Why I’m a Work at Home Mom

by Dr. Punita Rice Life1 Comment

why I'm a work at home mom - Why I'm a Work at Home Mom and Why I'm a Stay at Home Mom

A few weeks ago, my mom friend Nancy asked me why I’m a work at home mom (which in this case, means a mom who works from home, and is also the primary caregiver for get child). She was asking because she is a working mom who is struggling with trying to decide if she wants to (a) continue being a full-time working mom (her daughter is in daycare), (b) switch over to being a stay at home mom and taking some time away from work (here’s a post by my friend Cherie who did exactly that), or (c) become a “work at home mom” (and look for work she could do from home while simultaneously being her daughter’s main care provider, and not hiring additional childcare). She wanted to me to help her think through that third option, since it’s what I do. I had to stop and actually think through why I’m a work at home mom (I’d never really stopped to think about it before), so I decided to write up this post and explain, in case it’s helpful to any other moms toying with the idea. But first, I should explain what I mean when I say “I’m a work at home mom.”

What do I mean when I say I’m a work at home mom?

I do all of my work from home. I run an outreach organization called ISAASE, I’m an advisor for the Johns Hopkins University School of Education Doctor of Education program, and I’m also writing a book (coming out next year! – read more about that here). However, I do not employ a caregiver for my child — during the day, I am my child’s primary caregiver (although we occasionally have grandparents watch him). So, I work whenever I can, and during ‘regular job hours,’ and when my son is awake, I embrace being more of a traditional “stay at home mom” (more on why I embrace this title here). As a disclaimer before I go any further, I should also say that right now, being a work at home mom works for me because I just have ONE kid. I realize I may very well change my tune once baby #2 comes along in a few months…

Why don’t we hire childcare?

The simple answer is: we don’t want to. While my partner is at work (he works full-time from outside of the home), I am the default full-time parent, and I enjoy it. Whenever I can during the day, I work. When my husband is home, we share parenting responsibilities and household responsibilities. My husband is extremely involved in both of these things, so when he is home, I am able to work a great deal more. I (usually) get everything I want to get done, done. I enjoy being with my son. My husband also likes how we have set up our lifestyle. So there’s no need to hire childcare (though again, that’s just how I feel now, with one child). (I’ll also admit I’ve definitely felt like there is some cultural pressure to hire childcare.)

So, how do I make being a work at home mom work when I don’t hire childcare?

  1. I do most of my work from home (albeit often during non-traditional hours).
  2. I work whenever I can: during my son’s naps, in the evening hours, on weekends, when I should be sleeping.
  3. I schedule meetings and calls during nap times, or when I know my husband will be home.
  4. I don’t use time as a metric to measure work/progress, but instead focus on project-based metrics.
  5. Sometimes, I’m able to have my mom watch my son if I need to leave to work on something specific (like to tackle a specific writing project, or meet with someone).
  6. I remember there’s only one of me, and I don’t say yes anymore to every enticing opportunity. Even if there’s a project I may feel drawn to, if I know I realistically can’t make work with my existing work and personal commitments and responsibilities, I don’t accept or pursue it. (This was a hard habit / urge to overcome. More on how this has actually been a good thing for my career in another post!)
  7. I don’t spend my free time doing other stuff besides working. (For example: I don’t do the majority of the cooking in our family; I don’t do a lot of recreational activities, unless you count maintaining this blog; I don’t have as much “free” time; I don’t get as much sleep!)
  8. I only have one kid right now! (Obviously, I may feel differently about how feasible everything is after we have a second baby!)

So I guess I can now answer the original question Nancy asked: Why I’m a work at home mom. In case any other mom out there is contemplating becoming a work at home mom, and wants to better understand my reasons, read on!

