Moms Make it Work: Lisa | Part-Time Working Mom and Grad Student

Today on the Moms Make it Work series is Lisa, a mom who works part time as a preschool teacher, is going to graduate school part time, and whose husband is a resident in Emergency Medicine. But Lisa doesn't glorify her 'busy' and manages to stay positive and upbeat despite crazy schedules. Love that she has a great support network and is a slave to her calendar. I totally get it, girl! Enjoy.


Hello all!  I am Lisa and I am a part time preschool teacher, part time graduate student, and mom to Teddy (20 months).  My husband is a resident in Emergency Medicine, which means he works a lot and crazy hours. We also have two big crazy lab mixes.  

-What is your background story? What was your career/schooling before you became a mom? And where are you now?

I left the Midwest to attend a small college in New England, which is where I met my husband, and I majored in geology.  While I enjoy learning about geology and science, I realized right around senior year my real interest was child development.  After graduation my husband (then boyfriend) and I moved to Boston for his job and I worked a few different education-related jobs.  After a couple years we got married and moved to St. Louis for him to attend medical school. I wanted to go to grad school while he was in med school, but they didn’t have a program that fit with my interest in St. Louis, so I worked as a nanny through most of med school.  We had Teddy during my husband’s fourth year of med school.  He matched into an emergency medicine program in Ohio.  I was a stay at home mom for a year, but then I looked and the university here has an education program that fits exactly in line with my interests.  I applied to grad school when my son was 9 months old and started right after he turned 1.  I am now in grad school studying child development with a focus on early childhood education and science and environmental education.  This is not at all what I thought I would be doing, but I am living it. In March I started working part time at a preschool run by the Education department.  I am now doing that as a Graduate Assistantship 16 hours a week.  A SAHM I met through my MOPS group watches Teddy while I’m at work.  That situation has been wonderful for us because she is flexible about my husband’s schedule.

My husband’s schedule is kind of crazy.  Some months, like August, he is working in an ICU where he is on a regular 6am to 6pm schedule (roughly).  On ICU months he gets maybe 5 days off spread randomly throughout the month, but might have to work 14 days in a row.  Normal months he is in the emergency department, which is shift work.  Every day can be a different shift including evening or night shifts.  He generally will do a week of nights at a time.  This was an adjustment at first, but we adapted to it really well and finding a strong support network and babysitting network has been key to making this work.    


In addition to work and school, I have a few extracurricular activities I’m involved in.  I play bassoon in a community orchestra. I have a leadership role in my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group this year.  I am also in charge of organizing local alumni interviews this year for my college.  I’m trying to figure out balancing all of these roles and their meetings with our home life, work, and school.  With my husband’s schedule most of the household management is my responsibility, although he helps out when he has time and with specific tasks depending on his rotations.

-What are the best parts of your situations? What are the challenges?
I am really very happy in where we are with are life right now.  When my husband was in medical school I think I was in a holding pattern in my life in some ways.  I think motherhood motivated me to go after a dream I had dropped a while ago.  We love where we are physically, our new city is fabulous.  We moved away from family for residency, but we have made some really great friends and found a wonderful support network.  I have a good network of babysitters I can rely on, which is key when I have things going on and my husband is working all the time.


I love what I am doing and all of my different roles.  My grad school program is amazing and new oppurtunities keep popping up.  I may be applying to the phD program soon.  My role at work has expanded some, which is fun and keeps things exciting.  

The challenges: The weeks where I have to solo parent because my husband works 14 hour days and doesn’t get to see our son.  When I’m working there are times where we are ships passing in the night.  It can get a little crazy when husband’s schedule is constantly changing and we don’t remember who is doing what or going where or when he is sleeping.  Trying to squeeze my school work in is a big challenge.  I have overloaded myself a bit this year perhaps as I tend to do. I have a lot of balls to juggle all while trying to spend quality time with Teddy in the mornings when I’m home with him.   

Finding time to take care of myself can be a challenge.  I am not someone who loves to cook, that is more my husband.  When he isn’t around that is hard for me, I often end up eating cereal or avocado toast with an egg.  
-Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids?
I don’t think so, I expected to stay home or maybe just work part time or be a mommy nanny.  Grad school wasn’t planned for this stage of my life and just kind of happened.  I was just browsing to see what the education department had and this was just such a perfect fit that I felt I had to to it.  

