Nurse Revelations:  Why I Will Always Be A Working Mom (At Least Part-Time)

Nurse Revelations: Why I Will Always Be A Working Mom (At Least Part-Time)

I will always be a working mom, at least part-time. And I don’t feel guilty about it. Not even a little.

In fact, I feel the opposite of guilt. For me personally, I think working as an emergency room RN has helped me be a more present and compassionate mother than if I didn’t work at all.

I see things that most other moms don’t see on a regular basis, like patients with critical injuries, long term illnesses, or chronically sick kids. As an emergency room nurse I help patients and their families through some of the worst moments of their lives. These experiences put things in perspective for me.

For every day I spend at the hospital, I gain more gratitude for having a healthy, happy family.

Don’t get me wrong. Being a working mom has its drawbacks and adds a lot of challenges to my life. As an RN, I work anywhere from 24 to 40 hours every week, which is time away from family.  Fortunately, I found a little bit of a work-life balance by becoming a per-diem nurse.  But I still see several important benefits to being a working mom that are keeping me in the workplace.

11 Reasons I Will Always Be A Working Mom

11 Reasons I Will Always Be A Working Mom

11 Reasons Why I Will Always Be A Working Mom:

#1.  Since I don’t get to be home everyday, I never take my “stay-at-home mom” days for granted.

I absolutely LOVE my days off. I adore starting my mornings with a ten-minute toddler snuggle session, then heading down to make pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. We have time to play for a bit, read a few books, and then stroll to the park where we meet up with some of the other moms and toddlers from the neighborhood. My daughter takes a nap at 1pm, during which I also squeeze in a short nap. I relish in my “at home” days because I’m not always home.

There have been weeks where I didn’t work at all (like when our nanny went out of town for two weeks). I got so used to being home that I stopped appreciating being at home as much as when I didn’t do it everyday.

#2.  I have a constant stream of intellectual stimulation.

Admittedly, I am a closet science geek. And I love the cerebral stimulation that I get as a nurse. I have had patients ranging from 2 days old to 108 years old. I have had the opportunity to see more disease states, complex injuries and unusual diagnoses then I ever could have imagined even existed.

It would not be an exaggeration to say I learn ten new things everyday at work. To top it off, I am surrounded by some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. Many of my co-workers have the same drive for helping people I do. They motivate me to keep learning.

#3.  I love our nanny, and she is teaching our kids to speak Spanish.

I know women who didn’t want to work because they didn’t want someone else “raising their children.” I, however, do not see any competition whatsoever. And my child adores our nanny.

Most importantly, I am grateful for the different experiences that our nanny can give our daughter that I cannot, like teaching her Spanish. My baby is actually saying some of her first words in Spanish! The gift of bilingual speaking is not to be taken lightly, and will benefit her brain development, help her in school, and give her broad cognitive advantages compared to her non-bilingual peers.

#4.  My resume is staying up-to-date as I continue to gain valuable work experience.

It is important for me to keep one foot inside of the career door. I have spoken to a lot of moms who took off up to five or more years to stay home and then couldn’t get hired again no matter how hard they tried. It is sad to say, but stay-at-home motherhood can be like a blow torch to a resume.

#5.  I am a good role model for my kids.

There is a large 50,000 person Harvard study that has found that having a working mother is actually good for children, both for daughters and sons (I’m due with our son in a few short months!). The study found that women with working mothers “performed better in the workplace, earning more and possessing more powerful positions than their peers with stay-at-home mothers.” In addition, men whose mothers had worked outside the home at any point were “more likely to contribute to household chores and the care of family members.”

#6.  My husband spends more one-on-one time with our daughter.

Dad and Zoe

One of the benefits of being a working mom is that my husband spends more on-on-one time with our daughter. Engaged dads help kids flourish.

I work 12 hour shifts on Sundays, so my husband runs the house from 6am until our daughter goes to bed at 7:30pm (and also after 5pm on the other 1-2 days I am at the hospital). As a result, my husband is super involved with the day-to-day care of child rearing. He cooks, changes diapers, cleans, feeds the kitties, does bath time, plays with, reads to and keeps our daughter safe. (Their have been a few questionable outfit choices from time to  time- but it’s adorable).

