Sunday, March 24, 2013

10 Ways the Family Changes When One Chic Mom Returns to Work

These two questions were posed to me by my sons, independent of each other on back-to-back days: "So Mom, will you have to work all summer like you've worked all winter?" Yes. "You'll be around all summer right? They won't make you work will they?" No, Unlike you my new job does not take a summer vacation. I could see them pondering whether or not this was a good thing or not. Free reign of the house, but no rides to friend's houses, the pool, or basketball camp.

In my mind summer remains far off because my yard is still buried under a couple feet of snow. Perhaps I'm in denial, but I have a difficult time imagining summer and three children at home for most of the work week. This will be another phase of adjustment following the past three months of family adjustments when I started working four days a week.

Here are 10 ways my family changed since this chic mom returned to work:
  1. Make Your Bed or Risk Critters Crawling Between the Sheets. All my years at home meant that I usually was the one who made the beds. Not anymore. The children must make their own beds in the morning, and there is an added incentive: critters. If you make your bed, the dog is less likely to curl up on your pillow and any random box elder beetles and ladybugs coming out of hiding for the winter are less likely to crawl around on your sheets.
  2. Forgot Your Homework? Too Bad. Tough love and no other option. If you forgot an assignment at home or left a textbook at school, Mom is not around to bail you out anymore. 
  3. Want Cheezits or Frosted Animal Crackers? Add it to the Target List. My new job gives me Fridays off, and that day fills up with errands like the weekly grocery run to Target. The family keeps a running list of what we need. The kids have learned if Flavor Blasted Goldfish are not on the list, they are not coming home from Target.
  4. Empty Your Pockets. I'm notorious for not checking every pocket before putting a pair of dirty jeans into the washing machine, and I've washed (and ruined) far too many electronic devices. We tried to get the kids to to their own laundry but that is a work in process. Now that I have even less time for fun household chores like laundry, I don't even bother to empty out pockets. Remove the iPhone or face the consequences.
  5. Take a Cab If You Miss Your Bus. A couple of days a week my 14-year old son must get himself and his 10-year old brother out of the house by themselves in the morning. My husband travels to Washington, DC for work, and I am usually at work when the school bus arrives. Missing the bus is not an option. However calling a cab and paying for it with your own money is a good incentive to watch the clock.
  6. If It's Not on the Calendar, It's Not Happening. Calendars now rule my life. In addition to the huge wall calendar near the phone, I now use a Google calendar to keep tabs on both my home and work life. Unless an event, practice, or appointment is entered onto these calendars it will not happen. Life is planned down to the minute especially during the school week. If only someone other than me would figure out how to use the calendars!
  7. Independence Is a Good Thing. This applies mainly to the 10-year old. You don't need your Mom around to help you with your homework, nag you to take a shower, remind you to brush your teeth, or clean up the mess you left after playing X-Box in the basement with your friends. Growing up just is not easy is it?
  8. Let the 16-Year Old Drive. My daughter received her driver's license a few months ago and now is technically and legally able to drive her brothers around. Problem is that she is not always willing to drive her brothers around . . . too much snow and ice, too tired, I don't know where your friend lives, my hair is wet, etc. Excuses will fall flat this summer when she is the only driver at home and the snow has finally melted.
  9. Walking the Dog Is Not Negotiable. Our poor Cairn terrier has had the biggest adjustment. There is no one home during the day to play with him, let him outside to chase random trash trucks, or to take him on a long walk. He sulked around the house and tried to ignore me for the first few weeks of my job. I think I've finally been forgiven. Someone is required to walk the dog or at the very least let him outside before leaving the house for the day. He has been forgotten on occasion, but luckily he has very strong bladder muscles and avoided any accidents.
  10. Just Let It Go. This is the most difficult change for me, but easiest for everyone else. Letting it go means leaving behind the dirty breakfast dishes in the sink, not having a perfectly clean house, slogging your way through the mounds of dirty laundry littering the laundry room floor by Wednesday night, living with a stinky dog who really needs a bath, or eating far too much pizza, tacos, and pasta for dinner. I have a hard time letting it all go especially when it comes to the food and eating a somewhat healthy dinner before running off to baseball practice. Fast food is not an option!
Somehow everyone is actually adjusting to the new way of life, even the dog.

No comments: