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February 01, 2012

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How do working mothers have time for all of that? Honestly, its hard enough to not be tired and just say hi to the kids sometimes, lol.

I noticed that most of my SAHM friends work at a different slower pace, probably because they don't have set deadlines to meet or have to cram in chores in between meetings and work. I may stay home one day and I hope that I will learn to slow down more and yet also be a good time manager, like I am now as a working mom.

As a working mom, I really don't do #3. However, I think it is important and I finally started exercising again, which I do for health and also counts as "me" time. I just feel like I don't have enough time to do more than that and honestly I like to spend as much time as possible with them.

Interesting post... I'm very grateful that I get to work from home, therefore I am also labeled as a WAHM. :) It has its ups and downs, but the greatest advantage of doing this is the time you could spend with your family. We only see our children grow once and I don't want to miss that. I would regret not seeing their "first" in everything. :)

As a mother who works full time out of the home, this post rings true. Only #3 is tough for me, since I tend to feel badly about being away from her any additional time outside of work.

What a great post.

I am a working (outside the home) mom of 3 kids, and my SAHM homeschooling friend of 5 shared with me something very important (to me).

She said HER kids cry when she leaves the house for a few hours too, I sort of thought only my kids did that because they were so deprived of me and my time with them. I loved knowing that kids just do that. They love their mama most whether she is with them 24/7 or 12/7. :)

You always amaze me at your power to think. All those things you listed are things I TRY to do, but I easily get swept into all that needs to be done and I don't do it.

So I will take this post as a reminder to do those 5 things well. Because I can't always do it all but I can do THOSE things well, if I try hard. :)

Here's me using up my me-time for the day....

I work full time, but 6 months out of the year am allowed to work from home. I have a co-worker in the same situation. I stay at home during said time with my 2.5 year old, and try to fit work during naps, etc. My co-worker, goes to the office all year long, even when not required to, and sends her 3-year old to daycare. I am very jealous of her uninterrupted work time. She is jealous of my kid's height/weight, language development....to each his own. I decided I will take a temporary setback at work - will not be as productive, competitive, etc., because I couldn't bear to miss my kid's babyhood. She said she had to send her kid to daycare because she'd never get anything done. I understand that completely. I am glad for this post, because it highlights the fact that moms in all possible configurations are struggling everyday with their choices and making it work.

While your post is generous, it's also naive. The grass is always greener.. or at least greeen...? Or else you have perfectly balanced friends. I worked a big corporate gig all my life until the last 2 years as a SAHM/WAHM and I can tell you:
1)yes, family time was valued, but often distracted and full of stress over what happened or still needed to be done at work.
2) ditto quality time
3) Time for myself carried the most guilt of all. Not working, not with the family, but at the salon because appearances had to be kept up.
4) When you have the money, paying for help is easier than fighting over who is going to clean the bathroom on the too-short weekend.
5) Any unplugging was done only out of sheer exhaustion!

I'm a SAHM and the biggest thing I learned from a working mother (my bff) was to keep naptime for myself. I used to focus all my energy on my daughter during her waking hours and then catch up with housework and cooking and what-not during her sleeping hours - and naturally I was always feeling exhausted and burned out. Finally my friend said "why don't you have you-time during naptime?" and I was like "but you don't get any breaks, you just work work work and then come home and work work work some more and if you can do it then what's wrong with me that I can't?" and she said "I get a lunch hour, Sarah. And coffee breaks. And sometimes I take an afternoon off but spend the first two or three hours just hanging out alone somewhere."

Now naptime is momma-time and I'm a better mother for it. Less exhausted, more focused when Charlotte is awake, and just generally happier.

I think there are excellent mothers on both ends of the spectrum and all along the middle. I wish we could have more constructive conversations like this about what other parents have taught us and how we benefit as a society from the myriad of choices available to us. I think we would all be better parents for it.

I've been both a WOHM and a SAHM and the SAHM in me has learned from the WOHM in me that routine helps my kids. I'm not routine-inclined by nature but when I am WOH, that structures my day and it works well for my kids. So, now while in wearing my SAHM hat, I've tried to increase the routine around here. When it feels arbitrary and confining, I remind myself that I am getting to *choose* these routines, they are not imposed on me, and that the routines work for me, not the other way around.

