Work-life balance is so overwhelming on most days that I think many moms would rather achieve a contented equilibrium than do just about anything else. The endless list of things that simply has to get done, coupled with the demands from a boss and needs of your kids (not to mention yourself) at any given time of day can feel crushing.
I’ve fooled around with work-balance issues ever since my first child was born. You name it, I’ve done it: full-time stay-at-home mom, full-time office worker, full-time with flex time, part-time in office, part-time from home, and freelance from home.
I use the term “fooled around,” because I don’t think I’ve found any one solution that worked best. Each worked for my family over a certain period of time, depending on what was going on in our lives, where we lived, and how many kids we had at the time.
The stay-at-home vs. working mom argument is so irrelevant that it doesn’t even warrant being discussed anymore. We should be supportive of all mothers’ choices. That is what feminism (and common sense) is about.
Most moms have to work. We all know this. And some moms want to work. I am one of them.
I love being home with my kids, but I like working, too, especially when they are in school. I’ve often said that if we, as a nation, could devise a way for mothers to work during school hours and still be eligible for benefits and pensions while also making enough money to support their families, we would be a lot better off than we are now.
Wouldn’t it be excellent if every sector had steady part-time jobs for moms whose workday ended when school did? We could be intermingled with full-time employees who held regular hours. Companies would save money on a full-time salary. Mothers would be able to pick up their kids from school and be available for after-school homework help. I have worked in part-time capacities like these before, and I can tell you that part-time workers — and in particular mothers — are more productive, because they know they have to get things done within a certain amount of time. We’ve all seen the full-time staffers who browse around the office and spend about a third of their day chatting, scrolling through Facebook, texting, going to the restroom, taking cigarette breaks, etc.
Years ago, when mom stayed home and dad went out to work, he usually stayed at the same company for his entire life. Today we are more likely to job hop and even career hop. It is often necessary. Sometimes the career we started out in falters and changes. Sometimes we change and want to delve into other areas. Sometimes our kids change us and help us view the world in a whole new way, which in turn enables us to discover new fields of interest.
There are tons of advice out there on how to strive for work-life balance, such as make time for yourself, lay out your work outfit the night before, and plan a regular date night, but there are no clear-cut answers on how to please your family, boss, bankbook, and yourself at the same time. Nearly every mom I know struggles with it in some capacity.
I think the key is to realize what you truly want and what your family needs, and together make a decision on what works best for your individual circumstances. And then, leave that subject open for change, because when life changes, situations sometimes need to change, too.
But I am telling you, if a big company would intentionally create jobs that pay decently and offer positions during school hours, it would get the most dedicated, hard-working, and loyal workers. Moms can change the world. I firmly believe it.
Businesses may have falsely believed that having kids was a negative feature in a worker, but truly, it is a skill set that compares to no other. Moms get things done, are multitaskers, steadfast, and adaptable. Plan A doesn’t work? We’ll already have Plan B and C ready to go.
Danielle Sullivan, a mom of three, has worked as a writer and editor in the parenting world for more than 10 years. Sullivan also writes about pets and parenting for Disney’s Babbl