For the first time in a long time, I worked a full time week. Every minute between 8 and 5 dedicated to the corporate good. It made me think about full time work, part time work and the elusive balance. The benefits and the drawbacks to any working arrangement as a parent. And how good the full-time worker with home support has it.
As part of the school holiday juggle, my husband stayed home with the kids the first week of the holidays. I worked full time to earn my days off with the little ones this week. And I’m really looking forward to it.
During my foray into full-time, I learnt a few things:
Working full-time with another parent at home is awesome
I worked full-time when my youngest was very small. My husband and I both did. It was hard going. Still sleepless nights, the day-care rush to be there before 6pm, increasing work pressures, trying to get my head around being a mother and desperately hanging onto my career. It was a high-pressure situation that we ended up realising was costing us far too much.
Fast forward a few years and the kids are older and sleep (bless). They are independent (well, as independent as an eight year old and three year old can be).
Last week I woke at 6am each day and headed for a walk or jog, blissfully aware that the only person I needed to get ready was myself. I had long, uninterrupted showers. My coffee stayed hot. There was nary a lunchbox in sight. It was all quite wonderful to be honest. I was at the office with time to spare. There was no worry about answering every call on my mobile, just in case it was related to the kids. I knew my husband had it all under control. My mind was free to concentrate solely on work. To be honest, it’s been a long time since that was the case. There was a text from my husband wondering what filling I would like in the pies he was making. And I thought “Damn, this is the way to do it.”
I’m not used to being desk bound for days on end
I normally work three days and have two days hanging out with the boys. Those two days not only offer me precious time with my kids, but they also offer a break for my body and mind. On my days off, I spend more time outside than in. Playing in the park, watching my littlest learn to swim, going out for coffee and milkshakes and visiting friends and family. The time away from the artificial light and the constant screen gaze are refreshing. At work, I go hard, the entire time. I don’t take breaks to stretch, to fill my water glass etc. Rather, I get caught up in what I’m doing and just keep going. Lunch breaks are rushed. So I have reached the end of the week with a crick in my neck and a sore lower back.
Full time work pace needs to be different to part time work pace
Anyone who works part time will know what I’m taking about. You get in. You get out. While you are in, you work at a frantic pace, trying desperately to fit five days work into three. Interruptions are grimly tolerated with gritted teeth. The pace is frenetic and when it gets to “I have to go get the kids otherwise I’ll be fined” o’clock, you leg it with the briefest of good-byes.
Full time work is different. Filled with the white spaces missing in part time work. Last week I chatted to people more than I usually would. It all felt so much more relaxed. So much less pressure. And in that more relaxed state, I got an incredible amount done. Because I was there, I was part of interesting conversations that I probably would have missed working in my part time bubble.
Anyone who thinks part time is an easy option, probably hasn’t worked those hours.
I have enjoyed the past week – particularly the amount I was able to achieve in the office.
But I lost out in other areas. I have been less active in and around this blog. My social interaction (both online and off) has been less. And most of all, I missed my kids. These precious years won’t last long and I want to enjoy them.
So, it will still be part-time work for me.
My lovely friend Sah offered her thoughts on full time work as a mum over at Champagne Cartel – worth a read.
Do you work part or full time or have done both?
How do you find the comparison?