So you’ve faced the big question, you’ve faced all of the emotions , you’ve decided to work! Congratulations! You have joined in with a group of awesome women who love their families, who are hard-working, who are not afraid of challenges! Life from here on out will never be the same! But, how do you actually make it happen?
Childcare. The absolute number one necessity for every working mother hands down. This is not a decision to make on a whim or in a hurry. Research, talk to your local mommy friends, and go with your gut. Always go with your gut. If something feels bad, walk away. The one aspect of childcare that may be hard to say/hear, but needs to be realized is that these people are your “substitutes” while you are at work. Not a guilt-trip, not even a negative statement, pure fact. There is no reason to regret finding the absolute best person you can to “take your place”. Who do you want to be the one to have full responsibility of your child while you are away? Think of everything you would do with your child as a SAHM and find an environment that fits in with your desires and expectations.
What is my personal decision when it comes to childcare? Why, thank you for asking! I am a homeschooling momma, I do a lot of exploring, learning, playing, field trips, and playdates with my kids. I don’t want that to stop because I’m not there (ok, selfishly, I want to be the only one doing those things with them, but my desire is for their lives to be filled with these things and I realize that means it has to carry on even if I’m not the one doing it at the time). Naturally, I found another homeschooling mom to watch my kids. I also have 3 young (6, 4, and almost 3) children with special needs; so I didn’t want someone who would be overwhelmed with their high-maintenance tendencies and young child craziness. This homeschooling momma has 4 young children of her own who come with her to my home and the children keep each other occupied (like a long playdate!) I also have a “rotating” childcare availability schedule of a couple of other mommas. Since I work one really long day each week, have a few unexpected work things come up occasionally, and need to keep my kids entertained and emergencies covered, I need the extra cushion for my childcare plans. Working part time comes with some childcare challenges, it doesn’t pay to put them in daycare (then I’m paying too much and for days I’m not using), but it also allows me the time to work and the time to be with my kids that I desire in my life.
Having your own little village of support is going to be a necessity for you, so join Facebook groups with women who have the same interests as you, get to know some of the older women at church who could maybe watch your children occasionally or help you cook meals and clean house, get some help from your BFFs. Realize that your needs are going to extend beyond what you imagined. Try to do something like once-a-month cooking or meal swaps to cut down on the time/pressure of home-cooked meals without resorting to 3 meals a day from a drive-thru window (no judging, we’ve all been there, we’re trying to be realistic here!) Maybe you’ll need to hire a maid to come once a week/month or stick to a nightly routine of a 15 min. clean-up before bed no matter how exhausted you are. Be sure to keep a calendar of activities for your off-days so you can plan the quality time you need to be having with your children.
Above all, just be honest with yourself and be honest with your employees/employer. Be realistic about how much time and energy you can truly devote to them. Be realistic about how much physical and emotional stamina you have to give. Be honest if you are reaching a breaking point, if you need help, if you can’t keep up with certain areas (because the time will come that you cannot keep up). Do not go into this expecting to do it all alone. Remember that at the end of every day you will have the title of “mother” to cling to, make sure to give it the devotion it deserves, as well.