Finding My Balance: Demanding Career with Three Young Children
This is the second post in a series of balance posts where I am sharing how I have tried to find balance through the various stages of parenthood. I quickly shifted from a mom of one to a mom of three with the birth of my twin girls. They came at a time of significant change both in my career and personal life.
While we were in the hospital delivering the girls, my husband got a call from a former colleague gauging his interest in a new job in San Diego. He was interested, and just two days after the girls were born, he drove to San Diego for an interview. We moved from LA to San Diego a couple months later.
At the same time, significant change was happening for me at work. The company I was working for was growing quickly, and my job responsibilities were growing in parallel. I loved it. I could sense major change was on the horizon, and I was correct. While I was on maternity leave, I was having discussions with my boss about taking on a VP role, which meant more responsibility and more travel. Along with two new babies. I loved my job and was really excited about the potential growth both for me and the company, so I dove in head first.
That was a lot of change for us in just a few short months: a new city, two new jobs, and two new babies. The only way we survived this time was with a strong support system. We were fortunate to find a fantastic nanny who was our life preserver during the first year of our girls' lives. In reflection, I can see now how much she really did for us that allowed us to achieve our goals. Having this kind of support cost us a lot of money, and we quickly learned this wasn't sustainable for us on a long-term basis, but it was what we needed to get through the first year of three kids. Here's a little bit about how we structured our lives at that time.
Maternity Leave and Returning to Work
I took a four-month maternity leave. It was the shortest of all my children, mostly because the change in my organization was requiring my attention. Just a couple weeks after my return, I was due to present a strategy presentation to the executive team at an offsite. It was trial by fire. Again, our exceptional nanny was the only reason this worked. The girls were still very young when I returned and they needed a lot of attention at night. For a few of those early work trips, we hired a nighttime nanny to help Zach with some of the many, many night wakings.
When I wasn't traveling for work (typically 1 - 2 times per month), I worked from home, which helped offset some of the stress I felt by being gone.
As I mentioned, we paid good money for a good nanny, and it made all the difference in the world. She was fantastic and she took so much of the weight off our shoulders. She would come around 8 am and stay until 4 pm when Zach came home from work. Zach would stay with the kids until 5 when I was off (when I was home). Our nanny would stay a little later when I traveled to help ease the significant load for Zach.
I should also mention that we had a house cleaner during this time. I mention this because I can now appreciate the extra time this allowed me to spend with the kids when I wasn't working. It gave me more time to be with them and less worry about "stuff needing to be done."
I would wake up early before the kids woke, pump (when I was still nursing), make a coffee, shower and get ready - hoping they wouldn't wake up during this precious time. The kids usually woke sometime between 5:30 - 6 am and then our day would begin. I made breakfast, got everyone ready and we were out the door, all four of us by 7:45 in order to walk to school on time. When we got home, our nanny would be there, ready to jump in. I would head upstairs to work.
When I traveled for work, our nanny would arrive around 5:15 am to be there when Zach left for work. She would take the morning routine and school drop-off on, in addition to her day. This is why we paid the good money. :)
My personal time was when I traveled. After a long day in the office, trying to maximize face time, I would walk around San Francisco, grab a dinner by myself, or veg in the hotel room. It sounds a lot nicer than it was. Mostly, I was pining to be home with the kids. But there were those few days when I was really thankful for that time and headspace.
I learned that this didn't end up being any sort of balance. With three young children (and soon a fourth on the way), I wasn't going to be able to continue to grow my role, my travel and keep myself and my family happy. I knew change would have to happen. Then, came Sadie.