Sunday, May 16, 2010

To work or not to work

For most mom’s, isn’t this one of the questions that we struggle with the most?

I have struggled with this decision for quite awhile now. I have struggled with both sides of this question and cannot seem to come to any conclusion that is win/win for all involved.

Being a mother of three, I always wanted to be able to stay at home with my children. I was lucky enough to be a stay at home mom until 2002. In 2002, I had to make a hard decision to go back to work. Actually, it was not that hard of a decision as my husband was working approximately 100 hours a week. He was never home. He was losing all relationships with his children and me for that matter. So the decision was easy.

When faced with going back to work, I did some soul searching to figure out what I wanted to do. I decided that if I had to go back to work, I was going to do what I truly liked doing and possibly carve out a career. During my adult life, I have worked in many fields. I have worked in an office for various different kinds businesses and I have worked in retail at all levels. I decided that retail was the area in which I wanted to go. I love retail. Every day is different, every customer is different and it offers a diverse work force. So I got a job in retail.

After 18 months in that position, I left and went to my current employer. When I first started working for them, I absolutely loved my job. It became a career. Within 18 months I was promoted to Manager.

Life was good for quite awhile. Actually, it was very good until everything went downhill in 2008. As with every retailer and any major corporation in this country, job cuts happened dramatically. There was a major reorganization within my employer and many people lost their jobs. At the store level, not many lost jobs, just lost hours. Our company decided that we could work just as effectively on few allotted hours. At first, the struggle to adjust wasn’t that bad. As a manager, I realized how much labor hours we were actually wasting.

We became more efficient on less people and less hours. Piece of cake. Well, that was not enough. Over the last 2 years, more and more hours have been taken away from the store and yet more and more tasks have been added to complete.

As a manager, I was given a full administration day to analyze the business. I could process payroll, create schedules, adjust orders, place orders, do inventory counts, and work on the financials. As of today, I am only given 3 hours a week of my 40 hours to do these tasks. As a manager, I am only allowed to schedule myself 40 hours a week, but I am expected to work as many hours as it takes to finish all the required work in a week. Don’t get me wrong, there were many times that I was not always able to finish my work in just 40 hours a week, but I never had to work more than about 45 hours.

We move forward to present day. I have been told that I am expected to work 50 hours a week on the same pay and an ever increasing work load. In actuality, I usually put in about 60 hours a week, if you do not include the phone calls and text messages during my off time. (Time off=after I have gone home or on a day off) Oh, one more thing before I move on. On top of the 60+ hours I work a week, I have an hour drive to and from work. That is an additional 10 hours a week gone.

Now, as I said I have 3 kids. A 19 year old, a 17 year old and an 11 year old and I have been struggling with the fact that I am never home. My wonderful husband has become Mr. Mom. He takes care of the kids, cooks dinner, does the shopping and does the majority of my chores around the house.

My 19 year old is not really a concern as he has already graduated high school, working full time and only still living at home until he can get his feet under him.

My 17 year old is going to be a high school senior in the fall. As I learned with my oldest, there is a lot that goes into the senior year and it has already begun. We have been looking up schools, scholarships and making plans to visit colleges as he wants to go out of state to school. In June, we are headed to Washington DC to visit George Washington University, but that will be for a later post.

Since this is going to be a busy year for him, it is hard for me to tell him that he has to work around my work schedule as I have to work around the schedules of my employee’s and my boss. Being in retail, it is difficult for me to get weekends off as I am required to work 5 weekend days a month and there are many days that I just am unable to take off. Working 10 and 12 hour day also make it difficult for me to even plan events in the evenings.

Not only am I going to have a busy year with my son and his college plans, but I also have an 11 year old daughter who has already started to quest into the “teenage” years and all that come with that. Most days I have to leave for work shortly after she get out of bed, I am home just long enough to make sure she is moving and then my 17 year old takes over to make sure she has breakfast and gets on the bus. However, there are many days that I have to leave before she even wakes up. Either my mother or my husband has to get her up and going for school.

Although my husband loves her very much, he is not always sure what needs to be done with girls. Many a day I come home from work and take one look at my daughter and the first question I have for her is….”Is that what you wore to school?” Poor little thing looks like a rag-a-muffin. Hair a mess, clothes mismatched, just a real mess.

So what do I do? Many a person has told me that I am lucky to have a job during this tough time and I do feel luck, but at what expense?

I have frequently asked my husband; “When did our priorities get so screwed up?” “When did money become the driving force in our live?”

He has no answer.

I have a tough decision to make. My husband and I bring home approximately the same income, so if I am no longer working; our income is cut in half. How can I tell my son that I can’t afford to buy him a car? How can I tell my daughter that I can’t buy her that “totally hip” outfit right now?

As a mother, I am struggling with making sure that my family is well taken care of financially. Not that my kids get anything and everything they want, but on the other hand, they don’t want for much right now. The other side of that struggle is that my children also need me to have more time available to devote to them. I have determined that my time is much more valuable to them than whether I can buy them “stuff”.

We had a family meeting a few weeks back and I asked each child to tell me what they wanted most. I explained what I wanted to do and what it would me to us as a family.

It was a majority rule that I needed to be home more. So, now I am working on an “exit” plan. I have put my family on a budget, which we have never really had before and we are doing quite well. I am putting aside as much money as I can right now to get us through the lean months ahead.

I am in the process of trying to find a part-time job just to cover the short fall until I can find a better job with fewer hours. I am not afraid of hard work or even long hours; however, I will NOT let my job get in the way of my family again.

Stay tuned for updates on my exit plan.

1 comment:

  1. Wow ... Congradulations that is a huge decision to make, and a very wise one. Unfortuneatly we are only a number with some of our employees,we are replaceable. Your family needs you more.
    BTW nice to meet you.