I would like to make this into a 3 or 4 part series so let’s see how this goes.
Other families’ schedules are very interesting to me. It is fascinating to see how other families cope with busy lives in comparison to my family.
One prominent aspect of this is work/school schedules. Working full-time outside the home provides many challenges and for years made me feel very worn down and like a terrible parent. I have gone back and forth with the notion that after 10 years in the full-time work force, some miracle will occur and I will either own a business or somehow be blessed with plenty of money to be able to do what I wish with my time instead of being a prisoner in a cubicle for 8 hours a day. It is a slightly scary thought when you really think about it. I almost feel like a prisoner because I am not free to just get up and go to my car and leave when I want to. I once saw a joke that called it an “8 hour wait to go home” – exactly! It’s a crazy concept, almost un-American, but then if I could leave like that, I wouldn’t be receiving a paycheck that enables my family to barely survive week to week. It’s not all bad though.
Well, it’s now been almost 13 years that I have been working. The longest break I had off was my 12 weeks out when by baby was born.
I am really beginning to realize that I enjoy it and feel good about myself for working. I know how good it is for my toddler to interact with other kids during the day. What really makes it okay is how absolutely wonderful our daycare provider is and how she interacts with the children she works with. If I didn’t have that, I would be unable to work. People who do not work outside the home have asked me how I do it. My answer is rather simple: I just do it, no choice there. I have been a stay-at-home mom before and I have to say I think everything is all about routine.
When you work full-time outside the home, you get up at a certain time, get yourself and the kids ready and leave at a certain time, go to a certain place or two then to work – at a certain time, on time, no exceptions. I have known of people who have a difficult time with that, but that mainly occurs when you do not have your routine and mind in the right place. Many years ago, when I was a teenager, I asked a stay-at-home mom how she does it. Getting up, getting the kids ready and to school on time was basically what she did. Her answer: getting almost everything ready the night before. I have never forgotten that answer and can say that without a doubt, that IS the key, especially when working full-time outside the home. The main factor in being late is searching for something you should have had prepared the night before. Of course, some people wake up late, but for my family searching for misplaced items is the worst. I always make all lunches the night before and prepare the coffee maker so it can just be turned on. Even set the coffee mug ready next to the coffee maker and bowls ready for cereal with cereal in a bag and so on. Everything that can go in the car is placed in the car the night before and clothes are picked out and ready. I’m almost embarrassed to say it but when my teenage son was younger, he had the absolute most difficult time in the world waking up. He could sleep through anything and could do so any time. So, for a time, I had him get dressed in the clothes he would be wearing the next day after he took his bath at night and sleep in his clean sheets so he could just wake up and put his shoes on, brush his teeth and grab his backpack. Sometimes the toothbrush went in the car with us. Anything to be on time to work had to be done. I also became a little more accepting of working full-time when I realized the my children are in school 6 hours a day and I’m at work for only 2 hours more than they are already required to be in school. That made it a little easier. Now with a baby in daycare, I have to rely on my confidence in her wonderful daycare provider.
So, in conclusion, that’s how I handle a full-time work schedule. One of my favorite views on the subject that I have heard came from someone I know who has been a full-time working mother for a long time. She said that her time at work is just one of her two jobs. She leaves work at 5 to go home to her other, more important job. Know that this is not a slacker either, but a respected, hard-working supervisor who continues to promote. Yes, you can have it all, I strongly believe. You just have to be very motivated.
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