Engaged dads help kids flourish. Many dads I know wouldn’t even know what to feed their kids nor do they get the opportunity to form their own special routines. Men shouldn’t get “extra credit” for child-rearing, yet sometimes they do. In our house it is a more level playing field.

#7.  Work enriches my marriage.

My husband can share pieces of his office drama with me and I always have a fascinating “I couldn’t make this up if I tried” story. Work makes it possible for me to discuss other interesting things besides play dates, toddler meal planning, diaper changes and shopping for kid stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE talking about my child. I could to it all day long. I just don’t think it really helps in the intimacy department. Conversing over interesting thoughts and stories is definitely more of a turn-on.

#8.  Working keeps me disciplined.

If I stayed home every single day I would rarely shower or get out of yoga clothes until the evening. For work I wear scrubs and yes, those are kind-of like pajamas, but I still have to clean myself up and be presentable for co-workers and my patients.

Since I leave at 5:45am on work days and dont get home until 8:30pm, I am left with zero time for anything else except showers and food prep. Therefore I have to be more strategic and military-like in my scheduling about things like cleaning, shopping, meal planning, social events, and other general day-to-day activities. It forces me to be super-organized. And as a result, I am (almost) never late for anything.  (Read more about how I prepare for a 12 hour shift as a registered nurse).

#9.  My savings accounts are still growing rapidly.

Obviously, If I didn’t work I wouldn’t receive any paychecks. I’m not an over spender and fortunately my husband is able to pay all of our bills (except childcare- which I pay for). That means that the majority of what I make gets stocked away into different savings and investment accounts.

During the first 12 months after my maternity leave I was able to increase my personal net worth by 100K (my husband and I obviously share our money, but to make my point I am only talking about my accounts and contributions). This includes income from my paychecks and my retirement investments.

If I was to stay at home just for 5-10 years at this point in my life, I would literally be talking about millions of dollars lost over time, in savings alone. Especially after factoring in compounding interest. And I’m only working two 12-hour shifts a week a lot of the time! My work can make a significant monetary impact. I enjoy contributing to the financial future of our family.

(Read more about how I paid off 27K in student loan debt in under a year and how I saved money for my unpaid maternity leave).

#10.  My kids wont grow up thinking I didn’t do anything.

Sadly, a mom’s work doesn’t get the kind of credit it should. Being a mom is a hard job. Unfortunately many kids don’t understand that being a stay-at-home mom is a job too. In some cases they grow up wrongly thinking that mom didn’t do anything. Conversely, they think dad did ALL the hard work because he worked outside of the home, which is a very unfair assessment. Talk about a double standard!

#11.  My child is thriving.

Our daughter is already an amazing, smart, charismatic little lady. I hope that my husband and I continue helping her to be an independent, assertive human and the best version of herself that she can be.

This may be all in my head, but she is not even two yet and is already showing me that she has a good work ethic: she picks up her toys, helps with cooking in the kitchen (it gets messy, but who cares?), moves items around the house (redecorating maybe?) and even throws away her own diapers. And she is so proud of herself for these achievements.

I want her to continue building confidence by taking initiative, having the opportunity to learn through both winning and losing, and discovering the value of hard work. That, after all, is how we all grow and learn.

Do you have any thoughts about being a working mom? What are some of the benefits and issues that you have encountered?

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

How I Prepare For A 12 Hour Shift (And Stay Healthy)

How I Prepare For A 12 Hour Shift (And Stay Healthy)

(*Updated 3/9/20.  This post about 12-hour shifts and health may contain affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure policy here).

Preparing for 12-hour shifts as a registered nurse requires some prearranged groundwork and organization at home to ensure my day starts off on the right foot. As a working mom, I know I will be gone for a large chunk of time so I do my best to make sure things are properly set up at home the day before.

Additionally, as a nurse, I know how important it is that I take good care of myself so I can continue to give the best possible care to my family and patients.  After all, I can’t expect others to listen to my health education if I don’t take my own advice and stay healthy too.  No excuses!

