by Chris Jones
Last December, my wife and I discussed her re-entering the workforce after five years of being a stay-at-home mom and doing small, remote admin jobs and seasonal work during the holidays. I encouraged her to go for it, and we would figure it out any challenges as we went along. Decisions like this are akin to marrying or having babies—you can be as prepared as you want, but the variables appear, and you address them accordingly.
One of the first hurdles we had to overcome was child care. Initially, Olive was supposed to attend preschool, but the last spot filled as we were applying. The next idea was to leave Olive at home with me since I work from a home office. That worked for a good week or two. The difficulty was you can only contain a 3-year-old so much. I would slip into deep focus writing or editing copy and be snapped back into reality by the sound of water pouring on the floor, or worse, silence. You know it’s never good when you realize your child is quiet. I’d find Olive unrolling paper towels, dropping Tsum Tsums into water bottles, or drawing on our off-white walls with colored pencils and markers. Oy, vey!
After two months of trying to balance business and baby, I had to appeal to my wife to find suitable child care. I was falling behind in my work, which was leading to stress, frustration and resentment. Despite trying to work around her nap time, I would feel a fatigued after a morning of making breakfast, getting her dressed, making snacks, playing with her, maintaining the house, and making sure she wasn’t creating mischief. Once I started working, my boys would come home—at 2:45 p.m. and 3:50 p.m. I felt like my days were a wash. I had to switch to dad mode to make sure they completed homework, to cook dinner, and to get the night routine flowing. I worked again after bedtimes, which compromised my evenings with my wife.
At last, we found child care. Olive goes to a home day care where there are five or six girls her age, and she loves it. I’m getting my work done, Elizabeth can work without concern, and we’re all happy.
After spending a couple of months getting kids ready, making breakfast, watching a toddler, cleaning house, managing homework, and doing bed time routines each week, I newly appreciate the work of moms. I relate to the fatigue and the desire for hot, uninterrupted baths or showers. While I’ve always played an active role in my home, I’d never walked the floor plan in my wife’s shoes—until now. I’ll end by wishing all the moms a Happy Mother’s Day. What you do to ensure that our homes run smoothly is the stuff of legends. And to my wife, Elizabeth: If I’ve ever failed to appreciate what you do for our family, know that I do and always will.