Working Moms — and Playdates

Working Moms -- and Playdates | CorporetteMomsAs proud mama to a 4.5-year-old, I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m in playdate hell.

To be clear: I like the other moms I meet. I want my kid to be friends with their kids. But I’m tired of arranging playdates — and feeling guilty if I don’t arrange them — and if I’m expected to be at the playdate, I’m tired of worrying if I’m social and happy and likeable enough. (Caveat: I may have general social anxiety issues in addition to being an introvert, but that’s another story for another time.) There’s the added stress of symmetry when trying to arrange these things — for example, in my experience most SAHMs would rather meet for a playdate with the mother, not the nanny. As a working mother, furthermore, setting up a playdate where I show up and supervise necessarily means it’s during my two least favorite times to be obligated: the post-work/pre-sleep period that we still rightfully call “the witching hour” — or the weekend, when it feels like we have a million errands, classes, family fun, and grown-up social obligations as well to juggle around.

I don’t even think it’s a working mom problem — I think all parents feel like this! — but I do think working mothers get the brunt of it because it’s yet another thing on our plates. (Speaking of plates — another source of stress! If you’re hosting you’re supposed to have kid-appropriate food and a vaguely tidy house! To be honest I haven’t brought food to any playdates we’ve been to, but perhaps I should be? See, more stress.)

Ladies, what are your thoughts? Do you feel stress regarding playdates — and do you think your status as a working mother increases your stress?

Pictured: I’ve actually read this book, though long ago — it was funny! Clearly I need to give it a reread. 

Starting a Working Parents’ Group at the Office

working parents groupA few months ago, a friend and I were talking about how her huge company has a pretty strict face time requirement at the office. As a parent she felt it really limited her upward mobility at the company, and she felt somewhat like she didn’t have a voice in the matter. So we began pondering: how do you start a special interest group at your office to give people in a similar situation a voice? Do you think starting such a group puts a target on your back (as in, you want to work on Easy Street, not Real Life)? Do you think it’s better to band together with other working parents — or couch such a group’s interests in terms of “women’s interests” — or a more general work/life committee?

(Some offices even have work/life committees, of course — which sometimes leads to pretty comical comparisons of things like “making it a priority to go to a Katy Perry concert” vs. general parenting, or “Katy Perry concert” vs. labor and delivery. I swear I am not making that up, that was actually a comparison used in a law firm memo.)

Some tips for starting your own affinity group, such as one for working parents:

[Read more…]

Productivity… and Family Time

productivity and family timeHave you found that your best, most productive hours sometimes conflict with family times that you try to hold sacred, such as family dinner? Have you had success shifting your schedule so you can be productive at other times of the day? Did you find an early bedtime (9:30?) to be helpful, or have you found another way to recharge so you can eke out a few more hours of productivity after putting the kids down for the night?

I don’t know why the other day, but I was really, really missing the days when I could work late at the office (8:00 or 10:00ish usually — sometimes 12:00ish in my younger years!) and get stuff done. I was also missing the days when I could get up “early” at, say, 5 and get a ton of work done before I had to be presentable at work at 9:30 or 10. Because maybe it’s me and my situation, but it seems like those days are gone, at least for the foreseeable future — even if I do work in an office, either for myself or someone else, I’m going to want to be home for family dinner — if not every night, then certainly 99% of the time. “Family dinner is sacred” is the advice I keep reading, and I love that idea — the idea of us all sitting around the table, phones and other devices put away, TV off, to reconnect and tell each other about our days. But… a kid-friendly dinner time is usually in the midst of my most productive time, late afternoon/early evening. Similarly, “getting up early” means something different to parents, am I right? My four year old, at least, laughs at the idea of 5 AM as being “early” — it’s the best time to get up, Mommy! In fact, if you’re up earlier, why shouldn’t I be up also? I feel like if I were really to make an attempt to get up early, I would have to get up around 3 or 4 — and even then I’d only have an hour or two at most to get work done, unlike those long, luxurious mornings where I could get up at 5 and get four solid hours of work done before I had to be at work. Of course, you can always put your partner on “parent in charge” duty, or schedule another caregiver for that time in the morning — so maybe I should try that. (If you do get up, do you work in the house — or leave entirely, like to go to a coffee shop?) As for the evenings… my husband and I often feel like from 5pm to 9pm we go into the family tunnel of dinner, bath, and bedtime (with at least one incident each night of a meltdown, a water-soaked bathroom, or some other bedtime fight) — and when we emerge we’re too wired to sleep and too exhausted to do anything of substance.

