concerted effort to make it happen.  And as long as I give him ample notice, he is up for many a social activity and usually goes along with my hair-brained ideas to try to DO ALL THE THINGS.

dan alicia anniversary

Really, it comes down to it that we just know each other, and we are considerate of each other.  And we both screw up all the time, but we can almost always recognize it and own up to it after a short cooling off period. ;)       

Family also makes our life work.  Both of our families are incredibly close in both proximity to us and personally.  I don't know how we'd do this without them, I guess I'm sure we'd manage, but they sure make it easier.  And better. They make date nights happen, they cook us dinners, they have picked up our children form daycare when we needed the extra hand, they have spent afternoons with the boys so we could go test drive minivans, they have snuggled for hours at a time with our first-born terrible sleeper in order to get him an appropriate mid-day nap, they have always been there ready and willing to pitch in when we were scrambling for childcare.  And above all, they just love on our kids and both of us so much. They are our sounding boards, our sanity-checks, and our champions.    

Besides having a solid partner and close family to do this all with, there are a few other things that make life just a little bit easier. I realize that not everyone can swing such a 'luxury', so at the risk of sounding like a spoiled jerk I will admit that hiring a cleaner to do some of our basic housekeeping every two weeks (vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing the floors, cleaning the bathrooms) has absolutely made my life, no, all of our lives, better.  We hired her about a year and a half ago and it was a game-changer for our household.  So many less 'use of time' arguments over nonsense, we can focus that energy on keeping a tidy house and cooking family dinners, keeping the laundry process ever-flowing.  Life is so much simpler when you don't ever have to clean your bathroom. 

We don't stress a lot about dinner on those three long days that I work each week.  I get home between 6:00 and 6:30 and the boys are often really needy after daycare, so we prefer to let go of some of the pressure of getting an amazing meal on the table, in favor of Dan having the time to sit on the floor after work and just play with the boys. Undivided attention after what I'm sure is a tiring and sometimes even stressful day for them at daycare means less whining and less fighting and less yelling, things we are always looking for less of in our family.  We don't meal plan because it just doesn't really work into our laissez faire lifestyle (ha!) but we have staples that we can throw together relatively quick.  We shop at Costco, almost every week, and buy the bulk of our produce there, and then we make a point to make sure it all gets eaten.  We eat a lot of fresh fruit and veggies with each meal, and sandwiches, quesadillas, pasta, breakfast for dinner, rice and beans, are our week-night go-to's.  It doesn't have to be pinterest-worthy to be balanced, right?!  Probably once every couple weeks we throw caution to the wind and I pick up Greek or Asian take-out on my way home from work.

We also don't bathe our children every night, or even every other night in the winter.  How's that for a tip for you?!  

How do you handle mommy guilt that comes with each role?

Eesh.  I am way too hard on myself.  I can't seem to help it, and sometimes I get into a bad place with comparing myself to others or wishing I could follow-through on my intentions to set into place things like meal-planning routines or limit the kids screen-time more than I already do.  But I also try so hard to allow myself the ability to just LET. IT. GO.  Because doing things out of guilt only makes me feel burnt out, and then I get snippy and rage-y with the people I love. 

LET. IT. GO.  Overall I'm doing the best I can, even if sometimes that means I'm not at my best.  And that's okay.

I do feel some guilt about the fact that I am the spouse/parent that tends to get "out" more often, but I also realize this is highly driven by the differences in our personalities. I have a very close core group of girlfriends whom I love spending time with, my relationship with these women is something that brings me up, time spent hashing out life with them gives me energy and hope and reassurance and support.  My husband: well, the whole getting together with a bunch of guys thing just doesn't happen for him as much.  He has friends, of course, and he plays softball and is close to his brother, but it doesn't seem to be the same for him.  I would say it's a man/woman thing, but I don't want to over-generalize. The reality is that I get more 'breaks' outside of work/home than he does.  I have more happy hours, I have more coffee dates, and I have more movie-nights.  Mostly because I am more social.  So I feel the guilt, and I sometimes overcompensate.  I sometimes push him to make plans and get out of the house, take a break from parenting on the weekends, when I should probably just try to understand that getting away from all of us, getting out of our house, might not necessarily be what he wants. What he might want is a Sunday spent at home where we lounge around the living room and make robots out of Legos and don't change out of our pajamas until noon.  A Sunday where I'm able to get a roast cooking in the crock pot for dinner, and he is able to sneak a work out in during nap time. Yeah. That sounds like my husband's ideal day.  I need to constantly remind myself that we are different people with different needs, and that he is a grown man who can make his own plans. 

Advice for new moms struggling with returning to work outside of the home? Or struggling to decide if staying home is the right choice? 

Like I said before, I was a complete mess for about 2 weeks in the middle of my maternity leave, really struggling with the idea of returning back to work.  And as much as I can say, in hindsight, that the reality wasn't nearly as bad as I had built up in my head, it still was so hard.  I don't want to diminish what someone might be feeling now, because those feelings are real and raw and it's scary and overwhelming and it IS just straight up hard. 

My mother-in-law said this to me in an email during one point of stressful "scrambling" in our long history of childcare situations, and it made me not feel like such a lunatic.  She said, "When you're the advocate for someone so trusting and small and you're leaving him there, all by himself... that's a responsibility that feels very huge and serious."

