It’s all about balance

by DaniGirl on March 3, 2009 · 8 comments

in Working and mothering

It’s been a full month since I’ve been back at work, and we’ve settled into a comfortable routine that seems to be working out well for everyone. I think that this four-day week thing was a brilliant choice, and I’m so happy we were able to make it work. It’s made a huge difference in my feeling of connection to the boys’ daily lives and my ability to balance working with mothering. Three cheers for balance!

Five things I love about being back at work:

  1. Unencumbered freedom. I can get up and go for a coffee or a chat with a colleague whenever I want, stop in to shops and wander aimlessly on my lunch break, and nobody wants to crawl into my lap when I’m trying to go to the bathroom.
  2. Hot coffee. At home, coffee inevitably gets cold before I get half way through because I’m distracted by a hundred other things. At work, I often finish a cup while it’s still warm. Bliss!
  3. Grown-up clothes. Shoes that go “click-click” when you walk, make-up, and clothes that you need to iron and hang to dry or (gasp!) dry clean: all things I had more or less forgotten about in the last year!
  4. Being downtown. I love this city, and I love where my office is located. Coming downtown every day makes me feel connected to the city and the people in it in a way that I don’t feel out in the suburbs. And being able to leave it here every day and go home to those same suburbs is equally delightful.
  5. They’re getting along fine without me at home. Having a great nanny and not having to worry about what’s going on in my absence makes everything easier. (Wasn’t sure whether this belongs in this section or the next!)
  6. Okay, one more: using my brain for something other than finding the lost TV remote or calculating the nutritional value of pop tarts. (Although, that also sometimes belongs in the next section, because the mom-brain is getting to me lately and I wonder some days if I have enough brain cells left to actually do this job!)

Five things I hate about being back at work:

  1. Commuting. The buses are still farked up, running inconsistently and ridiculously overcrowded. I’ve had to stand the entire way downtown every morning and the afternoon bus is so crowded I almost missed my stop yesterday because I couldn’t work my way through the crush to get to the door. All this joy for the ridiculous price of $101 per month.
  2. It’s lonely. Odd, considering I see a hundredfold more people each day while downtown than I do on an average day at home, but even in a crowd I am by myself. Most of my day is spent in crowded solitude or working quietly at my computer.
  3. Sitting all day. I’m so used to moving all day long, chasing the baby and putting on laundry and picking up toys and walking back and forth to the school two or three times a day that just sitting here for hours at a time – while relaxing at first – makes me kind of twitchy!
  4. Trying to get a full day of domestic stuff done in four hours. By the time I get home, make dinner, feed/eat dinner, tidy up daily disaster, get lunches and bags ready for next day, put out clothes for next day, give various boys baths and get pyjamas ready, it’s almost my bed time. Doesn’t leave much time for fun with anyone, either.
  5. I miss the kids during the day. Sigh.

I had a much easier time coming up with the five things I don’t like than the five things I do like about working. Matter of fact, I could have extended the “don’t like” list by another five or ten items without much thought! But, all in all, I think it’s working out fine and I’m grateful that we’re on the path to that elusive but oh so important balance.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Loukia March 3, 2009 at 9:36 am

My thoughts exactly! I love being at work because it means I can do errands such as shopping and doing my hair and not have to worry about who is going to watch the kids, I love having the ability to get up and get my coffee when I want and enjoy it with a friend, I love the restaurants downtown and making lunch dates and I love working downtown. I also enjoy the work I do!

I hate being apart from my boys, though! I especially miss them if I am in the mall and I see strollers all around me! So I shop for them to help the guilt go away… I know, that is silly! I know they’re in great hands with my mom and hubby and grandmother and mom-in-law, but still… come 4 p.m. I’m racing home!

I have not figured out how working moms have time to cook dinner when they get home, though. By 5 my kids are hungry and I’m practically just walking in the door!

2 BeachMama March 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm

As I haven’t returned to work, I don’t actually know what you are going through, but I can tell you that I have a list of my own which is titled, “100 reasons why I could not go back to work at this time”. And it is pretty much your 5 things you hate times 20. Every time I even think about it I get sick to my stomach. Kudos to you for doing it. And I am so glad that it is working out easier for you this time around.

3 Chantal March 3, 2009 at 1:21 pm

I was just about to write a post about how I feel like I am cheating my kids and myself out of all the fun of life because with working I only have so many hours to clean and organize. Last night I made an effort to sit down and play trains with M. It was hard for me, but I did it. Although I will admit that I rushed through dishes before I sat down. I just couldn’t not do them. It would have driven me nuts.

4 Shannon March 3, 2009 at 1:49 pm

It sounds like you have achieved a good balance – and that’s very hard to do and something with which many women struggle. I am VERY envious of your six reasons for enjoying being back at work, and some days I would give anything at all to have a cup of hot coffee and slip on a skirt and my high heeled boots to go do something that made me feel important. And go to the bathroom alone??? Sounds like heaven.

Having a good nanny can make all the difference – one of the issues with me going back to work is day care and finding nearly-full-time day care for three kids ages 5, 3, and 1. The cost doesn’t leave me with very much at the end of my paycheck (which is very low unfortunately due to a recent career change).

I’m glad to hear that overall things are working out well for you!!

5 Emma March 3, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Good list – pretty much the same as mine. Probably the worst part of the day is the scramble to get some food on the table when we all get home at once. I try too often to do a full hot meal in 10 minutes (e.g. microwaved brown rice, microwaved steamed broccoli, quick pan fried salmon). Really I think my kids would be happy with some cheese and crackers or something. I need to remember that more.
And the evening is tough – last night I actually managed to get on the treadmill for 15 minutes which is a rare thing!

6 Kathleen March 4, 2009 at 7:25 am

Good for you, Dani.
I’m thrilled to hear it is working out for you!
And, yep, I have the same list, though some days (weeks) a few of the plus sides disappear!
Happy March – we’re going to get to spring!

7 Meghan March 6, 2009 at 11:49 am

I took off about five years and have been back at work full time for two. While I did enjoy the five years I spent with my two kids I now realize that I missed a lot of career opportunities. I wish I had been able to find a better balance-it was just so overwhelming! Having a flexible employer, child care and a supportive partner makes all the difference.

8 Mac and Cheese March 6, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Mom-brain is REALLY getting to me. I’m not sure if the brain cells are actually gone, or if they are hibernating. Please let me know if your old brain returns.

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