27 on the 27th: preparing for the home stretch

April 27th, 2011 § 26 comments

27 April 2011


Blazer – JCrew, inherited from mom
Tank – BE Maternity
White top – thrifted
Skirt – Motherhood Maternity, inherited from E.
Wedges – Report
Necklace – thrifted
Tote – Kenneth Cole, via TJMaxx


I’m 27 weeks now, and depending on what source you go with, I’m either in the last week of my second trimester or the first week of my third trimester. Either way, I’m getting into the home stretch of this pregnancy. While I don’t mind being pregnant most of the time, I can’t wait to be done as T. and I are sooo impatient and excited to have our little girl already born and out in the world with us. Every time I see a baby these days, I get more excited about meeting my own.

As for dressing my ’2/3 there’ body … it’s been challenging lately. Mostly because the weather has been so inconsistent and I keep having to revert to colder temperatures clothing, which I’ve either already outgrown or have worn so much that I’m thoroughly bored with it. Thus, I’ve been lacking in inspiration and just admiring how beautiful E. looks and how effortless she makes this whole thing look. I’ve also been incredibly busy with the semester coming to an end, and with a deadline to turn in a completed chapter draft to my dissertation advisor, which has also left me with little interest in anything but looking presentable and getting out the door quickly in the mornings.

27 April 2011

Enter my fail proof go-to outfit… I’ve worn iterations of this combo many times but just haven’t had a chance to record it. The basic premise is pairing a comfortable maternity skirt (this one is inherited from E’s last pregnancy) with some kind of top that still fits me, and then adding the two magic ingredients: ┬áThis structured navy JCrew blazer and my most comfortable Report wedges. Both these items add a dash of polish and professionalism to an otherwise casual look of maternity skirt+top combo. It’s not the most exciting outfit in the world, but it gets the job done. Incidentally, when E. wore and documented this skirt during her first pregnancy, she also paired it with a structured navy blazer, although she kept things more casual with colorful flats…

17 March 2009 - Getting Closer 27 April 2011

(Thanks, E, for a great maternity skirt!)

This week is our last week of classes and after Thursday, I will just have final grades to turn in. Although I’ve somewhat lost my mojo in the fashion department, I can look back on this year and feel really good about everything else that got done. I taught my first ever 5 course load, designed my own syllabus for one of those classes, managed to write 1.5 chapters of my dissertation, co-advised a student group, and still found time to cook more, learn to bake bread, ride my bike, take my dog on walks, and spend quality time with my husband. Oh yeah, and I’ve been growing a baby for much of this time. So I’m ok with having been less innovative in the ‘getting dressed’ department. It was just one of those things that became less important to me as these other things took precedence.

As we enter into warmer summer weather and I enter my third trimester, I’m hopeful that some of my fashion mojo might come back for that last stretch of pregnancy. I’m looking forward to having summer dresses, casual sandals, and more time at my disposal. As for the next academic year? I’m taking the Fall semester off to be at home with the baby and then will possibly teach in the Spring if the dissertation fellowship I applied for doesn’t pan out. But either way, it looks like I have a long stretch of working from home while caring for a baby ahead of me. So I’d love to hear it from those other moms out there – how do you manage to get work done while at home with a little one? What are some strategies that have helped you stay productive if you work from home and have kids to take care of? Please share! ~ S.

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§ 26 Responses to 27 on the 27th: preparing for the home stretch"

  1. I work part-time from home and really, there’s no great answer to this. It’s easier when they’re infants, certainly, and sleeping more… plus then they’re usually content just to watch or play on the floor. But it’s not easy. If you can find someone in the same boat as you and do a kid-swap one or two mornings a week, that can help… otherwise work is usually crammed in during naptime or after bed.

  2. NotaBene says:

    You still look great, even if you *feel* like you’ve lost your mojo. Congratulations on a great year!
    ~ Dr. (www.latinforpayattention.tumblr.com)

  3. Andromeda says:

    1) Even a little bit of childcare is awesome. (Babysitter, or childcare swap, or even a young teenage helper who comes to your house and plays the kid while you’re in the next room…though the “in the next room” thing will get harder to pull off as the baby gets older and gets hip to your game.)

    2) Don’t do the dishes. Or clean. I mean, except insofar as you absolutely have to. You don’t have time to learn the ways of your newborn, and do self-care, and do work, and clean the house, and spend time with T. I hear there are people who find housework more important or rewarding than academic work, but I’m not one of them, so I know which one I sacrificed ;). Good communication with T. about which corners you’re OK with cutting and who picks up what will help. And lowering your standards on all the things you do do…yes it’s hard to turn in the professional equivalent of B work when you know you can do A work…but it will do, for now.

