I’m really enjoying my work at the moment.
Which is sort of important for any working parent. If you choose to work and spend time away from your family you want it to be meaningful and enjoyable and satisfying. Otherwise, why bother, right?
My current role is satisfying and challenging. It is definitely a step up from my previous finance role which never challenged me in the same way. After all I’m a lover of words, not numbers, which goes a long way to explaining why I’m much happier working on policy and projects than working on invoices and accounts.
While work is more satisfying, it is also more stressful and is testing the boundaries of my part-time hours. I feel I don’t come even close to doing what I feel needs to be done in my 5 hour day and there have been occasions where I’ve had to work a longer day or go in on a Friday to catch up.
This role started as a temporary development opportunity for me, a way for me to test the waters by taking a step up without jeopardizing my work/life balance. I have now been offered the role permanently which is awesome in so many ways (namely more money, work satisfaction, career progression) but not so awesome in one.
While I’m not being pressured to extend my part-time hours I know I will have to if I want to do my job well. That’s the reality. I’m looking into going back on a Friday which will mean placing Delilah into a new daycare setting but will avoid having to place Gilbert and Matilda in after school care.
I know I couldn’t place Gilbert in after hours care. He would not cope and it would not be fair on him or anyone else to make him try. And as much as Matilda would probably enjoy more organised activities in the afternoon, I know she would struggle to cope by the end of each week too.
Working 5 short days is not an ideal solution by any means. I will REALLY miss my Fridays where I usually catch up with cleaning, shopping, appointments and have time with friends. But I will miss that regular one-on-one time with Delilah the most – she is so much fun, with such a big personality and an insatiable thirst for knowledge – I love my Fridays with her.
Well, I hear you say, I could say no to this opportunity and maintain the status quo.
But, if I did, I would not be satisfied at work. I also know there will be fewer opportunities in future to make this progression while still working shorter hours. And there is the reality that my previous position was in a team on borrowed time anyway so there are no guarantees the status quo would remain long term even if I did turn this down.
At least this is on my own terms. I may have to return to work 5 days a week but I still have access to shorter days. I may feel increased mother guilt for placing Delilah into care 5 days a week but I can still be at school every afternoon for the kids. I can still give them the opportunity to do after school activities if they want to. I will still be the person they turn to every morning and every night.
As for work, I will need to manage my time better and learn to say no if I stand any chance of maximising my 5 hour days. It won’t be easy but I want this to work.
I need it to work.
Else I risk any chance I have of achieving any semblance of work life balance.