Thursday, August 14, 2008

Going back to work - again

It is that time to start earning money again. Fortunately, unlike the last time I went back to work, this time I do it as a mom. Wow. That feels so good to type . . . "as a mom". A mom of a living baby. Wow. Excuse me a moment while a bask in that thought . . .

Back to the point of this post. I am going back to work and I'm wondering how I am going to manage it. Here is the arrangement: I will work 4 hours per day, 5 days per week. I will be doing this from home at least 4 of the 5 days. The schedule is somewhat flexible - we are still working out which hours I will work, but I will need to be working the hours that are agreed upon. My manager would like me to work 10-2, but we are going to try 9:30-11:30 and 1:30 to 3:30 for now.

I work in technical support, but the set up is such that I usually don't receive calls directly from customers. They call a phone center person who logs the call or the customer logs the call via the internet. I have an online queue that I pull the calls from. This offers some flexibility, but if it is urgent, I am supposed to call right away. Some calls can be resolved in a few minutes and some take hours. Often for more complex issues, we hang up and I continue to work on the issue remotely.

My manager is in Philly - the other side of the country. I keep in touch with her and my coworkers via online chat.

The trick, as I see it, is trying to look like I am working during those four hours even if I am not. If my boss IM's me, I'd better be able to respond within a few minutes. If a customer needs a call or needs a quick resolution, I'd better be able to do that. If I can't actually work for a given period of time, but can look like I am - and then make up the time later - I think I will be ok.

Do you think I can do that or do you think I need to hire someone to watch LB while I am working?

The dilemma is the money, of course. My current job never paid that well, but I think that is one of the reasons they are willing to let me try this part time, from home. Not to brag, but most people with the company just aren't that great with customers - especially unhappy ones (the company's product insures a steady supply these). The good ones get better paying jobs. This company has hundreds of workers and my division has about 50. I am the first person they have allowed to work part time although many work from home.

So take a not-great-paying job and cut the salary in half. Then take half of that and pay someone else to hang out in my home just in case. I'm not sure if that is worth it. On the other hand, even $600-$800 / month is something. And by "something", I mean savings toward our next IVF w/ DE cycle.

I am convinced we could live off of Brad's income if needed, but I wouldn't be able to save money for a chance to give LB a sibling. That is going to cost around $25,000. With the savings we currently have and putting every cent I make (not paying a baby sitter) we could be more than half way there in a year which is when we want to try again. No, I haven't figured out how we are going to come up with the remaining portion, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. **

Please weigh in with your thoughts . . . Should I try to do it on my own or pay someone to help watch LB while I am working? I guess one advantage of having someone here is that LB would get more attention. I hate that I won't be able to give her all my attention, but at least it is for only four hours per day.

** No, we are not wealthy, but we try to keep our costs down - such as sharing one car and living in a house the size of a typical 3-car garage. Sure - we have a master bath, guest bath, powder room and laundry room - they just all occupy the same space.


MrsSpock said...

I think it is doable. I try to adhere to a similar writing schedule, plus lunch, chores, etc. J will nap usually from 11-1 most days. I am able to keep up on my blogs, clicker duties for Mel, emails, research, and writing. I have things to entertain him with, like the Exersaucer and Baby Gym that will let me get what I need done.

We can live OK on Mr S's salary, but don't have any extra for saving as well. If we needed IVF treatments, we couldn't afford an IVF either. I've been picking through my Tightwad Gazette so I can squeeze every penny until Lincoln poops.

Laurie said...

I'd try it first alone before hiring anyone. I think you'll need something to entertain her though, like a jumparoo, swing, that sort of thing for while you are typing. Now that Claudia is 6 months she'll hang out for about half an hour in one of those if needed. She also likes to sit in her high chair with toys, or roll around her pack'n' play. I can no longer type and hold or feed her at the same time that I am on the computer though because the keyboard distracts her and she wants to hit all the keys. I don't work from home though so I don't know if I'm being helpful, I just juggle my time with the 2 kids and have to have places to "put" Claudia so she is entertained so I can get something done. Also make sure your volume is cranked on your computer with an alert for new messages so if you're in the other room you'll hear it.

battynurse said...

Since I don't have kids I don't have much concept of what's doable or not. You could try it for a few weeks and then adjust if you need to. Good luck I hope it works great.

Summer said...

I think trying on your own first is a good idea. Then, you get a sense of how doable it is and what you actually need. You can always decide to find someone for those 4 hours if you find that you need it and it may even be that you only need to have someone come in 2-3 times a week instead of all 5 days or just someone for a couple of hours each day while you work.

stacyb said...

Try it on your own first and see how it goes and how LB does...she's going to change so much. what will work when she isn't mobile and not too vocal may need to be rethought when she is.

Once she has a set nap schedule maybe you can swing it to work those hours. if you still need someone (i do) maybe that person is only there an hour or two instead of four.

Anonymous said...

I think with a sling and her still being imobile that you can do it. As she becomes mobile, and on more of a routine then it may get to be difficult, but perhaps then you may wish to move to the 10-2. Working her napping routine your schedule.

Another suggestion, as she becomes mobile perhaps contact a local community college or high school. They may have people who would be interested in being a mothers helper over Christmas Break, Spring, and summer for little to no charge...but again...right now its not a real issue.

Good luck!!!

Sky said...

