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Back to the Rat Race

By Mike Snyder

Well, it's come time to close the On Parenting guest blog chapter of my life, at least guest blogging regularly. I'm going back to work, and I just don't think I'll have the time or energy to continue for now.

I don't believe I've mentioned my employment status in my in earlier posts. Last summer, I decided to take a respite from work. There were a number of factors that went into the decision, among them working to identify and address my preschool-aged son's language and motor skills delays.

I found that having extra time was extremely helpful for me to help get my son on track in a special education preschool program. The diagnostic process and center hours are not very convenient to working parents. That's because of limited resources, though I don't mean to complain since I know that Fairfax has far greater resources than most other counties. We're grateful and pleased with the results we've seen.

The break became more, though. It was a wonderful opportunity to get the stay-at-home parent perspective. I know I'm delving into On Balance territory here, but I can honestly say that it made our lives simpler -- less chaotic, more cohesive -- and generally more enjoyable. I had the opportunity to connect more closely, or at least more often, with my children.

In short, I became a big fan of the stay-at-home family model, despite the times when I missed interacting with adults on a more frequent basis. If any moms -- or dads -- get the opportunity to stay at home, even for a relatively short period of time, I highly recommend it.

Unfortunately, as with many, many families, finances preclude us from continuing in our current situation. We aren't a government and can't run our household on a deficit, and the state of the economy isn't doing us any special favors.

Thankfully, a decent job is in the offing, so it's back to the rat race, with all of its associative headaches: the after-school care, the dinners on the fly, both parents burning the candle at both ends, etc.

We'll have a major adjustment period, especially with the kids' routine being upset. Where they're concerned, I'll be focused on patience and understanding as we transition back to a two-job family. I know there have to be a number of readers who've gone through similar experiences. What else should I be looking out for? Any tips for keeping things on as even a keel as possible during the transition?

As On Parenting says goodbye to Mike, the blog is launching a new guest blog feature. If you currently write a parenting or family blog and would like to write an original blog entry for On Parenting, please e-mail parenting@washingtonpost.com.

By Mike Snyder |  March 18, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Child Development
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Comments


Good Luck Mike.

Posted by: ridiculous | March 18, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I am a fortunate Dad too in that I have been staying at home for the last year and a half with my two young daughters, currently 2 and 4. I agree, if any parent has the opportunity to take the time, I highly encourage it. Of course, that assumes one has the choice, which I believe leads to an altogether different experience than those people who stay at home out of necessity.

I have also been very fortunate in that I have continued to be engaged professionally as a career counselor, taking on clients on a limited basis and now gearing up to do home-based career transition counseling.

My advice, and you can take it for what it's worth, is to talk to the kids about the importance of the work you do for yourself and for others. Tell them how it is important to you just as they are important to you. Ask them what is important to them and when you can, take a day off here and there to spend with them. Finally, as I am sure you already know, give yourself and the kids lots of time in the morning and have a stash of healthy, car-friendly snacks for the ride home after daycare. Good luck on your next endeavor. As I like to tell my clients, remember, your career is a marathon not a sprint, so pace yourself.

Posted by: IndyCareerCounselor | March 18, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I would like to echo IndyCareerCounselor. Talk to the children about the decision to work. No matter how young, they'll understand. Every child wants to be something when they grow up!

I have been lucky enough to switch between a stay-at-home-mom and WOHM since my daughter was born 10 years ago depending on family needs. I've returned to work this past January (30 hours a week). I make sure I can pick up the children from school at dismissal time at least one day a week (no after-school care). If there is a morning rush, it's in getting the children to school on time NOT because of my work schedule (I found there is a difference).

Enjoy the journey!

Posted by: slacker mom | March 18, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

You'll remember the time at home fondly. Always keep those wonderful memories.

I actually was more relaxed when I went back to work. We had wonderful help to watch the kids, and it was great. And I felt like so much pressure was off (we had more money - and I didn't feel like the house had to be *perfect*). So, enjoy - and remember, that the house only has to be as neat and tidy as you can make it. It's okay that not every piece of dust is not in the vacuum cleaner!

slacker moms, unite!

Posted by: atlmom1234 | March 18, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Mike, good luck! Only tip I can offer is to be prepared to sit down and renegotiate family duties once you're a month or so in and have a better idea of what daily life is really like. My husband and I had some readjustment to do after we moved back east and I changed from telecommuting part-time to working in an office full-time (and then added a second kid). He's a great guy, always does his fair share, so I really didn't expect any problems. But we had set a pattern that I did most of the little stuff; since I was home, it was easy enough for me to throw in laundry on a break, or meet the cable guy, or take a delivery, etc. And so when our life changed, we thought to talk about how to manage the big stuff (dropoff/pickup, doctors/sick days, etc.), but we didn't think to talk about the littler stuff. I assumed he would realize that that needed to step in and do more of it, but he just didn't even notice a lot of it, because he'd never had to.

Caused a real snark one night: his parents were coming in to town, and my daughter's clean laundry was in a pile on her floor. He said something like, "gee, would sure be nice if that laundry was put away before my folks get here." I had an attack of the Instant Rage Demon, but controlled myself pretty well -- just sniped, "well, feel free," turned around, and walked out of the room.

Being a reasonably smart guy, he pretty much figured it out. :-) But that also taught me that I can't just assume that everything that's so obvious to me is equally obvious to him, and sometimes you need to actually talk about things -- even the little ones.

Posted by: Laura | March 18, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

thanks for the great advice, again.

Cheers!

ps Now I'll commenting from work.

Posted by: Mike | March 19, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

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