Working Mom: Part-time

Posted by  | Wednesday, March 31, 2010  at 12:11 PM  
Hi, my name is Sara and I have an 11 month old son, Ethan. He was our first child, and we plan to have #2 in the next year or two. I'm happy to contribute to the Working Moms week here at Prayer of Hannah!

Our situation:
I grew up with a working mom (full-time), and I always knew that I would do the same. I've known since I was a teenager that I wanted to teach special education students and never changed my mind. To this day, I've never desired to be a stay-at-home mom but there was a significant change in my mindset once I got pregnant.

At some point during my pregnancy, the idea of working part-time popped into my head. I run the finances in our family, so logically speaking I just never thought we could afford it. I didn't even mention it to my husband for a while because I knew it was impossible. My husband is a state employee, after all, not a CEO! :) I started crunching numbers though, and thinking of different scenarios where we could make it work. I felt like we could make it month by month with a little pinching here and there, but I was mostly concerned about paying our mortgage in the summer of 2010. (I get 10 paychecks a year, no paycheck in the summer). This was a HUGE problem obviously, but I prayed about it and felt like the Lord was telling me to trust him. I've never done anything without a concrete plan. Taking this risk was a big deal. My husband was 100% supportive, I resigned from my full-time position, and right after giving birth in May 2009, I was in search of a part-time job to start in August with the 09/10 school year.

I went for an interview when Ethan was 6 weeks old. The principal told me she'd get back to me in two weeks (yikes... I needed a job nailed down!), but ended up calling me 3 hours later and offering me the job!! This was major confirmation that we had made a good decision. The school year started and very quickly we realized the Lord was filling in ALL the gaps in our budget... more on that later.

We are amazingly blessed that my mom lives nearby and can keep Ethan while I'm at work. Obviously, I trust her more than anyone in the world, and I think going back to work would have been a little harder if he were going to daycare. When my maternity leave was over and I headed back to work, it was such an easy transition because I didn't have to worry about him one bit. My paycheck allows us the opportunity to pay my mom for keeping him, so that is really nice!

As far as logistics go, this is how our weekdays work: My mom drops my baby sister off at high school near my house then comes over here. I go to work and am gone for about 5 hours (4 hour work day plus travel time). I get home in time to eat lunch and spend the rest of the day with Ethan. The schedule is a DREAM come true.

How we make it work:
- I feel like I get the best of both worlds... the working world and the stay-at-home mom world. I never get exhausted at work, never over-worked, never stressed about work. Part of this is because I'm only there for 4 hours a day, and part of it is because I'm really good at filing away "work stuff" in my brain once I walk out the door and never think about it again until I walk into work the next morning. This is really important. I NEVER do work at home, I never mix work into my home life. Work is a separate world. And on top of that, I never get exasperated with Ethan. I don't feel guilty one bit that I enjoy a couple hours away from him so that when I'm come home from work I have a fresh attitude, and an excitement to hang out with him. We have a blast together!

- A little bit more on the logistics of our day: Luckily Ethan has always been an easy schedule baby, so that makes things easier. I get up 45 minutes before him, shower, get completely dressed, make up, hair, everything. He wakes up, I feed him, I play with him while I eat my own breakfast, and we kind of just cuddle and play until my mom gets here and I leave for work. (This time of the day is precious to me). When I get home from work, I eat lunch, and we play for just a little while. Then he goes down for his afternoon nap and I get some "me" time. (I run a small photography business on the side as well as manage the website and print materials for a charity event, so that's what I usually work on during nap). We run our errands when he gets up from nap. We take some cheerios and a sippy cup with us so we can multi-task errands with afternoon snack! He's an on-the-go baby and happily rides in shopping carts. We're home in time to think about cooking dinner, and then my husband gets home and we enjoy our evening together. My husband puts Ethan to bed every single night so that's when I run around the house picking things up and putting things in order. When my husband comes down from bedtime we are DONE with chores/distractions/etc and we hang out together. I love our day.

How God has provided:
- People decided to start paying me for photography. I didn't even know I was good at photography. Not kidding. Requests just kept pouring in starting EXACTLY when I got my first part-time paycheck, so I took the "hint" and ran with it! My photography money is what we needed for cushion money... to make sure we can still treat ourselves to a date every now and then and buy gifts for friends when we want to.
- We sold a lot of junk we didn't need on craigslist, had yard sales, and saved everywhere we could. By November of 2009, we had all the money we needed to pay the mortgage in the summer of 2010. That was our biggest worry, and only a couple months into the school year it was taken care of already!
- Another big worry we had was that our cars are pieces of junk! :) There was no available money for big repairs, or a new car payment. One of them bit the dust a couple months ago, and I was worried about what we would do. Well, someone offered us a very nice FREE used car this month. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it came from the LEAST expected person I could have ever imagined in my wildest dreams. Someone we have a terrible relationship with, and someone I struggle to love and forgive and accept in my life. I felt like the Lord was literally pointing at me and proving how powerful he is and how unfathomable his plans are.
- My paycheck isn't just a few extra bucks that mostly cover childcare. It is a major part of our livelihood. It currently pays our entire mortgage, pays my mom for watching Ethan, and there's a tiny bit leftover. And I'm just a public school teacher! Working part time would probably not be worth it if I only brought home a few hundred dollars a month. Since I've been in the school system for a few years, even half of my teaching paycheck is enough to make or break us.

Overall:
There have been many times this year that we squeaked by. Like in January when we felt the after-effects of the Christmas season with gifts and traveling. Phew! That was a stretch, but we made it! And we've even taken on some home improvement projects. Time and time again in this one short year, God has filled in ALL of our budget gaps, and we give all the credit to Him! Things are going so well that I'm going to continue working part-time in the years to come. I'm looking forward to all the quality time I get with my own kids, the fact that I can still make a difference in the lives of my special ed students, the fact that I contribute to our bank account by doing something I love, and having holidays and summers off with my kids! I could not be happier with our lifestyle, and if you had asked me a couple years ago, I thought it would never even be possible!

Feel free to comment if you have questions!

1 comment:

Rachel and Mike Clifton said...

Cool post, thanks for sharing your secrets :)

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