“Bring Your Kid to Work Day” is extra cool when your mom is a research scientist and you get to look at cells under a microscope.
Amanda Esquivel Salo of Bloomfield Township loves that her 6-year-old daughter Chloe and son Benny, 8, get early exposure to science when they tag along with her to work – one of many reasons being a working mom is the right decision for her.
She recently started a new job as a lecturer in biomechanics at Wayne State University. It’s meant extra long hours as she prepares for the new undergrad and graduate level courses she teaches, but Esquivel Salo is no stranger to juggling professional and personal endeavors. She gave birth to two children, 17 months apart, while completing her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and subsequently managed medical research teams at Providence Hospital in Southfield and later Detroit Medical Center while raising young kids.
“For me, I enjoy my kids more because I go to work,” Esquivel Salo says. “I like the intellectual challenge of work. I enjoy the feeling of being accomplished.”
It helped that when her children were babies, she worked only four days a week. Plus, she says that the kids were always in the care of family. During those early years of her kids’ lives, Esquivel Salo was home with the kids Friday through Sunday. Her mom and her husband, Dan, each watched the children two of the remaining four days.
“I still think it’s amazing that my kids had that alone time with their grandmother and with their father,” she says.
Now in elementary school all day, Benny and Chloe stay for after-school latchkey, which they love. The only catch is the two nights a week that mom is teaching and that happen to fall on a day their dad is working a 12-hour shift as a Detroit police officer.
“Thankfully, my dad moved back to the area not long ago and has saved us. He’s a backup for child care when neither my husband nor I can pick up the kids.”
The Salos also limit the number of extracurricular activities in which the kids participate.
“I’m not big on them being in 50 million things. They do one, maybe two things at a time. It’s tough getting them around to places during the work week.”
Esquivel Salo is grateful to another mom who takes her daughter to and from dance class one afternoon a week and other parents who offer to help now and then.
“If you have a community of people around you offering to help you do those things, say ‘OK, sure. Thanks!’ A lot of people don’t want to accept help, but I truly believe it’s offered with sincerity,” she says.
It’s also important to this working mom that she have interests of her own beyond work and outside of her family.
“I’ve always felt that my kids are the most important thing in my life, but that they can’t be the only thing,” Esquivel Salo says. “They will grow up and they won’t need me as much. I need to have my own friendships and interests.”
As for the elusive balance of working motherhood, Esquivel Salo offers this bit of advice: “You must decide what’s important to you. Then, don’t do the other stuff.”