I love how you have added to my insights on this topic over the recent years. I'm wondering however, if you and I don't have very similar situations, but see them differently. Don't we have the same job? Or has this discussion revealed something about being a self-employed blog publisher as well -- that there is a tremendous spectrum in that category. Anyhow, I think you are a total superstar to do all that you do with a traveling husband, double the number of kids, and half the amount of childcare. This conversation is not over!

I am a working mom and I can say that I do many of the things you talk about above. I also envy many of the things that a SAHM can do. But I think most importantly it needs to be said that there are many shades of grey under both titles. There is the SAHM who wants to work but cannot afford daycare. There is also the working mom who works because her family needs the income.
Every family's situation is different, like a fingerprint and sometimes I think people forget that not all working moms have extra time or extra money simply because they work. My house is a mess because I don't have time to clean it and I can't afford for someone else to clean it. I haven't been to a salon in YEARS because of the lack of time and money. I am a working mom not because I am trying to "further my career" or for "professional fulfillment", I work because both my huband's and my paycheck are needed to put food on the table and a roof over our heads and there is not a nickle or a minute to spare after that is done.
I give much praise to all moms everywhere no matter how they get it done at the end of the day. It's the hardest job to do right & I'll take advice wherever I can get it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am a working mom with a high profile busy job that but all my SAHM friends look down on me and think I am selfish and egotistical because I would rather work and get notoriety in my career than be at home with my children. I envy SAHM's! That would have been my ideal choice for us as a family however, I would not be able to provide for them in the ways I would like without working. I may spend less total time with my children but the time I do is important and special!

I really enjoyed reading your post and the responses. It is refreshing to read an article about SAHMs and WOHMs that is not "mommy wars" related.

I have to disagree with number 3. When work leaves you with little time to spend with your kid and you want to be there as much as you can with the time you do have - making time for yourself (and your relationship with your husband) gets sidelined. I struggle with doing stuff for me because it takes away from the precious hours I do have with my daughter. Don't get me wrong I still have date nights with my husband and outings with my girlfriends. But I feel the pang of guilt that these -totally necessary for my own sanity- outings are taking away from time with my daughter. I stayed at home my daughter for first 6 months and never felt guilty about doing something for myself because I was with her so much. On the positive flip side, I do feel that I highly value the time I do get with her and try to make it quality time since it's limited.

That first one is so important. When you are around your kids 24/7 it is so easy to forget that they are a gift and not just a constant source of need.

I am also working Mom. I make sure to spend 10 to 15 minutes talking to my kids. Ask their days on school and help them to their homework.
I believe they really need me at least for a short minute.

@Liz - clearly you haven't seen my house RE: organization. Most days it looks like a shoe and coat bomb exploded in my entry way.

I worked part-time in a low-stress job for seven years. It was the ideal situation for me when the kids were little, because it gave me an outward focus; something to work on that helped create space in my brain just for me.

In the year+ since I quit my job to focus on and manage the special needs of my hard-of-hearing child, it's been much more challenging to find the outward focus that creates space in my head for me. I bury myself in technology, and it's hard for me to pull away and turn it off. Such as right this second.

We all work really hard. I believe, though, that we need to work equally as hard on learning from each other. I value what my WOHM friends, my PTWOHM friends, my WAHM friend, & my SAHM friends have to share and offer to the conversation.

Thank you for this - helpful to others, and a reminder to me to remember what I learned from the years I worked outside the home.

What a great post!!! I'm a WAHM with a great job that allows me to work from home on occasion (I get to go on class trips!).

The part of your post that jumped out at me the most was the asking for help. I don't have a maid or a cook or any of that, but I do ask for help a lot. My MIL loves taking the kids for sleepovers (my DH was an only child and I have two girls - she's THRILLED to have them with her) and we don't hesitate to ask her to take them (and sometimes it ends up being every second weekend!!!). Other friends of ours are also lined up to spend time with our kids when we want/need them too - aparently we've raised "great kids" :) I'm of the mindset that a community raises a child and I believe that socializing my children is a good thing. I believe it's a BONUS that my hubby and I can schedule a couples massage at our house while they're at Grandmas.