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20 Pregnancy Essentials (Updated!)

by Dr. Punita Rice Life

Pregnancy Essentials 2018

ICYMI, we’re expecting our second baby this summer! I’m in my second trimester (about 4.5 months pregnant) now, and there are definitely some pregnancy essentials must-haves that I’ve needed the past few months that I’d like to share here in case it benefits anyone else. In this post, I’m also including links to some of the aforementioned essentials (they’re affiliate links, which means if you find something useful here and end up buying it, the website will get a kickback; you wouldn’t pay anything more, but you would be supporting the maintenance of  this website — so thank you so much if you use any of these links! You can read more about that here if you’d like.). BUT, to make life easier, I’m including a QUICK LIST right here at the beginning of this post, if you don’t have the time (or the patience, sigh) to read through this full post. So, here are my top 10 recommended pregnancy essentials:

  1. A good quality Pregnancy Body Pillow
  2. A good quality Noise Machine (ideally, a physical one, though an app is sufficient when traveling)
  3. Multiple Water Bottles everywhere
  4. Comfortable Maternity Bras (which you can wear through pregnancy and while nursing)
  5. Intensely hydrating Moisturizing Creams to prevent itching (and maybe stretch marks)
  6. Soft and stretchy Maternity Leggings
  7. Comfortable shoes (like sneakers or sandals)
  8. “Emergency snacks” like granola bars to take with you everywhere
  9. Prenatal vitamins with DHA and Folic Acid
  10. And finally, prioritizing your mental healthy and well-being by doing things like getting out of the house every day, and making it a point to talk to your friends regularly

Update – After I shared this post, some of my mom friends shared some of their essentials with me — and I realized there were a lot of great products and things out there that I didn’t know about, or just didn’t think about. So, for your convenience, I’m sharing even more pregnancy essentials in this post. So in addition to the 10 I came up with, there are 10 more pregnancy must-haves in this post.

Here are the next 10 pregnancy must-have items:

  1. Hydrating drinks (like Gatorade or coconut water)
  2. Something to hydrate your lips, like a good Lip Balm
  3. Compression Socks to prevent swelling
  4. Maxi Dresses for comfort
  5. Belly Band for support
  6. Things that calm you down
  7. Things for dealing with pregnancy stuffiness
  8. Things for heartburn
  9. A relaxed mindset
  10. Adequate rest

For a full breakdown of each of my top 10 pregnancy essentials, plus 10 more bonus essentials shared by others, read on!Read More

Why Changing My Name After Marriage Was Difficult

by Cherie Descorbeth Life

Cherie on Why She Had a Hard Time Changing Her Name After Marriage

If you’re a married lady, did you change your last name? And if so, how did you feel about changing your last name after marriage? Particularly in a time when so many people don’t go the old-school route of woman-takes-husband’s-name after marriage, the decision to change your name after marriage can be a complicated one. My dear friend Cherie (who previously talked about why the transition from being a working mom to becoming a stay at home mom is so life-changing), shared her thoughts on changing her name after marriage. Here, you can read why she decided to change her name when she got married, and why changing her name after marriage was difficult logistically and emotionally…

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On Technology and Thoughtful Communication

by Dr. Punita Rice Culture, Life

thoughtful communication

Does the ease and speed of modern technology inhibit us from communicating meaningfully and thoughtfully? Back in the day, when we had to write letters to friends who lived far away, or make infrequent long-distance phone calls to family in other countries, we likely put more thought and care into how (and what) we communicated. So does the ease and speed with which we can communicate with people now make our communication less mindful? (And does it matter?) Here are some thoughts on technology and thoughtful communication…

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An Interview with a Broadway Star

by Dr. Punita Rice Culture

Vishal Vaidya Broadway ISAASE

For the ISAASE Be Inspired project, I interviewed Vishal Vaidya, who you might know from his recent run as Larry the Cameraman on Broadway’s Groundhog Day (or from #Rifftober). I’ve also known Vishal for over 20 years (we even performed a duet version of Christina Aguilera’s I Turn To You in our middle school talent show together, and acted in plays together in middle and high school)! In the interview, he chatted about how he got into performing on Broadway, what it was like for him growing up in Burtonsville (my home town), what’s next in his career (and the need for stability in performers’ careers), and the importance of diversity and representation for South Asians in performance spaces. ALSO, he chatted about why he hopes Monsoon Wedding the Musical or Bend it Like Beckham the Musical become big hits.

If you’re interested, you can read the full interview now over at ISAASE.org/inspired, or ISAASE.org/vishal-vaidya.

P.S. – More about ISAASE’s Be Inspired project, and a chat with Natasha Sumant of Gundi Studios.