    3) One of the hard things for me is that — while one actually does HAVE a lot of time with a newborn, more than it seems — you can’t necessarily predict when it’s going to be or how long. So I couldn’t plan, and I didn’t really want to get into things that might have taken a long time because I didn’t know if I could finish them. But I should’ve gotten over that. And I always wanted to spend the first few minutes of baby-asleep time on some sort of chilling-out activity, but then it’s easy to get sucked into Facebook or whatever and not do anything. Basically you learn — “this is the hour I will have today where I can get anything done, so I am going to be a MACHINE this hour”.

  4. I actually found the baby part of working at home easier than I would have expected. The key was giving in to his schedule instead of following my own. I slept when he slept and kept some pretty strange hours. But after the first 3 weeks or so when we were figuring everything out, it was not that hard. Babies sleep A LOT. He wasn’t mobile and was usually happy to just be nearby or in the sling or on the floor on a quilt while I sat at the computer. I even took him to my part-time freelance job in an office in downtown Chicago. The most challenging years were toddler/preschool when he was mobile and needing lots and lots of supervision and only out of the house for school a couple of mornings a week. Hiring some regular childcare (or borrowing a grandmother, if that’s an option) for work time is a must, if you can afford it. The American Association of University Women fellowships were very open to funding childcare as part of my project budget. There are probably others too. Something I wish I’d done back then that would have speeded my progress: have regular meetings with colleagues. A monthly meeting with an adviser. A weekly dissertation writing group. Something to keep you in regular contact with university colleagues. It’s easy to fall into the parallel universe that a baby creates and sometimes it’s hard to fight the exhaustion. Having regular meetings would have forced me to be more focused than I was at the time.

    My son is now 10 and has grown up with our work as part of family life. My husband is a freelancer and also works out of the house and our son sees us working daily, sees what we do and how we do it. He’s a part of it. I think — I hope — that he sees that work is part of life, one that is often enjoyable and not a chore. I’m hoping that’s something that he’ll carry with him.

    Good luck! It’s one magnificent and exciting ride.

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Harriet, for this great tip and reminder that I need to arrange for some writing buddies and colleagues to keep having regular writing deadlines to someone and to keep having that feedback and interaction. I think that will be key in pushing me to keep going forward!


    • Maralynn says:

      Reading posts like this make surfing such a plseaure

    • Morochita says:

      Ah, where to begin?I’ll start with my own experience as a pulibc school student. I attended Philadelphia pulibc schools from kindergarten to 12th grade. High levels of parental involvement in the home and school and dedicated teachers led to a great education during my elementary years. In middle and high school I attended the best pulibc school in the state. The students attending my h.s. were from all over the Philadelphia and represented every socio-economic, racial and religious group in the city. My ten year reunion was a few years ago. Before the reunion one of the classmates compiled a where they are now list. 100% of my graduating class finished college, 80% had either completed or were pursuing graduate level degrees. While the academic accomplishments are nice, I was most struck by the genuine affection that my classmates and I still had for each other after all these years. The social and cultural education we benefited from as a by-product of our class demographics taught us to be decent, thoughtful human beings committed to making a positive difference in the world. Out of the 83 of us who graduated together 30 of us teachers, social workers or in another social service field. The high percentage of teachers in my class is a direct result of the our positive experience with pulibc education. We believe that it can and does work, we’re living proof and we’re working to pass that gift on.

  5. Starling says:

    Crikey! You’ve done so much this semester! I’ve really struggled with transitioning to working at home part-time this semester. The one thing (aside from my women’s dissertation writing group) that’s really helping is the pomodoro technique (profhacker has some nice entries on it if anyone wants to check it out)…I use focus booster’s live app to give myself 25 minutes of work time with a 5-minute free time. Which reminds me – time’s up :)

    • admin says:

      Starling – thanks! I didn’t know that it was called that but A. and I have also experimented with the ‘intervals’ writing method, as we’ve called it. It applied to the runner in us :) We’d also write for a timed 25 min. interval, then get a 5-10 min. break, then repeat. This worked for me when I was really tired and struggling with motivation, because it didn’t sound like that much to say, I’ll work for 25 minutes and then I get a break.

      I don’t love this method when I’m feeling more relaxed and motivated and can just sit down and work but it’s great for when your mind is really resisting that writing and you can tell yourself, just 25 minutes! (And then of course, tell yourself that again and again).


