The whole idea of working while raising children has been something I've had in mind for quite some time now. As I tell people when they ask if I plan to quit working once I have children--I did not go through four years of dental school hellaciousness to sit and home and not use those skills! Not to mention the injustice I think this would be to the taxpayers who partially funded my education (the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry has one of the lowest tuition costs in the country because taxpayer money funds the school in part). I think I owe it to the state of Mississippi to practice the skills that I have learned, and to use them to take care of my patients. All of this in addition to the fact that I truly love what I do, and I think I would feel something were missing if I just stopped.
I guess if you look at that last paragraph though, it sounds as if I make this decision out of pride, guilt, or selfishness--but that is not the case. (Of course, I am human, so I'm sure there is a smidge of each of those things stuck in there somewhere too, in addition to my main reasons.) Rather, Taylor and I made the decision some time ago because it is what's best for our family. We want to be able to contribute to a savings account for our and our children's futures, we want to be able to take our family on vacations that will enrich their experiences and their world, and we want to be able to give to the community and to our families freely. These goals will be best accomplished if I am working outside the home.
Some of you may be laughing to yourselves, thinking--ohh but this girl has no idea--when she takes her first look at that little baby, she will never want to go back to work full time! And you are probably right. I am in no way under any kind of impression that it's going to be easy. In fact I think it will probably be the hardest thing I've ever done. I imagine that I will struggle with all kinds of guilt: "Am I missing milestones in my child's life? Is someone else "raising" him? Am I giving Taylor the attention and time that he deserves? Am I giving 100 % at the office--could our business be more efficient if I were more focused on it?" The list goes on.
I think the main thing to remember (and again--who knows--I have so much to learn and experience once this precious little boy gets here!) is to continually give yourself grace. To know that my house is not always going to be perfect. That each day will not be perfect. And to give myself the freedom to reassess at various points what is working for us and what is not.
We are so blessed that Taylor's mother, Lisa, is going to be keeping our little boy during the day while I am at work. I am absolutely ecstatic about this! Besides my own mom of course, there is no one I would rather have. We have a great relationship, with a lot of mutual respect and consideration for each other, and I really believe it is going to work out beautifully! Thank you Lisa!!! (Although a simple thank you is not enough--not by a long shot!)
The plan as of now is that I will continue with my work schedule as-is, with one minor change. As of now, I work 4 1/2 days a week, which is full time for our office (we close at noon on Fridays). When the baby gets here, I will take the standard 8 weeks or so of maternity leave, and then will start back full time--minus one half day. I'm not positive yet when this half day will be, but it will most likely be on a Wednesday--either morning or afternoon. I think this will best break up the week, because it will give me a little more time with the baby mid-week, and it will allow for an easier-to-manage schedule, since our Wednesdays include dinner at church and choir practice. But we shall see. I'm thankful that I have a business partner who I know will be understanding about this.
My other plan is to go on and implement some of the things I think will be important as we learn to balance this new lifestyle. Our evening routine now consists of some version of the following--I get home from work around 5:30, and Taylor gets home anywhere from 4:30 to 7, depending on his schedule. Our nights are usually either: eating dinner at home together and relaxing in front of the tv with a good movie and conversation, or meeting friends for various social functions--supper club, dinner get-togethers, or having friends over to our house. At some point on most nights I will do a little laundry or do some cleaning around the house.
I know that this varying routine is going to change drastically once little man is here! Based on some ideas I have taken from some other working moms' blogs, plus advice from friends, here are some of my goals:
1. Start having a particular "laundry day".
--This will most likely be Fridays, since that is my half-day off now and will continue to be when the baby gets here. With my current sporadic laundry-doing , poor Taylor has woken up a time or two without clean undies! I know that when we add a baby in the mix, I am going to have to be a little more streamlined about my process if I want to make sure everyone has what they need.
2. Get super proficient at 5 or 6 easy, healthy crockpot favorites.
---As of now I really don't use our crockpot enough. And y'all, we have the CADILLAC of crackpots. It has so many bells and whistles than I don't even know what to do with it. Plus, it's beautiful! No really. I'm serious. My pregnancy brain prevents me from remembering what dear soul gave it to us for a wedding gift, but whoever you are--thank you!! It has gotten some use in these past four years, but it is about to be the main event!
3. Be consistent about morning quiet times.
--Right now I don't really have a set time for my quite time/Bible study. I know that once I am caring for little dude, if I want it to happen, I'm going to have to be super consistent about the time that I set aside for it. That time will probably be sometime in the early mornings.
4. Hire someone to help clean house a couple of times a month.
--Although I really would rather not do this (because my pride gets in the way--the "I can do it all!" attitude that I am having to slowly learn to let go of), as one other blogger put it--it's cheaper than a marriage counselor! I want to make sure that my time away from the office is spent as much as possible with my family--not running around stressed out because the kitchen is dirty and my gosh has no one cleaned the toilets in a year!?
5. Develop a plan for a weekly date night once the baby gets here.
--Right now Taylor and I have plenty of down time together. One night this week we went and had coffee for a couple of hours at a coffeeshop, tonight we are celebrating his grandmother's birthday with a family dinner, then meeting up with the couples in our Sunday School class (they're having dinner, we are going to join them for dessert). Saturday we are going to a movie, and next week Taylor has a Valentine's dinner planned at a nice restaurant. We don't usually have quite that much time together, but still--I'm living in a dream world, I know. We are soaking up every moment of these last few months when it is just the two of us. We absolutely cannot wait for our little boy to get here, but at the same time, we want to savor this time together! I know that after he is here, we will need to be more intentional about our dates. I need to find good babysitters that I trust (I don't want to rely too much on/take advantage of our families, especially since Lisa will be keeping him during the day)--although some weeks a date night may be an ideal time for my parents to keep him--we want to make sure little man gets to spend plenty of time with both sets of grandparents!!
And that's about it for now. I know that half of this will probably change once the baby gets here, but it helps me feel prepared to have somewhat of a plan, and to be working towards something. And again, that's where the grace part comes in--we can't expect ourselves to be perfect. And that goes for moms who work in and outside the home!