I am joining the Batchbook team in opening up conversations about the challenges of raising a family in today’s workplace. Here is my story.
My husband, my son and I live in the house my grandparents built on some farmland in 1949. At that time, they could look out their window and see nothing but forest and fields. Over the years, a few more houses sprung up on the property. Grandma Jenny’s brother Len built a house next door. Years later my father Stephen built a house in the backyard. And lastly, Len’s daughter Barbara built her house on the land, as well. 4 houses – all family. We lovingly dubbed the property The Ponderosa. By the time I grew up on The Ponderosa, the fields and forest had given way to strip malls and storage sheds. Nonetheless, I have many fond memories of playing outdoors, piling in the little wooden trailer with my cousins pulled by my dad’s tractor.
My husband and I had been married for 4 years when we decided to start a family. We were both commuting into the big city for our jobs, not ideal for trying to raise a family. We put a lot of thought into this decision. We knew it wouldn’t be easy but we have a great relationship (reason number one), I have a job that allows for a flexible schedule (reason number two) and we have great support at The Ponderosa (reason number three).
Our son was born on 3/1/11. I was able to take 3 months maternity leave from work. When the 3 months were over, I started back to work part-time transitioning from the Customer Experience team to QA which required less of a set schedule. This was a much needed step as I was working around the schedule of a newborn and QA allowed me to work unconventional hours.
I am very lucky to have a job that allows for such flexibility. I’ve attended meetings via Google Hangout from my couch with my son on my lap watching Sesame Street.
When I went back to work full time my cousin, who lived next door, offered to watch the baby for the summer so we wouldn’t have to put him in daycare too early. When September came, he started his new routine. We continue this same schedule today: my husband takes him on Monday, my mother on Wednesday, I take him on Friday and he’s off to daycare on Tuesday and Thursday.
It took a while to learn how to juggle the new routine of having an extra person in our lives. It was a bit stressful for me until I made a schedule for myself which balanced working at home with taking care of a baby and my other household duties. I wake up early on Friday morning and get some hours of work in while my husband is home. I then work again while Robbie naps. I make up any other hours on Sunday morning. My husband works on Saturdays so my house cleaning time is allocated to Robbie’s Saturday afternoon nap. It sounds silly, but having this designated time for chores is a lifesaver for me. I’m also now very efficient at getting a lot done in a little amount of time! On Sunday, my husband is home and it is our one day together as a family. We sometimes plan activities to do together but we also use this day for swapping time for ourselves. If he goes out for drinks after work one night, I get some free time to spend as I please. I also have made a commitment to taking a yoga class once a week. My parents pick Robbie up from daycare and feed him dinner. The class is early enough that I get home in time for bath and Blue’s Clues. I can make up any work time that night or the next day.
Living on The Ponderosa has its perks. Our Aunt Helen (affectionately known as Titi) frequently swoops in and takes Robbie over to her house. They have a whole routine together which involves pushing all the buttons on her phone and sticking foam letters all over her living room.
He loves spending time with Titi and Tata (Uncle Len).
On any given day, I’ll be plugging away on my laptop and I’ll hear the sound of one of dad’s tractors going up and down the long dirt driveway. I look out the window to see he’s got my son on his lap and Titi hanging on the tailgate. I can’t help but think back to that time in my life and I am so grateful that he is building happy memories of growing up on The Ponderosa just like I did.