Having It All and Going “Back to Work”

I started making YouTube videos in 2006 to build my reel because I wanted to be a TV reporter after college. I still thought that was my goal up until maybe 3 years ago when I realized web video was just as if not more popular. I started this blog because I thought my videos needed their own home website. I would share my videos but also what was going on behind the camera: my meals, workouts, recipes and personal stories on occasion. It has since become my full time job thanks to sponsorship opportunities and advertising.

Now that Tommy is 14 weeks, many of the moms I’ve come to know with children the same age are going back to work. I hear them talk about the struggles of finding a nanny or getting off daycare wait lists. Then there was this report that said Massachusetts had the second most expensive childcare in the country behind DC! The average cost for one infant is $17,062 – or $1,422 a month, which is $6,360 more than in state tuition for a 4-year public college.  Bright Horizons, a popular day care in the city is actually $26,000 a year for an infant at prime locations and a nanny is just as much if not more here. Just sayin.

I honestly don’t know how working moms who make close to minimum wage do it and I understand why so many stay at home. It breaks my heart to think of single moms with little family nearby to help. Seriously, how do they do it?

I’m incredibly lucky that I am in a position where I can stay home and make a living while also watching my son. People have begun to ask me though when I’m going to go back to teaching fitness classes.

I know not hiring regular childcare prevents me from putting 110% into my career. Will I still feel fulfilled if this is the case?

Many women who leave their jobs do go back shortly after because they miss it. Others, intend on going back to work and miss being home with their child so much they quit shortly after returning from maternity leave. This is often the case when leave is too short.

When it comes to maternity leave here in the US, we are like the worst! I can’t imagine going back to a full time job before 12 weeks, especially if you are exclusively breast feeding. The US is actually only one of three countries that does not guarantee paid maternity leave. You are allowed to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act (which only covers about 59% of jobs) and 25% of women go back to work just 10 days after giving birth!

While it’s just a side job for me, all women need to decide what is best for them and their family when it comes to going back to a job.

Can you afford to not go back? Will you regret not having the adult interaction?

Emotionally, how will you feel about being away from the baby?

I don’t have to make this decision but I do have to decide if I want to hire childcare for Tommy so I can dedicate more time to my work and go back to teaching fitness classes.

Currently, Tommy naps or plays on his activity mat while I work on the computer or shoot videos and even though he isn’t crying, I feel a little guilty that I’m not over there right next to him. I’ve had to turn down mom meetups because I’m scheduled to shoot videos. I’m not on maternity leave and I’m not going back to a traditional job so I’m caught in between the stay at home moms and professionals on leave.

More often than not, the kitchen is also a mess when Nick gets home. I feel lazy that the house isn’t going to be picked up when he arrives. After all, I’m here all day. Am I stay at home mom or am I working from home?

This is mommy guilt I now realize and I’m not unique.

It’s something most, if not all moms have. This article was shared a few times on my Facebook feed yesterday and just 3 months in, I get how this is going to play out.

I am not writing this to complain. I have it good. I have it really good. While I didn’t have a paid maternity leave, I have been able to earn money from home during the “4th trimester”. I’m trying to be a stay-at-home mom and run a business at the same time.

It’s way harder than I thought it was going to be which is why I’m writing this.

I wanted to share my feelings because writing is my way of getting things off my chest. I’m a sea of mixed emotions these days and usually when I write things like this, there are other people out there who feel the same way. Maybe you’re not a blogger but all women struggle not to compare themselves to one another.

I look at my Instagram feed filled with professional women I once was working with side by side like Katrina from Tone It Up and Cassey from Blogilates or even Bethenny – yes, I worked with Bethenny before she was Skinnygirl famous. When the YouTube gals followed their careers to LA, I stayed in Boston because 1) I loved Nick and his job was here and 2) I’ve always wanted to raise a big family in specifically Massachusetts. Occasionally I feel like I missed out on career opportunities to fulfill my family dream, but I’ve never been happier so the feeling passes quickly.

If I hired a nanny or sent Tommy to daycare, could I build my business to become an empire in Boston? Maybe.

If I went back to teaching fitness classes, would my family be better for it in the long run? Maybe.

Between the “You can’t have it all” and “Lean In,” philosophies, there has to be a middle ground where it is OK to surrender to wanting to be enough. It’s perfectly acceptable to want to be a stay at home mom who hustles on the side. It’s OK to be happy, challenged, and fulfilled without wanting to be a Facebook CEO or YouTube Fitness Megastar. And even though you aren’t a Pinterest Mom, your baked goods kick ass even if they are served on boring white napkins. I haven’t read Lean In and if what I’m saying is what Lean In is about, feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll read it.  I’m lucky to be in my position and I hope I can be at peace knowing that I just might not be the next YouTube Millionaire (that means I’d have a million subscribers, not dollars) if I chose to balance work and SAHM responsibilities. I have what I always wanted and that, according to my senior yearbook, was “to be happy”. As for whether or not I’m going to go back to teaching or hire regular childcare, I haven’t decided just yet and I’m thankful I have the option as many do not. What would you do?Have something to add? Leave a comment down below.

 

Having It All and Going “Back to Work”

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23 Comments

  • Alison
    Reply

    I remember seeing you give a talk at a business after hours event, Beer and Learn, at WeWork a few years ago. I asked you the question, “What would you do if you decided to have a family? Transition the blog, stop blogging, or keep it fitness related?” You gave a great answer. You said “I’m not sure what I would do because I’m not in that situation right now. I have thought about it and think that I’ll still keep it mostly fitness with some mommy stuff incorporated. But I’ll have to see how I feel at the time.” I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I think it’s clear that you are passionate about motherhood and your YouTube / Fitness / Blogging career. Go with your gut and those that have been following you all these years will stick with you. I still watch and read just as much even though I don’t have a baby!

  • Amanda
    Reply

    It’s always way harder than you think it’s going to be! Doesn’t matter what people tell you ahead of time, it just doesn’t sink in for real until you’re in the thick of it. I work full time and carry our benefits and my husband is self-employed and we are lucky that this has meant we only have to pay for daycare half the week, so we save money and get the innumerable benefits of high-quality child care. And my husband packs those daycare days (and nights after bedtime, or weekends when I’m home) to the gills with work! After being indecisive for months, we put our daughter in when a spot became available at the Montessori we wanted, which happened when she was 8 months old. I stayed home for four months and going back was so hard, but then you blink and they are a year old and you aren’t pumping anymore and suddenly the calculus shifts. They are too active and mobile to let you work from home much anymore, but you also don’t want to miss those milestones! I guess what I’m getting at is the following: everyone feels guilty, being self-employed has huge benefits, and the first year is too crazy to make any life-altering decisions. When I think of someone who is “leaning in,” I think of someone like you! Two years post-partum, I STILL tell people to check out your blog and youtube channel for fast, mom-friendly workouts and meal ideas. It took me so long not to compare myself to people who made their own baby food/breastfed longer/had the luxury of working part-time/had the means to hire a nanny who would do laundry and tidy up/etc. etc. etc.and finally I just had to say enough is enough. What works for you will change as your babe gets older! Don’t beat yourself up, and just realize that things evolve a lot as your family grows and adapts. My husband is an actor who also teaches dance and he felt like if he didn’t say yes to every single TV commercial, stage role, teaching opportunity and so on when our daughter was a newborn, he’d someone get off his game or get relegated to the ranks of stay-at-home-parents-who-were-formerly-working-artists. Then, we realized that it’s OK for him to ramp down for a couple months to spend more time with our daughter, and then ramp back up again to keep his career on track. We help each other out and we rely on an occasional professional cleaning service, uber & taskrabbit to get done what we don’t have enough hands to do ourselves. Sorry this rambled so much!

  • jo
    Reply

    I appreciate that you are honest with your audience. Thank you for sharing, we will support you as viewers and readers no matter what.

  • Sara
    Reply

    So first, read Lean In.
    The biggest thing I got out of the book (back in 2013) that I have used through 2 job movements since has been to not make job related decisions that limit my opportunities because one day I’ll want to have children. It’s called “Don’t leave before you leave” and Sandberg also did a TedTalk about it. I’d also watch that. I used to worry as many women do (sometimes before they EVEN HAVE BOYFRIENDS) how they will have children and a career. A lot of women worry about that and limit their opportunities and then they are stuck in an unfulfilling job when they have children which makes it not seem worth it, all because they subconsciously put themselves on a less desirable track. If I were you I would think about not limiting your opportunities because you are afraid it will be tough if you haven’t tried it. I would try to teach some classes and see how it works. There is no pressure because you don’t “have” to teach them. I would also think about when your son is in school in a few years. Will you wish you had kept up with teaching? Is it worth the difficulty for 3 years until he is in pre-school? Not a mom yet, but hoping in another year I’ll be closer.

