We have officially evaded the apocalypse and survived my first month as a full-time working mom!
We’re not exactly going from calm to chaos at our house. More like chaos to new chaos. We’ve had a busy few years with several moves, two maternity leaves, school, and multiple jobs.
Even with a history of consistent change, going from one kid and working 20 hours a week to two kids and working full-time in another new state–all within 10 months–felt like a lot.
In general, transitioning to a two full-time working parent family really can feel like the end of days. Because how can this not all fall apart? The physical logistics of it all is nuts. My babies have a laid-back schedule and it’s stressful. What will it be like when they’re older and actually have to leave the house? Ugh, baby steps, Katie. Baby steps.
However, I’m a big believer in having a game plan. If you’re preparing to change your work situation and the accompanying family dynamic change, here are some of the logistical and personal things that have come up with us to help you get ready.
Plan for time with your family. Yes, the time away from my kids does suck, but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. The extra hours gone are noticeable, but I’m also more intentional with the time we are together. My phone is mostly put away, we play and have fun together. We’re tired, but we plan on spending that time engaging with our kids.
Tag-team the schedule. Since we moved here, my husband has started work before the girls wake up and gets off before I do. Because of this, they haven’t needed to be in childcare any longer than when I worked part-time. We each get some quality alone time with the girls and I LOVE that they’ll grow up seeing their dad enjoying equal caregiving time. It may not work as nicely for everyone, but look at your schedules and decide who can do what and when. It shouldn’t all fall to one parent to be with the kids.
Have a dinner plan! Dinnertime is the worst. If only I could trust my child’s assurances that she can survive purely on ketchup and milk. It’s a vegetable, right? We’ve had a few rocky dinners, but having a meal plan for the week saved it from being much worse!
Buy groceries online. I hesitated because I love Winco and they don’t offer it, but Smith’s has stepped up its game and is almost as cheap as Winco now. And their produce is better. And they leave me happy notes on my receipt. I’ll still buy cheaper bulk items at Winco, but that’ll be maybe once a month. Smith’s charges $5 to use it, but it’s worth it for the time I save to spend with my kids. I know Walmart is free, but I don’t like their stuff as much.
Get into a kid bedtime routine. Kid bedtimes come fast! I get home by 5:30, then it’s dinner prep, eating, and time to get ready for bed. Evenings are go-go-go without even leaving! If you don’t already have a routine, start one! Decide what you want to include, like books, singing, bath, cuddles, brushing teeth, prayers, etc. and have a set time for when you start. We are still working on getting ours started at 6:45 like we used to, but we’ll get there.
Create a plan for childcare hiccups. Because they will always come up. Whether your kid is sick or there’s a lice outbreak at the center again (we’ve been there a time or five) or your nanny goes on vacation, you’ll need a backup plan. Hopefully it doesn’t always rest on one parent to stay home, though some careers may warrant that. Know each other’s situations and have some backup options for when neither of you can stay home.
Recognize that you’ll need extra patience. I have noticed that when I work more hours, I’m more impatient with my kids. I think because I’m away more, I want to have a great time with them when we’re together. So when they’re difficult, I get more frustrated than normal. But I recognize it and I’m working harder to be more patient.
Communicate with your partner. Whether it’s “Can you take ___ out of the freezer and make the rice so it only takes 10 min to put dinner together when I get home?” or “We need some time to talk and be friends” or “We brought two kids to the store, right?”–it can be hard to remember to effectively communicate. When the family dynamic experiences a big change like this, it is imperative to communicate. It’s a big change for us, but it’s equally as big of a change for our partners too. This is probably the hardest for me. I’m trying to remember to check in with him more about what he needs, not just what I need to make my goals happen.
Finally, I hope you love what you’re doing. It helps ease the sting of losing time with the family when you really enjoy your work. It’s incredibly satisfying to know that my switch to full-time work is blessing our family so much. I’m proud to contribute to our stability and future. [cue soapbox rant on women’s education and career preparation]
The last month hasn’t even been close to perfect, but I was pleasantly surprised. Did some things good from the start and some needed a bit of improvement. There were some very tired days that I managed to live through, and hopefully we can shift the focus from surviving to thriving in our new situation!
If you’re already living the working mom life, what do you think is critical for starting off successful?