Friday, October 17, 2008

Davis University

As a stay-at-home mom, I often get asked the question, "Don't you ever get bored at home all day?" If I don't have the time to explain, I simply answer "Hell no." But if I do have the time and/or I am just annoyed enough to make the time, this is how I explain myself.

Since I work in education, I will try to explain my new role as a SAHM in terms of running a college because it is surprisingly VERY similar. Lets break it down by department shall we?

Business Affairs
Like the business office at most institutions, I am not responsible for making any money, but I am responsible for overseeing where it is coming from and where it is going. I write the checks, sign the checks, deposit, withdraw, balance, save, invest...I think you get the point. I have to have excellent filing skills, bookkeeping skills and money management skills (still working on that one). If the check book is balanced, I get a smile and a nod. If the check book isn't balanced, I am sentenced to an eternity in hell. I will always annoy the carp out of everyone who has to deal with me but that's just what I have to do keep this department up and running.

Human Resources
Like the business office, the human resource department doesn't make any money, but is responsible for paying everyone else. In my case it is Comcast Cable, Nicor, CommEd, GMAC Mortgage, T-Mobile, the guys who spread our mulch every spring...I think you get my point. Also, I am in charge of understanding our health benefits. I mean, it takes a 3 ring binder just to explain our deductible so obviously this is a pretty overwhelming task at times. But unlike the HR departments at most institutions, I don't have a quick connect button that I can hit when I need to call these people. I have to listen to Kenny G for 45 minutes just to get to the menu where I select 4 for a live person. And remember...I am also in charge of getting everyone to their doctors appointments. Most HR departments don't drive you to the doc. But if paying everyone else AND coordinating benefits were not enough responsibility for one department, I also have to be concerned about team morale. When everyone seems stressed about their job, or in my case, when everyone feels stressed about life, I have to be ready with team building activities. When Addie is upset because she is cutting a tooth, lost her favorite bug rattle AND pooped her pants...I have to talk in my silly voice and sing Itsy Bitsy Spider while I crawl on the floor and find a new toy for her to play with while I change her diaper. When Eric comes home after a long day at work and is stressed about the long hours and our "lack of alone time", I have to forget about my long day and pretend like I want to play "dirty school teacher" and rub his shoulders. Seriously...I have a new found respect for this department.

Marketing and Communication
This is the department I have the most fun with. I sort of look at this blog as my family website. Anyone wanting to know what's new in the Davis household can come here to find out. I update this blog regularly so there are no complaints :-) I also like to brag about my family, which is really what marketing is all about isn't it? If a college has a beautiful campus...they sell it. If a college has an excellent graduate program...they sell it. If a family has the cutest baby on the block...they should sell it. Just as I do. Hahaha!
As far as communication goes, if it weren't for me, everyone in our family would think we fell off the face of the earth because Eric is SO not the communicator. He would go a week without calling anyone and then look confused when everyone wonders where he has been. Now don't get me wrong, he is an excellent communicator at work and I am sure all his colleagues would agree. But at home, I have to decode everything he says. For example, if Eric says "I am going to Joe's house to watch the Bears and have a beer or two," I know to ask if by "Joe's house" he means the bar, if by a "beer or two" he means 7 and if by "watching the Bears" he means watching every NFL game on TV that day. Luckily, I know to ask these questions so when Dana calls looking for her husband, I know how to report back :-)

Institutional Advancement and Planned Giving
I am always looking for creative ways to bring in family income without having to go back to work full time so for the sake of this explanation, I will refer to this department as Family Advancement. I would love to advance us into the next tax bracket without having to work an outside job. When I figure out how to do that, I will report back.
As for Planned Giving, we are not quite at the fundraising stage in our household yet. However, I know I am only a few years away from Addison going to school and joining clubs and dance teams and that means a mountain of cookie, candle and wrapping paper order forms that I will have to solicit to every family member, friend and neighbor I know. And you bet your sweet ass I will be stopping by the home of EVERY person who has ever dropped off a girl scout cookie order form at my house. I mean...who needs 17 boxes of peanut butter patties in one year. I mean...I ate them...but I wasn't happy about it!!

Academic Affairs
This is actually a very important part of being a SAHM. Addison isn't in day care with lots of other kids participating in fun educational activities every day. It is up to me to create fun activities that will keep her attention for longer than 25 seconds. And that is a LOT harder than you think. Luckily, Addie has lots of babies to play with each day because my sister-in-law and cousin-in-laws all stay at home part-time or full time with their kids. We try to schedule at least one or two play dates a week. I think it is good for Addie to get out and socialize with other kids, even if they are family :-)
Another important part of academic affairs is planning a curriculum. Trust me, I have a LOT of experience with this in the academic world, but I have NO experience with this at home. Do I let Addie watch TV or not? What toys are educational and which aren't? Do I sign her up for baby music or baby sign language? Will too much exposure to the Disney Channel give her ADD? So many things to think about! And she is only 7 months old!!! Did I mention that I also have to grade freshman English papers and create lesson plans during my free time?

Food Service
The "Jen Cafeteria" is open 24 hours around the Davis household since I am still breastfeeding. Luckily, there is only one menu item for Addie to chose from so at least she can't be picky. However, we are on solids now too so after I prepare three organic meals a day for her, I also have to nurse her. Its an all day job. And in addition to feeding her, I have to feed myself and a picky husband. I have never been a very good cook, but I am learning and getting better each day. I plan meals now, just like the cafeteria at my old school, and if anyone doesn't like what's on the menu...they can make Ramen Noodles in their dorm.

Speaking of dorms, before I moved in with Eric, his old house looked like a dorm. He was using a microwave stand as an entertainment center, he had a Christmas tree still up in his living room in April and he had a missing kitchen cabinet door...still not sure about that. Also, the only food in his refrigerator was a jar of pickle relish, a few packets of Arby's sauce and an old take-out container from the dinner down the street. Poor guy. So that's when I had to step in and turn that house into a home. And honestly, I loved every minute of it because in case you didn't know, I LOVE to decorate and redecorate my house. Home Goods and I are BFF :-)

Where do I begin. Between grocery shopping, stocking the pantry, stocking the bathroom, stocking the nursery, getting my oil changed, taking out the trash, recycling, doing the laundry, scrubbing the floors, scrubbing the toilets, vacuuming, decorating the house, watering the plants and flowers outside, etc...its a wonder I am able to accomplish my other 200 tasks each day!!! This alone counts as one job, in my opinion.

Well...I hope I made my point. Being a SAHM isn't always as easy (or as boring) as people think it is. I use to be a workaholic too. I worked a full-time administrative job, commuted 2 hours a day AND taught freshman English. I know what it is like to love to work and I also know what it is like to leave the job you love behind. I don't feel like my day or my life is any less chaotic then it was when I was working a full-time job, but it is certainly more rewarding. Even though I do get a little overwhelmed from time to time with all the "departments" I must oversee in this new role, I still remember what my old college president use to say....its all about the kids. And in my case...its all about Addie :-)


  1. I love it! All so very, very true. But I have to say after 3 years of not going to work that I miss it and I've decided to go back. Yes I am crazy, but it's completely for self satisfaction. I miss it and am sooo excited to get back to it.

  2. It is an option for me to keep the boys right there. BUT I think I am going to go with a real daycare/preschool. The boys need some structure and I think they would do best if I was not there. But it is nice to know that the daycare at Lifetime is there if I even needed to use it.

  3. Ok...this post was cracking me up! You couldn't have said it any better! Even though I'm a working mom, I can totally relate to ALL of these things!


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