Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Work or SAHM?

Our search for a new nanny has brought up a lot of emotions. I've started second guessing working part time and being away from my babies. Losing our nanny shook me a bit, I thought she was committed. Even though I have a strong trust in her I started to question my beliefs.

I also know several stay at home moms (SAHM) who have very little help if any and have incredible energy for their children. They inspire me to spend more time with my children and have less help.

To be a working mom or stay at home mom is a divisive issue. If you go to work, there is often an underlying judgement that you are selfish and love your children less than the stay at home moms. If you don't work you are 'just' staying at home and some say you may be giving up too much of yourself.

Yesterday's Oprah show 'My Baby or My Job' took a closer look at exactly this question and was very enlightening.

The gist of the show was that it doesn't matter whether you chose to work or not work. What matters is that you are attuned to yourself and your children and actively engaged in their life. So, if you need a job to feel vital and whole and in turn can give more to your children that may be the best decision for you AND your family. Or if you choose to stay home but can stay connnected instead of exhausted and checked out - that's great too. It's all about the connection we create and foster.

I've found that for me, working three days a week helps me feel more energized for my babies and my husband. I still feel guilty that I work, and I realize I can't do it all but this is best for me and for my family, for now.

I'm still in awe of the mom's I know that stay home and still manage to be actively engaged and highly attuned to their children. I hope that if I chose that path at some date I will able to be as strong as a mom as they are.

Meanwhile I'm anxious to find the right person who I can trust to care for my babies while I am at work, someone who adores my babies. Mayela will be leaving to care for her new family in two weeks. As it turns out, she discovered the opportunity from another nanny in our own park and will be working just down the street! She will be caring for a five year old with mild Autism, and his baby sibling due January.

Kiss goodbye, before I head to the office this morning.

Operation Team Freas Nanny update:

Nanny #1 worked with us on Saturday, she is the one who has worked for four years for a family in the neighborhood. They are moving to Houston in one week. She was great with the babies and I got a positive vibe about her. She is a hard worker, during their nap she took care of the basic baby chores then took the initiative to mop the floor and vacuum so that the babies would have a clean floor to crawl on! Down side, she doesn't speak English. I was a bit tuckered after speaking Spanish for a few hours. My Spanish is significantly lacking but we could communicate. I have some concerns about potential misunderstandings.

Nanny #2 interviewed on Monday afternoon. Again, a Spanish speaker but seemed to understand some English. She is not currently employed and I didn't get the feeling she had been a full time nanny recently. I believe she has worked for a girl who owns a local stationary shop. I need to give her a call and get a reference. She was sweet and nicely dressed, not ready to get on the floor with babies. She seemed a bit weary of caring for three babies, but excited about the pay and benefits. It was hard to read. I've invited her to work for us on Friday as a test run for the both of us.

Nanny #3 has worked for a family nearby for the past eight years. She also only speaks Spanish. The children she cares for are starting school so she may be available full time soon. I'm trying to arrange for her to help us soon to see if she is a potential fit.

Good news, my mom will be staying with us in September and Clare, David's mom will also be back from Colorado. So, as the babies get to know a new nanny, and she learns our routine, there will be plenty of help. I plan on working from home the last week of August to close the gap.
Babies LOVE their grandmas.

Let me know your thoughts on being a stay at home mom versus balancing a profession and motherhood. What works for you? and how to you make it work?


Anonymous said...

I think a lot of women are doing it the Elizabeth Vargas way. She chose to anchor a weekly show instead of a nightly show, so she could have more time for her family. You work 3 days a week instead of 5. I work for the State instead of a big law firm. So, there are lots of "in-between" choices, it's not just the extremes of working FT or dropping out of the workforce completely.

There's quantity time and quality time with your kids. I like a balance. If I was at home all day with mine plus doing all the housework I think the quality would suffer. Plus, I need to feel like I am financially contributing to my household in some way. Sure, we could pay the bills right now, but what about retirement & college & my daughter's future wedding, etc? But oh the guilt. A lot of which is imposed by the media. It takes strength to look beyond that and see the bigger picture.

Michele S said...

I think 3 days a week is the perfect balance between working and staying at home. As you know, I've always been a stay at home mom and you are correct in your assumption that it takes a tremendous amount of energy to not "check out". Day after day after day after day after day of the same old thing can drive people crazy. This is why I'm frantically running around and doing new things because I just cannot sit in the house.

As far as the nanny situation goes, I think you need to keep looking. The kids are so close to a verbal explosion and if they are only hearing Spanish from a primary caregiver, I'm not sure how this will effect them. I would have LOVED to have a bilingual worker, but I wouldn't have been willing to go Spanish only.

Jen4 @ Amazing Trips said...

Just in case you were asking MY humble opinion ... from your options listed - I'd go with Nanny 1 all the way. You'll probably learn to communicate better, with time, and she sounds the most engaged with the children. That Nanny 2 is the most excited about pay and benefits, sends up a red flag for me.

Re: Work/SAHM - I think the balance is important for my mental clarity. But then again, I'm extremely lucky that my DH can also work part-time and we can manage the baby care, on our own. Not sure what I would do if we had to bring someone else in to help, while I worked. It really surprises me that I am so opposed to having outside help with our kids.

Casey's trio said...

Ahhh the nanny search! We have been doing the exact same thing in our house. Our current nanny, who we adore, is going back to school so we have been looking for someone PT to fill in. It is SO NOT EASY finding someone you trust with your kids and I hope that you find someone you love and that loves your kids. I am a working mom and don't think I could ever be a SAHM just because I need that adult interaction and fulfillment from my job. And yes, I suffer from the mommy guilt. So glad to hear that you have help from the grandmas while you find the right person:)

Jenny said...

work or SAH: I feel fortunate that I am staying at home (for now). But it is groundhog day. And I think about things like retirement, college, building screened in porches, and I get a lump in my stomach. I used to love to watch my retirement and IRAs grow, and now...

BUT, my job at the time of birth was more of an energy suck. I'm jealous of you b/c you have a great situation w/ the part-time thing. I should get back to the consulting thing, but it takes forethought, and time.

It helps me to look at the spectrum of my career. I worked for a long time, now I'm staying at home. When they get more independent I want to go back part-time, and maybe eventually full-time. And I have the luxury to find something I really like and that fits with being a mom.

Maybe we need to start our own biz.

Keep looking for the nanny. Its like meeting your husband. You'll just know. :)

Erickson 5 said...

I have been through thsi stuggle. I work two days a week and I love it. I call it my "weekend" as it gets me out of the house and gives me a much needed break. I can feel for you on the nanny thing. It is hard but hang in there as you will find someone you love. Also, just so you know...when our kids got a little older 2 1/4th we took them to a daycare one day a week and they LOVED it. It was about the same as what we would have paid a nanny. I just mentioned as it might be an option for the future.
Good Luck! Nicole