A while back Jeanie asked how I combine a career and a kid and stay sane? The fairly short answer is that I don’t always stay sane.
The other morning found me red-eyed in the bathroom silently screaming ten minutes before I had to leave for work. These episodes fortunately don’t occur too often. Once JJ’s dropped off at school if we’ve had a tough morning for whatever reason I can take numerous deep breaths without hyperventilating and once I’m at work forget about it for a while.
One morning I got to work and announced that I was very glad to be at work that day because my son was giving me the royal shits and a colleague couldn’t believe that a gorgeous boy like him could be such a pain to make me want to be at work. I tend to laugh comments like this off and get on with my work. This colleague isn’t a parent so one day, perhaps, she’ll know but I didn’t say that to her.
I work four days a week and often maintain that there’s no way I could work full-time and be a full-time parent. Now I’ve got the work part-time bug I can’t see myself ever going back to five days a week. Although I also maintain that I do a full-time load and that employers usually get more out of their part-timers than they might realise because we’re there to work and don’t have the time to have down time that most full-timers get.
I do hope that one day workplaces and specifically the people within (at all levels) will be more sympathetic to people wanting to work part-time. Even employers that are supposedly work/life balance friendly have a lot more to do for this to actually happen. For instance to change from full-time to part-time work while keeping the same job is really hard. Of course this hits women the most after they’ve had a baby.
When I went back to work after having my baby I was given a different job and the person who’d filled in for me kept my old job. I worked three days a week and he worked full-time. I had to really negotiate the type of work I’d be doing and stand my ground about what I would and wouldn’t do. The job I was given was okay, but it wasn’t what I’d expected to be doing when I went back and I wasn’t really that happy about it. I lasted a year before I moved on. My suggestion to job share was rejected without being considered.
Despite all that I’m pretty happy with my current work but I’m not able to stay past my allotted hours because I have to be at after school care by 6pm to do the pickup and I’m not able to start any earlier, around 9am. When I’m not busy at work this works out okay but I’ve been really busy the last month or so and it’s been a bit hard to switch off.
I can’t switch off when I get home because I keep working to put dinner on the table, do reading with JJ, organise whatever he needs for school the next day, and other assorted household tasks. By the time I plop down in front of Big Brother at 7pm I can feel the tension in my shoulders and it’s hard to get rid of that sometimes. After I’ve rested for that half hour that Big Brother’s on, JJ is out the bath (see I time it well) and he pretty much goes to bed straight away. I then do whatever else I have to do like wash dishes and then relax before going to bed.
Of course I haven’t included the time I spend blogging etc in this. Truthfully with work and child both being full on at the moment, blogging and other online activity has taken a nosedive. Honestly I’d prefer it to be the other way around.
So with all of this I need time to completely switch off and try and maintain some sort of work/life balance to stay sane. I’ll tell you how I try and do that next time.
What I wouldn’t give to be part time *sigh*.
Even 4 days a week sounds blissful. I don’t really get any job satisfaction at the moment, so I think that’s the real issue.
Although, a day a week just to draw breath would be great. The weekends are taken up with housework, ferrying teenagers to soccer games and part time jobs.
How to get some balance – I don’t know. If you know please tell – I’ll even pay you 😉
Suze, I don’t know that I have the magical answer, but if you can I’d really recommend dropping back 1 or 2 days a fortnight. Easier said than done depending on the job and finances I know. Sounds like you need a new job if you have no job satisfaction at all. I also know that’s easier said than done. Good luck!
At one stage I was working double shifts 7 days per week (nursing) but,while I was coping, The Tribe, and more specifically Feral Beast, wasn’t. I had to drop a lot of shifts, which didn’t go down too well with the CEO/DON of the hosp and she gave me a lot of stick over it but in the end it’s what I had to do to rescue everyone’s sanity 😉
i am going through this right now. i want to work part-time. my employer is supposed to promote work/life balance, but they refuse to find me a part-time position. i requested job sharing, which was also denied. so i’m forced to quit and give up tremendous insurance benefits because i don’t want to work full-time outside the home. (i will be working, it’ll just be freelance stuff instead.)
Becky, that’s bad luck they won’t accommodate you. Keep at em if you haven’t left already.
Well, I have too much balance the other way some days. As I freelance and work for myself, it is either feast or famine.
However, tomorrow I have an interview for a 0.5 real job with holiday pay and other luxuries – and I truly hope I have a shot.
Jeanie, fingers crossed. Working half time would be ideal if there were enough money coming in from other sources to make it viable. Good luck for tomorrow.
Megan from Imaginif says
I wish I had the answer when my kids were little. I ended up employing a nanny because I couldn’t stand going to work already stressed.
We are a child focused business model. My daughter is about to have a baby and is coming to work for us. We have purchased a washing machine for nappies, a baby monitor so she can hear when baby is awake and we understand that we will all have to pitch in to cover her role when baby is feeding or being a baby (crying).
The other therapist also has kids at school so we take it in turns to pick the kids up from school and bring them back to the office.
We love our business model. It is unconventional by usual business model measures but we excel at what we do, all work full time and manage the work/life balance as we want, not as an employer wants (well, I am the principal so I guess my policies and ethics around work and family have helped there). I think that because we are small and a private enterprise that we can be more creative. However, if we were huge, I’d still endeavor to operate the same model.
Great posts and thanks for sending it into the Carnival of Australia.