I believe in my choices and recognize that everyone is different and you know what, I never, ever feel an ounce of parenting guilt :) That's what I ultimately wish for all parents. Do what you've gotta do, do the best for your children (which often includes doing what's best for you so you can be your best for them) and BE HAPPY - not guilty!

Just one more point - As Karen noted, I think the most guilt and harried and not being able to do any of my jobs well was when I had little kids (5 and under) at home. The pure physical demands were insane. It's a whole different level of crazy when you're still trying to keep people from eating buttons and licking outlets and every need needs someone to be there. When I was the one with them, I felt crazed. When someone else was watching them, I felt crazed.

I will say that it does get better, easier, both as a SAHM and a WOHM when kids can do more for themselves - toileting, dressing, feeding, not trying to lick outlets. Of course, then they get to middle school or start dating or want to drive cars, and it gets nuts again. ;-)

Weeellllll...I've been a WOHM, SAHM and a WAHM. There are definite advantages/disadvantages, pluses/minuses and enough guilt to go around. When a WOHM, no matter how much rah-rah I'd give myself, the guilt I felt about not being available for my kids when then needed me - unless it happened to coincide with my schedule - was sometimes overwhelming. And I saw this a lot from the other moms I worked with. I see it with the dads, too.

As far as spending time with kids, as a SAHM I feel much more available to volunteer in school and with their activities and feel eternally grateful to the SAHMs who volunteered to keep activities - and even schools - running while I was the one at work. It's a huge job and vastly undervalued. And just driving my 13yo to skating every morning and then to school and being able to have conversations with her in the private of the car every single day, I can see what we'd be missing if one of the parents weren't available for this - not something easily done for the parents I know with full-day work schedules and whose kids are involved in the same activities as my kids. And, somewhat ironically, for all the talk I did about needing to be at home while the kids were little and then going to work when they were finally in school, I'm finding that as my kids hit teendom, my being available and around has become even more important - or maybe, just as. Bigger kids have bigger problems and quality time becomes moot if there isn't quantity time.

All in all, I take time for myself, I turn off, I ask for help. As far as the women I know who both work or don't work out of the home, I couldn't tell you from the continual glances at cell phones or electronic gadgetry who are the SAHMs and who are the WOHMs. Everyone seems to have a little screen in their face, even when with their kids. It's something we could all put down more often.

The tough trade-off for us was not having double income, but now I work part-time in the evenings and weekends, and it fills in some of the blanks. It's actually the perfect solution with the best of both worlds: always a parent at home or available to volunteer and be present when needed, both parents out in the "real world", extra income coming in. I know that there is such a pressure to be not Just Mommy, but Mommy, Plus. But again, there are pros and cons to both.

So don't be hard on yourself. I heartily believe that parenting needs balance, but that it's still *the most important job*. Don't measure yourself against other job descriptions. It's not fair to you or to your kids. You are awesome.

As a working mom, can I just say how nice it is to see a positive post about us "selfish" moms, one that acknowledges we might, possibly, think of our kids a smidge too? (I really mean that too, I'm smiling here thinking how nice this whole post is.).

I think in general, we could all learn something from other moms/parents. I learn from SAHMs, WAHMs, SAHDs,and (don't tell my mom) even grandparents. In fact, the more I parent, the more I realize that most parents I come across probably has something to teach me, however small.

In my world, and the world around me that I see--the true SAHM has gone the way of the dodo. Thanks, crappy economy! The reality is that very few families can afford a SAHM, or a SAHD, and so we work, part-time, sometimes from home, sometimes not, and try to piece together a homemaker existence as well. Likewise, I know full-time working out of the house parents who use technology and flex schedules to be home more with their kids. The bottom line is that these days, I see the categories of "stay at home" or "working parent" as less relevant. More of us are inhabiting a grey, amorphous area in the middle. And sitting there, we can all see more easily what we have in common. Which is a good thing.

