Author Topic: Going back to work... help me adjust  (Read 942 times)

pvnotp

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Going back to work... help me adjust
« on: May 09, 2019, 03:00:05 PM »
I've been a stay-at-home mom for the past five years, while studying computer science part-time.  Now I'm graduating and going back to work.  My kids are five and three.  I'm feeling very ambivalent about this transition and looking for some perspective.

There are some good things about going back to work:
  • I'll get to play number-go-up with our investment accounts.
  • The work (software engineering) should be more intellectually stimulating than hanging out with my kids all day.
  • I'll get to talk with adults that aren't my husband or the UPS man.
Ultimately, I don't expect my job to fill me with joy and purpose, but it's possible that I might feel less ennui than I do around 4pm every day with my boys.  I think the net effect on my quality of life will probably be a wash.  The main reason I'm going back is the money.  (To invest, not spend, you know!)

However, even if going back to work is a net positive for me, I am worried about how the rest of my family will feel.
  • My husband is going to have to take care of himself a lot more - I'm not sure he realizes how much I've been waiting on him the past few years.
  • My kids are going to be spending 8 hours a day with a babysitter - who is fine, but she's not MOM.  They already spend some time with her when I go to class, but this is a big increase.  I'm afraid they'll feel abandoned, and will miss the comfort of their own home during the day.
  • The house is going to completely fall apart.  I'm just resigned to this.  We will run out of essential items, the floors will go unswept - I'm just not going to be able to keep up with it all anymore, and some balls will get dropped before my husband and I find a new balance.
Basically, I think that my going back to work will really decrease the quality of life of my husband and kids.  They won't have someone working full-time to take care of them anymore.  My husband in will have more chores and more stress.  My kids will be sad and bored.

I feel like, if you're not mustachian, you can see the benefit of a second income in the increased accumulation of stuff.  But for me, the only real measure of things getting better will be a number going up.  But the costs in terms of stress and lost time are still there.

I'm committed to going back to work at this point, but I'm hoping some of you can cheer me up about it!

cats

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Re: Going back to work... help me adjust
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2019, 03:31:36 PM »
With regards to house falling apart, I find when I'm home with my kid (age 3) for the day, it's like an ongoing see-saw of we've tidied up, oh shit you made a mess.  The other week we were home for the day and while I was making the beds he managed to pull a raw egg out of the fridge and crack it on the living room carpet.  So I had to clean that up.  Then while I was heating up breakfast he got all the pots and pans out to play with, so there's another thing that needs to get put away, but it's easier/safer than having him sticking his hands onto the chopping board while I'm wielding a knife.  And of course I am also trying to let him learn how to do things himself and THAT can be messy too.  He insists on chopping a banana with his little toddler knife?  Well eventually that means I get to stop chopping his fruit for him but in the moment it also means a lot of banana getting smeared around.

While I think being a SAHM parent might be good for kids, I do think there's a certain amount of housework it adds to the equation with young kids, as kids are messy by nature and even if you are good about getting them to clean up after themselves, they aren't very efficient at it (so you wind up helping them quite a bit), and their capacity to make new mess or disorder is just kind of endless.  If my son and I are home together for the day I have to have him outside by 9AM to prevent a complete descent into chaos.  Maybe I would have a better system in place if I was doing it every day.

I absolutely do not keep on top of housework as much as I would like as a working mother but I'm not sure it would be massively better as a SAHP unless I had my kid in childcare for some portion of the day.  He is a great napper so I do get to use that time but then as soon as he wakes up he's off pulling things out and getting into everything again.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Going back to work... help me adjust
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2019, 03:57:17 PM »
Parkinson's Law: Work expands to fill the time available. I find the opposite is true as well: work compresses to fill the time available.

I've never been a SAHM, just two babies with two fourteen week maternity leaves and then back to work, with summers off. TBH the stress is definitely less when I'm at home, but the house's level of cleanliness and our supplies running out is about par in both circumstances.

