A few weeks ago Amanda posted a two part interview about working and motherhood on her blog. She and her friend Laura answered the same set of questions about what it’s like to be an employed Mom and a stay-at-home Mom. You can read part one here and part two here. I enjoyed the post immensely and found that there were things I related to both of them about. So when Betsy reached out to me to see if I wanted to pair up and answer the same questions, I was all for it.
Betsy and I have known each other via the internet for years now. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband Jon and son Robbie, who is two months younger than Ben. Ironically, despite (from what I can tell) sharing absolutely none of the same heritage, I have always thought that Ben and Robbie looked a bit alike. Although it could just be those full heads of floppy brown hair!
Betsy works full-time as the Director of Development at a music education non-profit in DC. I’m always stunned and impressed that she works outside of the home, picks up her son, and then generally makes a dinner I would deem wildly impressive (watching her chop onions in time-lapse on her stories is weirdly soothing to me). She has inspired me to get better about meal planning (you can find her first post in her series on meal planning here) and I know our family budget and health is better for it. I respect her for how true she is to her values and how she incorporates her faith and culture into her family life in such a beautiful way.
Below I’ve answered the interview questions. Check out Betsy’s answers to the same questions on her blog here.
Let’s get started…
Describe yourself, your family, your past/current work situation.
I’m Nadine and I’ve been writing my blog Nadine Rebecca for eight years now. I live in Philadelphia with my husband Naveed, two-year-old Bennett, three-month-old Colette, and our seven year-old golden retriever, Archie.
I graduated from college with a degree in Communication. Post college I worked a corporate job but left to work for a childhood cancer foundation. After that, I worked in a children’s hospital and then an adult hospital where I worked directly with breast and gynecological cancer patients as a non-clinical member of the care team.
After I had my son Ben prematurely, I began working for a small business using the skills I learned through blogging – SEO, content creation, social media management, and web development. It was a bit of a pivot from healthcare but I love it and it gave me the flexibility to be home with my son all day.
Currently I’m at the end of my maternity leave but I’ve been ramping up my hours and worked here and there throughout my maternity leave (that’s the nature of a small business). In April I return to work and will be working 20-30 hours a week from home.
Before my 2nd child was born I worked from 5-7am and then during nap time but now that we have two, we’ll be adding some sort of childcare at least two days a week. Working while one or both of them is awake is just not doable. I still plan to work 5-7am and during nap times when the kids’ naps overlap.
What’s something positive about your current situation that you didn’t expect?
Well this is a little shallow but after years of “business casual,” I have really loved finding my own sense of style and getting to wear whatever I want to wear every day. I really couldn’t justify the cost of having many casual clothes before but now I get so much wear out of my favorite jeans, tees, and sweaters. It’s been really fun to finally feel like I dress like “me” and to only buy things because I really love them, not just because I need them for work.
I think most of the positives in terms of parenting are the ones I did expect – I don’t feel like I’m missing anything with my kids, they get to be together all day (something I didn’t realize until recently – they’d be separated at daycare), and I’m able to be directly responsible for most of what they learn and experience.
What’s something challenging about your current situation that you didn’t expect?
I didn’t realize how physically challenging and exhausting it would be to be with the kids all day. Living in the city is a very active form of parenting. Our house is too small to stay home and have my son have enough activity to take a good nap. Generally we are doing a “big” activity in the morning to get all that toddler energy out (we don’t have a yard either). The activities usually involve a significant walk with the stroller or a short drive to a museum, the zoo, or the aquarium. It’s a lot of baby wearing, dragging strollers down stairs, navigating bumpy sidewalks, and pushing 75lbs of stroller + kids all over Philly. I’m an active person and feel like I’m in decent shape but some nights my back and wrists (from keeping the stroller on a slanted sidewalk) hurt.
Nap times usually are when I get work done and I’ve found that the bigger and more energetic my toddler got, the more I needed those times to physically rest from the morning. This was especially true when I was pregnant. On the rare occasion that Ben skips his nap, I’m really not in a great place mentally by dinner time.
How can others make you feel seen/encouraged?
I think acknowledging that I do still work. I think a lot of people assume that because I’m home, I’m a stay-at-home Mom. That’s hard work too! But that’s not what I do.
Before my kids wake up, I work. During nap time, I work. It makes it hard to rest or recharge. I think acknowledging that even though I’m technically home all day, that I need a break just as much as someone who works outside of the home. Some days I’d kill for a legitimate 15 minute break or a 30 minute lunch. Sometimes I’m jealous that my husband gets to sit on the train by himself for 40 minutes each way to work every day. Sometimes I’m jealous that he’s sitting alone at a desk and isn’t interrupted. He always tells me that I have the harder job and that reassures me that I’m not just being a wimp about this whole parenting thing.
How do you find/maintain friendships?
One nice thing about my situation is the flexibility. I meet my best friend for coffee or lunch at least one day a week near her work. I talk to my other best friend on the phone every morning during her commute to work. It’s been pretty easy to maintain my existing friendships because I can work around their schedules.
Having kids actually helped me make new friends because it was a reason to actively engage with other women my age (something I struggled with having an excuse to do before). I made friends at a new Mom group after Ben was born, at the playground in my neighborhood, from classes Ben has taken, and in Fit4Mom classes.
The challenge in the city is that several of these women have since moved to the suburbs (something we’re actually planning to do soon) or went back to work full-time so there are a lot of relationships in these first few years of parenthood that have been very hot and cold.
The good thing is that many of us don’t see each other except by accident (running into each other at the playground) but it seems like even if four months has passed, we’re all on the same page that life just happened and we just pick up where we left off. It’s also pretty much the same people at the playground all the time so generally if I need some human interaction, I’ll know someone at the playground.
Come back for part two tomorrow morning where we answer these questions:
- What is the hardest time of the day for you? What is your favorite time of day?
- How do you prioritize time with your kids?
- When do you get things done as far as household chores, meal planning, grocery shopping?
- What are 1-2 practical tips you’ve found helpful in your day to day? (go-to recipes, toddler activities, social media accounts to follow, etc)
- What’s one thing you’ve learned about working-from-home/being employed from being friends with the other person?