Since I returned to work from maternity leave after the birth of my son I’ve been working part-time. I work in the office a few days a week and from home the rest of the week. This schedule was working perfectly until my son started walking…now when I’m working at home and my toddler son sees me working on my laptop he will run over and try to hit any key he can reach (usually the delete key!) as many times as possible before I can stop him. Just a few months ago I could put him down on his play-mat on the floor in front of me while I worked and he’d happily lay on his back and play with his toys. Now, the best times for me to get work done are before he wakes in the morning, during his naps and after he goes to bed – which leaves very little time for me to take care of myself and the household chores, but with the help of my husband we’re figuring out how to make it work.

We don’t live close to our families, so we don’t have the luxury of relying on family to help with a dinner or babysit our son so we can have a night out or run some quick errands. My husband and I rely on each other and I have found two great babysitters who are trustworthy and reliable. They watch my son on the days I go into the office and on the rare occasion my husband and I go out for a date night.

To make the most of my valuable free time I go to a Baby Boot Camp excercise class so I can combine a great workout with meeting other moms followed by playdates for my son. I like to make a big meal every Sunday and Wednesday evening that can last as leftovers for at least two more days during the week, cutting back on the number of nights I spend cooking in the kitchen. We hire a cleaner to help us keep the house clean (This was huge and stressful decision for us, because of the expense and trusting someone to come into our home. But now I’m grateful that we’ve found trustworthy cleaners because I have that time back to get work done or play with my son). My husband and I split most of the everyday household chores evenly (he deals with the finances and house/yard maintenance, I do the cooking, laundry and tidying/organization). My hobbies have mostly all been put aside for now, and a nice date night with my husband usually consists of us sitting together on the couch watching HGTV.

Sometimes I wonder if part-time work is worth it: I am trying to be both a stay-at-home mom and an engineer, but I feel like I might be falling short on both jobs. I worry that my son gets less attention than he deserves and my career is currently on a plateau. I’ve called my husband from home crying because I’m stressed that I have too much work to do and don’t have time to do my work and watch our son who now needs my constant attention. But that doesn’t happen everyday or even every week. And days when this schedule works my life is a dream come true.

I’ve had tough days with soul-searching moments during which I tell myself I have to make a choice: full-time work or stay-at-home-mom, but I just can’t choose! I don’t want to give up either and I hope I can make this part-time schedule last as long as possible. To make my extremely busy work weeks (which happen  about once or twice a quarter) a little less stressful for myself, I’ve decided to work an extra day in the office so I can focus on my work and get it done, while a babysitter is at the house watching my son.

I think Darius Rucker said it best in his song, It Won’t be Like This for Long when he beautifully sings, “this phase is gonna fly by, so baby just hold on, it won’t be this way for long” (You can watch the video below, but have a box of tissues handy – I cry every time I hear this song).

I know that in a few years my son will be in school and I will be back to work full-time. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work part-time so I can be with my son as much as possible without giving up my career, and I’m going to continue to try to make it work for as long as I can. My son smiling at me with his cute chubby cheeks makes every stressful day and long night worth it.

Tips - part time dilemma 2

What do you think of the tips? Have you ever tried to work part-time or work from home? How do you find the time and make it work?

Check back for my next post where I will go back to the beginning and write about how I chose chemical engineering as my college major.

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