Jordan Ferney writes the blog Oh Happy Day about parties, crafts and all things pretty. She usually lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons, although they’re lucky enough to all be spending this year in Paris! Here, she talks about how she balances it all…
1. What’s your work schedule?
Now that we’re living in Paris, my schedule is much different than when I was in the U.S. My husband and I share childcare duties pretty equally. In Paris, we work from 5pm to midnight (American hours) so we have the whole day to hang out with our kids. We sightsee, sit at cafes, go to the park and visit museums. Our boys go to bed around 7:30pm, so the last few hours after dinner they watch a movie or play with toys to wind down before we put them to bed. This is the best schedule we’ve ever had.
In the U.S., I was the primary caretaker. Our schedule was this:
9am-1pm Babysitter arrived, took kids to the park, did a little preschool session, and fed them lunch while I worked.
1-6pm I take care of the kids. We go to parks, museums, etc., and I would do household errands.
6pm-midnight My husband Paul put the kids down while I got back to work.
2. How do you handle childcare?
Being in France has been so interesting. The French support system for mothers is amazing. France has state sponsored daycare and preschool, and they are really good. We just started our oldest son in preschool this spring. His teacher is excellent, and it is very organized. He only goes for three hours a day but he loves it. If your child is younger than 3, then placement in daycare depends on if both parents work and income, and then there is a sliding scale fee. My friend is a stay-at-home mom in Paris and takes her toddler two mornings a week so she can get errands done. It’s a huge burden taken of a mother’s shoulders if she has affordable options for childcare.
Another awesome detail is in Paris they have a large section on the bus for strollers. So you can get on and off the bus without ever closing your stroller. In fact its encouraged! So different from the glares you get in the U.S. for getting on the bus with a stroller. I wish the women’s movement would jump on this issue, it’s so important for moms not to feel trapped at home.
3. Where do you work during the day?
Right now we work in our home. We have a desk set up in our bedroom. When I really need to buckle down and reach a deadline I just close the door. I prefer working in my home so I can pop out and play with my boys during breaks.
4. What do you find best about your current set-up?
Spending the day with my family is a huge luxury. I doubt we’ll ever have a situation like this again so we are trying to enjoy it. Since everyone in the US is asleep while we are out I don’t even feel a need to check the internet or twitter because nothing is going on.
5. What do you find tricky about your current set-up? What would you change if you had a magic wand?
Our biggest struggle is always setting boundaries. When you work for yourself the success of your business is directly related to how hard you work. We could work forever and still not be done. Setting limits and sticking to the schedule is really important to keep everything running smoothly.
6. What advice would you give to other moms about the juggle?
The main thing I’ve learned is that you can’t have it all. What I mean by that is you are always sacrificing something with any decision you make. For example I have friends that buy really rad clothes for their kids. They are always dressed adorably. My kids have clothes that fit them and that are kind of cute but nothing that compares. That is something that I would enjoy and I wish I had more time to do. But when I choose to have a job I sacrifice some of that.
I think the secret is to try to reevaluate the situation often to make sure everyone’s needs are being met. We are constantly tweaking things about our schedule to make sure everyone (including the parents) are healthy and happy.
7. Do you think the juggle is harder for women than for men?
Yes! My husband is very involved in childcare but if he leaves for work he doesn’t think about home or worry. I swear he is hardwired differently than I am.