Our new series, Family Tales, is an honest peek into the daily lives of families across the country who are on this crazy ride we call parenthood! From divulging childcare costs to breaking down family finances to managing bedtime routines with multiple kids, we tap into the Red Tricycle army of parents to find out how they’re making it work. This series is a judgment-free zone.

Interested in telling your story? Start by filling out our questionnaire here. All stories are anonymous.

How Being a Working Mom Has Made Me a Better Parent (and Human Being)

My age and occupation: 32, executive assistant
My partner’s age and occupation: 34, engineer

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Annual household income: $145,000
City: A Denver suburb

Childcare costs per year: $16,000 (we pay over the table)
How we found our childcare: We visited five different childcare centers in close proximity to work and home and went with our gut.
Our kid(s) ages: one son who will turn two in May

Despite my husband’s new job (and higher pay that comes along with it), after giving birth I knew I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom as much of my confidence and happiness come from my work. So, even though we live in a suburb where one parent (which I noticed almost always happens to be the mother) can stay home or work from home part-time, I knew that path wasn’t for me. And, it works for our family. As I remind myself, a happy mom is the best type of mom.

Here’s what a typical day looks like for our family:

Morning: We Play Offense Instead of Defense

My husband and I both wake up between 5 and 5:30 a.m. daily. We both like to get dressed and ready for the day before our 21-month-old wakes up. We prefer to play offense rather than defense when it comes to morning time with our son.

My husband eats before leaving for work between 6:30 and 7 a.m. My son wakes up sometime between 6 and 7 a.m. It’s a total crapshoot, but he sleeps through the night so we don’t mind. I never wake our son up, I always wait until he is awake on his own to get our day started. He eats breakfast at daycare and I eat mine at work, so I get him dressed and he heads to daycare for the day. My office arrival is flexible so I arrive between 7 and 8:30 a.m. depending on the day and how much I have going on.

Believe it or not, we started looking at childcare options when I was about 4 to 5 months along which I thought was plenty far in advance. We were 20th on a wait-list at some centers, which seems crazy. If you want to give yourself plenty of options, I’d recommend starting the childcare search as soon as you know you are expecting. We chose a center over in-house daycare or a nanny because the extra structure and professionalism at a center (plus, the state license) personally gives me peace of mind. Plus, there is always back-up care at the center if one of the teachers calls in sick.

Afternoon: You Don’t Have to Do It All to Get It All Done

My stay-at-home mom friends wonder how I can go to work and I wonder how they can stay home, but there is no right way to be a mom.

I work until 3:30 or 4:30 p.m. depending on how my day goes. I know that when I’m at work, my son is learning all kinds of things that I would have never thought of as a stay-at-home mom—songs, sign language, and more. He is learning to play with others which is important to us as he maybe will be an only child (we haven’t decided on whether to have #2 just yet). They feed him breakfast and lunch, which is a huge help.

I know that I made the right choice for myself in going back to work, but it certainly wasn’t easy and not without some disappointment. I chose to breastfeed which meant I was hauling my pump to work every day. I would have preferred to breastfeed until our son turned one, but my supply dropped and we only made it through seven months before we had to supplement with formula. I also sometimes feel bummer that I miss out on mommy-and-me classes that seem to only be offered during the week like music, dance and story time at the library which all sound like so much fun.

When I leave work I might run a few errands (fueling up my car, picking up dry cleaning, groceries, etc). A lot of these errands I cram into the after-work hours because that’s the only time I have free to get it done.

I will always work, but I think that there is value in my son seeing his mom go to work everyday and having a dad that spends a lot of 1:1 time with him. If I make it home before the boys I change out of my work clothes, wash off my make-up and pick up around the house and start dinner while listening to a podcast. My husband picks our son up after he is done working between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.

Evening: Keep It Consistent, But Not Rigid

Meal planning and grocery shopping has never been something I enjoy so our game-changing routine is this: I use a meal delivery service (we switch between Hello Fresh and Plated depending on their menus that week) four nights of the week. We order pizza on Fridays so I only have two nights a week where I am thinking about what to make for dinner. Those nights I do something easy like pasta, tacos, etc. Most importantly, we all eat dinner together around 6 p.m.

photo: Hello Fresh

After dinner we have playtime and our son is always wound up, full of energy and feels his best. We run, chase, jump and dance! We always listen to music while we eat dinner and it’s fun to see which songs our son enjoys the most.

My son takes a bath every other night (he is prone to eczema on his back, knees and elbows so we try not to dry out his skin). Then at 6:45 p.m. we start the bedtime routine, which is books, songs and then lights out by 7:15 p.m. My husband mostly does this routine. I clean the kitchen and living room and make my breakfast and lunch for the next day while he is putting our son down for the night.

 

In our family we know that everyday we have to do the following: 1) work 2) take care of our son 3) feed ourselves 4) keep our house in order and 5) manage our finances. My husband and I both work so that leaves 2, 3, 4 and 5 to be divided between the two of us. We make a great team and my husband spends a lot of 1:1 time with our son so that I can manage the household duties. I like doing them and my husband is a big kid himself so he loves his playtime duties. We split the responsibility of managing our finances and found that keeping a budget that we can both access and manage online is the best way for us. All of this is probably not traditional but it works for us and plays to our strengths as parents. I make sure our son gets to appointments, has diapers, pictures of his pet to share at school, etc. My husband makes sure there is fun and play.

I cherish our time together on the weekends and we make the most of it since weekdays our time is limited. It works for us!

Nighttime: An Early Bedtime Means Time to Ourselves

After 7:15 p.m. the night is ours. An early bedtime lets us be free to do what we want as soon as our son is in his crib. Ninety percent of the time my husband will do a little work or we’ll watch a movie together. If my husband has work to catch up on, I either do a few chores around the house or read. We are both in bed around 9 p.m. and either read or mindlessly scroll through our phones with lights out by 10 p.m. if not earlier.

Our new series, Family Tales, is an honest peek into the daily lives of families across the country who are on this crazy ride we call parenthood! From divulging childcare costs to breaking down family finances to managing bedtime routines with multiple kids, we tap into the Red Tricycle army of parents to find out how they’re making it work. This series is a judgment-free zone.

Interested in telling your story? Start by filling out our questionnaire here. All stories are anonymous.

 

 

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