Lollipops & Laptops

The Sticky Life of a Working Mom

Month: August 2017

Good Vibes From Around the Web: August

Good Vibes: August - Lollipops & Laptops

Some people find the end of the month relieving. For me, some month ends are more chaotic than others, like fiscal year end or quarterly reporting periods. But sometimes, after a month like this, you just need some good vibes. Going forward, my last post each month will include some of my favorite reads and other goodies from around the web. Here are a few things I’m finding intriguing, entertaining, and funny this month.

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Working Mom Interviews: Julie

Working Mom Interviews: Julie - Lollipops & Laptops

Meet one of my best friends, Julie. I met her the day after I moved to Sacramento for law school. We were on our way to an overnight whitewater rafting “bonding” trip with all the new students, and she looked nice enough, so I asked her if I could sit in the empty seat on the bus next to her. We rafted, shared a tent, and got to know each other. And we basically never left each other’s side through the rest of law school. She’s brilliant, hard-working, and she’s one of those moms who always lends a nonjudgmental ear and provides just the right balance of experience-based advice. So as you can imagine, I was thrilled when she agreed to let me kick off my new series of working mom interviews with her. Read on for some of that excellent experience-based advice.  

Working Mom Interviews: Julie - Lollipops & Laptops

Finishing law school right next to the girl I started it with.

Give me the elevator speech on what you do.

Professionally, I am an attorney for the State [of California]. Specifically, I work for the division that regulates financial institutions (banks, credit unions, money transmitters, etc.). Personally, I’m mom to a five-year-old, two-year-old, and a lab, and I have been married to my husband for eight and a half years.

How has your career changed, if at all, since having kids?

My priorities regarding my career definitely changed. Planning for, and having, kids helped to put into perspective how important it is to have a job that you actually enjoy and coworkers that you like being around 40+ hours a week. I had jobs where one or both of these things weren’t true and I would bring home my dissatisfaction (and sometimes anger). That wasn’t fair to myself or my family. Now, I’m in a position where I enjoy being at work, the people I work with, and I (generally) come home in a good mood!

What has been your greatest career accomplishment?

Related to the previous question, finding my current job has likely been my great accomplishment. When I went into law school, I wanted to be a corporate transactional attorney. But it’s hard to find a job in that field that will also allow you to have regular hours and a sense of work-life balance. Prior to this, I had a job that gave me a lot of flexibility, but it wasn’t the type of work I wanted to be doing. I wasn’t challenged and it was pretty far from corporate transactional work. But I was good at it and could be there for my family whenever I needed. In other words, I was comfortable, but not necessarily happy. I realized that I needed a challenge and to feel like I was actually making a difference in my work. A posting for my current position came up and I jumped at the opportunity. It was a new practice area so I knew the transition would be hard, but it was the right move.  

What do you find to be the hardest thing about juggling career and motherhood?

Mommy guilt. It’s almost completely self-imposed. But, man, that guilt can take a toll, especially when your five-year-old is asking why you can’t come in to class at least once a week like so-and-so’s mommy. I have to remind myself and my kids that I have a job other than raising them and that it is an important job that I am proud to have.

Working Mom Interviews: Julie - Lollipops & Laptops

Seriously, how gorgeous is this family?!

How do you and your spouse divide the household/parenting responsibilities?

I work a 9/8/80 schedule where I have every other Friday off. To make that happen, I leave the house by 6:00 am so I can leave work at 4:00 pm and pick up the kids on time. My husband is in charge of mornings. He is generally responsible for everything associated with the kids’ drop-off, including getting breakfasts and lunches together, making sure the kids look semi-put together, and getting out the door early enough for him to drop them off and be at work 30 minutes away by 8:00 am. Our kids are super-early risers so I can usually start getting at least one of the kids ready before I leave. (I just started making freeze-ahead lunches like tortilla roll ups and nut-free butter and jelly sandwiches to take some of the load off of my husband. So far those have worked out well!)

I am in charge of dinner for most of the week. On Sundays, I try to make enough food for at least two or three days. I can usually get something together within 30 minutes for the other days. That is usually about the time my husband gets home. My husband is in charge of figuring out Friday dinners because, by the end of the week, I just don’t want to think about it anymore.  

Deep cleans happen on my Fridays off. The day-to-day cleaning is mostly my area of responsibility, only because of my control issues over how I want things cleaned, not because my husband isn’t willing! (But he’s in charge of cleaning up after our dog in the backyard!)

I really feel like we evenly split our parenting responsibilities. Our strengths/weaknesses generally complement each other in this area. Our kids’ personalities are very similar to ours’ (my son is like my husband, and my daughter is like me) so those differences can be beneficial. For example, I tend to butt heads with my son in certain situations where my husband will be more calm and can communicate with him more effectively.

We are both attorneys. We both take our jobs very seriously and do everything we can to encourage each other’s professional endeavors, so that means picking up the slack when the other needs to prioritize work. For example, when I started my current job, I needed to travel for training and my husband didn’t hesitate to do pick up, drop off, dinner, and bedtime. Last year, he even had to take the kids trick-or-treating alone because I was stuck at a three-day training in San Francisco!

If you could do anything differently in terms of being a working mom, what would it be?

I would be more patient with my kids. They are not the reason that I am up before 5:00 am and only home by 5:30 pm. That’s just part of my decision to be a working mom. But, because I’m exhausted, I’m also short-tempered and impatient and I end up becoming really frustrated with them when they aren’t just listening to me the first time I ask them to do something or when they seem bewildered by the fact that they need to put on pajamas and brush their teeth before bed. I have to remember that they’ve had long days too and that they’re just doing what most kids are doing. (“Why are you acting like a five-year-old?! Oh wait…”)

Do you have any advice you would share with other working parents?

