If You Could Go Part-Time, Would You?
“You look so much more relaxed,” my friend said to me after a cup of coffee last week.
I didn’t think of it that way, but she’s right.
After working full time with three kids for 10 months, I got the opportunity to make a (much needed) change.
I thought about giving up my job, but I love to write. When I fall asleep at night, I’m often writing stories or blogs in my head. It’s not uncommon for me to arise, turn on the computer and pound out a few paragraphs. It’s what I’ve done for nearly 20 years as a journalist and an avid fan of words.
After my baby was born a year ago, I thought I would just jump right back into it.
And I did — returning to work when she was 5 weeks old. But as she changed from a baby to a crawling, busy, active near-toddler, I struggled to keep up with her and the big kids, all their activities, maintaining a somewhat orderly house and having food on the table.
Eating out or fast food became the norm.
After one particularly tough morning of leaving my infant, I said, “enough.”
Funny thing is, it seems many around me saw what I didn’t. When I nervously told my direct supervisor of my desire, she wasn’t surprised at all. I guess the weight of it all showed more than I thought.
The most recent survey from the Pew Research Center (2009) found that 62 percent of working moms would prefer to work part time. I’m joining them.
I’ve gone from working 40 hours a week to working 20. I can pick my days and hours as needed. I can write stories from home when it fits our family schedule and come into the office less.
I can now be home for my kids after school.
It will mean juggling things financially (though there’s substantial savings because I won’t be paying as much in child care and after-school care costs), but I’m blessed that our family can manage it.
But it will also mean seeing my co-workers less — friends and comrades for years of up-and-down disorder in the world of journalism.
That said, this new “normal” suits me better.
I’ve made changes before.
When my first child was 10 months old, I decided to freelance.
I worked part-time during my second child’s first year, upping that to full time when she turned 1.
But three kids? For me, another transition was in order.
It wasn’t just the addition of another child, but the growing homework for the older kids, their struggles with school, a busy husband working more hours and a desire to care for them all better.
I want to parent more intentionally, live more intentionally, and not just fly by the seat of my pants.
So now, I hear the children — 9, 6 and almost 1 — upstairs playing together, nicely.
They’re keeping busy while I read my work email, update my blog and call a few schools for a story. We didn’t have to rush somewhere, with me yelling out orders like a drill sergeant to “get dressed, eat and grab backpacks.”
I’ve juggled the kids’ summer schedules with an amazing sister-in-law who’s cared for them, summer camp, a sitter in my neighborhood, and a helpful niece.
In a few weeks, it’ll change again as school starts for the older two. I admit I’m nervous about it. The house will be quieter. I’m used to going at 50 mph with a child or two in hand, a phone in the other and a story half written with a deadline looming.
OK, so it won’t be that different.
But just the fact that I can RELAX and BREATHE between activities has, I believe, made me a better mom — and a better me — already.
This blog first appeared in the East Valley Tribune's EV Moms blog.
I choose joy