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My Mom Juggle

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

The single hardest part of parenting for me has been balancing my career with my responsibilities as a mom. And it’s definitely the thing I’m most nervous about with having a second child—having enough time to juggle everything. Can I have the career I want AND be the mom I want—and still be a good wife—without sacrificing all of my sanity? Though I’ve been doing it for three years, I’d hardly say I’ve been doing it with ease. You find your groove, and it becomes manageable, but it’s hard to imagine how it’s going to work with two kids. I wonder if all the hard work I’ve already put in is going to help me navigate this again when baby no. 2 comes? Or should I expect the same hurdles?

The difference this time is, my husband isn’t self-employed anymore—he started a new career a few months ago, and doesn’t have the flexibility he once had. I’m convinced that’s how me managed with me being a full-time working mom the first time—he had total control over his schedule and was able to be home 1-2 days a week with Preston the first few years (we had a nanny the other days).

One of us having that flexibility made all the difference. And somehow it made going back to work easier for me, knowing my husband was going to be home a little during the week. It’s the next best thing to me being home.

That first year was really difficult though—so much happens, they change so quickly—it was hard reconciling all that time I was missing with Preston. I chronicled most of it over at The Parenting Post—one of the memories that sticks out is when our then-nanny put Preston on a swing at the park for the first time, while I was at work (yes, I cried).

BUT—and here’s the rub—I don't want to be a stay-at-home mom, not that that’s even an option for me right now. I think that’s the misconception about working moms—whether we work because we want to, or because we have to—it’s very tough on us emotionally. Even if it’s a choice, it’s still a tough choice—and one we waver on from time to time (at least I do). The mom guilt is always there—especially those first two years. Working part-time seems like the ideal scenario, if your career/job/financial situation allows for it. At the moment, mine doesn’t.

I have to say, though, at some point it got a lot easier. I think around the time Preston turned three, and started going to school full time—five days a week, from 9-5—ironically, my guilt lifted. We had a different nanny by then, part time, who he never really took to—leaving him home with her always left a pit in my stomach. She was great and I trusted her, but he wasn’t happy when I was leaving the house, and it killed me. When we transitioned him into school full time, his mood changed immediately—he loves his friends and teachers, he's getting a preschool education, and comes home a happy, exhausted kid. What more could we want?

It’s getting over those earlier humps with the second baby that I’m nervous about, because we’ll be starting over with a new nanny, and navigating everything that comes with that. I don’t want to go into too much detail but I’ve written a little about the stuff we went through with our first nanny, whom Preston was very close with…she’s no longer in our lives.

As a full-time, “office mom” you hope to find someone amazing you can trust with your kids—but I’m not all that comfortable creating that dependency again. Preston’s school and my office are in the same neighborhood, just blocks from our house, so I'm able to spend the mornings with him and take him to school every day, and either my husband or I pick him up. I love not depending on someone else to do my job.

I’ve thought about putting the new baby in daycare instead of getting a nanny this time, but for a variety of reasons it makes more sense for us to hire a full-time nanny (the cost of infant daycare is about the same here). If all goes well, a nanny should make our lives a lot easier, especially with both of us working full time now. It’s just a matter of finding the right person.

Perhaps knowing the first two years are going to be hard, but already knowing when the light at the end of the tunnel comes, will help me get through it. The thing I know I have to work on is scheduling more “me time” and, just as important, “us time” for my husband and me. Those were the first things to go when we had Preston.

Whether you work full time, part time or not at all, what’s your mom juggle like with your kids? (ie What’s your day like?) How did it change when the second baby came? Tell me in the comments.