The World, and Not Enough Time

Working as a press secretary means life in the fast lane, long days and being accessible at all hours. Add motherhood to that, and suddenly there’s not enough time in a day to get everything done, says Jennifer, my friend and colleague. Juggling two young girls, a husband and her work as press secretary for the City of Jersey City, N.J., means a new hurdle each day, and finding the balance between work and family is never simple.

Here are more of Jennifer’s reflections on motherhood, marriage and work:

Q: Do you work full-time or part-time outside the home, or are you at home full-time?

A: Full-time outside of the home.

Q: What has contributed to your decision to either stay at home or work?

A: Mostly financial, but honestly, I cannot imagine not working. While I often dream of lazy days in pajamas or taking my kids to the park, I don’t think emotionally I would be able to stay home all day. And now that my children are school-aged, it would not make that much sense. But my job is much more than 9 to 5.  There are night meetings, weekend events, and the all-too-frequent crisis that happens any time day or night.

Q: What do you think is easier emotionally–working outside the home, or being at home with your child(ren)?

A: Definitely working outside the home is easier emotionally, though it also has its challenges. People who don’t have kids do not understand that sometimes you have to draw a line.  Sometimes there are emergencies. There are times that you cannot always be available.

Q: Name two or three of the biggest emotional hurdles you’ve faced since becoming a mom. Have they been related to your identity? Work? Relationship with your husband?

A: Since becoming a mom, every day is a hurdle–a new challenge. My daughters are 11.5 months apart, and I was extremely fortunate that during the first two years after my oldest was born, my job was less demanding. The biggest hurdles I have faced since returning to a more demanding position have been trying to balance time for me and my family, while also forging ahead with my career. In my line of work, there are calls from the press at all hours, and I am constantly monitoring the Blackberry. It is truly a daily struggle to know when to turn off for a while. I am trying to make a more conscious effort of ‘de-technologizing’ so that I can focus 100 percent on the kids. I see them for an hour or so in the morning, before whisking them off to school, and a few hours at night before bed. Most of that time is spent getting ready for school or bed, eating or bathing. And they are usually struggling with me.  I want more time to actually enjoy them and their development. I think there should be a mandatory four-day work week.

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