September 1:  Headed home to my babies


This is the last day of my short business trip, so again, this entry will be brief.

Highlights of My Morning:
I wake up feeling like hell.   I had some wine last night with dinner, but the real kicker was my friend’s THREE cats.  I am allergic to cats.  So I wake up with red, red, puffy, swollen eyes and a severely runny nose.  That along with the wine probably lead to a night where i did not sleep well.  Plus I have a lot on my mind.

I quickly get dressed and tickle her kids as they head off on a walk with their nanny.  I thank my friend for her hospitality and then take a cab to the office.  She would have drove me but she was going to an “open house” at one of her kids pre-schools.   She’s a Mama In Motion too.

Highlights of My Working Day:
I get to the office and proceed to drink A LOT of coffee.   We continue to work on the transition, and this time we are joined by two others who report to her.  They are her support team – the people responsible for analyzing LOTS of data and generating various reports.   A solid team.  I ask a lot of questions and come up with some ideas that are well received.  It again feels like a good fit – I get it.  I feel comfortable with the job. 

We go to lunch and it is outrageous.  I have TWO beers and seriously the food is AMAZING.  Crab and shrimp nachos, shrimp and grits…. I don’t think this town serves up a bad meal!    

Thinking through Alternative Working Arrangements:

As soon as we get back to the office I start to pack up for the airport.  I quickly have a discussion with my colleague about propositions where I can have a reduced work week.  Her time commitment for this particular piece of her total job over the course of a year was very spiky – she dedicated 30% of her available time for 8 months of the year and 90% of her available time for 4 months of the year.  This would essentially limit alternative working arrangements, but she confirmed that she thinks the workload could definitely be stretched and re-allocated throughout the year – and would require about 50% of time on average per week.   She thinks it’s completely possible.    – it would mean that I would need to do a lot of the preparation for our big meetings further up front, but she thinks it could be completely doable for me.

So, I had some ideas for alternative working schedules for myself:
* Take one day off and work 80%.   2 of the 4 working days be from home.
* Take two days off and work 60%.   1 of the 3 working days be from home.
*  Work 50%.   Essentially be a part time employee.  Work a reduced day (say 10AM -4 PM) for 4 days a week; 2 of the 4 working days from home.

As I sit here on the airplane headed home, I think to myself “Now what do I do?”   I have always been so focused on maximizing my income for the sake of our family – and I am terrified to take a step back.   I could continue with this role, working full time, and also work at home which would improve my quality of life somewhat.  I would still be at the same income level or possibly higher.  I could see myself setting up meetings to sell work and also excelling in this new position.  I could see how it could work well for me.   For pete’s sake, I received my MBA from an ivy league institution – it feels like stepping aside is against my DNA.  Would taking a step back make me happier or make me feel crazy/underutilized?

Working from home on a more structured basis could free up the commuting time and allow me to work in a less stressful environment; it would give me time to think about dinner, and to actually cook.   Having a day off is a completely new concept to me.   I could:
* spend some 1:1 time with a child
* spend my time with all of the kids and do something special or do nothing at all but enjoy them
* get involved in Big Bro’s school now that he is in Kindergarten and in a public school system
* just take the day and devote it to ME
* work on the Mama In Motion project which energizes me

At the extreme scenario (50%) where I have a reduced workday (10 AM to 4 PM), the additional extra time would allow me to enjoy my children in the morning at a much slower and stress-free pace; the multiple drop-offs and pickups could be done more leisurely, which I would really enjoy.  

So, Time vs. Money???  Which is more important to me now?  At this point what would make me happier?   I’m not sure.  They are both directly linked to the quality of life for my family.  But which am I willing to sacrifice at this point?  I feel like I’ve made too many sacrifices already for a job that I’m not thrilled about, just to keep an income that our family needs.   Am I still willing to sacrifice this precious time with my children at this point?  

I’m just so tired going day by day, week by week.   I want to take control of my life back.  I want to be in the drivers seat.  I don’t want to feel like life is just happening to me — I want to feel like I am more in control of the life that I lead.  I’ve always said that I don’t let life just happen to me, but rather I make life happen.   Somehow I’ve strayed from this mantra.   The essence of who I am.   I think I need to do this.   But at what level?  How significantly do I scale back???

=================

My plane will land in about 1 hour.   I should be able to make it home in time to briefly see my kids before they go to sleep.  Hubby was saying that they are all talking about me and demanding to know when I’m coming back.   Hopefully I get home in time for a sweet reunion with all of them.   I can’t wait to hug, kiss, smell them.   I can’t wait to tell them that I missed them and ask them how their days were while I was away.  I can wait to hear from Big Bro and Red how their new schools are and how they are settling in – what new friends they are making and what funny things are they experiencing each day – and how they like their teachers.   

This has been a monumental week for us as a family.   Two new schools, an extra drop off, an extra pickup, a work trip.   I’m looking forward and am hopeful for the changes yet to come.  

Til tomorrow, 

– Mama K 

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Comments

  1. Great news on thinking about the flexible work arrangement! I felt the same anxiety when I went to four days and then never once regretted it. I still love the Thursday night feeling that I have a 3 day weekend. I think important thing to factor in your daycare options. Will you be able to reduce the daycare accordingly in order to reduce your costs along with your reduced income? For example, the 50%, 5 day option may be tougher since you might still need full-time day-care. If you did 3 or 4 days / week, would these always be the same days or would you need to be flexible? Likewise, can you reduce child care by a day or two and if so, would they be flexible in changing the day? Anyway, I kept the full-time daycare in order to give me the flexibility on the Friday to either do something with the kids, for my household, for myself or sometimes to work (i balance this out with some hours off on another day of the week). In order to cover the full-time nanny cost, I had to go with the 80% option. Anyway, I think once you do it – you will absolutely love the extra time – it balances your life in a great way.

    p.s. I bought the ingredients for the mustard-rosemary chicken and will make it this weekend. Tim’s mom was in the ICU over the summer and Tim went out to get her this past week – she will stay with us for a month to recover and needs to eat healthy (which we should be doing anyway…).

    • I remember when you were struggling with this. It’s a terrible tension. We are such over-achievers it sickens me. I think I’m going to go down to 60% if my firm can allow it. And I’m going to keep all childcare. I will use one of the days to focus on this project. And the other day I will spend time with the kids or a sub-set of them – maybe rotate so they each get 1:1 time with me.

      This is awesome feedback about the recipe. I wanted to consistently post the recipes on Thursdays precisely for that reason. That way if people are interested in it they can shop and test it out over the weekend. I’m psyched you did this. What was it like? Put some feedback out there so folks can follow – plus the submitter will be pumped.

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