When I work I do all the same errands and all the same housework as when I'm at home with the kids, I just sort of make it happen a lot faster, during more random times. I stop at the store on the way home from work a lot. Also buy a lot in bulk so I don't have to restock often. Also a lot of internet shopping to save having to go out.

Husband and I have worked out a way to share the labor that we keep the same whether I'm at work or at home. We just assume that even when I'm at home, taking care of the kids is a full time job, so he still helps out with the chores the same amount.

Working with littles at home is stressful, for sure. It helps that our standards of cleanliness are pretty low. Also, we live in a very small place, so there's not much to clean and no lawn to take care of. We also have short commutes. Anything you can do that provides efficiency with living is generally worth it, I've found--as long as you're not using that to justify out of control spending.

Good luck!!

FLBiker

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Re: Going back to work... help me adjust
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2019, 08:59:40 AM »
DW stayed home until DD was 2.5, and she's still off in the summers.  From my (husband) POV, it's true that I have to do more stuff household-wise when she's working, and that was an adjustment, but it's been fine.  We also put off stuff (like major projects) for times that she's off (summer or winter break).  And we have someone come into clean for a few hours every two weeks.  I also stopped doing the yard -- we hire that out, too.  Both of these are quite reasonable.  We pay $40 for cleaning every two weeks, and $35 per yard visit every 2-4 weeks.  And he's kind of unreliable, so those end up being quite spread out, which is nice.  I actually mowed myself last weekend for the first time in years, because we haven't heard from him for several weeks.  So maybe that'll come back to me, which is fine.

We did preschool instead of a babysitter, and we really like the school, which has helped.  It also is (relatively speaking) reasonably priced.

I remember feeling like "we're barely holding it together as it is, how will we possibly be OK once you go back to work" but it has been OK.  Letting stuff go / outsourcing a bit has been helpful, too.

Millennialworkerbee

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Re: Going back to work... help me adjust
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2019, 09:30:47 AM »
As far as the kids go, itís all about what tone you set. If you are excited about their arrangements while you are away at work, they will be too. If you arenít excited about it, maybe you need a new solution for them.

Same with work. If you are excited about the job, the day will fly by. If youíre not, you will have more of the sad feelings.

Iíll second the idea that the house might not fall apart as much as you think it would. Yes you arenít there to clean as much but the kids arenít there to make a mess as much either.

The idea to outsource some of your least favorite chores is a good one. It will be important to make the time together with the kids as high quality as possible!

Money isnít everything. If youíre truly only going back for money, Iíd personally reevaluate. There are ways to make money while your kids are around.

Now for some encouragement- I LOVE being a working mom! I really love the mental stimulation, I love having grown up accomplishments, and I genuinely like the work I do. If you find the right job, you will love it too. I also think my kids are much more adaptable because they are used to several adults meeting those emotional needs rather than just me.  And Iím able to really enjoy the time I do have with them way more because Iím not resentful of never having a break from them.

CrustyBadger

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Re: Going back to work... help me adjust
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2019, 07:00:56 AM »
I stayed at home with the kids for 10 years.   The biggest adjustment my husband had to make when I went back to work was the idea that he'd need to take time off of work to stay home with a sick child.  When I was home, kids being home didn't affect his work life in the least so I don't think he even really paid attention to it much.

Your kids are little enough that they are probably still getting a lot of bugs and colds so you might want to discuss that change, especially as you might not have a lot of leave right off the bat!

Also, grocery shopping and errand running on the weekends is the worst!  I loved being able to do that during the week.   Getting some stuff done early Saturday morning or late Friday night was always useful.

fuzzy math

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Re: Going back to work... help me adjust
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2019, 09:54:16 PM »
My DH went back to work in Jan after 11 yrs at home. Now we both work full time but he has a commute and I am home considerably more than him.
Chores were always a mix between us before and now I pick up the lion's share of them. Unfortunately your hubby might not learn to do much more for himself, and you still may find yourself doing the vast majority of chores. I wish my answer were different. When I'm angry, I try to consider that he has a paycheck now and I'm choosing to do everything to avoid paying someone to do it.

I think we have finally gotten to a point where we are used to our new schedules. It is a major adjustment though.