We’ve all heard that it takes a village to raise kids. But it’s hard to find your village, especially if you don’t have family nearby. Make a concerted effort to find it, though. It can make a huge difference in your life. Your kids will have a constant non-family presence in their life, and you will have a non-judgmental ear to bend when you need to vent, brag, or get advice.

Also, get a babysitter. Not a family member, either; just a regular babysitter that you trust in your home and with your kids.  It took us over five years to do this and my only regret is not doing it sooner.

Finally, take time for yourself and allow your spouse to do the same.  We’ve been encouraging each other to go for nights out or weekends away with friends, to go work out, or just to pamper ourselves outside of the house. It’s hard not to feel guilty about being away from your spouse/kids any more than our full-time jobs already require but I think that time away lets me reset and I’m a more patient, attentive mom because of it.

7 Quick Resume Updates

7 Quick Resume Updates - Lollipops & Laptops

Have you ever come across your dream job on LinkedIn or been chatting with an acquaintance who offers to connect you with an executive at a company you’d kill to work for only to realize you haven’t updated your resume in about five years? Trying to update a resume in a short time is a recipe for disaster. The likelihood that it will be sloppy and include typos is high, and you’re sure to forget major projects or milestones when you’re under the gun. Don’t get caught empty-handed when an opportunity arises. You should spend at least 30 minutes once per quarter updating your resume. Spend a little time on these areas to ensure you’re not missing any important pieces when the time comes to send your resume for a potential opportunity.

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Healthy Cooking for the Pickiest Toddler

Healthy Cooking for the Pickiest Toddler - Lollipops & Laptops

My kids were never human garbage disposals, but my daughter did, at one point, eat more than just [organic] chicken nuggets and french fries. I mostly blame myself. Because I hate cooking, I stick to easy, tried-and-true meals. After a long day at the office, I just don’t have the energy to fight her on it, so I feel very responsible for her picky palate.

And I am not exaggerating when I say this girl is picky. There is literally not one vegetable on this planet that she will willingly eat. NOT. ONE. I can’t even get her to eat the pouch purees with both fruit and veggies. She only wants the fruit and yogurt ones. I guarantee my kid is pickier than yours.

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6 Tip for Managing Working Mom Overload

6 Tips for Managing Working Mom Overload - Lollipops & Laptops

Any working professional, parent, or adult can tell you they have a lot going on. Life is busy and we move quickly. Working parents, in particular, are in a constant state of context switching between professional, parental, and household responsibilities, and it creates serious overload. It sure helps to have a supportive partner, but there is plenty of research that suggests women take on a lot of the “noticing” about all the little to-dos and it can be overwhelming. I tried to explain it to my husband once, and all he heard was that he’s not pulling his weight (which he is), so it was very reassuring when I came across this article a few months ago.

But what’s a working mom to do when you just can’t shut off the noise? And even if you could, what about all those to-dos that still need to be done? Below are some tips for managing (and coping) with the working mom overload.

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Legal Tip of the Month: Domestic Workers

Legal Tip of the Month: Domestic Workers - Lollipops & Laptops

Running a household is a lot of responsibility. Most of us delegate out some household work to third parties like housekeepers, gardeners, or babysitters and nannies. And most people tend to pay cash for these and think nothing of the relationship. But in California, these are usually classified as domestic workers and are subject to various tax and employment laws.

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72 Kid-Free Hours in NYC

72 Kid-Free Hours in NYC

I am never away from my kids. I mean, you know, except for 40-50 hours a week while I’m at work. But like, never away away. In the 16 months my son has been alive, I have literally not been away one night from him. Not one night. And my daughter just turned four. In total, I have been away from her four nights. But only one night at a time. Combine these with the fact that my husband regularly travels for work plus some travel for pleasure, and I have been totally overdue for a trip away.

It took A. LOT. for me to ask my parents to watch the kids for us while we went on vacation. My parents are helpful, but they’re busy. They have lives. My kids are little. They need a lot of supervision and attention. And to be honest, that is kind of a pain in the ass. Not only is it hard for me to ask for help in the first place, but it was torture for me to ask for someone to parent for four whole days. But I am so glad I asked. We needed this trip so badly.

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Transitioning from Diaper Bag to Regular Purse

Transitioning from Diaper Bag to Purse - Lollipops & Laptops

I’m at that weird time in life where I still need a lot of things for my kids but maybe not enough to fill a diaper bag. Since I work full time, I don’t typically carry my diaper bag with me–I don’t want it to sit in a hot car all day with snacks, sunscreen, and diaper rash cream going bad. Unfortunately, I’ve found myself picking up the kids from daycare and going straight to dinner and being caught without a diaper, a sweater, or a pacifier for an overtired baby. Since using my diaper bag as a purse isn’t an option for me, (although there are really great ones out there today that could, theoretically, work for some professionals,) I found a nice middle ground for transitioning from full-time diaper bag to a regular purse.

My first move was to think about all the things I could potentially need on an emergency basis and separate those from things I regularly use.

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Monthly Challenge Recap: Homemade Lunches

Monthly Challenge Recap: Homemade Lunches - Lollipops & Laptops

I have a special hatred for making lunches. It’s hard enough for me to get anything made for my kids, let alone for me to make something to bring to work. I’m a special case because not only do I dislike cooking/food prepping, but I also can’t stand the idea of eating the same thing three days in a row or prepping the same meal every other week. My sister is a pro at this. She basically has a rotating menu of about five go-to meals, and that works for their family. But if I made chili two weeks ago and ate it for lunch and dinner three days in a row, I’m not making chili again for two months.

I set out to do this challenge to save money, eat healthier, and prove to my stubborn self that I can find a way to inject variety into my meals even when I’m not eating out at restaurants. So how did it go? Well, it was a mixed result.

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