Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New SAHM

This is another installment of The Visiting Classroom, where I have a guest blogger who is a SAHM (or dad). These guest posts hopefully bring some understanding to the important work we do, provide examples for teaching in the every day, and show that we are not alone in our struggles. 


Today's guest blogger is Jessica, who has two daughters.

1. You are a new SAHM, but not a new mom. How's it going?                                               Surprisingly well! I had fantasized about being a SAHM during my time at the law firm, but my idea of life as a stay at home mom was truly fantasy.  I believed the house would be clean, dinners would be made, that I’d be able to organize, get reconnected with friends, have play dates and teach my children how to read and write and still have time to exercise – all in one day!  

 I had no idea that staying at home would take more balancing and time management skills than my career as a litigator.  An infant and 3 ½ year old are quite demanding clients. But once I began to get over the idea that being a successful SAHM meant completing all those activities in a day’s time, I started to really enjoy the opportunity to be at home during this season of life.

2. What is your biggest struggle?

My biggest struggle is sleep.  My youngest Kaitlyn suffered from reflux at a very early age and has required a lot of extra care and doctor visits. She continuously struggles with gaining and maintaining weight, and receives treatment for problems associated with Sensory Processing Disorder. Consequently, she has slept through the night maybe only a handful of times her entire life; meaning I’ve been sleep deprived for about 13 months. I’ve discovered that when I am tired I have a short fuse, so I make it a priority to nap when I can.  Unfortunately, catching up on sleep cuts into my other duties such as cleaning, working and managing the house.  It has definitely been a struggle.

3. What goals do you have with the kids?   
My top three goals (not in any specific order) are first, make time to move.  When weather cooperates we head to one of the local parks, but through much of the winter we headed downstairs for some exercise in our unfinished basement. The kids play, swing and Emaline can ride her bike.  With a child as energetic as Emaline, it’s essential to make time for her to play and expend some energy. 

Second, give the girls a healthy and calorie-rich meal.  My girls have not yet learned to love food as I do, so getting them to eat enough and make good food choices is difficult. When I was working full time, I hardly prepared meals except on the weekends – week meals consisted primarily of prepared frozen meals or take out.  But now I am cooking and baking regularly. The girls (and my husband) are really enjoying it! 

Third, encourage learning wherever, whenever. Whether it’s reading lots of stories at bedtime, creative pretend play while I clean/cook, or dinner time “Guess what princess/movie/book character I am,” I am constantly thinking of how I can enrich the girls’ playtime with learning.  I have been cognizant of using a wide array of vocabulary with Emaline during pretend play and regular conversations, and I am starting to see the fruits of it during our conversations.  I have discovered that just adding some vocabulary, rhyming, singing or counting games during the day really is beneficial, even if you don’t see the benefits immediately.

4. You balance working at home while having the kids. Any tricks to share? 
Although Kaitlyn’s medical needs these last two months have kept me from working, I had been working at least two days a week from home or a law library. I took some good advice from another SAHM/attorney friend who recommended I do not have the kids in the house while I work and boy was she ever right!  On scheduled workdays Emaline goes to preschool (which we love) and Kaitlyn spends her day with a nearby friend.   

When I was working full time I often needed to complete work at home, even after a full work day, so I am used to working after the kids go to bed or having my husband help out on weekends for completing assignments. I also am the type of person that when working from home, I am able focus on work and ignore the housework.  So those matters never got in the way of my assignments.

5. What is the best part of being with your kids extra time?

Watching them grow every day, and being able to give Kaitlyn the special care she needs.  My husband worked part-time during Emaline’s first year, and my mother was able to come and stay with us the other part of the week while I worked full time.  While it was a blessing for my mother and husband, I missed her terribly and always felt that our relationship wasn’t as close as I would have liked it to be.  Being at home has definitely been a blessing to my relationship with Emaline and has really allowed me to develop my relationship with Kaitlyn early on in a way I wasn’t able to with Emaline.

Although it was unplanned and a financial shock, it turned out to be a blessing that the law firm shut down when it did. Kaitlyn was diagnosed with severe reflux shortly after I was told the news. Since that time, she has required lots of extra care, and has been plagued with colds, stomach bugs, and ear infections; much more than her sister was at this age. Kaitlyn, like her older sister, has also been treated for problems associated with Sensory Processing Disorder. While Emaline had feeding issues and struggled to gain weight, for a variety of reasons Kaitlyn’s turned out to be more severe. 

Kaitlyn has also had issues with gross motor skill development, because of this she currently has two days where she goes for Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy appointments in addition to a weekly weight check at her pediatrician. With all these appointments, maintaining a full time litigation job would have been impossible. My husband and I feel very blessed for this opportunity for me to be at home with the girls at this time and give Kaitlyn the extra attention she needs.

About our mom-->
Jessica is mother to 3 ½ year old Emaline and 13 month old Kaitlyn.  In 2012, Jessica’s commercial litigation career was sidetracked when her law firm shut down during Kaitlyn’s maternity leave.  She is currently combining being a SAHM with working part time as a Legal Research and Writing Specialist for solo practitioners and small law firms on an independent contractor basis. 

Interested in being spotlighted for the next Visiting Classroom? We are looking for ordinary parents who love teaching their children every day. Contact me lauraleemoss@gmail.com for more information.