Cassie

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Re: Going back to work... help me adjust
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2019, 10:12:55 PM »
My house is much neater now that the kids are long grown. I think you need to accept a certain amount of chaos/messiness when both parents are working.

Sibley

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Re: Going back to work... help me adjust
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2019, 07:50:13 AM »
Your worries:

  • My husband is going to have to take care of himself a lot more - I'm not sure he realizes how much I've been waiting on him the past few years.
    My kids are going to be spending 8 hours a day with a babysitter - who is fine, but she's not MOM.  They already spend some time with her when I go to class, but this is a big increase.  I'm afraid they'll feel abandoned, and will miss the comfort of their own home during the day.
    The house is going to completely fall apart.  I'm just resigned to this.  We will run out of essential items, the floors will go unswept - I'm just not going to be able to keep up with it all anymore, and some balls will get dropped before my husband and I find a new balance.

My response:

Husband - is an adult, a father, and he can step up to the plate. He can also learn to appreciate everything that you HAVE been doing for him for years, while going to school and caring for 2 young children.

Kids - spending time with people who are not mommy or daddy will actually be good for them. There's a reason why so many people are shocked about massive personality differences in kids when they're home vs. not at home.

House - um, you have a husband and two children. 5 and 3 are plenty old enough to have chores. Will it be perfect? No. They're kids. But they can put their toys away, or lose them. They can help with lots of stuff. As they grow, their abilities will also grow. And may I refer you back to the first section re husband? He's an adult. He can cook, clean, grocery shop, and take on the emotional labor of running a household in partnership with you. Will there be an adjustment period? Yep. Will it be good for everyone to fully participate in managing the house and daily life? Absolutely.

waltworks

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Re: Going back to work... help me adjust
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2019, 09:18:27 AM »
Are the kids going to just be home with the sitter all day? Because yeah, that sounds shitty. I'd put them in some form of daycare/preschool instead, or insist that the sitter have them out and about around other kids for a minimum 3-4 hours per day.

Your husband can deal with this just fine.

No way of just working part time? Honestly the transition sounds like it'll be rough for you and for the kids. There'll be plenty of time to make money once they're in school in a few years.

-W

mm1970

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Re: Going back to work... help me adjust
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2019, 10:39:23 AM »
Quote
Basically, I think that my going back to work will really decrease the quality of life of my husband and kids.  They won't have someone working full-time to take care of them anymore.  My husband in will have more chores and more stress.  My kids will be sad and bored.

This is probably true, but you matter.

Your kids will adjust.
Everyone will have more chores.
Hey, I want a wife to do all the chores too!
As it is, we split the work, always have, and yes we have a cleaning person.

Your kids will go to school eventually.  Being with others is a good thing.
Biggest adjustment for your husband will be to have to stay home with sick kids occasionally.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 10:41:38 AM by mm1970 »

pvnotp

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Re: Going back to work... help me adjust
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2019, 06:34:28 PM »
Thank you so much for all the replies.

I sat down with my husband to negotiate a new chore balance, and we were actually already close to 50/50.  The remaining imbalance will disappear once my work starts because, as some of you mentioned, if the kids aren't home all day they won't be making messes all day.

Thanks for the tips about sick days being an adjustment.  We've run into that a bit since sometimes I had classes I couldn't miss while the kids were sick.  I'll talk to my husband to plan out how we will handle it.

I'm still bummed about leaving my kids with the babysitter, but it is just temporary until my 5 year old starts school in the fall (at which point my 3 yr old will go to daycare).  My kids complain sometimes about being left with her.  They want ME 24/7. She has her own children that my kids like, and she takes them out to the library and playground about as much as I would.  Honestly, my kids get bored being home with me all day, so if they get bored with her its not really so different.  As per some advice above, I am going to fake as much enthusiasm as I can about this arrangement to help my kids have he right attitude.

For myself, I'm more excited about the actual work part than I was.  I can really feel how DONE with being a SAHM I am.  I am bored!   I can't wait to talk to people and do python all day!