  6. Laura says:

    I don’t have any kids, but I do work from home (finishing an MFA). Since it’s impossible to predict when I’ll be home alone or not, or when somebody might invite me to do something irresistible, or when my life might explode into insanity, I make a point to work when I have time. I only have an hour? I figure out what project fits into an hour. I have ten minutes? I can at least switch laundry from the washer into the dryer. Things rarely get done exactly when I expect them to, but they do always get done.

    It took ages to switch from a mindset where I’d only start a project if I knew I had time to really get lost in it to a mindset where my project creation works more like a collage (chapter here, short story there, oh hey look, I can do revisions on this!), but since my options were either to get nothing done at all or to change my expectations of how I was supposed to do things, I definitely went with the changed expectations.

  7. Mrs. G says:

    The Golden Rule of the First Four Months: “One Must Shave Ones Legs Whenever Opportunity Allows, as One May Never Know When the Next Opportunity Will Be.”

  8. Kelly says:

    I work part-time, with some of it on campus and some of it at home. I have two boys, ages 3 1/2 and 1, and working from home is very, very difficult. I really can’t set any scheduled time because their needs are not always on a schedule. The good thing is that babies sleep a lot so with only one, you will be able to work while she is asleep. However, sometimes they won’t sleep for large chunks of time so that can make it difficult too.

    One possibility is that maybe one morning or afternoon a week, depending on schedule, could be T’s alone time with the baby, and you *leave the house* to work. I have had many 2-hour-only sessions at a local coffee shop where I got more done there than in an entire day at home.

  9. DM says:

    People have already said it, but the only real solution I think is to work in very short bursts while the baby is sleeping (when you are not collapsed into sleep yourself) and, more importantly, to get some kind of childcare and really make the most of your time then. Maybe it could be your husband on a regular basis, maybe you’ll want to hire someone. But it really is unsustainable to work from home with a child to care for at the same time, especially as they grow. I had the illusion I could work from home with baby and it was quickly dashed. Perhaps your university has a group or coop of student moms/parents you could look to for support and advice? Good luck!

  10. jnbythesea says:

    Work is important… but you will only be at home with your first newborn baby once in your entire life.
    You can always do more work later, but you can never have that time with your baby back again.

    Go easy on yourself. Don’t be afraid to reexamine what your priorities are. Enjoy the moment- there is that temptation to try to pack all you can into every free minute you have. Don’t exhaust yourself. Your work as a mom will be written on your child’s heart. That is most likely the most important work you will ever do.

  11. Tam says:

    I just finished my dissertation (yay!) and have a 4 yo & 2 yo. It’s hard to get work done when kids are awake, but I agree with the advice about trying to be productive when they are sleeping. But don’t beat yourself up if you just want to zone out or nap yourself when they do.

    I stayed home P/T with my kids (hubby stayed home with them the other days. And we did do a babysitting swap with another mom for a few semesters). It took me awhile to find a balance – I’d feel guilty about not doing work when I was with my kids and guilty about not being with my kids when I was at school. I just learned to focus on enjoying my kids on my home days and dinner times and bed times. When deadlines loomed, I would have late nights working – but what grad students don’t procrastinate anyway.

    And, don’t beat yourself up if you struggle to do it all. Enjoy your baby when he/she is little. School work will be there later :) This last year we’ve put the kids in daycare & preschool a few days a week. Enjoy your 3rd trimester! (sleep when you’re tired!)

  12. Laura says:

    First of all, you look terrific! Hang in there!

    I think Andromeda had great advice. Rustling up any and all help you can is a great idea.

    I have a 16-month-old. I just finished law school in December and took the California bar in February. Two things were key for me as a mom-student/mom-bar studier:
    1. Getting out of the house to work (requires childcare, which we luckily have); and
    2. A program called “Freedom” ($15) that enables one to block the internet for a given number of minutes. It really helped me make the most of my time.

    One other thing: while it’s true that they are only babies once, they are also only 2 once, only 4 once, only 8.3 once, and so on. Every age is unique and special, and we develop our relationships with our kids over many years, universe willing. I really think it’s not just okay but positive to have other people involved in your child’s care– and to, yes, miss some moments yourself. I believe this helps your child learn that there are many lovely people in the world and good times to be had without you, and also helps you have some space– which in turn is adaptive as your child grows more independent. I know I’m no expert, and I recognize that this is a self-serving position, but I’ve had so many people lob that “these are such precious months…how can you bear to be apart from her?” guiltbomb my way– I just wanted to offer these thoughts in case you encounter it too.