  • Julie
    Reply

    I am one of those new moms who currently left my job to stay home with my son (born 12/2015) and it’s a decision that I don’t regret but it was difficult to make. I have worked since I was 16 and had my baby at 30. You really do miss those adult interactions and just being a part of society essentially, especially the first couple months. But it is very rewarding and I’m grateful that I get to do this. I was not able to afford childcare. It is expensive to say the least and I agree that it is so disappointing how maternity leave works here in the United States and to top it off how much child care costs on all avenues. Yet I find myself feeling a bit embarrassed with other mom’s because I’m staying home with my child. It’s crazy because I feel like most moms I know go back to work and would love to stay home with their children but because I did stay home is where the guilt comes from. Thank you Sarah for posting this. It’s refreshing to read someone being sincere with their situation ❤️. Btw, being a SAHM is THE hardest job I’ve ever had.

  • Maggie
    Reply

    I’m doing the same thing. My boy is 10 months and I’m trying to build a brand new business at the same time. It’s tough and it’s slow but I my priority is 100% my baby. Giving him all the attention he needs and raising him to feel happy and totally secure is the most important job I will ever have. I work on my biz all the time but in short little bits. Naps, and after he’s down for the night. Soon, once he’s happy and comfortable there, I will take him to childcare at my gym and either work out, or get work done. He’s at the stage where he cries if anyone but me or my husband hold him so im taking it slow, letting him see it’s ok to trust a few other people too. Right now I take him to my gym and stay with him at childcare while he plays and gets used to the girls who run it. So far he loves it so I’ll start leaving for 15 mins soon, then 20, then 30, etc so he learns that is ok and I always come back. It’s hard trying to find the right balance for you! I feel you mama.

  • C
    Reply

    What about teaching mommy classes? I do mommy and me yoga at my local studio and also do stroller strides (fit4mom) where I can have my baby with me! Maybe you can have even just some of your classes mom-based so that you can work without having to leave him!

  • Jessica Suazo
    Reply

    I have two kids. One is 8, one is 2 months. With my first child, I ended up being a single mom. My parents watched my son while I finished college. After college, I landed my dream job and was so proud to be able to comfortably support the two of us. My job was exactly what I needed-adult interaction, friends, challenging atmosphere and then I got to be mommy! There were times I was jealous that my work friends could go to after work happy hours that lasted well into the night and I had to go home--but I was young. Fast forward five years, I met THE ONE, we bought a house and I couldn’t stand being away from my son for so long. I started working part time so that I could take him to school and pick him up everyday. Then I had baby 2 and I knew I couldn’t be away from him and I still wanted to be involved 100% with my oldest. I never saw my life being like this. I thought I would climb the corporate ladder, make tons of money and be successful. Now that I’m 30, being mom is enough for me. Being mom is my ‘successful’ job. Go with your gut; babies grow up so fast! And whatever you choose, it will be enough!

    And the mommy guilt about not having a perfectly clean house and Pinterest worthy meals and crafts, never goes away. Momming is hard!!

  • Olena@iFOODreal
    Reply

    I will share what worked for me. After having both kids I went back briefly to work in the office and quit within a year. After 2nd child I quit and started my blog which turned into a full-time business I love and everything I dreamed of. Mom’s guilt is here to stay forever, no matter if they are 6 weeks, 10 years or 30 years old. I learnt that. I found balance by using part-time nearby sweet lady inhome daycare when my kids were very little so I can do what I love and need to make money, and kids are not neglected. I experienced the worst guilt if I was working and kid neglected, so part-time (whatever you need) worked great. As I made more money and his grew which made them interested to play with friends, I gradually increased daycare hours. Still part-time.
    I learnt I had to do what felt right for me and no one else. For me it was realizing my kids will never be this age again and I don’t want to miss much. I can always have a career but can’t get my time back with kids. I also consciously realized having a family was my choice and I love it but I need to have a career too. I realize with a family I can’t be Bethenny and I don’t want to, honestly. I just want to have a financially safe life with people I love and do what I love. So, I don’t compare myself to Tone It Up or Bethenny. I could go for it all in like them but I don’t want to be away from my family. So, it is up to you.
    Hope this helps. It has been 10 years and my youngest one starts kindergarten this Fall and I am super happy to have spent so much time with my kids and not to pay daycare bills.:) And maternity leave in the US sucks!!! Good luck! You will make the right decision. You are a smart cookie.

