Working Nine to Five (well, from eight really) …

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.

Working as a parent

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?


Linking up with Kylie Purtell – Capturing Life and IBOT


26 thoughts on “Working Nine to Five (well, from eight really) …

  1. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid says:

    No kids (unless you count my man baby) but I love part time for the flexibility it affords. As much as I enjoy working, I think I enjoy the free (as in non-working) time much more because it is packed full of the stuff (and the people) that I love. Part time will always get my vote, at least for as long as I can afford it πŸ™‚
    Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid recently posted…She’s So Inspiring – Robyna MayMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      It certainly affords you more freedom to discover things outside of work. I found that during my full time week, all I wanted to do was get home, eat, watch a tiny bit of TV and go to bed.

  2. Vanessa says:

    Ideally I want to work part time (even 4 days would be great), but as the sole income earner I can’t on my current salary. One day, I’ll find the right mix.
    But I couldn’t work full time and blog and (last year) study at uni again if I didn’t have my husband doing all the other home type stuff for me.
    Vanessa recently posted…My Lazy Decluttering MethodMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      I think having that partner at home is such an amazing thing. And for too long under-valued. When I was at home with the kids people would say “your husband makes your lifestyle possible” and I’d agree and say “Yes, and my being at home makes his lifestyle possible”.

  3. nicolethebuilderswife says:

    I have mixed emotions about this at present. I wrote today about the positives I found in being a working mother both for my children and for myself. As an employer, we have tried really hard to provide a flexible work place for our working parents, but unfortunately we have been burned by that choice. We are currently navigating how to move forward with it, without employee or employer loosing out. In the past we gave far too much with no return. It’s hard to find a balance.

    • Robyna says:

      I think it’s a really tricky balance for employers in particular. There are definitely two kinds of part-timers – those that are very stringent with their hours and cannot or will not go beyond them. Then there are those who do go above and beyond. I think it’s fair for an employer to match those attitude accordingly.

  4. Sarah @sarahdipity says:

    I work part time and for our family it’s perfect and I don’t plan on returning full time in the near future. But I agree, part time work is really a full time job fit into part time hours!

  5. Maxabella says:

    I would love to experience full time work with my husband at home doing the home thing. I’ve often said that I want to come back as the Dad and this is yet another reason why! I think it would make an incredible difference to how I felt about work life and the whole balance thing. I remember saying to a male colleague who complained about me not wanting to commit to a 6pm meeting one day, “Is your wife at home keeping life going while you work?” “Yes,” he said. “Well, I AM that wife.” Made him shut right up.

    • Robyna says:

      Even within one week I could see how much less stressful it would be. It wasn’t even just the getting ready in the morning and evening stuff – it was the fact I could set aside the kids in my head with complete security that my husband had it all under control.

  6. hugzilla says:

    Dude, you need a wife. I need a wife. We ALL need a wife. It’s interesting how much women have to juggle all the time, and hats off to anyone who can keep all of those balls in the air and stay sane at the same time x

  7. Katie says:

    I completely agree with this! It is so quick and easy to get out of the house when I only have to get myself ready, I am nostalgic for those days. And looking back on when I used to work full time I love the ‘white spaces’, conversations in the tea room, things that just aren’t possible with part time work. Glad you enjoyed your week πŸ™‚

  8. Bron @four2adore says:

    Since having kids I’ve returned to work between each one job-sharing with a colleague. We both give an immense amount to our job, including a lengthy “handover” midweek. Our employer does get a lot of value out of us, but it’s because we’re passionate and committed to our work. I’m almost certain some people get away with much less, but for me it’s about fulfilment and loving the job. I’m extremely grateful that jobshare opportunities exist in my workplace, for it gives me a great balance. X

    • Robyna says:

      It’s so great when employers and employees can make part time work – I do think it can be done successfully but needs give and take from both sides.

  9. Renee Wilson says:

    I’m currently working part time school hours four times a week. The hours are great. The job … hmm. A job opportunity has come up, but it is full time. It would be a great fit for me. I’m considering applying for it, but we’ll see. It is a constant battle trying to figure out what will work best for you and your family and what is the right fit. It’s a constant headwrecker for me. I’m glad you were able to enjoy a different week knowing that everything was in hand with your hubby at home. #teamIBOT

    • Robyna says:

      It really is a constant battle, but I have found it much easier with the kids a bit older. Though I have a feeling these might the “easy years” and teenage-hood will come with its own set of demands on our time.

  10. Emily says:

    Great post. I concur. I’m full time this week without the stresses – that said, my parents have our kids so there’s still dinner to cook and washing to do. But not stressing that a phone call will be the school nurse, or that if I don’t leave RIGHT on time I’ll miss the train I need to catch, sticking around for a meeting that runs a little over time… enjoying those aspects for sure! Ask me how I’m doing on Friday πŸ˜‰
    Emily recently posted…The glassMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Yes, by Friday I was happy to have my glass of wine and straight into bed πŸ™‚ But the no stress is such a big thing. Hope you’re okay lovely lady xxx

  11. Janet says:

    I agree so much with what you said about full time vs part time! For several years I worked 4 days a week (every Friday off – woooo!). My boss said I crammed more into that 4 days that others did into 5. Says it all really πŸ™‚
    Janet recently posted…I’m in Love with LoveMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Funny how productive people who blog are πŸ˜‰ As a uni student working part time I was told at my sending-off do that I got through more work than the full-timers. So I think we definitely need to start thinking in terms of productivity rather than time spent at work.

    • Robyna says:

      I feel like the corporate workplace really has to catch up and look at the way roles are structured so that they don’t miss out on the talents of carers of school aged children.

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