Standing in Two Worlds

I work thirty hours a week, in three 10-hour days. It might not sound like a total work schedule dream come true, but it’s a pattern my family and I are settling into at the moment. I’m lucky enough to have a boss who is willing to bet I can still get it all done in less time.

Why would I voluntarily do something so crazy?

So I can spend four glorious days in a row with my little—well, not-so-little anymore—bundle of joy.

I have to compliment my partner for making it possible. I seriously could not do this without Justin. Ten-hour days that end at a decent time, start at an indecent hour. Most mornings I’m getting to my desk between 6:15 and 6:30 A.M., so that means getting Anabel to daycare those days is all on him.

Here are some things we do to make it easier:

1. Plan her wardrobe in advance. Her clothes are picked out for the week, which means I’m actually checking the weather. (I’d like to think this whole planning ahead thing would happen if I were the one taking her to school every day, but honestly, I’m really doing it for him and to make sure she’s not wearing a Stoke City soccer jersey every week.)

2. Have her eat breakfast at school. This actually helped with the drop-off transition early on because she was then distracted by food. And I like that she gets a variety of breakfast items.

3. Make sure I’m out of the house before she’s even awake. So, again, props to my husband for getting her to school on the mornings I work. This means I do pick-up most every day and take the lead in the evening, unless I have something after work, which is a lot less frequently these days. Give and take, right?

The truth, though, is that it’s going to take a bit of time to really settle into it this. My new schedule and my daughter’s starting daycare all happened at the same time. When I first went back to work full-time, my mom watched Anabel in our home until she was a year old. So the daycare thing has been a huge transition for all of us. I figured being home a couple days a week would lessen the strangeness of it all. Of course there are days when I wonder if the schedule hinders her ability to get used to it all. But now Dad says most drop-offs are a piece of cake, and when I pick her up she doesn’t fight me when I put her in the car seat like she used to. (Car seat battles…talk about a way to end a long day at work!)

Here are some things I’m still trying to figure out (in no particular order):

1. Getting in workouts on a regular basis. It’s hard to imagine getting up any earlier on the days I go to work, and I really don’t have an excuse for the days I am at home, other than being afraid she won’t take a real nap, which would mean no shower until the end of the day. No one wants to be around this after a hard workout and no access to hot water and soap.

2. Keeping my kiddo entertained all day without my awesome husband around. It truly is a team effort on the weekends. We try to do minimal TV, but sometimes I cheat a little, especially in the afternoon if her nap was no good. At least I get extra snuggle time that way. The laundry, dishes, and definitely the litter box, can wait. Please hit me up if you’re heading to the zoo or the DoSeum, or just sitting and folding laundry while your toddler runs around during the hours of 7:30–10:30 A.M. and 1:30–4:00 P.M. I’ll bring my maniac with me, and we can hang out together.

3. Juggling work when my kid is sick. Fortunately, I have fewer hours to make up, and again, an awesome boss who made it possible in the first place. But that thing everyone says about kids being sick all the time in daycare? Well it’s not just something people say. Since my daughter started school two and a half months ago, we’ve been to the pediatrician more times than we were in her entire first year of life. At this point I’m not sure Anabel’s completed a full three days in a row of daycare. If not for my mom, who knows how drained my PTO would be because I had to take off all of the days of missed daycare? So seriously, thanks, Ita!

4. Knowing the work water cooler chat. While being at work for 30 hours Tuesday–Thursday can sound like a lot, there’s a bunch that happens on Mondays and Fridays too, but I’m not there to see it. The truth is I miss out on that stuff. And maintaining work relationships is a big deal when you work with other people. On the plus side: “Jean Friday” just became “Active Wear Friday,” a trade-off that is well worth it.

Some of things will come with time, and some may not. 

Many hat tips to those making the full-time gig happen. I know lots of moms don’t actually have a choice when it comes to that sort of thing: jobs that don’t offer flexibility or households that simply aren’t in a financial position to make a change. My mom was a single mom (aka: rock star) who worked 50–60 hours a week but still managed to be on the bus chaperoning the band for Friday night football games and competitions.

Just as many hat tips to those making the full-time stay-at-home mom thing happen. Kiddos are serious business. And until they can use full words to communicate it’s like a brain game figuring out what they want when they change their minds every five minutes. All. Day. Long.

I don’t know how long-term this setup is, but I sure do appreciate the chance to have it. I can see it evolving in the future, where I might work more days a week but have more time in the day with my munchkin for after-school activities. Or maybe I’ll go back to full-time in a year because my kid loves daycare and needs more of what she can get from there that I can’t give her at home.

In the meantime, I’ll keep standing in two worlds and being grateful for that opportunity every single day.

What’s your situation? What you do love about it or wish you could change? Please share in the comments below.

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