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Part-time employee = part-time mom?

Categories: time management, working from home

3 comments

I never thought I’d become one of those women whose priorities so obviously shifted once I became a mother. Of course I’d want my family to think they were my top priority (because they are), but I also thought I could make my bosses and coworkers feel like work was my top priority, even if common sense told them it couldn’t possibly be. I just thought that in the best of all possible worlds I could be everything to everyone—the best mom, the best employee—and no one would feel like they were getting the short end of the me stick (except maybe myself, but oh, isn’t martyrdom the curse of the modern mommy?).

It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why I feel so scattered and thinly spread these days, but I suspect it might have to do with thinking I could maintain my full-time workload and full-time office persona on a less-than-part-time schedule. Last week I missed a deadline for a coworker because I lost her email in the shuffle of trying to do too many things–both business and personal–during one too-short naptime on a non-work day, and as I was apologizing profusely to my coworker (while banging my head on the keyboard because how could I be so careless?) I couldn’t help but think that (a) she was rolling her eyes because isn’t that just like a part-time “mom-ployee” (blech) to lose an email? and (b) this never would have happened if I still worked full-time.

Part of the problem is that when I go to work, I don’t always feel like I’m fully there. Because I’m only in the office one day a week, it seems like I spend my first hour on the clock getting my bearings as if I’d been on another planet for the previous week, which, in some ways, I have. Staying at home with a pre-toddler means adapting to strange customs, following bizarre routines, and speaking a foreign language–all of it worlds away from the comfortable, “native” existence that used to be my full-time job, which now, in comparison, is sometimes like being on the moon.

And then when I’m at home, I can never quite relax and be in the moment as a part-time mother because I’ve always got work hovering over me like a cartoon stormcloud. Gone is the old 9-5, and in its place is the 24/7; I work when I can, even if that’s bleary-eyed in the middle of the night or at noon with a wriggling kid on my knee. It never ends, not the parenting stuff or the career stuff, and it just now hit me that I’ve not been a part-time mom and a part-time employee all this time, but a full-time everything, to everyone, without even realizing it. No wonder I’m exhausted.



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3 comments so far...

  • I was in that dilemma for a while. I learned to really, really focus on my kids during a set block of time each day. Work can wait for a few hours (outside of business hours, of course). When you’ve spent several totally present hours with your child, it is a lot easier to get back to focusing on work after she’s tucked into bed. And you’ll really get a lot more done and feel more successful in both arenas.

    SKL  |  October 7th, 2009 at 7:32 pm

  • I agree with the previous person in that it’s all-important, in my life anyway, to keep concrete boundaries up around work and family life. When I’m at work? One home email check right when I get there, and one at lunch. There are no home phone calls to be made, no errands to be run, except at lunch. This isn’t just to keep myself “honest” on company time (far from it!) but to enable me to get done what needs done, period.
    When I leave work, I take NO “homework” with me if I can help it at all, and even then it gets done well after my daughter is in bed.

    Meg  |  October 12th, 2009 at 5:40 am

  • I should say I was “victim” of this part time job. After taking a break of 4years when my daughter was born, with new aspirations and ambitions I went back to part-time job. My lady boss was way mean to me. Calling every half-an-hour even after my work schedule was over. Expecting me to check emails in the evening and respond. Later I realised working full time would be way better than this part time thing. You clock the required hours and you are done (ofcourse with exceptions here and there).
    So I quit my part time job (with a mean lady boss) and working full time with setting right expectations from the beginning.

    RS  |  October 13th, 2009 at 9:15 am

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