-Is this your ideal situation? If not, what is?
I really like my work life balance at this point.  I like working part time, but having time to get to do play dates and participate in SAHM activities as well.  My mom and her husband plan to move to the city we settle in after residency and I think that will make things a lot easier.  Having grandparents nearby would make leaving town for a weekend or going out on a date so much easier with dog and kid sitting.  Also in a few years my husband will be done with residency and we will (eventually) have less debt hanging over us.  There will also be another baby in the next couple of years.  
#CincinnatiVacay - 05

-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?
I need to make a decision if I am going to finish the Masters degree or possibily continue with the PhD program.  Right now it looks like I will be applying the the PhD program and we are talking about what that looks like for our family.
-Tips on how you make your situation work for you:
I am a slave to the calendar, in fact I use two.  We use google calendar as a family.  My husband puts his work schedule on one calendar so I always know when he will be working.  I have a calendar for our sitter, one for work, one for school, and a personal one for my husband and me.  It looks insane when I open the calendar on my phone.  Each week we have a meeting to go over the schedule for the week and I put everything in my planner calendar on paper.  I then write in suggestions for myself like ‘go to the gym’ or possible activities for Teddy.  Our little meeting is like 5 minutes on the couch just to go over when my husband will be working and sleeping, who is picking our son up, when we need additional babysitters and planning any fun things for days off.  

-We have Teddy on a pretty reliable schedule even though our lives are kind of chaotic at times. Get up, breakfast, leave and go somewhere (or play in yard), lunch, nap, play at home, dinner, bath, bed.  That way he knows what to expect. I think it is very important for him to have a routine. There are days we vary this and take him to a party or something, but i think it’s important with Dada sleeping weird hours to keep Teddy on schedule.

#CincinnatiVacay - 31

-How do you handle mommy guilt?
This is something I have only started to experience in the past few weeks as I have been busier and busier with work/school.  I would also add to it wife guilt.  There are days where I need to stay at the university to work or go in early and I feel bad, but most of the time when I do that Teddy is with my husband.  They often are having fun and I feel bummed that I’m missing out on that time.  It has been a transition for our family the way our roles have shifted a bit.  My husband is great and super supportive, I just feel guilty sometimes that I haven’t done the laundry/cleaned the house/dishes, etc.
-Advice for new moms struggling with returning to work outside of the home? Or struggling to decide if staying at home is the right choice?
Take your time, spend that time with your little one.  I spent 15 months at home and it was wonderful. At the end of that time, I was ready to go back, but I don’t think I would have been before that.  Also really examine child care options.  When we first moved here, we looked at the daycares around us and were not pleased with the infant care at them. I am extra particular because I am in early childhood education, but quality care in the early years really makes an impact.  Look for teachers interacting/talking with babies and lots of free play outside of baby holders.

#CincinnatiVacay - 20
-How do meals work in your family? Meal planning? How often do you grocery shop? Who is in charge of this task in your family??
That is so hard for us.  I try to meal plan occasionally.  I don’t really like to cook most nights.  I like to cook large batches of stuff once a month or every few months.  My husband normally cooks if we are both home.  It’s really hard when it is just me to want to cook.  My son is in this super picky phase, so he won’t eat most of what we cook anyways.  I make a lot of really simple things, like english muffins with eggs, pb&j, veggie burgers, or something I’ve frozen.  I grocery shop about once a week and go to costco every other week.  
-How do you keep your house clean? Power cleaning after bedtime? Staying out of the house as much as possible? Cleaning while kids are awake? Purging often? Cleaning schedule?
I clean a lot when Teddy is awake, especially vacuuming.  We vacuum a lot with the dogs.  I load and run dishes at night and empty it every morning.  I also clean up the toys every night.  I don’t keep all his toys out and I am also picky about toys.  I rotate his toys and books fairly regularly.  Everything else I tend to clean when I have time or power clean before I have company.  It’s a great cleaning motivator.  My mom comes to town regularly and I like to have people over.  

#CincinnatiVacay - 27 {Thanks, Lisa! Find the rest of the MMIW series here}

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. Sorry that commenting through Blogger can be a royal pain. I'm glad you are commenting despite that, and please email me if you are having issues.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...