November 3, 2015

How does she do it? No really. How?

Yesterday I wrote about why I work. Today I want to tell you how I work, or rather, how I make it work. We've got a lot going on, including a kid with complex educational and behavioral needs. Going to work came with a lot of challenges, but as a friend told me "Get the job. The rest is just logistics."

But people make entire careers out of logistics. Here's what we do to make it work.

We have a full time nanny for Moe. And not just any nanny. She's well trained and experienced with kids with autism. She is essentially Moe's head teacher. Having her also means that Jeff and I don't have to take time off for long school breaks, and she helps by doing the kids' laundry and keeping the mess relatively under control.

We have a well established home program. Moe's program was running smoothly before I went to work. Although Moe's therapists change periodically, the agency that runs his program and our supervisor haven't changed in several years. Jeff or I also make sure to attend the monthly team meeting.

After school care for Jelly. I take Jelly to school in the mornings before heading up to work. It makes my commute longer, but I like to be able to see her teachers for a few minutes every day. She stays in the after school program until Jeff picks her up between 5-6 pm. Her school is connected to a community center, which is fantastic because they'll walk her over for dance and other after school classes. Without that, she wouldn't be able to do any extra-curricular activities.

A relatively flexible work environment. I work at a large tech company, and I am really busy. But with technology comes some level of flexibility. I can work from home if I need to, and video conference into meetings. I can occasionally come in late or leave a little early. I can't do it all the time but when I need that flexibility, it's there.

Online grocery shopping. It may sound ridiculous, but knowing that I can have groceries (and everything else for that matter) delivered was one of the reasons I felt like I could actually have a full time job. Yes, I can shop on the weekends, but our weekends are unpredictable and I'd rather spend my limited time and energy on my family.

A supportive husband. It makes a big difference having a partner who treats your work as equally important as his or her own, and who understands that being able to work is an integral part of your identity. Jeff shares school pick up and drop off duty, and we help each other out when the other has to be at work early or late.

Letting some things go. This is the most important piece. There isn't time for everything. Some days, we have to get takeout for dinner. Some weeks, the laundry piles up. I don't exercise as much as I should because I race home after work. I don't get to volunteer in Jelly's classroom as much as I'd like to, and when I do make time for that, I'm always worried about what's going on back at work. There is no such thing as the perfect work-life balance. There will always be trade-offs.


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