I don’t know, ladies, maybe you’ve found The Way — have you managed to shift your productive times to another time of day? Do you swap “sacred times” with your partner so one of you gets a weeknight or early morning spot to yourself?  Or do you think it’s all mental, the way I convinced myself in high school and college that my most productive hours were from 12AM to 3 AM? 

Mamas, Holidays, and Stress

crazy christmasSo: anyone else feel like your head is about to explode? Between buying gifts for everyone, including in-laws, cleaning Casa Griffin for company (ok, cleaning Casa Griffin so our cleaning professional can actually clean it), making sure I have all supplies needed for holiday recipes before the stores close — and getting what work I need to get done before everything is making me totally crazy. How is it December 23? What’s my plan of attack, particularly with no school for the next two weeks? Happy holidays, indeed.

I guess this is my fifth Christmas as a mom, but the first time really feeling the stress. Moms who’ve been in my shoes much longer: does it get better? Ladies, do you feel the stress? What do you do to alleviate it during this time of year (other than, you know, not leaving everything until the last minute)? In the great juggle of work and life, which stressor is more significant this year?

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Mom Guilt — as a Working Mother

Mom Guilt as a Working Mother | CorporetteMomsHere’s a topic we haven’t discussed directly: mom guilt. What is your biggest source of guilt (if you can put your finger on one thing); and for those of you who’ve gotten past it, what was your best trick?

For my $.02, I’m actually not that guilty about working — I like what I do (which makes me happy, which is good for everyone!), and it’s helped our family tremendously both in terms of income and flexibility. Mixed with the fact that I’m not the most patient, energetic, or creative caregiver, I often have a feeling of “they’re better off” with someone else.

But: I do feel guilty for not being 100% laser focused on them when I am not working. The problem is that between working and momming, there are a lot of other things that fall into “being a person.” Showers. Working out. Making healthy meals the kids may or may not eat. Researching non-work, non-kid things (like a new mattress, let’s say.) Buying new boots. Getting my eyebrows threaded. Unfortunately, for me, a lot of that “personal care” stuff gets shuffled to the side. I’ve tried a few things to adjust my thinking on it, with varying degrees of success: [Read more…]

Job and Career Changes After Baby: Did You Make Changes? How?

Career Changes After Baby | CorporetteMomsLadies, have you made career changes after having your baby? If so, how did your career, job, and general standard operating procedures change because of family? Did you effectively plan for the change before meeting your son or daughter, or did you change plans midstream? We talked once about planning your career for babies (back when I was pregnant with Jack!) but not really since, and I’m curious for your take.

Kate recently sent me a snapshot of a local article, quoting a pregnant television producer/host:

DeTar hopes to film Fringe Benefits past the second season and expressed interest in moving into other countries and writing a companion book for the show. With a child on the way, she doesn’t expect her aspirations or goals to change.

“I feel so thankful for the timing of all of it… maybe I’m being really naive, but I don’t see anything changing,” she says. “I… have the most supportive husband in the universe, and I don’t think he would let me not continue with the show.”

This is well-timed with other stuff I’ve been seeing recently — there was a recent article in Forbes about how a lot of women become freelancers, contractors, or entrepreneurs when they become mothers. And there was a great discussion (on this site and Corporette) on how to have a baby when both parents are working in BigLaw. SO, ladies, let’s hear it — how, if at all, has your Plan changed since having kids? Were there particular deciding factors (money, time, etc.), or was it a more general sense of “everything is different now“? For those of you who HAVE adhered to your Plan (since I’m assuming, cynically perhaps, that most of us have switched gears a bit) — how much focus did it take? Were there factors that were must-haves (double nannies, SAHD, etc)?

Pictured at top: Whychus Creek, originally uploaded to Flickr by Ian Sane

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