Archive for January, 2011

The 5:00 Shuffle

Posted on: January 19th, 2011 by Cori

Having worked in some form or fashion for many years, I’ve definitely learned a lot about my “work cycles” meaning when during the day I am most productive, and when I am absolutely not! Mornings are great (thank you coffee!), but after I break for lunch it’s a struggle to get back in the groove. Then 4:00 rolls around and I get another boost of energy and could happily work for hours. Too bad then, that my sitter leaves at 5:30 and I am back on mommy duty. Sara dines around 6:00 and of course does not want to spend her first 1/2 hour back with me playing alone while I make her something to eat, which means I try to have her dinner prepped, if not prepared, by the time she returns to my care.

This leads to what I call the 5:00 shuffle. Each day around 5:00 I pack up my laptop and appropriate files and relocate from my home office to the kitchen. If I’m lucky, I’ll already know what Sara will be feasting on that evening, and the prep will be mindless. But inevitably, this will also be the exact time of day I am trying to finish something for a client, or have an email conversation with someone that needs to continue while I cook, or my creative juices will finally be flowing and I won’t want to shut them down.

So there I’ll be, standing at the counter, laptop open next to some raw meat or head of broccoli as I try frantically to be MOM and PROFESSIONAL at the same time. It makes for a very harried half hour, met with a hard break when Sara returns from the park or a play date.

If I worked in an office, my end of day routine would be different. Dinner prep would still need to be done of course, though perhaps I’d be organized enough to do it the night before. But from the time I left the office until the time I walked in the door, whether that was 5 minutes or 50, I’d have the time to transition from one hat to the other, leaving “the job” on one side of the commute, and becoming “mom” by the time I walked in the door. Perhaps amid the subway jostling I’d have a few minutes to decompress and mentally make the shift.

Not that moms who work in offices aren’t always “mom,” but work from home moms almost always wear both hats at once. And while we do delineate as much as possible work time from home time, there is a blurring that does not exist in quite the same way for our office counterparts. And one of the downsides to this arrangement is no transition time. For me, it means I go careening from my work day into Sara’s dinner, play time, then bed and bath routine. When she is down, dinner gets made for Gary and I, and by the time we’re finished and cleaned up I am exhausted. Would I still feel so wiped by these few hours if I had a chance to switch gears?  Or is this just the way it is when you’re the mom of a young child? Do you feel that not having any delineation between the end of your work day and the beginning of your mom evening makes a difference? Have you found routines that help you decompress and make the transition?

To Play Date or not to Play Date

Posted on: January 10th, 2011 by Cori

One of the things I’ve loved most about working from home, is that not only do I get to spend time with Sara, but I also get to spend time with her friends. She has her little posse she hangs with most days, and they are all so much fun.  All of their moms work outside the house, so it’s the sitters – Sara’s included – who make the plans and see other either at the park or at someone’s house, depending on the weather. At least once a week they are at our house, spending the morning and having lunch, so after putting in a few hours on the computer, I take my break to feed them and catch up on what is happening in the world of these toddlers! I’ve gotten to know all of their parents and several times a year everyone is together (birthday parties, holiday parties etc). Luckily, I’ve also connected with a couple of the moms on a more personal level, and we’ve developed friendships that go beyond just having kids who are friends.

Now that she is in preschool, Sara’s social circle is widening.  This is great, but also brings up a tricky issue for a work from home mom. Not surprisingly, some of the kids in school (and in various other activities Sara engages in) have stay at home parents. When they want to make play dates, it’s almost always during the week, since they are looking for things to do with their child, and weekends are more about family time.

So the question for me is  – to play date or not to play date? Do I put myself in the “working mom” bucket and only make dates on the weekends or have Sara’s sitter take her? This could work, but deprives me of the chance to get to know some of the moms better.  Because let’s be real, at this age the play dates are as much about the parents having the social interaction as the kids.

Or do I allow myself to make dates during the week? If so, does my sitter just sit at home while we are off playing? And does taking a couple of hours out of my day for a play date hurt my professional self? How can I take advantage of my arrangement and enjoy perks like play dates, without feeling guilty or like this means I don’t take my career seriously?

I WANT to do both – be the mom at play dates AND the mom with some semblance of a career. And I know I am lucky to be in this quandary – but that doesn’t make maneuvering through it any easier. Anyone else struggle with this and have any suggestions?