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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I consider myself mostly a SAHM although I have worked part-time since my dd was around 6 months old. I have been fortunate enough never to have had to pay for childcare, as the hours I work are either evenings, weekends or at home.

But. Dd is almost 2 1/2 now and I have recently stepped up my hours. I work 2 nights a week for about 5 hours each night (necessitating my Dh getting off work early to watch dd) and then 9 hours on Saturday and 9 hours on Sunday. Plus, I have to e-mail back and forth with my company and do prep work for my classes (I teach test-prep courses) on my "own" time.

Well, I feel very stressed! I am on my 4th week of this schedule and it does not seem to be working out very well. Weekends are shot - no family time, no time to work on things that need to be done around the house. Dh is beyond stressed due to having to do his job in fewer hours plus watch dd every weekend and 2 nights per week. And dd is the most stressed of all. She has no particular routine - 2 days of the week mama works all day, 2 days mama works a half day and daddy works a half day, and 3 days mama is with her all day. She goes to bed late on the nights I work (I get off at 9 - we have 1 car, so she and dh have to pick me up) and that has led to later bedtimes in general which is not the best for the mornings.

Anyway, I'm just looking for input from other (PT or FT) WOHMs, esp. those who work "opposite shifts" or a schedule where it's not the same every day, and how you are making it work for your family.

I'm stressed all the time, tired, my house is a mess and right now it just does not feel worth the extra money. Honestly I would rather be a FTSAHM but I don't mind teaching the odd test prep course or doing some freelance translation work, keeps my mind sharp for those things, my resume current and (oh yeah!) adds some nice $$ for our savings. However I would never have *planned* to work this many hours a week and now I can't back out of it until at least January, since I am scheduled to teach with this schedule until then and dropping my classes would basically mean quitting - it would be hard for them to find a local replacement and they'd be shy about hiring me for future classes.

ANY thoughts are welcome. But especially tips for making this work for dd...I feel totally, totally disorganized and we have been eating many meals out and our laundry is piled up all the time.

Thanks so much for reading!!
 

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WELCOME!!

Your schedule sounds very hard. I have had various schedules but they have mostly been within the 8-8 range. Is there any flexibility about when you do this work? Could you make it more regular? Is there any way to put some child care into the mix--maybe even to take away the stress of your dh having to come home early certain days? Not sure if it is financial pressure or not, but child care can be a really good thing when used properly.

In terms of the house, the lack of routine is also probably what has you functioning in a weird way. Can you make up a schedule for yourself noting when you will do which things within the framework of your schedule. I am a big creature of routine and don't do so well when the routines change, so I think if I had your schedule I'd have to create a sub-routine for getting things done.

I'm sure others will be along to help as well!
 

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I worked something like that when DD was between 8 and 12 months old. I taught one class two days a week and a lady watched DD between about 11 and 1, and then on two other days a week I taught an evening class (5:30) and DH picked her up on the way home. It was crazy. DD isn't/wasn't much of a routine kid though, so she was ok with the changing schedule. What was hardest for us was not having enough time to get everything done. About a month in I felt like I was going to go crazy, so we tried to renegotiate a few things and give ourselves a break on other issues, like making dinner every night. Reminding myself to breathe and just push through until the end of the semester was also helpful because I knew this wouldn't last forever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks to both of you for your perspectives.

The problem is that I have got to make some decisions about this...whereas from when dd was born to now I have really been coasting along very happy with my work situation, and have not had to think about making changes or the future, I now am in the position where this could become my work schedule - indefinitely - and so I feel I need to let my company know if I do not want to do this for the foreseeable future. I have not had to turn down such "good" work before and it is SO hard for me to do. Actually, today - after writing this post - I actually took on *another* job to tutor, because it is $50 an hour and I just have some kind of genetic inability to turn down that type of $$! I worked for very low wages for a long time so now that I make a nice amount per hour, it's like I can't say no.

And I need to say no, to some of this. Either the weekend classes have to go or the weekdays, after December (I'm booked until then).

Childcare is not a possibility b/c of the hours and the fact we have just 1 car. On M and W I leave my house w/ dd in the car at 3:30 and drive 20 minutes north to get DH at work, and then they drop me off 10 minutes north of his job at *my* job...then they go back home and come pick me up 5 hours later.
: I can't see how either a drop-off childcare situation or a sitter in my home could make that work. And on the weekends, DH is not working, he obviously wants to be the one to take care of dd, not a sitter. Plus, the $$ is nice, but it's a lot LESS nice once you take childcare expenses out of it. And I am so incredibly picky and paranoid that I'm not sure there are many childcare options out there I'd want to use, anyway. Sure do wish my mom lived closer!

