Work/Home Balance–Is There Such a Thing?


I’ve officially been at work, away from my daughter longer than I was at home with her during my maternity leave. I’d be lying if I were to say it’s gotten much easier.

Every morning when I have to kiss her goodbye, it’s still ridiculously hard. It breaks my heart even more now when she knows I’m grabbing my purse–not our diaper bag–and I’m leaving without her.

I try my best now to leave when she’s distracted or still sleeping; because when she’s awake and aware she’ll hold her arms out for me and cry.

Daily I’m submerged in feelings of guilt for not being there for her, and paranoia about missing a first. Missing her crawl for the first time, the first time she says “mama” or just being there for her daily developments.

I can’t say how grateful I am though for the fact that she’s with the best caregiver in the world. Seeing her with her dad, and how close they’ve gotten makes my heart melt. When I come home she practically jumps into my arms and is all smiles. She’s so happy when we’re all home and close together and it makes me so grateful she has two parents who love each other and love her. Sadly, that’s not the case for everyone. But I’m still a little jealous of that bond I see they have, and of the time he gets with her.

On my day off this week, Little J and I went out for yoga, then we went to lunch and shopping with a friend. She was by my side or in her carrier that entire day and I had the most amazing time. I would be standing in an isle at a craft store and notice her look up at me from her wrap and smile. I’d lean over to kiss her nose and she’d laugh. The simplest moment made me want to stop time and stay right there with her forever. I wished I could I had more moments like these. Like I was missing moments like these every day I leave her for the grind.

We started the daycare search this week and it’s been exhausting. It’s so hard looking for someone to care for my daughter aside from my husband and I, and trusting them with her. Luckily, we won’t need to enroll her for another six or seven months, which by then I think she’ll be ready to learn and ready for interaction with other kids her age, but it’s still so hard.

Right now I can call home and video chat with her via iPhone. At first she didn’t know what to think of it, and she’d grab my husband’s phone, reaching for me, then she’d start crying when she realized I couldn’t pick her up. Now she’ll usually smile and talk to me for a little bit, still try to grab the phone, but I think she’s realized iPhones don’t have arms. This is just one of the experiences I’ll miss once she starts daycare. That, and visiting home during my lunch break with a ready-made lunch and grinning baby ready to play.

I started my search by asking a friend I work with her recommendations. She recently did a series on childcare and had some great links to share with me about searching for accredited programs. I started there.

I found one that is close to my job–less than a mile away–and scheduled a tour. When I walked in worked to hold back tears. It’s wasn’t the facility or what I saw that made me feel bad but the thought of her being in daycare.

I looked in the infant room even though she will be over a year once she starts, but paid most attention to the sunbeam room, for 12-18 month olds since that’s where she’d be. They had a glider chair for nursing moms who want to drop in and feed their baby. That made me feel good, even though I’m not sure I’ll nurse her past a year. They also allow cloth diapers, which is a big plus, and the biggest positive is how close it is to my job. But the room was so small. Like insanely small. I worked in daycare for years and was worked in rooms four times as big for half as many one-year-olds. That was a huge setback, and almost enough for me to cross them off my list.

I have started looking for other schools but I’m trying not to let the glitz and glam overshadow the accreditation which is really one of my top priorities right now. That and proximity. But there’s a huge shortage of them between my house and my job, and because of this, ones that are close–at least the good ones–are extremely expensive.

I’m hoping to just enroll her part time since I work Wednesday through Sunday, I’ll still have Mondays and Tuesdays off to spend with her, and her dad will still be with her on the weekends for the most part. Our situation could be so much worse but sometimes I wish I could see what it’s like in another’s shoes.

Even after my husband begins his new job, I can’t imagine leaving mine. I’m not used to not working, not bringing in some kind of income, and feeling like I can support myself if need be. But oh it would be so nice to spend afternoons at play dates, and weekends at birthday parties. It would be nice to feel like a full time mom, submerge myself into cooking literature, sewing her dresses, making her bows, and perfect a new, domesticated me. But then I’d feel guilty every time I bought something. And fun outings I like to do now on my days off would be limited to free things–Yoga would be out. And everything that makes me ME as I know myself would be different. Everything I’ve worked toward almost my entire life would be put on hold indefinitely to pursue a much less lucrative, but more rewarding full-time career.

I love my job, love my career, what I do every day, and I’m happier than I’ve even been at work, but my heart and passion gets left at home with my little girl.

It’s hard finding a balance. I’m not sure I ever will.

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  1. “less lucrative, but more rewarding”

    You nailed it! Lady, I wouldn’t begin to tell you that you HAVE TO GO HOME RIGHT NOW, because that’s silly. You need to have peace with that decision. It’s your life, after all. What does your husband think about that idea, though?

    Just as a SAHM, I can tell you that I do, in fact, feel guilty when I buy things for myself. In my head, I know better. I’m providing him more value here than I ever could in the workplace. You can’t put a value on what a mom who stays home does. But I still can’t often bring myself to spend the extra money on a new dress. 🙁

    I would encourage you to go for it, though, if you can live with that. At least until she is in school, which is what my mom did. That’s a huge sacrifice for someone like you to make, though. You’ve got a career, for crying out loud! You wouldn’t regret it. I feel certain of that. Anyway, you didn’t ask for advice. I hope you find what makes you all happy!