I couldn't say it any better.  Leaving your child with someone else is a huge leap of faith.  It's healthy and normal and okay if you're struggling with it.  Even if you are positive that that person or daycare is absolutely wonderful.  Even if so many women have done this before and many of them are telling you it won't be that bad.  It still feels huge, because it is.  Up until now you have been that child's whole world, and now he or she is going to go off and have this life outside of you. However you are feeling about that is okay, and no one should make you feel that it isn't.

maternity leave
This picture was taken on the Friday before I returned to work after my maternity leave for Louie.  I can tell you this, going back to work was much easier, emotionally, the 2nd time around.  ;)

Finally, as you can see from my situation, if you wish you could return to work part-time, simply asking for it MIGHT ACTUALLY WORK!  No one else in my department worked or works part-time, in the 6+ years I was with the company before I had my son, there had not been one part-time financial analyst on my team. I asked anyway.  Be bold. Be intentional.  This is the time to do it.

(read the entire Moms Make it Work series here


  1. I loved this post. You articulated a lot of what I feel about the part time work schedule and the inevitable "mommy track." I never intended not to work full time, but life happened, and I dropped down to 4 days a week in a very male dominated industry. When I made the decision to do it, I felt a healthy dose of not really caring because I knew where my priorities were. Now about a year later, I DO see the impact of that decision, and how it can be a little difficult to coordinate my less traditional (but still 35 hour/week!) schedule with those in the office every day. And while it's been a little annoying, I still feel like I'm doing the right thing. I know that I'm teaching my little that yes, you CAN be a mom AND have the career you worked so hard for. It takes some luck and an employer willing to give it a shot, and a whole lot of hard work - while I'm technically part time, I am still responsible for a full time load of work. I also totally relate to your ticking off the boxes of things to accomplish pre-kids - looking forward to reading more of your blog!

  2. Another great post, thanks Alicia! I was super excited to read yours because I've been following your blog for awhile now and always wondered what your work schedule was (since it seemed you were home on random days, yet I still thought you worked outside the home). I cannot even imagine that crazy daycare issue for your kids.... seriously, one of the biggest successes we've had with both my husband and I working is our rock solid childcare (grandma). I was seriously getting anxious reading about your troubles. Also, let it go... such a good philosophy. Letting it go is seriously one of the biggest things I could/need/should do for myself as a mom. Actually, since we've been listening to the Frozen soundtrack on repeat at our house, I can't help but laugh everytime we listen to 'let it go' and I think of the need for that in my life! Great post, thanks!

  3. Loved this post, Alicia!! Twice weekly kid baths here too ;) Maybe more in the summer, but not in winter! Great point about the difference in priorities between you and your husband. Mine is like that a little bit too, and it's hard for me to remember that he honestly doesn't CARE about "getting away" as much as I do.

    Very interested to see if you do have another kid! (and you still could take some time out of the workforce - even without another kid!) It is really hard to make a major change while working/parenting full-time. It takes so much time and effort and mental space to even figure out what you want to do, much less find an opportunity that works.

  4. Love this! I also work part time outside the home (about 25 hours per week) though my schedule is a little different. I work M-F mornings, so every day we still have the get up and get ready scramble, something I could do without! I always think 3 days a week sounds so much better, so it's interesting to read the different challenges that come with that schedule. I often get comments that working part time is like getting the best of both worlds (and most of the time I agree) but it also has some of the worst of both worlds. I still have day care to deal with (though thankfully ours has been great and consistent since day 1), and often feel kind of stuck in the same place at work, or not quite fully a part of the group because I'm not there as much as everyone else).

    Also, love the bath tip. If I had to do baths every night I might go (extra) crazy :)

  5. This may be my favorite post so far!

    Love hearing about how you took that leap of faith to ask to go part-time - good for you!! I hope to do that in some capacity in the future, too. And so interesting to hear about your schedule and your week.

    I get out more than my husband does, too, and I think you're right - women just typically tend to have tighter friends and will put in more of an effort to make those outings happen.

    And yes, yes, yes - it is HUGE, HUGE, HUGE to leave your child with someone else. It is just such a big responsibility being a part, and you're right, it's always changing - it's completely overwhelming!

    Good luck with the decision on whether to have another kid or not. ;) You know my vote!

  6. I really enjoyed reading how you "make it work", Alicia. I feel like you really laid it all out there - the good, the bad, and the ugly! Having the opportunity to work part time is so great - but any mother who has ever had to go to work knows that, while adult conversation and sipping your coffee uninterrupted is amazing, actually getting to and from work can be so stressful!
    I'm glad you found childcare that works for your family finally. Your mother-in-law was spot-on! You can't possibly enjoy a single second away from your kids if you aren't 100% confident in their care. And I just had to laugh about your advice on not bathing the kids every night - thats always the first thing to go from our bedtime routine if we've had a crazy day!
    Thanks for sharing :)

  7. I absolutely loved your story, Alicia. And so many times, I found myself nodding and saying YES! I even made a note for myself to come back and read the whole thing in detail, which I just did. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Oops, being a "parent," not a "part."

  9. Amen to your thoughts on meal planning. I tried to do it for so long, but really it felt like I was assigning myself another chore. Sometimes I plan ahead, but often just have some staples on hand so I can whip something together.

    Also, love hearing more about part time schedules. I actually asked to job share just before I went back to work after maternity (another woman on my team and I were on maternity leave at approximately the same time) and was told no... and we were split into different teams. But even with that experience I totally agree that you have to ask because you never know.

    I seriously need to think about having someone come in to clean our house. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  10. I loved this! I was in your shoes schedule-wise (except it was 5 days a week) when I was working and it was SO difficult managing just the bare necessities. I totally get that the days you work are tough, but to be able to have that part-time schedule does seem like the best of both worlds (and I say this knowing that things ALWAYS seem easier to others and that there are challenges in every situation).

    And, ADORABLE boys. I absolutely love their names!


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