About a month ago I started a new journey. I have started a job share, so instead of working full-time and being a mom full-time, I am now working half-time (and still being a mom full-time– that job share is much more complicated to get). For the next year I only work 2-3 days a week, and have more time to spend on my family, my home, and myself. Before I go any further, I would like to take this moment to acknowledge how incredibly fortunate I am to have this opportunity. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my employer, my job share partner, my family, and especially my husband. After the first few weeks, here’s what I have learned so far:
- I have spent the past several months trying to defend my reason for taking a job share. Many comments I have received revolve around the misfortune that my kids are all in school so I don’t get to spend that extra, precious time with them (and I don’t get to save on day care costs, which I can totally agree with). But if I’m honest, I kind of like the fact that I get this time while my kids are in school. Think of the things I can accomplish! And I can make the most of the time I have with my kids doing the important stuff, instead of things like laundry and housework which now get done, much more efficiently, while they’re in school. Plus my son is in grade 8 this year and will have some big changes coming up– I think it will be good for me to be around during his transition into high school. But kids aside, I feel like “extra momming” alone isn’t enough of a justification for my decision to reduce my income by 50% for a year. So I looked into some courses (which I cannot afford on my new income) and tried to outline some projects I can get done in my spare time. I have also committed to volunteering more. But I still feel like I’m falling short or being selfish by adding financial strain to my family. I’m hoping time well spent will compensate for the monetary cost of what I am doing.
- The most surprising thing I am enjoying in this experience so far is that I only have to figure out what I’m going to wear 2-3 days per week. Obviously I still get dressed on my days “off” (more about why “off” is in parentheses in a moment) , but I throw on something practical and comfortable, not work casual. I am (nearly) fashion free and it’s exhilarating! I didn’t realize how much time and effort it takes to get out the door in a reasonably presentable fashion each day. It’s nice to have a break from that.
- I am strong and capable and can calmly deal with problems as they arise. Like locking myself in the shed before successfully MacGuyvering my way out after close to 10 minutes (without panicking or causing irreparable damage!).
- I do not work part time. I still have my other job– the full-time mom and wife. So my “free” time has simply been reassigned. I have taken on more of the household duties and have taken on projects that I have been meaning to get around to for years (paint touch ups, reorganizing closets and drawers, disposing of coupons that expired 31/12/2015, etc). Plus as soon as the job share started my kids all instantly got sick at staggered intervals resulting in 5 trips to the family doctor in less than 2 weeks. Add in 4 trips to the dentist (so far, with more to come) and starting the much overdue physiotherapy for my shoulder, and it seems all my “free” time seems to melt away. So now I’m trying to find the balance between stepping up my mom game to align with my new hours, and not completely overcompensating and burning myself out. So on the days I don’t have to go into work I do more household stuff, but on the days I’m at the office from 8-5 it’s a coin toss between myself and my husband over who is going to make the kids’ lunches for the following day. Balance is important!
- Being organized saves time but it also takes time. I have been able to take the time I need to get organized and it has been blissful. I’m cooking ahead, planning ahead, using calendars (plural!) and in short I am getting things done in less time. Before, I never had the time to do the prep work (or I never prioritized the time for the prep work) so it was a constant scramble. I am hoping that over the next year being organized will become a habit that I can continue once my year is up.
- Outside is the best therapy you never have to pay for. I try to get outside every day– walking, running, biking, climbing. To be out in nature for an hour a day is an instant mood stabilizer. I have been more relaxed, and generally just happier having had some good time outside. I’m setting goals for myself (I’d like to do another half marathon this year and I’d like to be able to bike to and from work) but mostly I’m just enjoying the weather and the scenery. In Hamilton! I was surprised too!
I’m not sure what the next 11 months will bring. I feel like I’m still trying to get into a rhythm. I want to write more. I want to try new things. I want to make the most out of this incredible opportunity. Wish me luck, and I’ll keep you posted on this new adventure of mine.