  2. Of course you will find that balance. It might mean pursuing something different career-wise or just finding a way to work out your mommy guilt for not being able to stay home with her everyday. You have to pray the answer and the problem. It will all work out.

  3. I know exactly how you feel. I loved my job so much i worked 2 hrs away from home 4 days a week also. I went backto work after 6 weeks off of maternity and tho little man’s care giver was a realtive It was so hard to leave him behind so many hours of the day. I ended up quitting my job when he was 9 months by then i had missed so much of his life. Like you said so many first gone never seen by me or dad. The balance was never gained even when i stayed home for a year i then missed my career. I was in a sitting i had lived in for about 2 yrs but had no friends or family around. I know now that had i explored playgroups and outings with little man there may have been some balance. Stay home with him and little lady brought me so much joy. I hope you find the balance soon.

  4. On some fronts it gets easier, and on others it gets harder. I was exhausted when I was home with my son during mat leave, but it killed me leaving him with strangers for the day. I needed the break, to be honest, but it was hard. Even still, back when he didn’t know any better and didn’t do a whole lot, it was a little easier to leave him. Now I know that he’s having fun, interacting with other kids, and learning things, I don’t mind him being there…but personally it’s harder because I wonder what I’m missing. Now, at 2, he’ll come home talking and I’ll know a little about what I’m missing. And knowing I’m missing him discovering new things (field trips, visits from Santa, cooking projects), it’s a bit of a bummer. But he’s learned so much more than he would have home alone with me. Kids just respond differently to other people than their parents, and sometimes that’s a good thing. At his old daycare (it closed and we had to switch) I definitely felt like the people there loved him almost as much as we did. He grew up with them too. The feeling is a little different at our new one, but I’m not sure if that’s the people, that he hasn’t known them since the beginning, or that he’s more mischevious than he was as an infant…they’re fine, it’s just different. It’s sometimes hard to find the right fit, and it does take time to settle in, but you’ll find something you can live with on all counts.

  5. I was a little unsure about being a SAHM, at first. I didn’t know if I would like it, if we’d be too poor. Everything worked out though. I LOVE staying home with my son! It’s not always easy, but it is so great! We have to budget a little more but it hasn’t been a big deal.

    My husband likes that I stay home almost as much as I do! He totally understands how hard I work and I know he appreciates it. We have an “allowance” that we each get every month so I don’t have to feel guilty about spending money on myself.

    It’s not for everyone, and it is sometimes hard, but it really is soooo great too! If you try it, I don’t think you’d regret it. Good luck!

  6. With Jada i was a working mom. It killed me to have to leave her after six weeks. I cried everyday for a week. I was lucky enough to be able to leave her with my mother for the first to years until she went to school. With my son I made the decision to leave my job so I would not miss a thing. The past two years have been tough financially, and it I do miss adult conversation sometimes but it has been worth every broke minute of it!

  7. I am also a young female in my career and I never thought I would even want to stay home but the more I think about it and hear other women talk about it, the more I’m considering it. The thought scares me (and my husband) but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. By the way, the thought scares us b/c of our mountain of educational debts. One thing to keep in mind is that you’ve got options. If one thing doesn’t work then you try something else 🙂

  8. oh, i feel so bad for anyone who struggles over the daycare issue. it always compounds the mommy guilt!

    i am still grappling with striking the balance. last year, our son’s first year of life, i was the primary breadwinner while hub worked PT, stayed home with our baby 2 days a week, and finished up grad school. we are working toward switching those roles: him working FT and me working PT so I can be the one home.

    right now, hub telecommutes on Wed and I telecommute on Thurs and the babe is with his grandparents the other 3 days a week. he gets 2 on 1 attention and is so enriched by his time there, but i am his mom and I want to be with him, take him to story time, swimming lessons, picnics in the park!

    i feel pressure to get this all sorted out well before he’s old enough to remember me not being home, and definitely before even thinking about #2! so hard!!

  9. It’s so hard to find that balance. My son is 3 and it still pains me to leave him at preschool and head off to work/class some days. Sigh. But I also can’t imagine staying home all day everyday with him. I feel like I’d loose too much of myself. I feel like the ultimate solution would be to work part time, however, financially that’s not possible. Sigh.

  10. Balancing is hard, probobly will alway be Right now I am a SAHM, but not by choice. I do wish I could work, but not to be away from my babies. I am glad for the time I get to spend with them, (I have a 3yr old too. Daycare is hard to find and theonly thin I can tell you is no matter how good a place looks on paper, listen to your gut. It’s always right.

  11. I had really hoped to be a SAHM when Bun arrives in May, but it isn’t to be. We sat down and did our mock budgets for me at home, me working part time, and me staying full time with day care, and we just can’t afford the 1st two options until my husband finishes his masters. My heart was broken, and I’m sure it will break all over again when we start touring day care facilities. I am trusting that God is in control, but sometimes I wish His plans lined up with mine. 🙂 Our situation is fine, and our baby will still get lots of time with both my husband and me. He is a teacher, so he can come home in the afternoons and do pick up. Thanks for sharing your struggles with us. It is good to know I’m not the only one who has a hard time with this.

  12. Does your husband every buy anything for him? There’s no need to feel guilty. A SAHM mom works just as hard, and usually more hours.

    We give ourselves allowances every month, which is our own money that can be spent on whatever we want. Completely guilt-free.

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