Thanks for a wonderful post Gina!
Just this past week, while watching GSN reruns of Power of 10, the question given was “what percentage of women feel guilty leaving their children to go to work?” I can’t remember what the answer was, but I know it was high. What mom doesn’t feel guilty about having to work instead of raising their child? I know I did, and all summer I crunched numbers trying to figure out how I could stay at home and not send our little girl to day care. (Lucky for us she is in a Mother’s Day Out and she loves them, as much as they love her.) Unfortunately, there was just no possible way (and given the circumstances we are experiencing now, it is a good thing it wasn’t possible, but that story is for another day). As a teacher, I knew going back to work meant stress and a lot of work to be brought home. Since I started teaching 5 years ago, I have always tried to find a balance between work and home life. But I could just never do it. Last year when finding out I was pregnant I knew something had to be done. I had to find the balance and I had one year to do it…. I never did it. Bring us to this school year. Something changes in you when you know you have a little one at home waiting for your attention. I have figured out ways to get my work done at work and I bring minimal amounts home, if any at all.
Every job is stressful at times, but you need to leave it at work. My very first job was at a grocery store and in training the one thing they emphasized was “leave your home life outside the doors, and leave your work life inside these doors.” At 15 years old, I had no idea how smart that statement really is. You can’t let your personal life affect the way you do your job. So when you walk through those work doors, give 110%. But when the day ends, whatever time that is, you also can’t let your work life affect your time with your family (what little bit we get with family). So when you go home, you are 110% about your family. Keep them separate to keep a happy balance. Of course, hanging pics up at work of your family will definitely help the days go by faster and help remind you why you are working. (For me, I look at pictures and remind myself I am working to give our little girl the best life we can possibly give her.)
Another smart statement that sticks with me (and has since I was a teenager) was stated by Mary Kay Ash (you know, the makeup fortune Mary Kay?). She said, “God first, Family second, Career third.” Again, as a teenager, that didn’t mean much. As I have grown up and made a family of my own, I realize how important it is to put your family first. Nothing comes before my family. For 7 hours a day I have 22 kids that get my full attention. But when I leave, I have only one at home that matters most. She deserves my undivided attention and I have learned how to make that possible. And for those times when you just have absolutely no choice but to bring work home with you, find a way to do it while including the little ones. Of course this is a lot easier when you have an infant (as I do), since she is happy to listen to music while in her jumperoo. But even if your child has a favorite cartoon or video or something, let them enjoy it in the room while you work right next to them. Don’t ignore whatever it is they are saying. While you may be splitting your attention between work and the child, at least acknowledge them. I see far too many children who just want attention… and the desire for attention can cause children to give behavior problems, because bad attention is better than no attention at all in their minds. Trust me. And if you aren’t like me (because I value my sleep too much) you can do your work after the kids are in bed. But once Payton is in bed, that is time for my husband and I to spend together and/or do whatever we want to do, not something that will bring us down, like work. Because honestly, who really WANTS to do work on their own free time?
The last thing I want to add that I have found helps me out (well two things), is to plan fun things to do on the weekends and to take part in a hobby that I enjoy. We try to plan something to do on the weekends, even if it is just taking the baby for a walk, going to the zoo, or going to Target and Hobby Lobby. It is something we all do as a family. I also want to make sure I have time for me (everyone needs it) so I try to read a little each night (I love to read) and I have a lot of crafting projects I want to get done, so I try to complete one a weekend. It is nice to have me time.
So to give you the cliff’s notes version of that novel I just wrote, here are my tips to stay sane for us working moms that have to bring stuff home every now and again:
· Keep your work and home life separate as much as possible
· do anything and everything NOT to bring it home
· if you absolutely must bring work home, do it while the kids are enjoying your company or while they are in bed
· plan family outings to make sure you spend quality time together
· make time for yourself