2013 – the year of the work life whirlpool
This past week has been quite the emotional one in our household. Raya began her adventures in big school and I returned to work. Yes 2013 is all about the work life balance in our house.
Hubby and I are both working part time this year so while I go back to work he will be doing the kindy drop off and pick up and perfecting his scone recipe – I am serious his first day he made scones!! Sharing the care and parenting is both a necessity and a privelege. Lucky Raffy is cute because his medical bills cost us a fortune.
While I was searching through the maths storeroom at work today for a blessed box of counters (which I didn’t find so unifix it is) this blog post came to mind. I was staring at a balance. You know the old fashioned ones that we used to use as kids when beginning to develop our concepts of heavier and lighter.
See it’s all coming back to you now isn’t it. When you teach children to use a balance similar to those above you carefully and gently place weight on one end. The balance bobs up an down and as it slows down you add more weight. Then you counterbalance. Careful not to topple the balance.
Let’s be clear – the ‘work-life balance’ is NOTHING like balancing.
The work life balance is more like a whirlpool.
and those fish you can see. Well I feel like one of them. Swim mummies swim.
I am tossed around in the current of stress and guilt. Guilt for leaving. Guilt for part of me being happy to go back to work. Guilt at feeling guilty or not guilty enough. Ridiculous.
First day back at work I woke, dressed (thankfully), blowed dry my hair (rareity) and left the house with out bags slung over my shoulder and children under foot or on a hip. It almost felt like ‘me’ time except for the lesson plans and schedules that were running through my mind and working out the order of morning to do tasks which would allow me to capitalise on the time before work began.
Part of me was looking forward to returning to work while the other part reminded me that I hadn’t gone back till Raya was 2 and now here I was going back when Raffy was 9 months old and not taking a bottle.
I was welcomed back at work by both the staff and the children which was fantastic as it counterbalanced the physical reminders that I was also needed elsewhere. It only took one day for Raffie to convert to a daddy’s boy and he didn’t want a bar of me on the first day home.
There was no slowing of life down to slowly and gently add extra weight onto my shoulders. Readings, programming, emails all came rushing into my life combined with party invitiations, present buying, doctors appointments.
Then there is the tiredness. It takes energy to keep swimming in the whirlpool. The first week I was knackered and my blogging mojo left me – temporarily. An overtired sleep resistant kindergarten child meant work began late and unwinding me time even later. Raffy missing feeds during the day demanded them at night or technically the wee early hours of the morning.
So we have guilt and tiredness but also happiness. I love teaching. My class is made up of awesome kids. I have someone easy to jobshare with. I am lucky I have a job which allows me part time flexibility. I think there is something very important about children seeing their parents pursuing work outside of the home.
This week the day to day life has been thrown into sharp relief. Teaching brings out something in me, develops a different part of me. The time I have spent with my kids at home I have appreciated more and it feels wonderful, less ‘ground hog’. The extra ‘stuff’ has no time or space in my day to day life and so the whirlpool has forced me to prioritise and de clutter aspects of my life.
I have discovered that there is no work life balance because this analogy doesn’t work.Not for me and not for our family. That visual picture of robbing one side to pay the other. This is a negative mindset. Life moves and sways around us, ebbs and flows. Sometimes there are tidal waves that crash all around us and we are in too deep but then we surface again, draw breath and keep swimming.
How are you coping in the work-life whirlpool this year?