In terms of the house, I need *major* help. DH and I split the chores but lately neither of us has time to do anything. Dishes pile in the sink - I hate that. Laundry piles up. Clutter piles form everywhere. I have pretty low standards but it's unacceptable even to me. I've tried to do FlyLady but I am just so freakin' tired that when I have downtime I spend it...right here on the computer, on my butt.


This would be quite a bit easier if we had 2 cars or I had some kind of alternate form of transportation to and from my classes, I admit. But if I took the bus it would take 2 hours each way, obviously not an option. (I don't think there is actually a bus stop anywhere near the hotel where I teach, anyway.) There's nothing else, besides a $$ taxi.

I think I just need to screw up my courage and tell my employer that as of Jan. 1 I cannot do either the weekend courses or the weekday courses. But my DH will not be encouraging of this (he thinks this is really all worth it for the $$), and the co. will not be happy either. I will totally be second-guessing myself.

The other thing is that this weekday class is a new class for me, and it's especially rough right now b/c I'm on the learning curve for teaching it. I know it *will* get easier the 2nd, 3rd, 4th times I teach the class. So I don't want to say "don't schedule me for this after December" when by that time I might have worked out a way to be happy with this schedule.

Sorry, just "thinking out loud". Thanks for helping me work through this. I have such ambivalent feelings about work! It kind of just hit me this week that I am actually a WOHM and that some of the problems I am having lately are more WOHM issues than SAH issues, since I still think of myself as primarily a SAHM.

(These categories are pretty blurry, though, aren't they?
)
 

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Random thoughts:

If I were in your shoes (locked into a less than ideal situation for several months) I'd start by hiring a cleaning lady.

Then you look at the work you have and the schedule and figure out what your off time is--and enforce it. Just don't even turn on the computer; or turn it off when the time comes to "clock out." (And yes! I know it's easier said than done!)

Create routines for your dd. Make sure you do something really fun with her every day.

Is it possible to give up one of the weekend days or is it an intensive 2-day thing?

And if your dh thinks the money is worth it, well, he should be in on the discussions of how to make it work. Have you two sat down and talked about it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, clarasmom!

I definitely agree about the cleaning lady. I tried hiring one last year and she was so awful that I have been reluctant to go through trying to find someone better...but I should.

I can't give up the weekend days. I teach 2 kinds of courses - full-length (which meet for 5 weeks at a time 3x per week) and weekend (2 days of instruction). The weekend classes are the hardest physically b/c I am up in front of a class on my feet for around 8 hours each day and by the end of day 2 I am sometimes nearly unable to walk. (I have tried using a chair but it is hard to jump up and down writing diagrams on the board, plus I don't think it's as professional to teach sitting down.) I guess this is what I get paid for!
But, I actually *prefer* the weekend courses b/c I know my shtick so well that it is easy, and fun. The weekday course is a new one for me (hence the increased hours) and although the classes are shorter, I have to think more!

DH is not very good at coming up with solutions since he doesn't really get how much we are all being negatively impacted. He *clearly* is, but he's the type of person who is stoic to a fault, so stoic he doesn't even know he's suffering.
So his response is - shrug, what's the big deal, it's working out fine. (huge eyeroll from me)

I think DD would be OK if I was less of a basket-case. I need to get this freaking house clean one way or the other b/c I am just instantly depressed to walk into it right now and it should be our sanctuary.

Thanks again for offering thoughts.

Oh, and, as far as enforcing no-computer time - HOW do you make yourself do that? Every day I say I am not going to spend DD's naptime on the computer and yet every. day. when it comes to naptime I'm so exhausted that my little pledge seems silly...and then again when she's asleep at night (usually late these days) I'm so utterly spent that I'm good for nothing else, so I get on the computer again. I really feel like it is a sort of escapist addiction, not healthy, but I"m getting something from it (like the info and support I get from message boards) so I can't seem to pull myself away. NO computer is not an option b/c I get e-mails from students and people who work for my company every day, and I need to e-mail them back in a timely manner. But somehow I cannot just check e-mail and turn the computer off. Oh no.
 

