Is it always possible? That’s the question running through my head right now. At the moment life is a juggling act, our routine changes from day to day due to the husband’s shift work, the endless kids activities after school, in the evenings and at the weekends and depending on whether I’m working or not each day. Since 2009 when I returned to work after a year’s maternity leave with my first born, I cut my hours down to just 20 a week having previously been full time. I also chose to work two and a half days a week, the first half so my working week finishes at Wednesday lunchtime. This has been working well for me in my home, family, work and me time balance but unfortunately with significant changes at work this option is being taken away from me.
My future feels just like this rock I encountered in the Grand Canyon back in 2006, a balancing act that could topple either way, will it make it, will it fall?
In just a few weeks I’ll be required to spread my hours across five days a week, that means working Monday to Friday every week. To add an extra twist to the equation I currently work in the road next to my children’s school which has its obvious advantages. I’m also able to walk to work (albeit a 2 mile hilly hike! lol) but it keeps the fitness up and enables us to juggle being a one car family and my husbands shift work – he takes them to school more often than not whilst I head to work, if he’s late shift he leaves the car at my work and walks home ready to cycle to work at lunchtime etc. (He always rides a bike to work so has no need for a car).
In the Summer the building I’ve been employed at for the last 15 years is closing its doors and being sold off, whilst the staff are being relocated almost 4 miles away across the city to another of the company buildings, on a route that’s accessed by a road bridge that is renowned for being gridlocked at not just peak but various others times during the day (should there be a breakdown or accident, you can forget arriving at your destination any time in the near future!).
So here’s my dilemma – in just a couple of months I will not only be working 5 days a week but I’ll also be responsible for all the school runs in order that I can have the car to travel to work. It means my start time will be some point after school drop off and when I have managed to navigate my way through the city centre traffic and prayed that the bridge is clear. My finish time will be 4 hours later and by the time I return home I’ll hopefully have 1 whole hour of child free time, yes you heard it right, instead of a couple of hours Wednesday afternoon and all of Thursday and Friday, I’ll now get a measly hour each day after a shift at work.
This my friends will become the one hour a day in which I can do my child free housework, child free food shopping, child free nip into town for errands, child free ironing, child free gardening, child free blog photos/writing, child free house renovation planning, child free DIY (yeah like painting a room in an hour is gonna happen), child free coffees with my friends/mum and most of all child free ME TIME. Yes and by me time I don’t mean sitting with my feet up, painting my nails and reading a magazine, by this I mean getting to dye my ever increasing grey hair in peace, having a bath without constant interruptions and just being alone in the house being able to sort things out and concentrate without the constant nattering, interruptions of the kids!
So as you can see the chances of my new house being fully decorated are ebbing away, my small window of opportunity each day is limited and squished between the morning school run, a dash across the city and 4 hours at work, then breath before school pick up, after school clubs, cook dinner, read school books/homework, bath kids, bedtime routine and then to be honest I’ll be shattered and my bed will be calling, well after I’ve had time to make pack lunches, get school uniform/work clothes ready, clear up the house, get a wash iron, squeeze some ironing in and dash the vacuum round!
Really I’m finding myself in a bit of a quandary, working 5 days a week isn’t the part time working lifestyle I envisaged and I’m not sure how successful it will rank in balancing the duties of a household, family life and me time. Daddy will form a lesser part of the children’s lives, missing out on all of the school runs, after school trips to the park on days mummy used to work and if you remember he works shifts so is often not there in the evening when we come home, works many weekends and will find his work free time alone in the daytime when the kids are at school and mummy is at work!
With this configuration of part time working – is it even worth it? As much as I need the money for my new mortgage/house renovations – will I be comprising family life/child free time? I don’t want to end up super stressed and feel like I never get a break/can’t get household things done (kids just don’t appreciate you being on the phone to utilities/insurance companies, endless trips around bathroom/kitchen shops)… time will tell, fingers crossed for now!
It’s so hard to find a work life balance and I have done both whole day and whole week working. Fitting life around work is hard but I’m sure something will come along and change. Sometimes you have to take a jump of faith and change and when you look back you realise it worked out ok. I hope you find what works with your family.
Thanks Tina, I’m currently sitting here enjoying my ‘day off’, the last of which will be next week. Off to bathroom showrooms in a bit with my mum to try and pick tiles & taps before it’s fitted in the Summer. I’m trying not to worry about the future at the moment and as you say, hopefully things will work out for the best.