Best of Both Worlds podcast: Finance, Babies, and Beyond with Lisa Segner

The transition to working parenthood can be challenging for many people. Today’s Best of Both Worlds guest, Lisa Segner, wanted to share her story because she experienced a lot of ambivalence about trying to combine paid work with family life, and she thought her experience of ambivalence might be helpful for people to hear.

Lisa (who longtime blog readers know from the Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns comments) lives in the midwest, works in finance, and has two young boys. Her first few months back at work after her eldest was born were quite rough. She talked with her husband about whether she should scale back or leave work entirely. But she realized she had invested a lot in her career, and she did generally enjoy it.

So she stuck it out, and by the time her son was about a year old, she was very glad she hadn’t made any life-altering decisions in those sleep-deprived early months. She shares her experience, and some tips for others in that state who are wondering if they can make it work. Please give the episode a listen to hear how her family manages to enjoy the best of both worlds!

In the Q&A we tackle a question about a nanny share arrangement, and some of the questions and policies everyone might want to spell out. A nanny-share can be a way to get flexible childcare at a discount, but it can also be complicated. So it’s good to go in with your eyes open.




16 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Finance, Babies, and Beyond with Lisa Segner

  1. I really enjoyed the topic of this episode and I fully agree that part of the problem is the maternity leave that is too short in the US. For many parents, it’s much harder to leave a baby under the age of 12 – 18 months, but just like Lisa said once they are at that age that they enjoy the company of other kids, it feels much better to leave them at daycare.
    However, I would’ve been interested in hearing more of a father’s perspective. It sounded like her husband didn’t mind not being with his child (which I guess isn’t true, but more of a narrative men have to follow, as you touched upon, Laura).

    1. I agree that maternity leaves are far too short in the US. I was lucky to get about 5 months but I am the exception, not the norm. My company offers parental leave so men and women are eligible to take 16 weeks fully paid but very very few men take it.

      As far as my husband’s feelings, I know he did not really miss the baby when he was at work. I am sure he thought of him during the day, but I think he is more able to compartmentalize his life and focus on work at work and home at home. He is a wonderful, engaged father but the baby stage is not his favorite. It’s not mine, either, but I enjoyed the infant stage much more than he did.

    2. @Maggie – re the fathers part…not the Segners specifically because they have a very very 50-50 relationship – but looking more generally… I was working on a Father’s Day oriented piece that I just abandoned when I ran out of time about how the narrative that “A good father supports his family financially” can really limit men. I think a lot of men would like to be more involved in their young families’ lives but the narrative that they need to step it up because they have a family to support is very, very strong. There is also the sense that if mom wants to stay home, dad needs to be able to accept that and cover for it. So I’m familiar with a few situations where the male half of a heterosexual couple had extreme talents in a low-paid or uncertain field, and wound up doing other things because the family decided the female half should stay home with the kids. Think extremely talented visual artist selling insurance. I mean, the world has worse tragedies, and many people don’t wind up in their ideal careers (and the world needs insurance!), but these stories always make me sad. Maybe they don’t make other people sad but the dual narratives that “A good father can support his family financially” and “It’s best for the kids if mom stays home with them” lead to this outcome.

      1. This is sad! The idea that one person should earn all the income because of their gender is not helping anyone. Write the article!

  2. + 1 to Maggie’s comment. I was pressured by my boss to both work on my maternity leave (grant deadline) and come back at 5-weeks post-partum after my first baby was born. And that’s after having a C-section. We actually had to bring my MIL in for a week to take care of the baby because he was too young to start daycare. I don’t regret my decision to go back (though I wish I’d had an advocate to say that – probably legally – I had the right to at least another extra week of maternity leave and not have to work during my PTO) because my DH was a graduate student and without my income, we would have been living below the poverty line. However, he had a “real” job when our second son was born, and I was *not* going to go through that again with both a baby and toddler. Yes, I took a temporary pay cut so I could transition my career in a new direction, but heck, I’d just gone through him taking a huge pay cut to go back to graduate school.

    Also, my DH definitely changed his work-life balance after our oldest son was born. Again, as a grad student, he was ALWAYS gone, but when our son was born, he really wanted to be home in the evenings and at least sometimes on the weekends. I think it helped him feel like he had “permission” to do something other than his research work.

    1. I also have c-sections with both kids and I CAN NOT IMAGINE going back to work at 5 weeks! I am glad that you were able to take more leave with your 2nd child.

      Since we had kids much later in life – late 30s – we were fortunate to be pretty established in our careers and we rarely work in the evenings since our jobs are busiest when the financial markets are open. I very rarely have to solo parent. If we had kids while we were in grad school or pursuing our CFA designations, day-to-day life would have looked so very different. But we joke that parenting is a young man’s game – the sleep deprivation hits us so hard!!

      1. @Lisa- yep, this is often the trade off. You often have less money/control over your schedule when you are young. But you have more energy!

  3. I really enjoyed this episode as well! I just went back to work to my job as a physician after baby #2. I agree it’s much easier the second time around (still not easy, but easier). And I 100% agree that being at work is usually easier than being home w a baby and a toddler! Thanks for sharing and continuing to promote the idea that moms wanting to work and enjoying their careers is normal and healthy.

    1. Good luck with your return to work. The baby + toddler combo was really challenging for us. The toddler + preschool combo that we have now feels much easier. Still not easy, because TODDLERS. The kids keep taking turns being the easier kid. Aside from sleep, we found the bay easier than the toddler until the toddler turned 1, I think. Then they switched places and the toddler is 100% the more challenging/exhausting one. There are good parts about every stage but the toddler stage really keeps you on your toes, so work is much much much easier than a day w/ the 18mo!

  4. It always shocks me about maternity benefits in the US. In Canada we get a year, and parents can split that time.
    I had two C-sections and colicky babies; the first 3 months were a complete blur and I can’t imagine transitioning back to work.
    To qualify for maternity benefits you have to pay into employment insurance for 500 hours of work in a year. Depending on your employer contribution you can make close to 100% of your salary while off (father or mother – this applies to both)! Either way, though, your position is held for the entire time off.
    There are lots of nuances to our system and it does still favour middle and upper class (who tend to work jobs that top up the paternity benefits paid out by the government), but the general access to money and time off when having children does apply to everyone.
    I’ve also admitted before that CANADA has LOTS of challenges with universal health care but another plug that I consider it a net positive system. I had two C-sections and one complicated pregnancy and it’s all covered by Medicare. I can’t imagine having to worry about paying medical bills stemming from a complicated delivery etc.

  5. Great to hear from a fellow Minnesotan in this episode! I liked her strategy of making a decision not to decide right now. I use that a ton in a lot of facets of life like job changes, kids phases, childcare, breastfeeding, etc. There is something about deciding not to change or decide anything drastic right now that helps me “put it to bed” in my head and stop ruminating for the period of time I decide. Sometimes it is as simple as I am not going to decide until a month from now and see how I feel then. This would be my top advice for anyone returning to work after baby, give it time and don’t decide anything drastic right away.

  6. Laura and Lisa, thank you for the great episode. This REALLY resonated with me and it was reassuring to hear Lisa say the same things I’ve felt! I also had my first child a bit later {age 38} and work in finance, and the guilt of going back after Baby #1 – yes! Our husbands even seem similar in hearing about her husband’s logical help with decision making.

    I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear Lisa’s story and know that I am in good company!

    Thanks so much!

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