I've been at this SAHM thing for just over 3 years and the guilt is still absurd. I spend 5 days a week with 1 small, clingy, mommy-obsessed 15 month old and (not as much) but TONS of time with one CRAZY 3 year old. "hold me" and "wipe my butt" and "up up up" and feed me, clean me, clothe me, drive me, wipe my butt again - ALL DAY LONG. And I still feel guilty on the weekends when I have time I can do things on my own - like go for a run or get my hair done or get my nails done. So I don't do it (or at least not every time I want to). I mean, why should I feel guilty towards my husband when I take time for myself when he gets away EVERY DAY??? It makes no sense.

I've been swishing this whole thing around in my head. Sometimes I think it's the idealized vision of the SAHM that I have in my head that fuels me. I imagine what you are offering your kids while I am gritting my teeth through a lecture on why I should do what I do for free.

I wish, and I think this post is a brilliant start, we could all start understanding that we have so much to learn from one another. There is beauty, hideousness and ungroomedness in each scenario ;)

And hell yes to what Liz said, and she didn't even mention the marathoning and having a passionate relationship with your husband that provide a template of loving and health to your beautiful littles.

I wrote about this same topic today, only from the other side of the fence - being a Working Out of the Home Mom and having a sick child - and the guilt and the balance and the...yuck.
http://www.sarahviz.com/2012/02/guilt-of-being-working-out-of-home-mom.html

I took a cue from you, actually. You wrote about turning off the blackberry (or whatever), etc and really paying attention to your kids. So, I've been much better about being off of the computer when my daughter is awake. Which means I don't read as many blogs, facebook posts, etc. Which is actually really nice. I'm not as mean to myself when I'm not being constantly compared to other mothers. My daughter still has some time that she has to pull me away from the computer and she's still fascinated by the keyboard and the iphone which is my fault for letting them look more important than her. but we're getting there.

This is my mission for this year- I've been getting up at 5 to work until 7 when the kids are up. I'm on with them until school. I work during naps and while they are in school and then I'm back on with them. I may need to check something breifly in the evening but then I have to be done. Otherwise I am all over the place.

I've quit working weekends too. It's made a world of difference. I can't live by this every day but a month in and I'm loving it and they are too.

Of course this week- my husband is on travel, the kids are sick and have school off randomly and my Mom is here and I'm a freakin' mess.

As a mom in the middle of those two terms, I agree with this whole-heartedly! I think it lends great insight when the two can learn from each other and not rely on stereotypes or judgments. Especially if they haven't been there!

Fabulous post! My best friend sent it to me to read. We are both those amorphous WAHM/SAHMs who wear too many hats on any given day. I work freelance from my home, and it's hard for me to turn off technology - if it's turned off, I'm not getting paid!

Spot on. Excellent post. I have been both, and I wish I had kept more of my WOHM self when I became a SAHM.

Wow I love this post. Thank you. I could be better at turning off...but I am definitely good with the bedtime stories, the coloring marathons, and the me-time.

I know this sounds frivolous, but the SAHMs teach me organization. They all seem to have these great Montessori-esque kids' rooms with books sorted by subject, and hooks at child's height so they can hang things themselves. I used to be a little snarky about it, but now I'm trying to make time to do those things too. Because it's awesome.

Also? Because it needs to be said: You run a business. You homeschool 4 kids who are smart, kind, polite, creative, and great fun. You are a role model to us all, wherever we may or may not work.

First of all, I just found your site and have signed up for RSS and have been looking at your (incredible) archive.

Thank you for this post. I am a working mom out of necessity. My family needs me to work as I am the breadwinner and carry the insurance. I would say I follow your points 1, 2, and 5 to a tee, but not 3 and 4. We don't have much disposible income right now, since my husband isn't earning much - hopefully that will change soon, and I can either cut back at work, or at least hire someone to help with cleaning. Point 3 is really hard for me. I feel like I don't spend enough time at work OR enough time with my daugther. So how can I justify taking any time for me? I am either parenting, in traffic, or at the office (or exhausted and collapsed in front of the tv). When can I go to the doctor, when I have to save all of my sick days for my daugther's potential doctor visits? When can I get my haircut when I wait all week to have two full precious days with her?

From my side of the looking glass, it seems like #3 would be easier for the SAHM, only because I would not mind leaving her for an hour in the care of my husband, if I knew I had the remaining 11 waking hours with her, and of course the rest of the week.

I still think working part-time is the best solution. Here's to hoping I can someday acheive that.

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