Kami, I just read some of your old posts and today's about money. And you know I CAN RELATE. So here's some of Sky's justification, which also makes a bit of sense.

We live in this f-ed up world of McMansions and BMW SUVs and boy do I know it's VERY hard to look at that and not think I am in a 1,000 sq/ft townhouse with a modest Rav4.

BUT, and this is a big BUT, couples in the 50s and 60s didn't do nearly as well as couples EXPECT to do today. My ex-husbands parents bought their first house in their mid 30s after so much struggle and lived hand-to-mouth until the kids were in high school. My own mom, God rest her soul, worked her tail off and didn't own her first home (a condo) until she was 55. I was raised in a TINY apartment on the 2nd floor of a 3 family house and to say we lived VERY modestly might be an understatement.

But you know what, I was damned happy. And so was my mom. Yes, it would have been nicer not to worry about money but I have such fond memories of my childhood and not one of those memories involves material items - they're all about being with people I loved and who loved me.

Your child(ren) are going to live a wonderful life, even if you never have a McMansion and, frankly, given the price of gas, we're all better off without a guzzling SUV! :)

Ryan's Mommy said...

I'd try it on your own first, but go ahead and have someone lined up should you need it. I say this as someone who has been there.

When my son was a newborn it was VERY hard to find the time to work. It's such a demanding age. Luckily at that time my job didn't require any phone time (I'm a writer). My baby's schedule was entirely unpredictable, and having calls with the potential of baby interruption would have been a professional disaster. So if you have to answer calls and stay on for long periods, you may run into trouble.

Because I had to work when I really needed to rest or get housework done, I was horribly sleep-deprived and my house was a wreck, and the last thing I wanted to do was work all night. But I often did. I had to.

My son is now three and I have a babysitter three days a week. I still don't risk making calls when I don't have a sitter - he is just too prone to walking in and raising hell at any moment.

Because of all the scheduling problems, working at home with a small child is exhausting and stressful. Still, I feel lucky that I get to do it.

Anonymous said...

In my humble opinion I would work from home without the babysitter first and evaluate the situation after a couple of weeks. If you find that you are not able to get any work done in the time alloted then consider a baby sitter, but if it works why outlay the money right off when you might not even need to...

Also it seems to me that your job is pretty flexible so I think it can easily be done. It depends mainly from what I can gather how often you get "emergency" situations arising...

I would be interested to hear how this works out for you...


Geohde said...

Isn't it a bit sad that we have to start seriously planning siblings so early? I'm thinking about a FET far sooner than is sane, because of work related considerations,



Tracy said...

I didn't read other people's comments, so forgive me if I'm redundant, but I would probably try it on my own before hiring somebody.

I'd make sure I have bottles/diapers/soothies/other entertainment on the ready, just in case...and maybe invest in a sling or a wrap (I'm pretty sure you probably already have one of these.)

Good luck, and KUP!!!

Smiling said...

I think I'd see if I could find a friend or someone to hang out at your house for the first couple days - you know someone who could hang out and read/study and stay out of your way, but is there if you get one of those hard phone calls. I would just be so stressed about making a bad impression the first week back part time - and if the baby and the customer is crying, it will be hard to take care of the grown pissed off customer rather than your wonderful baby... And it would be easier to gather the 'data' of how much you need someone while you have someone there that first week. Just my thoughts...

... I feel so much for you on the DE saving front. I already am thinking about siblings and I am not even to the first cycle yet. We too are living in a smallish place with one car (so that we can lived off one salary while my hubby starts his own company without any business loans) and moving to New Zealand and taking advantage of their public health system is the only way I got around it the $25k. Best of luck!!!

Jill said...

I think until 3-4 months you can probably do it. But they get more and more demanding of your time as they get bigger. It also depends on what type of napper LB is. Ben napped for a MAX of 45 minutes at a time around 6-9 months, and usually needed to be driving - yes, I know.. napping is not great here. So that wouldn't have worked for me at all.

But around 3-4 months, they I think I watched a lot of TV and surfed... You'll need to be good at BF"ing and typing at the same time - I was a pro!

At some point though, you will need help. So start on your own and see how it goes, and add the help when you need it.

Is there any way to stagger your hours with Brad's? Like can he go to work at 10 and let you work from 8-10? and then you only have to manage 2 additional hours during the day with LB?

singletracey said...

I have no kids.. so I can't give my personal experience. But, if it were me, I would try it! It is worth a shot!

My sister works from home one day a week with the kids and it hasn't been a problem in over 2 years.

Sara said...

I think that it really depends on the baby. There is no way in hell that I could work 4 hours/day while watching Eggbert, but she is (and has always been) a very alert and demanding child. Even with my husband home, it's hard for me to work at home. However, if LB is a mellow child, then it might be possible. If it seems reasonable to you, then you could at least try it for a week or so and then make a decision.

Anonymous said...

If it were me (and who knows, maybe I actually will have this kind of problem again, if my next IVF cycle miraculously works)...I would hire some kind of housekeeper/nanny. I am not a fan of that set-up if you are actually gone all day, but if you are right there and LB may just be napping anyway, it could be a good option. At least you wouldn't be paying someone to sit there while she naps, and it's always nice to have less housework.

Families with newly school-aged children often have such a person who is suddenly available during school hours but still has to pick those kids up after school - someone who would be happy to have some extra hours in the middle part of the day?