This week’s working mom has some aggressive retirement goals, and given the nature of her career and choices, she elects to blog anonymously. I know I considered that path as well, never knowing if my professional network would judge me if they discovered my personal writings online. It’s a choice we all need to make, and I certainly respect Harmony’s. Learn more about her juggle below, and you can also visit her blog, which offers a lot of great insights on the family-work juggle.
Tell us what you do for a living.
I am a blogger with a professional career. I cannot divulge too many details about my personal life due to my secret aspirations of early semi-retirement. I will say that it took years of education, for which we are still paying, to obtain my degrees. I have been in my position for about six years now. I commute to an office in the city and it can be very stressful work. I don’t particularly enjoy my occupation anymore. At this point, it is more of a means to an end. I am the breadwinner (hence my long-time interest in this blog), so we need my income to pay off our debt and facilitate our plan to semi-retire at the age of 40 (2022). At that point, we will live a frugal lifestyle supported by part-time employment and investments. I plan to use my education and experience in the capacity of a freelancer/consultant during semi-retirement.
How many kids do you have? Ages?
Goofball is sweet five-year-old boy. Tornado is a crazy three-year-old girl. Trey is the newest member of the family at almost six months old. We also have two cats, a dog, and a few fish. We hope to add a fourth child to the menagerie in the next year or two.
Explain your average morning.
I try to sleep in as late as possible right now, because being a night owl and having to wake up with the baby does not work well with early mornings. I shower at night, so depending on my destination for the day (see below) I can usually wake up some time between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. The kids eat breakfast and Mr. Smith makes lunches for everyone. I dress the kids, feed the baby, and help pack up bags, bottles, and blankies. I will drop off the youngest two on daycare days, while Mr. Smith helps Goofball get on the bus. One of my trade secrets is to eat breakfast during my morning commute. I cook up batches of oatmeal cupcakes that get stored in the freezer and make some hardboiled eggs on Sunday nights. It takes about one minute to prepare my breakfast every morning and I eat it while driving to work, with a big cup of coffee.
Give us a glimpse into your daily “juggle.” Do you work in an office or at home? Do you connect with your kids throughout the day?
We have built considerable variety into our weekly schedule. Mr. Smith works three days per week and the youngest two children will go to daycare on those days. I work from home one day per week and at a local office on one morning. I usually do some additional work on nights and/or weekends. Goofball is the only one with a standard schedule, as he goes to kindergarten. On the day that I work from home, I get to eat lunch with my youngest two and my husband, feed and snuggle the baby, and can help get Goofball on and off the bus. When I work at the local office, I get home early and have some extra time to spend with everyone. Having a husband who only works part-time is really helpful with household chores, so I have more time with the kids or for my side hustles.
How does your family keep track of schedules and activities?
This is something that we need to work on. The kids are now old enough to start getting involved in different activities. I plan to look into different apps that will sync between my and Mr. Smith’s phones. Any suggestions?
Describe your dream schedule.
My dream schedule is to only work part-time, doing a variety of tasks. I have a pretty good schedule right now, but in my opinion, full-time employment until old age is no way to live. Once we can semi-retire, I will spend a few hours per day working and the rest of my time will be spent with family and more personally-meaningful activities.
How do you use your time at night once the kids are asleep?
Hustling. At night, I earn extra money by blogging, on pay-per-click websites, and even making things to sell on eBay. I’m working on adding freelance writing to the routine. We need the money to pay off debt and build up assets that will facilitate our plans for the future. After finishing up my “second shift,” there is some housework to do and I may watch a television show with the hubby. I usually stay up past midnight.
What is the best thing about being a working mom? Hardest thing?
I know that my children are learning the value of education and hard work. Also, I like to believe all of the studies that show they will be more successful because they grew up with a working mother. Still, it’s hard to hear about everything that you’ve missed out on. I know that important things happen while I’m working, but find that the mommy guilt really sets in when you hear about what occurred while you were away. One week after I returned from maternity leave, my baby rolled over for the first time. I would have never known, but his older sibling proudly recounted it for me at dinner. There are bad things too, like when they went to the playground and Tornado skinned her knee up pretty bad. She told me about how she was crying, and I wasn’t there to kiss the “boo-boo all better.” I know that there will be many similar events in the future. That’s the hardest thing.
How do you relieve stress or carve out “me” time?
I’ve recently started crocheting. I find it very relaxing to turn off my brain for a while and just, yarn over, yarn over, yarn over . . . An added benefit is that everyone will have new hats for winter! Also, I try to use my commute as “me time” by listening to audio books or just using the time to think and enjoy the scenery.
Share a treasured tip you’ve received from another mom.
Laura Vanderkam (author and mom) provides extremely helpful time management tips in her books. She teaches that, as busy as you may feel, you have time to accomplish anything if you make it a priority. I’ve also found that her advice about being productive with multitasking and “time confetti” helps me get a lot done. Basically, you plan ahead on ways to use those small bits of time that occur in between doing other things.
And, if there is anything else you’d like to share … feel free.
I find it really helpful to listen to other moms whenever feeling stressed out. If you do, you will see that everyone is struggling in some way. The grass is always greener, until you get up close and take a good look at it. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or something in between, there are always issues. Others may think that I have everything worked out, but they don’t know about our debt, that there is no exercise in my schedule, and our house is pretty messy most of the time.
Last great book you’ve read:
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It was a great story with an amazing cast of characters, and quite enlightening to the plight of working moms. I assumed that moms were much more involved in the care of their children a few decades ago. However, in the early 1960’s, the housewives in this story handed off much of that responsibility to their housekeepers. It forced me to acknowledge that my work is at least somewhat meaningful. In comparison, these woman were missing out on time with their children to do things like play bridge and gossip.
Your Working Mama Theme Song Would Be …
“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. I sing this song to my children every night, even over the phone when away for work. In spite of our daily stresses and busyness, I want them to go to sleep thinking, “every little thing is gonna be alright” and wake up to “smile with the rising sun.”
My greatest guilty pleasure:
Rose wine and “The Walking Dead.”
Are you a working mom who would like share your “juggle?”
Message me on Facebook or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d love to share your story!