This post is about my experiences as Working Outside the Home Mom, also known as WOHM. WOHM has a lesser known acronym of WTF (Working, outside The home Full time) which conveys the insanity of this life.
I have been a WTF for a few years now, starting when my oldest child, Mr. Sensitive, was 10 months old. Mr. Sensitive is now five years old. When Little Miss Adorable was born I returned to work when she was 11 months old. Now baby Dunk is 10 months old and I will return to work again.
Why do I keep returning to full time, Work Outside the Home or the WTF life? Money. I earn more than Hubby, and in our expensive city a family needs two incomes to survive. We have cut our expenses as far back as possible in order manage so far – we rent an apartment rather than own a home, have only one vehicle on the road instead of the usual two-car household, and eat vegetarian food as much as possible (a huge savings on groceries). If you look up frugal (or cheap and easy) in the dictionary, you will see my smiling face.
And it’s still not enough.
Daycare, costs related to working (two vehicles on the road), clothes, more convenience foods because I’m too busy to cook consume way more than Hubby’s paycheque alone. Heck, full time daycare for two children plus before and afterschool care for Mr. Sensitive is $2500 a month. You read that right – TWO THOUSAND, FIVE HUNDRED AFTER TAX DOLLARS A MONTH!! This works out to at least $25 000 a year, more if I need to pay to ‘hold’ a spot during the two months I don’t work in the summer. This is all in after tax dollars, equivalent to what some people earn in one year of work. Daycare costs alone can bankrupt a family.
So we’re getting off the crazy train of WTF life and moving, but that’s a whole other post (or several, if you check out Big City, Small Town).
Some of the benefits of full time Working Outside the Home and the WTF life include: healthcare benefits (very important in my special needs life), a steady paycheque, and that’s pretty well it for me. When I work part time I get the intellectual stimulation, interaction with like-minded professionals and fun things that I really enjoy about work – often more than when I work full time. Full time work is, well, work.
What does WTF life involve? Getting up, dressed and out the door while the baby clings to my ankles, crying and Mr. Sensitive whines his way through breakfast. It involves being stressed about colleague relationships, actually making it to work on time, wondering what people say about me, and wishing I was somewhere else instead.
It involves me working full time away from home and returning home to another, equally demanding full time job. My employers are three children aged five and under, and responsibilities include kissing boo-boos, giving hugs, and reading stories. It also involves cooking meals, mountains of laundry and endless cleaning when Hubby takes them out for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.
Thank goodness Hubby is home with them so working life this time around does not involve getting three sleepy kids fed, dressed and out the door by 6:30 AM. They have to wake up shortly after 5:30 AM. Yes, daycare drops require everyone to leave the house by 6:30 in the morning so we can drop everyone off and still make it to work almost on time. Can you see why Mr. Sensitive has issues with sleep and anxiety? On days when a snowstorm hits morning rush hour traffic it means I need to leave for work shortly with three very sleep kids by 6:00 AM. Some days, it’s just not worth it.
Working life involves watching Little Miss Adorable imitate me ‘getting ready for work.’ She puts on a jacket, fills her purse with toys, puts another bag filled with board books on her shoulder, and then demands car keys and a sippy cup. With her bags on her arms (a purse and laptop bag), sippy cup in hand, the other gripping car keys and her Minnie Mouse phone she bum shuffles to the front door calling “Goodbye, have a nice day, I love you.”
It makes me laugh and breaks my heart all at the same time.
What do I miss? I miss actually having a slightly clean house. I miss being able to actually cook a meal, I miss all of us sitting at the dinner table. Most of all, I miss my children - the smiles, the tears, the diapers, the whining, the dirty sippy cups, the laughter, and watching them play in the sunshine.
What have I learned in my time as SAHM, on maternity leave with Baby Dunk and accompanied by Little Miss Adorable? The things that truly count cannot be counted.
That keeping Mr. Sensitive home from his insanely chaotic kindergarten classroom a couple days a week makes sense. It helps reduce his sensory overload, anxiety and everyone’s stress levels. I’ve learned that Little Miss Adorable is a frighteningly eerie mimic, and knows so much more than she can say. I’ve learned that Baby Dunk dances to his own theme song (a take on Will.I.Am’s “I like to move it”, instead we sing ‘I like to Dunk it, Dunk it’.)
I’ve learned that our super-powered special needs schedule of endless appointments can cause more grief than it’s worth. I’ve learned to say, “We’re on holiday,” when the scheduling department calls to book another round of physio for Mr. Sensitive. I’ve learned that our hectic city life leads to yet another referral to a behaviour therapist for Mr. Sensitive while life in Smalltown, Ontario reduces his stress and anxiety, while providing rich intellectual and sensory experiences.
He is happy in Smalltown, Ontario. We all are happy there.
I’ve learned to trust myself a little more, and follow my heart. And you know what, the head agrees. Because after a while in this WTF life things stop making sense.
I’m Working, outside The home Full time (WTF) for now.