Chrichelle is a full-time graphic designer for a large insurance company in Oklahoma. She lives with her husband KJ, an Air Force flight engineer, and their 3-year-old son Tyler. She also has a son from her first marriage, Daniel, 9 years old, who resides in Arizona for the majority of the year.
Chrichelle’s story of being a working mom is one filled with determination — to uphold her busy full-time career while also continuing to make her children and husband her number one priority, no matter the distance or how hectic their lives become.
"I never felt any pressure to keep working after I had kids," Chrichelle says. "I love my job, and I love what I do. I wanted to use my talents that I went to school for."
When Chrichelle was growing up, both of her parents worked. Her dad was in the Army and her mom a nurse, and Chrichelle can’t recall a time when she was not working.
"I didn’t know many stay-at-home moms, so it seemed normal for me to work after college. I definitely wanted to be able to provide for myself and my family, just like my mom and dad did for me and my two brothers."
Additionally, since Chrichelle’s oldest son from her previous marriage lives in Arizona with his father for most of the year, she enjoys working to help pay for her travel expenses to see him. She and KJ did consider her staying at home versus working when she became pregnant with Tyler — and they would have been able to make things work — but she didn’t want to make things tighter financially than they needed to be.
"Most of my day is spent at work, so I sometimes feel like time with my family in the evening is rushed. Everything ends up being on the go, and sometimes it’s also hard to get alone time with myself," Chrichelle says.
Plus, Chrichelle’s husband keeps an unusual schedule as an Air Force flight engineer. Not only can his schedule change frequently, but many times he has to go into work as early as two in the morning! And this is just his schedule when he’s home — when he’s deployed, he is gone for several months.
A typical weekday for Chrichelle: If KJ is home, he will get Tyler ready for daycare while Chrichelle prepares for a full day in the office. Chrichelle then drops off her son at daycare, which is just one mile from her office, and heads in for a full day of meetings with her team, training and various other projects. And when the day is over, she feels lucky — KJ loves to cook! Before they had Tyler, she and KJ made it a habit to eat dinner at the table versus in front of the TV and to talk about their days. After dinner, she and KJ take turns cleaning and doing dishes, and then it's playtime or time to relax as a family.
Chrichelle talks daily with her son Daniel, who is in Arizona, and they often leverage Skype. She makes sure they talk about day-to-day things, like what’s going on at school and homework. She even sends him treats to share with other classmates at school.
"I try to stay connected to him emotionally," Chrichelle says.
One of Chrichelle’s secrets to staying on top of things is her household calendar. Since she’s a naturally visual person (being a graphic designer), it helps her to visually put things in order. It’s a great tool for her and KJ to stay on the same page.
"Everything from family activities to work projects is defined by a dry-erase calendar on our refrigerator," she says.
"Don’t get so easily influenced by the stay-at-home mom vs. working mom debate," Chrichelle says. "Chances are, you’ll always wish you were doing the opposite!"
Also, stay current within your industry, as things can change quickly, especially with technology. Read blogs, take classes, network and continue to stay relevant.
"I work, but my children are happy and taken care of. When I feel guilty for not being with them during the day, I love them more when I am with them."
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