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We have a strange schedule, too. Luckily my kids seem pretty good about going along with whatever we have. First, and it may sound silly, eating together is a HUGE priority for us. Though my son doesn't mind the weird schedule, he does need a bit of structure (moreso than I do). We make sitting down and eating together a big deal, even if we're eating convenience foods that day.

Second, I've had to get childcare for a least a few hours. Getting someone to clean also was an option, but we opted for the childcare instead. I fought the whole idea for a while because I didn't want them with someone else and then because I felt that I was negating my earnings by hiring someone to be with them. I do discover, however, that I'm a MUCH calmer mommy when I've had uninterrupted work time and that I end up spending much more quality time with them. I'm also a more productive worker.

I also think it's important to re-evaluate with your husband. Mine's like yours. What's the big deal that the counter's covered with dishes? He's like that until the house is unbearable for him (long after it's unbearable for me). So, when we both worked FT, we shared domestic tasks. When I started working from home, he slowly stopped doing things. Now that I have about 25 hours a week in regular writing contracts, I had to sit down and hit him over the head about figuring out how to get everything done again. One huge step we're taking is that I've taken time (and ignored everything else) and re-organized. We've tossed tons of stuff (and I honestly didn't think we had that much extra junk), and I really organized everything else into baskets and bins with labels on them (so he has no excuse...). I've only done about 1/3 of the house so far, should be done in another 10 days or so. It has made a TREMENDOUS difference. I did the kitchen and bathroom first, and I've been amazed by how much better everything's flowly. Cleaning up is taking about 1/2 the time in those rooms, which is a huge relief.

I haven't solved the weekend-time dilemma myself yet. Sometimes I think, "I'll work on the weekends." Then Saturday comes, and I have to work, and then I feel horrible about it. Things get worse when DH is on deadline and has to work more hours as well. I keep telling myself we're doing the best for our children by maximizing the time they're with us and setting a good example of creative work arrangements, but some days, that doesn't help.
 

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What I do re the computer is on days when I feel I'm getting obsessive about it--I turn on the computer to check email or whatever, respond to what's there and then turn it OFF. The big problem with email, IMO, is that it's created a culture of expecting instant return.

I totally get where you're coming from on thinking you'll be productive during naptime and then just not doing it--staying online or playing a computer game or something. Because I'm the same way. And the same thing happens with me in the evening, more often than I'd like. But I have a list of projects and things to do--some fun and for me (like making an advent garland from a HearthSong kit) and some house stuff--so on days I'm trying to make "computer free" I try to look at that list before going for the on button.
 

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Hi Nora's mama,

I read the entire thread and really feel for you. In the almost 7 years I've been a parent I have worked opposite FT shifts w/ dh (w/ 1 day childcare), worked the same FT schedule as dh w/ FT childcare and I'm currently a SAHM. They all have pros and cons.

I agree with the previous poster about the cleaning lady, that is the #1 thing I miss about working full-time. I had to immediately give up the cleaning lady, the thing to remember about a cleaning lady is that they really only clean (at least the ones I've found). The entire house needs to be picked up before they come, which was often difficult to achieve while working FT.

I think the only person who really knows what is best is you. Each decision has so many pros and cons and it always helps me to make a list of all the pros and cons and talk through it w/ dh. Sometimes decisions that weren't so clear become clearer as you talk it through. I know you said DH is stoic, mine is not so I can't relate.

Money has never made anyone happy, but not having enough money to make ends meat can make you very unhappy. You should do quicken or money (on the computer while napping
), it will give you a very good idea where the money is going or where you can cut expenses if you decide to work less. For me extra work outside the home is worth not accumulating more debt. Get a good understanding of your financial situation, I could not afford to be a SAHM when my kids were younger.

about sitting at the computer at naptime.... I'm doing that now
. Hard to resist and that is my downfall as well. I make rules for myself and then immediately break them.

As a SAHM I find the chores fall on my shoulders almost entirely. DH was always good about doing his share while I was working. I sit at home and sort of lack purpose. I'm sure many SAHM's will not understand my feelings here. I am personally in search of the perfect job that allows the flexibility I need in my life and some extra $$$ too.

The bottom line is that you have a very tough decision, I think life w/ kids is difficult no matter what your work situation is. I think it really gets easier as they get a little older.

About having one car, when we didn't have much money we picked up a great running car for $500. Now that was 10 years ago, but good used cars should still be out there for cheap. We drove it for 3 years without many major repairs. I know the insurance costs are sometimes an issue too, but at least you only need to carry comprehensive insurance on a beater like that.

Good luck and best wishes in your decisions.
 
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