Before I had Maggie, my oldest, I was pretty sure I was going to go back to work full time after she was born. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to give up my career, it was more because my husband didn’t have health coverage at his job.
Shortly after she was born, however, he got a new job with benefits and that changed everything. Suddenly I had more options, and one of those options was to go back part time. Ever since then, I’ve worked part time and spent as much time as I could with the kids. It hasn’t always been easy, but I have been so lucky to be able to make it work.
In the beginning, my father-in-law stayed with Maggie the two days I went into the office. That worked out well until I had the twins 20 months later. Soon after that, a position opened up at my company that I was able to share with another parent. We both worked from home very part time editing a parenting publication. I fit the work in while the kids were napping and in the evenings. I remember doing a phone interview and changing a diaper at the same time. It was the perfect balance.
When my youngest started school, I increased my hours but still had the flexibility to be there for the kids when they needed me. These days, I work 25-30 hours a week — two days in the office and the rest from home. I squeeze in work between driving carpool and taking kids to practices. I check my email in grocery lines and often work late at night when the house has quieted down.
Sometimes I feel like I’m always working — always trying to fit it in and never quite catching up. Sometimes I feel like my kids will only remember me sitting at my desk working. But the beauty of it is, I’m home much of the time. I may be at my desk, but I can easily take the time to help them study for a test or to pick them up at school if they aren’t feeling well. I’m available to drive them where they need to go, and if they need to talk they know where to find me. There have been many heart-to-heart conversations in my office, which once upon a time was their nursery.
There are many different ways to balance work and family these days. Check out our story that features three moms, the different paths they have chosen and how they are making it work. They have wonderful insight, and and their stories show that every family can find a balance.
It’s true that no situation is perfect. Some days I’m envious of other moms who go to work every day but have time in the evening to devote full attention to their families. I’m definitely envious of my friends who don’t have to work at all — but that was not an option for us. In the long run, I know the path I’ve chosen has been the best one for me and for my family. I feel lucky that I’ve been able to find jobs that have allowed me to put my family first.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 16, Lilly, 15, Adam, 15, and Jonah, 11.