…But the work doesn’t end here

Categories: Uncategorized

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Hello, faithful readers! And goodbye. This is my final post for the Working (on) Motherhood column, a place I’ve been writing now for nearly five years, if you can believe it. Back in fall of 2008 I was hired as Work It, Mom’s pregnancy blogger, and although I’ve managed to do my duty by having not one but two babies while writing about the challenges of balancing motherhood with a career, it’s time for me to shift my attention to where I am now instead of where I’ve been.
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What about career guilt?

Categories: freelance, guilt, time management

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I pride myself on being a reliable employee. I meet deadlines, I produce high-quality products, and I aim to be one those people who makes my coworkers’ jobs easier rather than harder. Since becoming a mother, I’ve also worked extra hard to make sure that my status as a family woman doesn’t make me a liability in the workforce. And it’s precisely the fact that I try so hard in that area that makes it so difficult when I (inevitably?) fail. Working-mom guilt? I was prepared for that. But the career-related guilt that results from being a working mom is something new.
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Asking for more money

Categories: child care, freelance, happiness, working from home

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We’re halfway through the year now, and it feels like a good time to take stock of where I am and what I’ve learned so far in 2013. One lesson in particular kind of snuck up out of nowhere, and it’s changed me so drastically for the better that I want to remember it not just for the rest of the year but for the rest of my career. Maybe it’s something you’ve learned (or need to learn) too.
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How screen time steals your sleep

Categories: off the clock

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There are many fine ways to recover from our crazy days as working mothers. We can kick back with a book, watch a movie, fire up an exercise DVD, play a video game, goof around on social media, whatever your late-night, kid-free pleasure. Of course the best thing for us is probably sleep (sweet sleep, which “knits up the ravell’d sleave of care” and also means no one is asking me to wipe a butt), but unfortunately all that other stuff I mentioned might actually be undermining your efforts to get a good night’s rest.

A study conducted by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and published in the journal Applied Ergonomics (read the original here) showed that exposure to the artificial light emitted by tablets can inhibit the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate our internal clocks. The study showed that two hours of exposure to a bright tablet screen at night reduced melatonin levels by about 22 percent. Other studies have shown that once you mess with melatonin, you risk increasing your chances of developing obesity, diabetes, and other health issues. I know several people who say taking melatonin supplements help them sleep better, which makes me wonder if cutting back on screen time at night—in effect letting the body naturally produce adequate levels of melatonin–would have the same effect.

Although vegging out in front of the t.v. or playing around on the Internet are easy enough traps to avoid if I put my back into it (and we all know that I’ll fall on my sword before I read for pleasure on a tablet), working on the computer until right before I go to bed is sometimes unavoidable. Sure, I’d love to take an hour to dim the lights and play soothing music and maybe dab my wrists with lavender oil before I slip into my comfiest jammies and drift off to dreamland, but the reality is I often workworkworkworkwork until I crash face-first into the mattress in whatever T-shirt I’m wearing and then wake up the next morning exhausted but grateful that I got whatever little sleep I managed snag. It’s easy to blame a night-waking baby for my poor sleep habits, but it might be more useful if I acknowledged the things I can actually control, like, for instance, my Candy Crush habit.

How do you engage with technology before going to bed? Is shutting it down part of your pre-bedtime routine, or is using it one of the ways you look forward to relaxing at the end of the day?

Paper or plastic: How do you read your books?

Categories: off the clock

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Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.netAfter a busy day of work and parenting, a lot of people like to end the night cozied up with a good book. Well, maybe not “cozied,” since recent research shows a lot more of us are choosing the cool glow of e-readers and tablets over the familiar warmth of paper books. And when I say “us,” of course, I really mean “you,” or perhaps “other people not like us old-school fogies with our quaint affinity for ‘pages’ and ‘bookmarks’/you’ll have to pry this printed book from my cold dead hands/etc.” We paper-book types are not yet a dying breed, but studies show we may be headed that way.
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Can you relax on vacation?

Categories: off the clock

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My preschooler is on Spring Break this week, and while yes, it’s been great not having to start each day with the usual bleary-eyed flailing to get everyone fed and dressed and out the door before it’s time to come home again, I wouldn’t call this a “vacation” exactly, or at least not a relaxing one.
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More mothers say they want to work full time(?!)

Categories: child care, economy, happiness, time management, working from home

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Ever since having kids, I’ve said (and predict I will continue to say for a very long time), that my ideal working situation is part-time–whether out of the home, in the home, on a boat, with a goat…whatever. Most of my mom friends seem to feel the same way, which is why I was surprised to read that the number of mothers who say they’d prefer to work full time has risen dramatically in just the last five years. Mothers who say they’d prefer to work full time increased from 20 percent in 2007 to 32 percent in 2012, according to a Pew Research Center survey (link goes to an overview) of 2,511 working parents (both men and women) conducted at the end of last year. Are you as surprised by this as I am?
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When your priorities are not your priorities

Categories: Uncategorized

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When I was in school, I always prided myself on completing every assignment completely and being completely complete in everything I did. I thought this was all merely the functioning of a dedicated perfectionist (and certifiable nerd), but I’m wondering now if I also just had too much time on my hands.
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Working at home, with the kids

Categories: the home office, time management, working from home

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When you hear the label work-at-home mom, do you picture do you picture a woman who works from home and also happens to be a mom or do you think of a woman working at home while her kids are there? The label is up for grabs for anyone who wants to use it, and I certainly wouldn’t say that one definition is any more accurate or difficult or heroic than the other, but I will say, having now done both, that they definitely can be different, and at times vastly so.

I kind of hate the image I chose to accompany this post because the idea that “working mother” equals “woman on a laptop while holding a baby” is a misguided and/or uninformed interpretation of how many versions of work-at-home motherhood there are out there. And yet…here I am, the lady on a laptop while holding my baby. (We do not, however, wear matching outfits that also coordinate with the giant arrangement of fresh flowers giving a “pop of color” to our sparkling white kitchen. Right now, for instance, I am wearing green plaid pajama pants that belong to my husband, and the baby is wearing oatmeal in his hair.)
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Do you have a 1.5-career marriage?

Categories: marriage

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A few months ago I read an excellent post by Liz from InnerTeub.com and I’ve been sitting on it for a while now, trying to think of something original to add to it here.
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