In the 1970s and early 1980s, Colorado experienced a boom in its oil, mining, and electronics industries. In the mid-1980s with the drop in oil prices and the closing of mines, our state experienced a full-scale recession by 1987. Technology firms in Colorado Springs were not immune to these economic influences with many going from boom to bust. It was during this turbulent time that Laura Kleinschmidt, a wife and mother, launched her career in micro-electronics. Now as a grandmother, Laura reflects on her experiences as a working parent sharing the benefit of hindsight and the wisdom of experience.
In part one of parenting perspectices with Laura, we’ll learn about her decision to work; and in part two, we’ll learn what worked well for her as a working parent and what she would change if she could do it again.
Q: Laura what factors were involved in your decision to work?
A: We wanted a better way of living and to have some discretionary income. I also felt that my intellectual needs were not being satisfied at home; I got tired of not having adult conservations. I didn’t know a lot of people and was not someone who went out and easily made friends. When I was a stay-at-home mom in the mid to late ‘70’s there wasn’t really a support system or play groups where both I and my daughter could make friends.
Q: How old was your child when you started working?
A: I started working when my daughter went into kindergarten. I chose the night shift so that I could be with her as much as possible; admittedly it was also the shift that was available. It worked out well allowing me to go to college during the day, spend time with my daughter in between school and work, and then work while my husband watched our daughter in the evening.
Q: What options were available to you to allow you to take care of your child when the unexpected, like sickness or injury, happened?
A: I had to take vacation or sick time. The company I worked for was accommodating to a point and I never had a problem that I can remember. The bigger issue for me was arranging care for my daughter during summer break, spring break, and Christmas vacation.
Q: What did you do during these longer breaks?
A: When I went to first shift I ended up finding a local teenager to babysit usually from a friend’s referral.
As we heard from Laura, the decision to work can be both a financial one and an emotional one. In making this decision, it helps to consider the age of the child, the schedule you will work, and the options available if the unexpected occurs.
Look for part two of parenting perspectives with Laura Kleinschmidt as we wrap up our interview.
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