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Work Life Balance
September 28, 2010 11:50 am | by

Balance. Now there’s a loaded word. Over the past year (who am I kidding it’s been well over 10 years) I’ve been searching for the definition and/or execution of “balance.” Don’t hold your breath, I don’t have many answers. What I have discovered is that for me, balance is a living breathing organism that is in constant motion and change. Kind of like a child. Just when I think I’ve figured out how to keep some kind of balance in my life, something happens- someone develops a severe food allergy, the car breaks down, unexpected visitors show up at the door when my laundry is strewn across the family room, or most recently a job offer lands on my lunch plate.

After almost 7 years I have recently returned to the full time (commuting, leaving the house with a packed lunch sans Goldfish, and in heels) work force. It was not an easy decision, but the job is was a lifetime dream come true, the kids seemed to be at a good place in their development, and I was ready for a new challenge. I should mention that I’m a fairly big planner. I like to do my homework and work out all the details before I jump too far into things. In this case, I spent hours researching childcare. Mapped out every possible schedule scenario I could think of. Spent days going over the potential conflicts of my new job and my husbands crazy schedule.

Then after finally feeling okay about taking the job, I started the new job nesting. I was shocked at how similar this time was to my pregnancy experiences. I purged and organized my house. Did major grocery shopping. Updated my wardrobe to include some things that didn’t have spit up stains and dry play dough on them.

So here’s what I have learned in the past few months since returning to work. 1) All the planning in the world did not prepare me for what I was about to encounter. 2) I secretly love leaving the house and kids everyday. 3) Despite my fears, our children are thriving with outside care. 4) Working full time while raising 2 kids, being a wife, friend, daughter, sister, and normal person is, for me, one of the most challenging experiences of my life to date. Let me explain.

I don’t have to tell you, a fellow busy mother, that life throws you curve balls at least once a week. I’m blessed to have a job that is semi flexible to those curve balls, but I still have responsibilities that are not negated by a last minute homework assignment at school or make-up baseball practice. As much as a planner I’d like to be, with this many balls in the air, I’ve been simply taking life a week at a time. If I’m brave, I might schedule out two weeks, but that hasn’t happened very often. There have been weeks we haven’t gotten to the grocery, and I’m scouring the pantry mixing up some cans of whatever I can find to make a meal for the family at 7pm. I’ve pulled out dirty shorts for the kids when we hadn’t gotten to laundry all week and they had nothing clean to wear. A long time lover of daily morning showers, I’ve almost mastered the dirty hair styling.

And before the comments start pouring in about my secret love of leaving the house and kids, hear me out. In my dream world I would be the perfect balance of Martha Stewart and Mother Teresa. Stylish, loving, creative, compassionate, organized, and self sacrificing. Ideal, I know. Since I have no plans of vowing chastity or moving to New York to take over for Martha, I’m me, and have yet to arrive at any of those titles.

I love my kids. They are the best thing my husband and I have ever created. But the challenges, as hard as they are, of being in the ‘work force’ doing a job I was made to do, is so fulfilling. I know I’m in the place I’m supposed to be in, and so are the kids. If the kids weren’t doing as well as they are in their settings (elementary school and preschool/childcare) it may be a different story. But they are thriving. They are learning to be more independent and to take care of their own needs. After all that’s the goal right? This helps fulfill our desire to raise independent, world changing people. Plus, they are watching me. I know it. They see when I’m tired and worn down. They also see me working hard, keeping my word, following through with tasks and commitments, balancing a career and a family, and being an independent woman. And as backwards as it may sound, when we are all together as a family, we are happier. We have more fun together. And we don’t take each other for granted like we used to. Five o’clock is no longer my most dreaded hour of the day. For my family, having two working parents, has made us stronger. And for that I am grateful.

Resa is a real mom who was born and bred in a suburb of New York City. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for 9 years and is mother to two boys. Resa took the ”off-ramp” from the non-profit, social work field when her first son was born. After running her own business from home from the last 5 years, she recently returned to a traditional job as a store manager for Cotton Babies.

About the Author

Heather is mom to four, born within 40 months (single, twins, single). She writes transparently about her chaotic household to encourage others through the twists and turns of parenting.



  • JJINJERSEY said...
    October 7, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    I’m so glad I happened upon your post tonight. This is my first week of going back to work FULL TIME (I’d been part time since the baby was 3 months old) and it was a BEYOND full time week. I also have no groceries, my husband is doing the laundry and packing her for daycare and packing MY lunch.. while I am working all hours into the night … I am hoping I don’t regret it, but it was also a dream come true job. And while at daycare, she already has taken her first steps, become more social around strangers and is showing her funny personality instead of hiding it. But that BALANCE… I don’t know if I’ll EVER get it.

    AND shed the last of the baby weight. HA! Anyway, thanks for your post. I feel less alone.

  • Lisa said...
    September 30, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I’m in the opposite position! I’ve been working full-time since after my son was born, and I really want to stop. But I never got the chance to off-ramp, and I’m desperately looking for that right now. If only the US had that fabulous Canadian 52 weeks of maternity leave, I know I’d have been a happy camper. 6-12 weeks just doesn’t cut it! And with baby #2 on the way, I’m starting to explore my options.

  • Jamie said...
    September 29, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I cannot say I do not miss RD and all the late night e-mail chats:-), but I am so happy you found something you love. I can TOTALLY see how working outside the home would make me a better (and more present) mother when I was with my kids.

  • Jennifer said...
    September 29, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Wow if I didn’t know better I’d think you were writing about my life. Glad I’m not the only one out there that secretly loves leaving the house each morning. Even if it does make me a “bag lady” for the time being. (Lunch bag, pump bag, clean diaper bag, dirty diaper bag, purse…. what am I forgetting) LOL

  • Christian said...
    September 29, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Hey! Thanks for the post. I liked it as I also wish to continue my job after child. Your post will inspire me to do so and will remind me again and again that I am not alone in this struggle…
    Baby Gifts

  • T Rex Mom said...
    September 28, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    This was so wonderfully stated. And it is so true – the kids will see her example and there is definitely a lot to be said for that.

    Currently I am at home with my kids but I definitely see myself returning to the work force on a part time basis in about two years. This was a very poignant posting particularly contemplating the changes that will bring in a couple years.

    Thank you for this posting.

  • Anna said...
    September 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    I don’t think anything is ever easy for anyone. As a full-time working mother, I constantly struggle with balance between work and family. It’s nice to know I am not alone in this struggle. The best thing I can say about my job is that it is extrememly family-friendly. I can’t bring my child to work, but I can leave absolutely anytime I need to, and that is crucial for me. Thank you for sharing!

  • EG said...
    September 28, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    2. It’s not a secret anymore. 🙂