Monday, March 3, 2014

Women's Money Week: Kids and Work

This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2014.

It's Women's Money Week again! Today's topic is kids and work.

I worked for about two months after my daughter's birth, while she was still in the hospital. I went on leave when she came home, but her health problems ultimately dictated that I stay home with her for at least a few years, so I resigned my job and have now been a homemaker for over a year. So my experience with kids and work is limited, but I had planned to continue working had my pregnancy and birth been normal so I'll share a few random thoughts.

First of all, mad props to all you working moms. Seriously - I know our situation (therapies, multiple doctor's appointments) is a little different from most, but kids take up a ton of time just with regular stuff. So to balance a job and a whole professional identity on top of being a mom - well, I'm impressed by that.

Second, one thing I wish I had understood before having kids is that having kids is nothing like you expect. I had all sorts of plans for how things were going to be, and the reality is that you just can't know until you're there what it's going to be like. I wish I could take back every instance when I said "When I have a kid, I will always...." or "I will never...". (Because boy, has that backfired on me - planning a particular kind of birth, determining to breastfeed, expecting to continue working - all of those things have been taken out of my control.) If I could tell 18-year-old me anything it would be to pick a career that is flexible with regards to dipping in and out of the workforce, and to not get married to the idea of anything before it actually arrives in your life (and my 18-year-old self would no doubt ignore me, but at least I'd have said it).

Third, I would like to give my daughter the role model of a working woman. I think it's important for her to see that women can be financially independent and have identities that don't center around their families. In my marriage, our roles have broken down along gendered lines for a variety of reasons, and we are happy with that for us - but I want my daughter to know that there are lots of different ways to build a family structure and be happy. She's too little to pick up on this stuff now and she needs me at home, but when she is older I hope to impress these ideas upon her.

Lastly, I think take your kid to work day is kind of lame. I never really participated in it, though, so maybe it's not. Did you ever go to work with your parents and find it valuable?



7 comments:

  1. Take your kids to work day isn't really a thing in NZ as far as I know. I definitely wouldn't have wanted to go to work with my mum (accountant), although these days it might be more interesting since she now works at an ad agency. And my dad has been self employed most of my life.

    I too want to work, mostly for myself, but being a role model as well. I will admit that aside from cooking, our relationship roles are fairly gendered - although I generally am the CEO and CFO, for what that's worth.

    I have no idea how I would balance working and having a kid. Balancing working and current life is a challenge as is sometimes.

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    1. I have heard it said that a second kid is no problem because the first kid already takes up 100% of your time. I totally see how this is true, and I really wonder at women who balance kids and work. I miss the intellectual stimulation of work, but man, many days I don't even get dressed because I just don't have time! I look back on my pre-kid days and wonder what I did with all the time I had - and I know at the time it seemed like I never had any time.

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  2. Since I became a mom, I've always been working and I plan to continue to do so. Having two kiddos and a full time job is a handful but it is the life I've gladly chosen.

    I wouldn't want to take my four year old to my work for the entire day but her daycare class has toured my workplace. It was fun to show the little tots the different things.

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    1. I'm looking forward to taking Baby M to see Daddy at work when she's a little older. I think she would be bored to spend the whole day with him (or with me at my old job) but a little tour sounds perfect.

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  3. I used to go to work with my mom fairly often as a kid, and enjoyed it. I also ended up getting paid by some of her coworkers to do work for them, so I literally found it valuable :)

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    1. Ha, that's the way to do it! When I was a teenager I used to help my dad at his law office a few times a year, dusting books and sorting papers for filing. I can't remember if I got paid for it now....but it made me feel grown-up which was worth a lot anyway.

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  4. I think it's easier to "have it all" if you have a big career AND flexibility, i.e. you're at the top of the food chain and can call the shots more often. For women "in the middle" -- professional, good job but not upper management or CEO level, it really depends upon your immediate supervisor. I have a deadline-oriented job with lots of projects but my boss values family and allows me to take time off because I'm really good at meeting deadlines.

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