  • Maggie Keel
    Reply

    Sarah, you should totally check out thefreemama.com. She’s a digital strategy guru who recently quit her 9-5 to start her own business because she was in search of “having it all” and she rocks it. Your situation reminds me quite a bit of hers although her kiddos are a little bit older. What I love about her blog is that she does this Working Mom Wednesday feature where she interviews dynamite working moms in ALL KINDS of situations and really gets in to how they do the mom life while also being kick-butt working girls. You can have it all, it just depends on what that ALL looks like for you and it won’t necessarily be the same for any two people.
    Thank you for being such a role model for all of us who aren’t yet moms. Your honesty throughout your pregnancy and throughout this new season of your life has been so inspiring and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

  • Nina
    Reply

    I totally get it, and agree that it’s so hard no matter what you decide. I have a 9-month old and went back to work at 4 months…I know I’m SO lucky my employer allowed me to take those months off (albeit unpaid). At first I was incredibly emotional and sad to leave my daughter when I went to work, and imagined I’d be “missing everything.” But now I’m grateful for the opportunity to do work I like, feel productive, and have some time to myself during the work day. (I never thought I’d consider going to work “a vacation” from life at home, but being home with a kiddo is HARD.) I agree with Olena that I don’t need to set the world on fire: I just want to do work I love and have time for the ones I love. I do feel pangs of jealousy when I see former colleagues in high-powered positions, but I also know they get to spend very little time with their families…which isn’t something I’m willing to give up. Not that I’m in any position to give advice, but I think you should do what feels right. A happy mama is a happy baby, and Tommy will be so proud of your decision no matter what!

  • Amy
    Reply

    I think you will have guilt no matter which path you choose. I have been at home full time with my kids for 9 years and just now trying to start a career again. Its hard, I feel like maybe if I had kept my foot in the door I would have more confidence now to start working.
    I think no matter what you will always feel torn and have heart ache for missing one or the other. Guilt is such a huge part of parenting. Always wondering “am I doing this right?”, “Is this the right decision to make?” Good luck with your decision! Either way you will be doing whats best for you and in turn that will be whats best for your family.

  • Julia
    Reply

    This is a great post. Thanks for sharing! You and most of your readers (me included) are fortunate that we have choices to make! You are choosing to continue your career path which is great. I chose to at a year pp to go back to work cause i was not happy as a sahm. Some people choose to go back at 12 weeks, some sooner and some later. Some nevet go back! Its hard regardless of your choice, but it hopefully is a choice! I am particularly sympathetic to moms who have to gi back after 8 weeks even with a c-section (recovery time) or moms who have to quit bc chilcarw is too expensive, etc. That breaks my heart. All we can do is support each other!!!!! Every mom makes hard choices!

  • Robin @ The Balanced Life
    Reply

    Hi Sarah! I stumbled across this post on Facebook and just wanted to give you a virtual hug! I’m a mom and online business owner (Pilates & wellness) and am in the same boat. I have 2 kids now and have been making it work. I’m so thankful that I have the choice. It’s hard not fitting in to the “working mom” or “stay at home mom” categories. It’s taken awhile for my friends to realize that I can’t do things because I have to work sometimes. Even though I’m home -- I still have to work! It can be confusing from the outside. My encouragement to you is to do what makes you feel most comfortable -- and also to know that it will change with the stages and phases. You can adapt. You may want to teach more as your little one gets older or you may want to teach less! It’s a constant ebb and flow and we are always changing our schedule to make it work. Right now we do one day of pre-school and one day with a nanny while I work from home. And the other days I work hard during naps and sometimes after dinner. One more thing -- now that you’re a mama comparison is a whole new thing. When I see other online fitness experts doing XYZ it’s easy for me to compare (Cassey Ho or Karena are great examples), but I have to remember that I am CHOOSING to be a mom and actually be with my kids AND run a business. If I didn’t have kids I’d be able to do more and grow faster, but in the end, that’s not what I want. So keep that in mind -- don’t compare what you’re doing with your business to others. I know you already know that, but I just had to mention it. You’re doing a great job! xo, Robin