Life After a Doctorate

by Dr. Punita Rice Academia

Jennifer Polk and Punita Rice Interview for PunitaRice.com - Life After a Doctorate

Jennifer Polk is the go-to authority on helping grad students and people with PhDs explore careers beyond professoriate and academic jobs. She writes on issues related to graduate education and career outcomes for doctoral-degree holders, has a PhD in History from the University of Toronto, and is the co-founder of Beyond the Professoriate, and the owner of From PhD to Life and Self Employed PhD.

While Jennifer has now built a career around helping others with doctorates figure out what’s next, she herself is a great example of how a person with a doctorate can pursue and attain career satisfaction outside of the traditional academic path. Here, she chats with me about what she does for people with their doctorate (many of whom, sometimes, have no idea what’s next!), her own journey into this line of work, how she found her community through social media, and the one piece of advice she would give to anyone with a doctorate. Read on for more!

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The Aerogram – Workplace Discrimination Against South Asian Americans Can Be Traced Back to the Classroom

by Dr. Punita Rice Culture

Discrimination against South Asian Americans in the workplace and the classroom

My friend and colleague Ruchika Tulshyan (a speaker, journalist, and the author of The Diversity Advantage) and I co-wrote a piece about how workplace discrimination against South Asian Americans can be traced back to the classroom, especially in light of the model minority myth, published this past week in The Aerogram.

Here are some of the takeaways from our article:

  • Starting in the classroom, belief in the model minority myth can lead to difficulties for students
  • …this can be traced back to pervasive and systemic discrimination that starts in K-12 environments, and impacts social beliefs
  • …which then ends up in the workplace
  • The model minority myth can sometimes help South Asian Americans get their foot in the door in certain workplaces (the myth can lead hiring managers to check off the diversity box in an apparently ‘nonthreatening’ way — which perpetuates its own problems)… BUT
  • …It can then create “a whole new ceiling,” since the same stereotypes that seem to make them appealing hires can work against them when it comes to advancement
  • Also, re: previous point, South Asian Americans (especially South Asian American women) are noticeably absent from leadership roles
  • Ultimately, discrimination against South Asian Americans exists from the K-12 level into the career space

If you’re interested, you can read the whole thing here.

P.S. – You can follow Ruchika on Twitter at @rtulshyan, or visit her website here. And if we’re not already Twitter friends, add me at @punitarice.
Also, in case you missed it, here’s a piece for Education Week Teacher on the importance of pronouncing students’ names correctly.

First Time I Saw Me… Hasn’t Happened Yet

by Dr. Punita Rice Culture, Life

Mindy Lahiri - #FirstTimeISawMe Indian American Woman - The First Time I Saw Me Hasn't Happened Yet

Did you see the “First Time I Saw Me” campaign on Twitter a few months ago? Black Girl Nerds and Netflix collaborated earlier this year and started a campaign centered around diversity and representation in the media, and pushed the use of the hashtag #FirstTimeISawMe to collect stories from people sharing the first time they saw themselves. (Two of the most popular videos/stories came from Ava DuVernay and Spike Lee. Also, here are some great videos.) It got me thinking about my own experience with the “first time I saw me” on television or in pop culture. And I realized that the first time I saw me… hasn’t happened yet.

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When you Know More than your Boss

by "N" Life


Have you ever worked for a boss who knew less than you about your area of work? Or, how do you deal with a boss who knows nothing about the area in which you work?? (If you have any actual advice for dealing with a bad boss, please leave a comment!). My cousin N.* found herself in this exact position. (*She’ll be saying some negative things about management at her current position, so let’s leave some mystery around her name.)

N. is a recent graduate with a degree in Physics, and a background teaching Astronomy, and she’s basically a genius. Her plan after graduating was to do something cool at NASA (where she interned), or head into a Ph.D. program right away (related: here’s a post on pursuing a doctorate in education). But, as she put it, “the reality turned out to be quite different for me and not at all how I planned.” Instead of starting a Ph.D. program, or working for NASA — “a dream I’ve probably mentioned to every person in my family at some point since 9th grade,” she says — my cousin took on a position doing K-12 science research and developing and writing science assessments for various states (clients).

At this job, while she was struggling with the conflict between her expected career path and the reality (as she put it, “who really plans for things to go unplanned? I certainly didn’t.”), she also found herself contending with another major struggle everyone has probably contended with at one point or another:

A boss who knows much less than her. Here, she chats about her experience working for a boss who knows less than her, and how it contributed to her leaving that position this October. Here’s her story.

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