  13. M says:

    Oh, S, I think you’re asking the most difficult and most important questions. As other people have said, it’s really important to re-define productive. You’re a disciplined, organized person who can probably knock out a to-do list and find a lot of joy in crossing things off said list. A kiddo makes crossing things off the list much more difficult (unless you want to put “nurse the kid” and “change a diaper” on the list). I personally struggled with being comfortable with the my new, lower standards of productivity. Be prepared to extend extra grace to yourself for the times when you don’t accomplish as much as you feel you should. And ask T to help you with this. Also, as other people have said, seriously take people up on offers for meals, cleaning, or childcare. They really want to help. Let them.

    Also, it is wonderful that you’ve found a rich, supportive community in your yoga class! I hope that as your children are all born, you can continue to depend on this community for feedback, alternative points of view, and encouragement. When you’re exhausted and discouraged, it can make a huge difference to hear someone say, “Yep, I had that same problem, and I can say with confidence it will get better.” And you can in turn offer encouragement to someone who is even a few weeks behind you on the journey.

    It seems like you’re in a really good position entering the last trimester, both mentally and physically. Way to go!

    • academichic says:

      Thanks, M, I think I will take any help that comes my way :) No quarrels there.

      And yes, the yoga group has been amazing and we’ve all vowed to continue seeing each other and supporting each other after our babies are born. This, too, I enjoy about this group, since it will be so nice to have a support system of women going through nearly the same newborn issues as me right here in town. And maybe we can arrange for babysitting swaps too, which might be a good way for me to get some alone time with T. or some uninterrupted writing done.


  14. Amber says:

    I haven’t seen this mentioned here (maybe because it’s so obvious to everyone but me), but you must make a point of getting dressed every day! If you want to be productive, you have to be wearing something other than pajamas. As a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it doesn’t matter what you wear. It totally does. Dress for the job you need to do that day, and you’ll get a lot more done.

  15. academichic says:

    Thanks for all the really great advice, everyone! I really appreciate all the tips and ideas and know that I will likely implement many of these!


  16. [...] S. expressed earlier this week, sometimes it’s hard to remain inspired when it comes to dressing a changing body while also [...]

  17. ashley says:

    Laura, I want to thank you for your comment on ignoring the “your kids are only little once!” guiltbomb. I hate that phrase. Believe me, during that first year I felt enough of my own grief about being away from my my little one. Guilt-tripping comments from other people felt really shitty. Sorry for expressing myself in such an inelegant way, but that’s how it felt. I felt punched in the gut anytime somebody used that line. It seemed very unkind and not helpful in the least.

    Some of us have to work. Some of us choose to work. And I really believe that most women put a good deal of thought and consideration into making those tough decisions — if we have the luxury of it being a decision at all. Now that my DS is 17 months old, I feel comfortable saying that my time away from him while I worked hurt ME more than it hurt him. And I am very, very thankful for that. I am also beyond grateful for the other adults in DS’s life who love him and care for him when I cannot. At the end of the day, I am still his mama, and we still share a bond that no one else can touch.

    • academichic says:

      Thank you to both of you for voicing this side of it! I grew up with a working mom but never felt like she wasn’t there for me. She somehow managed to make me still feel like I was the most important thing in her life. I just found out that I received a dissertation fellowship for the coming academic year so I will be able to stay home with the little one for the first year of her life, which sounds amazing! Had I not gotten the fellowship, I would not have been so lucky and would have had to return to teaching after the Fall semester.

      Like you said, working is not always a choice and even when it is, it’s not necessarily one that has to be detremental to your child. It’s good to remember that there are many ways of successful parenting, not just one.


  18. Kelly says:

    Not only is working not a choice sometimes, but sometimes it’s a choice that we need to make for our own mental health! Even though I am primarily a stay-at-home mom, I find that the few hours I do work each week are actually restful and energizing. I come back to them with a much more patient and sane frame of mind!

  19. [...] Like I said the last time I posted, I’ve been running a little low in outfit inspiration and I blame it on the changing weather as well as my constantly changing body and the need to busy myself with so many other projects and tasks that fashion has taken a back seat. As I’m now facing motherhood and a year out of the office, I’m anticipating even more challenges to my getting ready and looking ‘fashionable’ each day. And to be honest, I’m not sure that I mind. So we’ll see what the coming months and adventures will bring. [...]

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