Going back to work full-time after having kids? Let’s chat.
If you are struggling with the idea of "should I stay home" or "should I go back to work" with your kids - this post is for you. I made the jump from corporate America to freelancing to be home with my babies. I stayed home for 4 years, but have jumped back into the corporate game. I have no answer as to if this is the right or wrong thing for you to do. What I can provide is a little insight into changes that we've experienced. Here's my story, comment below and tell me your's.
I had just had our fourth child, 4 years ago. I had been at the company for over 10 years and I was just DONE. I needed a break, not to have to travel and a chance to reconnect with my family. 6 weeks maternity leave and 6 weeks working part-time – that was not enough to manage 2 kids under 2 and then a 6 and 8-year-old. So, I quit my job – and went to work for myself freelancing.
It was a wonderful 4 years, but something was stirring in me to return full-time to the work force and as life would have it - I was approached with a job opportunity that I couldn't say no to. And just like that, my littles were in child care and I was back to the grind.
5 Ways Life Has Changed Since Going Back to Work Full-time After Kids
In the last year since returning to working outside of the home, a lot has changed. Some good, some bad - let's talk about the 5 biggest changes that we've experienced.
1. Family Dinners
My husband and I both made a pact that if we were both going to be working full-time, we would do everything possible to have dinner around the kitchen table at least 3 times during the week, no phones - just conversation and our meal.
This has been essential in hearing from each of our children the highs and lows of their day. It's our time to connect as a family and to exhale after a busy day.
While we did this often when I wasn't working full-time - we didn't prioritize it. I will also say though, the meals were healthier. Working leaves me minimal time for cooking. We try our best to cook ahead, but it never fails that pizza is called in or we declare it TACO TUESDAY and pick up tacos at a drive-thru.
2. Early Mornings
To get 4 kids dressed, fed and out the door - plus have time for my husband and I to get dressed means early mornings for both of us. We have a school-year routine, and are anxiously waiting for summer to arrive to that we can sleep in a wee bit longer and not fear that we've slept in missing the bus (confession, our kids have the nicest bus driver who kindly honks and waits for our often late kids.)
Our dogs now have to wait until the evenings for walks and breakfasts we serve, are something that Pinterest isn't made of. But the kids are loved, fed, clothed, sheltered and educated!
3. Consistent Paycheck
The freelance life is hard folks. Some months are AWESOME. Other months, not so much. And if you are a creative-type like myself, invoicing, collecting money, yadda yadda - it's not all fun and games.
Getting a notification every other week that my paycheck has depositied without we having to turn in a form or invoice, is the best.
4. Me Time
As a work-at-home mom, I had 24/7 with my kids. My husband has always been my partner in parenting - but when he is working 9-10 hours a day, and I way home with the kids - wiping noses and butts - I had zero me time. The occasional GNO doesn't fill the void. I found myself wandering the aisles of Target alone late at night (shout out to Targets who stay open until MIDNIGHT!) - just to get some time by myself.
Now my me time is 30 minutes into the office. I can listen to NPR or my favorite podcasts while driving without screaming children needing to pee or fighting over a blanket or stuffed animal.
Life is constant. It is always in motion now that both the husband and I work. We are constantly in a state of coordination. Who picks up the kid who needs to stay after school for tutoring? The school nurse calls saying a kid threw up, who leaves work? One of us has to go out of town for work and another has an all-day business meeting and our kids' school is closed for in-service - how do we work that out? What are we doing with the littles this summer when school is out? Are we red-shirting our youngest or are we putting him in kindergarten next year? These are all scenarios we have had to create solutions for in the last 2 weeks, because both of us work. It's a CONSTANT state of constant.
What We've Learned in the Last Year of Parenting While Working
With the ups and downs of working outside of the home, there is one thing that we've learned. Intentional parenting - we have to be intentional with everything we do. This means saying NO often in order to keep sanity for our family. We prioritize our kids and our marriage (this is easier to type than it is in reality.)