My top 3 priorities for 12 hour-shifts and staying healthy:

#1. Grocery shop and prepare all meals in advance

I grocery shop every three days so I am able to prepare meals for my toddlers and for each of my 12-hour shifts at the hospital in advance.  To avoid scrambling at the last minute I always make sure everything is ready and packaged to go the night before.

I prepare several options for the kids’ breakfasts, lunch, and dinner such including:

  • Avocado or almond toast
  • Bananas, apples, kiwis, various berries
  • Black bean or chickpea pasta
  • Cheese squares
  • Veggies straws with hummus
  • Veggie/fruit smoothies
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Sautéed veggies

In addition, one day per week I make a big batch of quinoa or brown rice and keep it handy in the fridge for quick meal preparation. When I need it, I add veggies, nuts, seeds, dried cranberries, olive oil, tempeh or whatever else I have in the fridge at that moment. This is so convenient because I can whip something up quickly for my work lunches and I also have it on days I’m home with the kids.

The Nutribullet is by far my favorite cooking tool.

In fact, I use it at least once or twice a day!  I make everything from veggie smoothies, to salad dressings, to soups and blended coffee drinks.  It makes my life so much easier, especially now that we have kids and time is limited.

In the mornings, I make a vegetable and berry smoothie with 1 tablespoon of Maca powder, flaxseed and/or hemp seeds for protein, and acai powder. I alternate my veggies between broccoli, spinach, and kale. For the berry part: strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries although sometimes ill add half a banana or mango. (The Nutribullet is one of the best inventions of the 21st century, I tell you).

I also make several mason jars of overnight oats on Sundays with a variety of flavors:

  • Blueberry/strawberry/raspberry
  • Peanut butter and maple
  • Banana and walnut
  • Almond and raisin

I either add ground flax seeds or chia seeds for extra protein and antioxidant benefits. And I’ll top with a dash of cinnamon. These make such an easy breakfast to go!

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#2 Sleep as much as possible before a 12-hour shift

Let’s be honest – 12-hour shifts usually end up being closer to 14+ at the end of the day.  And, many studies show that working 12-hour shifts are damaging to nurse health due to the length of time that nurses end up working.    In fact, an increased risk of depression, anxiety, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even some cancers have all been researched and publicized.

Since the shifts are not getting shorter anytime soon, the best thing that nurses can due to take care of themselves is rest as much as possible before shifts.  Therefore, I make it a huge priority to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep before shifts.  (This was so much easier before we had kids!)

I few things I use to help me sleep better at night:

  • Eye mask and earplugs. After having kids I realized that I am an incredibly light sleeper.  In fact, even the slightest noises wake me up in the middle of the night.  And sometimes I have difficulty falling back asleep again which is so frustrating when I work a 12-hour shift in the morning.
  • Restorative yoga poses. I keep a yoga pillow and a yoga mat right next to the bed that I use for restorative yoga poses about 20 minutes before I try to go to sleep.  It helps decompress me from my day, check-in with myself and put me into a snugly and sleepy mood.

 

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#3 Get regular exercise on the off days

I always feel so much better when I get my heart rate up on my days off. The benefits of exercise have been well documented and are essential for nurse self-care.  It is no secret that regular exercise helps control weight, boosts overall energy, improves your mood and decreases stress levels.  Not only does exercise benefit the nurse personally, but it also helps nurses have the stamina to give better care to patients as well.

Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A yoga session or brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.  Which, in turn, will help manage caregiver burden and help you feel your best.

For me personally, yoga has been a total game-changer for my stress levels.  But its also great to change up the routine a bit, and I enjoy escaping with my headphones for a run and listening to music.  Whatever you do is great, as long as you actually do it!

Consider wearing compression stockings or compression socks.

Those who know me, know I’m a stickler for compression socks.  Wearing compression stockings helped me work all the way through two pregnancies and I continue to wear them to this day.  They help keep your legs energized, prevent varicose veins, and keep your ankles and feet from getting so swollen after being on your feet all day.  Plus, they come is the cutest styles now.

 

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Being a working mom is hard work.

But with a little preparation and focus on your personal well-being and time management you can be both a healthy nurse and give great care to your patients.

So, what are you going to do for yourself to ensure that you stay healthy and thrive? 

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