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.