Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Work life balance - the choice of earning less, but the chance of having much more
Last Friday I was sunbathing on my picnic mat whilst my son played a game involving pussycats and buckets of grass, thinking about what to in my next blog post. As I "announced" on my blog recently, I have a new column (ooo exciting!) and I was commissioned to write a piece on work life balance. (More details to come later about my column).
Work life balance to me is the choice of earning less, but the chance of having much more. I’m that part-time working mum chasing her tail, remembering the toy for her four year old son’s Show’n’Tell, before rushing to get to work. I work three days a week, partly for sanity purposes, partly for money.
Returning to work when he was one was extremely difficult, only made bearable by finding an excellent childminder. I knew I couldn’t stay at home, I needed to be “me” again. Although I chose it, going back into a lower role was a shock with its own challenges: I was less “important” and younger colleagues did my old job. Things had moved on, but I hadn’t.
My son never slept through and so working, plus keeping house (even to my low standards!) left me as shattered as in those first few weeks after the birth (the “fug” I used to call it). The night before work, I would spend an hour getting ready – were there enough spare clothes, nappies, wipes? What did I need to write in his notebook? Had I prepared enough food?
Fast-forward three years, my son is at nursery, I have perfected the art of the part-time working mum. Three days of nursery drop’n’run so I can work, have lunch hours, hot cups of tea and private toilet trips, one day of tidying, shopping and playtime squeezed in, and one fun picnic’n’playday catching up with friends (luckily his mates’ mummies!). I have a cleaner, releasing me of guilt if I want to waste an hour in Costa on Saturday, while Other Half runs around, spanner in one hand, stabilisers in the other, chasing a wobbly small bike.
Work life balance, it’s constantly evolving. My needs, his needs, all change as he grows up. And now I’ve got it all worked out, we’re gearing up for school this year. Work is allowing me to spread my hours across four days, finishing earlier to pick him up. I will have one day to myself, half for “me” and half for household jobs.
I work to pay for my lifestyle– I don’t earn as much as before, we can’t afford what we had before, but we didn’t have our son before. And as I think of him now filling up that bucket miaowing on all fours, I know for me I have got the balance right. For now at least.
I'd love to hear about how you, my fellow mummy bloggers, or any bloggers really, how they balance work and life. Which life events have changed your priorities? And also has anyone got any tips on how to balance school gate life and work? Preferably before September!