Juggling Family & Career

One of the questions I get asked a lot is “how do you juggle your career and your family?”

Let me tell you, it isn’t easy. But it does get easier.

I was a stay-at-home mom for the first 15 months of Amelia’s life. I was 9 months pregnant while taking the bar exam and gave birth a few shorts weeks after. I had to wait until the weekend before Thanksgiving to find out my results, so I knew it was somewhat pointless trying to find a job to start when most mothers finished maternity leave (which is around 6-8 weeks, sometimes 12 weeks), because if I didn’t pass, I’d just have to quit anyway.

I also stayed home a lot longer than I had expected to for two reasons: daycare is expensive and I was having difficulties finding a job.

Just because I passed the bar exam and excelled in school, doesn’t mean I was guaranteed a job. I spent months searching for a job. I went on countless interviews that always ended with the “thanks but we’re going with someone else” email. And on top of that, I couldn’t find a daycare that fit into our very limited budget.

But then, in October of 2018, I interviewed for a job over FaceTime. I had to wait a few weeks to hear back because the managing partner was in Europe on vacation. I decided to apply for retail jobs in the meantime, and actually got hired by Disney. For one day I lived my dream of working for Disney! On the day I trained to start working for Disney, I got my job offer and our lives were changed. Not only did I get a great job offer, but we had to move! (More on that HERE)

We moved up on Black Friday and I started working the following Tuesday. Bret stayed home for two weeks and then started at his new Home Depot. During those two weeks was when we went looking for daycares.

What We Juggle

I work a typically 8:30 AM – 5 PM job as an insurance defense attorney. I spend my days on court calls, in client meetings, or researching and writing (I do the writing bit the most).

Amelia goes to an in-home daycare that’s open from 7:15 AM – 5:30 PM.

Bret works as a supervisor at Home Depot about 30 minutes away. His schedule varies so some days he opens, some days he closes, and some days he works during the day like I do. He also has keys to the store so his schedule could change a day or two before depending on if there’s someone available to open or close.

How We Juggle

I typically wake up between 5:30 and 6 AM. I grab coffee and get ready. When I’m done getting ready between 7 and 7:30 AM, Bret or I get Amelia up and get her ready. We basically just change her diaper and clothes, and she’s good to go.

I usually make my lunch and bulletproof coffee right before we leave, and then I head out the door.

I always take Amelia to daycare and pick her up. Her daycare is about 15 minutes from my work, but taking her adds about a half hour to my commute because my work is right next to where we live. So I end up passing my work on the way to daycare and then backtrack to get to work. I usually get to work between 8:15 and 8:30, and I have to leave right at 5 PM, or shortly after, to get to daycare on time. Bret only takes Amelia or picks her up if he has a weekday off or I have to be at work earlier than normal. We also only have one car seat so we also have to factor in juggling that too.

When It Gets Rough

What I described above seems pretty easy, right? And for the most part, our system works out well. The only time a wrench gets thrown into it, is when my job needs me.

As I mentioned above, I’m an insurance defense attorney. I work in an office of five attorneys, three paralegals, and four staff. In legal terms, we are a small office (and I love it). Since I am the newest attorney to the office and a baby attorney, I work on pretty much every case we have. I plan on doing a post about my job (for those interested in being an attorney, or just generally curious), but the main point is, my to-do list is never ending. There have been a few times when duty calls and Bret and I have to rearrange our schedules to accommodate it.

The most recent time was just a few weeks ago. My co-worker and I had our first trial (it was kinda a mini trial, but still a trial). It was at a courthouse 1.5 hours away from Fresno and it started at 8:30 AM, which meant we needed to be there by 8 AM, which meant we needed to leave here by 6:30 AM. Remember how I mentioned daycare doesn’t open until 7:15 AM? Normally, I’d just have Bret take her, but on that particular day, Bret had to open the store at 5:00 AM. So what do we do?

Luckily for us, our daycare is amazing. It’s an in-home daycare, so our daycare lady, Mary Poppins*, is flexible on time because it’s out of her home. She was so gracious and understanding, and allowed me to drop Amelia off at 5:45 AM. This allowed me a couple of minutes to swing through Starbucks to grab breakfast, and then head to my co-worker’s house. Mary Poppins just charges me extra for the time Amelia is there early or late and adds it to my next months bill.

As a side note: Mary Poppins has also become our occasional babysitter. She is willing to keep Amelia after daycare closes for however long we need to go out to dinner or a movie. We’ve only done this twice, but it allows us to have some baby-free time together. We don’t have any family or friends up here that could watch Amelia for us so it’s nice that we don’t have to struggle to find additional childcare for date nights. Amelia is already comfortable with Mary Poppins and they just play and eat dinner after everyone leaves. Mary Poppins really is the best person we’ve met in Fresno so far.

It also gets rough when Amelia is sick and up all night, or just wakes up a lot in general, or takes forever to go to bed. I’m usually the one that wakes up/stays up with her, and when those nights happen I wish I could just press snooze and go to work late. But I can’t. I still get my butt up at 5:30/6 AM and get myself ready. Most of the time it puts a damper on my day because I’m more tired than usual, but I try to power through with an extra cup of coffee.

Final Thoughts

Overall, you gotta find a routine that works for you. Juggling life, motherhood, and career is doable if you have a village to back you up. I’m very lucky to have a job that’s pretty understanding when life happens. Sometimes Mary Poppins needs to close, and if Bret doesn’t have the day off, I need to work from home. Working from home can be a challenge, but it’s all about finding a strategy of when you work on work. Mary Poppins is also really understanding on the few occasions I am late (which only happens when someone has a trial coming up, like I did a few weeks ago). The only group that isn’t as understanding is Home Depot, and that’s okay. We can’t win them all.

As of right now, I think the routine we have works well. I don’t really see it changing unless Bret gets a different job/schedule, or we have another kid. But even if we have another kid, Mary Poppins has already said she’d love to have that baby too (she really loves Amelia and it just warms my heart).

Comment below if you have any good juggling hacks or let me know what you do! I’d love to hear!!

*Name changed for privacy.

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