I find that talking to other working mums and reading their stories is a great way to make yourself feel better and to realise that you’re not the only mum struggling to fit it all in.
This week’s working mum is Kathy from Working Parent Stories – Kathy has 2 grown-up children so has been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale!
Tell us a bit about yourself…
My name is Kathy Haselmaier. My husband and I have two grown children; a daughter (27) who is a speech-language pathologist, and a son (22) who just started his first “real” job working in marketing for a high-tech company. My husband and I worked full time while we raised our children. We live north of Denver, Colorado in the US.
What do you do for a living?
As the editor of WorkingParentStories.com I gather, edit and publish stories from working parents who are committed to their kids and their careers. The stories are published to encourage, inspire, and humor working parents who know that combining work with parenting is rewarding, but never easy. Before launching the website, I spent 32 years working in marketing and business operations roles, mostly at HP.
How many hours do you work?
Full time (i.e. 40 hours/week).
Who looked after your children while you worked?
When our children were very young, we took them to stay with an in-home childcare provider during the day. After they started school, they attended a before-school and/or after-school program as needed.
Did you return to the same job after having your children?
With my first baby, I returned to the same job I held before she was born. With my second baby, I changed jobs during my maternity leave, so I returned to a new position, but it was similar work, so familiar.
Did you return to work on the same hours?
After both babies were born, I returned to work full time.
After our first baby was born, my husband stayed home with her for four weeks after I returned to work. That made the return easier since I didn’t need to worry about the new childcare arrangement until after I’d settled back into a work routine.
After my second baby was born, my husband did not stay home after I returned to work. By then our childcare provider was almost like a member of our family. We knew her well and had no worries when we left our son with her for the first time.
How long was your maternity leave?
I was home for 3 ½ months with my first baby (the most time permitted by my employer back then), and I stayed home for 4 ½ months with my second baby.
How did you feel about returning to work?
With my first child I was very concerned about returning to work after our baby was born. I worried that I would miss my daughter so much that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my work, and I feared I would be miserable. Before the baby was born a more senior female co-worker suggested that I assure my employer that I would be returning to work full-time after my maternity leave ended. She told me that it would be easy to resign my position if I changed my mind, but not easy for them to hold my position if I waivered. So that’s what I did. Since my husband stayed home with our baby for four weeks after I returned to work, I was able to concentrate on the job as I worked into the new routine.
As my maternity leave was ending, I found that I was looking forward to returning to work. Once I was back in the office, I found I was enjoying the return to the professional challenges and more adult interaction. I also enjoyed the challenge of organizing my day as efficiently as possible. (Well, I enjoyed it much of the time. Some days I thought I might lose my mind.) As each day passed it became more and more obvious that I would be fine thanks to the strong partnership with my husband. By the time my husband needed to return to work, we were both confident we were up for the challenge, and we were excited that our daughter would be making some new friends at daycare.
After our second child was born, five years later, I knew I would return to work, and we knew we’d find a way to make it work. Our new son’s five-year-old sister was a big help and often acted like a back-up mother. In fact, she still acts like his mother sometimes, but he doesn’t like it anymore!
What did you find the hardest about being a working mum?
There were a lot of logistical challenges as we raised our kids, but luckily both my husband and I were determined to make it work. We learned to focus on the challenges for each day as they arose, and we tried not to get too concerned about problems that might arise in the future. Plans seemed to change a lot and before we learned to focus on short-term challenges we realized that we were wasting a lot of time worrying about potential problems that never surfaced.
What were your favourite things about being a working mum?
I loved the adult interaction and challenges work provided as I was raising my kids. I’ve always had a lot of energy and worried that if I didn’t have challenges of my own, I might become too focused on my children and hinder their ability to become independent adults. I also travelled a few times a year for work and appreciated those opportunities to take little breaks from parenting, see more of the world, and eat in nice restaurants. I always appreciated my family more upon my return too. Since my husband travelled for work regularly, I also had quite a bit of one-on-one time with my kids while he was gone. I rarely did the cooking at home, so when he was gone we did some crazy stuff like eating breakfast food for dinner since it was fast and easy to prepare.
Do you have any tips for other working mums?
Give yourself permission to enjoy your career. Often times the lessons you learn at work make you a better parent! Also, children learn different things from different people, so recognize that while they learn a lot from you at home, the opportunity to learn from others while you’re at work will probably help them become more well-rounded adults. We publish lots of tips and tricks for working parents on our website too.