Preparing for the balancing act…

On our first date, my now husband and I discussed a taboo subject: babies.  I was 34 at the time, and he was 36.  We were both at a point in our lives where we wanted a family.  Fast forward four years, and here we are, bringing home our newborn son.  We realized he would completely change our lives (for the better), and we talked a lot in those nine months about how to prepare for and succeed in balancing our professional lives with what matters most.  Here are some things that helped.

  • Choosing the right company to work for—
    I’m incredibly lucky that S&A Communications is a family-centered company that understands the importance of a work-life balance.  We benefit from a seven hour work-day, which allows both my husband and I to work full time and see our baby before and after work.  My husband’s company allows him to work from home when needed, which comes in very handy on days when the baby is sick or the daycare center is closed.
  • Using our leave wisely—
    According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 12 percent of employees in the private sector have access to paid family leave.  According to only 9 percent of the companies in the US offer paid paternity leave.  We were very lucky to be in that group.  My husband also worked overtime during the pregnancy to bank comp time in addition to his PTO, so he was able to be home with us for the first four weeks, a crucial time for us as we figured out how to be a family of three.
  • Planning ahead financially—
    We knew babies were expensive.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, middle-income families will spend around $12,000 in their baby’s first year of life. For the year leading up to our son’s birth, we focused on putting money away, not for anything in particular, but for the expected — and unexpected — costs of having children.  Between daycare deposits and car seat sets plus time off after the birth, knowing we had a monetary cushion was comforting.
  • Working as a team—
    My job is deadline-oriented and is especially hectic two weeks a month.  We use the app Calendar5 to sync our schedules so we can do our best to work around each other’s busy times.  On days I have deadlines, my husband handles daycare pickup so I can finish my work without feeling rushed.  If I have to work late, it’s okay because I know our son is in good hands.
  • Realizing you can’t do it all…and that’s OK—
    This was a hard one for me.  We enjoyed an active life before our son was born.  I cooked elaborate meals, and we hung out with friends on the weekends.  We were able to keep the house clean, and our home running smoothly.  Things changed quickly after the baby.  Suddenly the concept of cooking a meal AND doing laundry seemed daunting. Our free time was now limited, so we needed to find ways to be more efficient.  Our meals became simpler. We started ordering our groceries online to save an hour on the weekends. We did laundry several times a week so it didn’t pile up. And on occasion, we’ve had to say no too.  And you know what?  It’s OK.  There is nothing wrong with having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner.  And your true friends will still be there.  What is most important is having time to snuggle your baby, and talk to your husband.

We don’t by any means have it all figured out.  There are still times when we look at each other and wonder how we get it all done.  By setting our priorities and remaining flexible, we have been able to keep our little family thriving.  So if you’re planning on adding to your family, or even just figuring out how to balance your work and home responsibilities, take time to do some research and planning and give yourself a little grace while you figure it out.

Author: Beth Harris
Beth Harris is our Graphic Designer.

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