Kristin Thomas is a mother of four and breast cancer survivor who went back to work three years ago after being a SAHM with her four young boys. She now works a full-time remote job with a flexible schedule. Read about how Kristin went from SAHM to WAHM in part one of her story, How One Mom Fits a Flexible Job into Her Busy Life, and How Cancer Made Work Flexibility a Necessity for a Working Mom in part two.
So, here I am. Three years post-breast cancer. And I am thinking to myself: “That feels like it happened just yesterday.”
Over the past decade, many friends, family members, and even strangers in the checkout line have said things to me like:
- “They grow up way too fast.”
- “Enjoy this time while you can.”
- “The days are long, but the years are short.”
- “You’ve got your hands full.”
- “Just wait until they get older and even busier.”
Busier is right. Holy cow. With two 10-year-olds, a seven-year-old, and a four-year-old, we have something going on every single night of the week. Soccer, basketball, piano, Cub Scouts… you name it, we’ve signed up for it. And we’re having a blast. But some nights are hard. Some weeks are hard. Let’s be honest: Some seasons are hard. (It’s back-to-school season right now!)
Looking back, I thought returning to work after having kids was going to be difficult. Then I thought working while battling breast cancer was going to be difficult. But in many ways, those challenging times weren’t that much crazier than one of my typical Tuesdays in 2016. My need for flexibility remains.
I went from needing flexwork to care for four young children to needing it to attend weekly doctor’s appointments to needing it to volunteer at school, carpool, manage our town’s public art program, and participate on our Parks & Rec Board. The kids are in school all day now, so I have a large chunk of time to work, thank goodness. But they need my attention as soon as they step off that school bus. That means I have to finish some work projects late at night or get up extra early the next day.
I’ve realized that my kids are going to be living in my house for at least the next 13 years, and our parents are getting older. Early on in my journey of returning to work with a house full of kids, my mother was our part-time nanny. Today, my mother is my father’s primary caregiver as together they cope with his Alzheimer’s disease. While my kids grow and become more independent, our parents may become more dependent. It’s the lifecycle of every family.
There are some people out there who want flexibility and might not necessarily need it. But I believe that there are millions of people out there like me, men and women in similar situations, who will always need work flexibility to be successful, both personally and professionally.
photo credit: Kristin Thomas