Work Life Balance with Children

March 4, 2014 at 11:55 AM 1 comment

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

My previous profession provided a lot of work-life flexibility. We had a set of core hours when we were expected to work, but I could start the work day any time between seven and ten. At the time my husband and I were both late risers, preferring to stay up late at night and wake up later in the morning.

My boss permitted teleworking a year after I started and I worked from home one to three days a week for the remainder of my time there. For the most part I arrived when I wanted and left whenever it was convenient for me. If I wasn’t finished with my work I could open my laptop and complete my assignments in the evening. When I was motivated I worked very long hours, often until one or two o’clock in the morning.

I worked from home, but I did not slack off there. In fact, I was much more productive at home where coworkers could not distract me from my tasks. During those twelve years I earned higher ratings than coworkers who stepped into the office day after day.

After we purchased our beach house my husband and I would often drive down south late on a Thursday evening. On Friday morning I would sit at the kitchen table and work while my husband completed projects around the house. Around six or seven in the evening my husband would tell me to close my laptop so we could eat dinner on the deck or watch the evening sunset.

I was lucky. As a software developer I had a lot of flexibility in how and when I wanted to complete my assignments. This provided an amazing work-life balance and I would urge all women to consider technical careers that provide for such flexibility.

Life moves quickly. I knew this long before my son was born, but since his arrival the evidence is much more apparent. My walls are covered with photographs that include my son’s first day in the hospital, the day we brought him home, crawling around the front yard on a warm autumn day, learning to walk, reading stories, playing with toys, running and dancing. There are hugs with grandparents and special adventures and vacations with my husband and I.

For the time being I have decided to leave the workforce and stay home with my son, but for the most part I do believe that a career in software would still provide a great deal of flexibility. The problem with software is that it requires a great deal of concentration and a small child vying for attention makes it extremely difficult to focus intensely on one task. I would imagine most moms would still need to hire in-home childcare so they could focus while their children play.

Honestly, I don’t know how people juggle careers with work once their children arrive. A few months ago I started taking over simple tasks for my husband’s business. I handle invoices, monthly statements, some recruiting tasks and a couple of other odds and ends. Although my son is two I still find it difficult to focus on a task while he is in the same room with me.

For the first two years of his life he watched almost no television. I would allow him to play on an iPad for thirty minutes from time to time, but his screen time was largely limited. Now if I need to get something done I pop in a thirty minute movie and rush to complete my tasks. To be honest I feel quite stressed as I try to cram everything into this thirty minutes or push my tasks off until nap time when I also attempt to make dinner, complete the laundry and take a few minutes just for myself. I’m certainly not complaining. I consider myself extremely lucky to stay home, but I do wonder how full time working parents get everything done.

I don’t think I’m the kind of woman who could have it all. I can have a career at one point in my life and a young child at another, but I don’t think I could perform both roles well simultaneously.

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