Finding a career/parenting balance

My entire life, I just kind of thought I’d stop working when I had kids. That’s what my mom did, and it seemed right. And I’ve always wanted to eventually devote myself to being a mom.

But then I ended up being blessed with not just a job, but a career at a major newspaper, and suddenly the future looks too promising to stop working at age 25.

Right from the start of my working life I had doubts that I’d want to end it by the time I wanted to have kids. I think that’s the difference between a job and a career. This isn’t something I just do to earn a living. When I think about the future, I want it to be a part of my life. And it’s not just what I do that I’m attached to. It’s the newspaper itself. It’s being a part of something that affects the daily lives of so many people. Beyond that, we’re at a critical time in the history of media. The things I (and my co-workers) do at work are paving the path for the future success (or demise, I suppose) of the newspaper industry. It’s actually thrilling.

Peter is a little more practical on the matter of staying home vs. working. His mom stayed home to raise four boys until the youngest (Peter) was in school. He thinks that’s great. But he also thinks earning (and saving) as much money as we can is important to our future and our kids’ future. I definitely agree, but if I hated my job, I’d probably rather make whatever cuts were necessary to our lifestyle in order to live on one income and stay home full time.

So I guess in my mind, I’m supposing money + fulfilling career = worth the difficulty of balancing motherhood and work, whereas money alone = not worth it unless absolutely necessary.

Don’t get me wrong, I still am a bit torn about this. Deep down, I still want to stay home and enjoy every moment of my kids’ development. But I also want to be able to devote myself to my career. I know it’s not possible to do both when you have young kids. I’ll be sacrificing in both arenas (and probably others too, like social life and personal sanity) to pursue motherhood and a career simultaneously.

So here’s how I’m going to attempt it, maternity leave-wise:

  • Nearly 4 months of pure staying home bliss, using 2011 vacation days, paid medical leave and unpaid FMLA leave. I want a long leave to focus as much as possible on Baby during this time.
  • Return to work part time. Work an average of 20 hours a week (alternating 2 days one week and 3 days the next) for 3 months, essentially using unpaid family leave to have half the hours.
  • Return to work full time. Maximize efficiency at work so I don’t end up working the long hours I have tended to work in the past.

The working part time part doesn’t really freak me out. I actually think that could be a nice balance for me to not get too burnt out at either parenting or work.

The working full time part does make me nervous. I found it tough to balance my work and life before Corban was in the picture, so I know this will be a huge challenge. This is why maximizing efficiency – in all areas – is going to be really important.

As for child care, right now the plan is to find a nanny to come to our house. Peter works from home, so this way he will be able to be around Corban but still get work done. The challenge will be finding someone good who is affordable. I’m open to recommendations if you know someone!

Stay tuned for that next big adventure…

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on finding a career/parenting balance. Is it possible to do when working full time?

5 thoughts on “Finding a career/parenting balance

  1. Laura says:

    Alison, I am loving your blog, and I’m right there with ya! Motherhood will always be a balancing act, no matter how much or little you work. I like your plan to transition back to work full-time. I did full-time after our first was born and now that we have two, I work part-time and it really is the best of both worlds. You guys will figure out what works best for your family, even if it is trial-and-error!


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