  • Janelle @ Wholly Healthy
    Reply

    I am not a mother so I can only imagine the situation you are in. I do want kids, and I have to admit I’ve already thought about options for staying involved in my career while also wanting to be involved with my kids. It’s kind of crazy that I’ve already thought about it, but I feel like we can be pulled in so many different directions as women. I do think we all need to recognize that there really is no right answer. I think if you have the luxury to try things out and see how they work, then you should take it! Maybe you’ll find that you a caregiver option that works for Tommy and allows you to really enjoy your work, or maybe you’ll find another arrangement that works better. I think you should allow yourself to take things slow and see how it goes, and know that things might look different at different stages of his life. And try not to stress too much about the comparison trap! I know in this world it can feel like you’ll lose so much momentum if you take a step back but, above all, I think your audience just wants great content that is genuine and that you enjoy -- even if that means there is less. And, if your views fall, you can always build it back up again -- you did it before, you can do it again!

  • jen k
    Reply

    I’m probably one of your older readers. I think you’re fortunate to have a little bit of the best of it all, I’m not saying it isn’t hard at times. I went back to work after my children were about 4 months-I got 6 weeks after then uses family leave act. I had a good thing going, I worked from home a few days a week. When my youngest was two I decided to leave and stay home, I stayed home for 5 years and went bag to work. I don’t regret the time I had with them but ultimately wish I hadn’t left at that time and waited until they were older. I find It’s so much harder to work now that I have a Freshman who attends school in another town and a 12 year old who plays on 2 baseball teams and a lacrosse team. When children go to elementary school the activities start and can be at times when as working parents are completely inconvenient. It’s tough juggling it all, fortunately I have a great support system.

    I guess my advice is if you want to work or have to work it’s okay, kids are resilient and will be okay. If you can and want to plan to stay home when they’re older and they want to try everything. Remember you’re doing what works best for you and your family, don’t let anyone guilt you which ever way you choose.

    I hope this doesn’t sound ridiculous but the box is so small I can’t proof it well.

  • Rebekah
    Reply

    Yes! I don’t have kids yet, but I tell my husband these concerns all the time. Will I want to be a SAHM like I always wanted growing up? Will I want to go back to work since I have worked so hard on getting an MBA and jumping into a career fairly young? I don’t know and it freaks me out. I wish I could “have it all” or that I could just choose one way or the other. I keep thinking I need to have it figured out ASAP since I need to chart a course toward one of those plans, but unfortunately, I think it’ll just be a decision when the time comes. I can’t imagine not working, but I also can’t imagine not giving my kids the same experience I had with a SAHM who started teaching again when I was 9. We ladies have it tough!

  • Jennifer Hoffman
    Reply

    I can so relate! I started my web design/SEO/marketing consulting business 2 1/2 years ago and had a baby boy 9 months into it. I am so happy to be home with him because I just love him so much. I’m thankful I can have my career but also be a SAHM. At first, it was easy to work from home because he slept so much or was content playing on the floor by himself. I was totally opposed to having anyone else watch him in the beginning because 1) I wanted to be the one watching my baby, and 2) because I didn’t really “need” help yet. Now that he is 19 months old, he wants my attention more and sleeps a lot less during the day. So I finally broke down and hired a nanny a few months ago, and she is wonderful! She only comes 3 or 4 hours per day, 3 days per week. I text her after he goes down for his nap, and tell her to come over 2 hours from that point. Thankfully her schedule is flexible. She’s in her 50s and is retired, so it works great for everyone. Even though I know my work from home situation is the best situation I can ask for, it’s still really hard. My house is only fully clean if I’m expecting guests, and I don’t cook or exercise as often as I would like. Some weeks my work is busier than others, so I struggle to find balance on a daily/weekly basis. But I’m always learning new tricks to being efficient -- simple things like buying vegetables already cut up, doing a workout video instead of going to the gym, or only shopping at one grocery store on a particularly busy week. It always changes depending on the season. I know when I’m getting really frustrated for several weeks, that it’s time to make a change to help things run more smoothly. It’s never perfect, but I do love it!

    Thank you for posting. I love reading about your new life as a mom, especially a work from home mom. 🙂

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