I’ve worked part-time for the past 12 months and absolutely loved it.
After years of full-time work, and with two boys under five, I wanted to be home for the final year before our eldest started “big school”.
One of the very best things about the experience has been the Fridays we’ve spent at home.
Of course, they’ve been nothing like I planned when I came up with this idea.
Back then I imagined us waking up on non-work days with a spring in our step, ready to face a day of park and play and maybe some craft and cooking in between. You know - get through basically everything that’s on Pinterest, in about six hours.
The reality, however, has been a little different ...
There’s been enormous moments of pure joy. Don't understimate a mid-morning session of Matchbox cars in the winter sun, or early mornings at the pool in high summer, when your kids are the only ones there, splashing gleefully.
But it’s far from all roses. You definitely change gears when you spend a day at home, but it’s not always a slower pace.
Our best days have come as a result of me focusing on the pockets of time we’d normally not get on working and daycare days.
William McInnes on Kinderling Conversation: "They looked after me as much as I looked after them"
Here are some the things I have learnt:
Planning ahead works better than getting ahead. I can’t do all the housework in the toddler’s nap time, because that’s a pretty special hour and half I can have just with my almost-big-schooler five-year-old.
Syphoning a little time to cook, however, is never a bad idea. I plan to make two simple things for the coming week. A meal that becomes my lunch for the following days, and something to tide us over for the kids’ dinner that can also be frozen. Shout-out to my slow cooker for being the best teammate a working girl could ask for.
Doing too much washing is a trap. Do not go there! Even on sunny days I find the week's worth of washing just sits around the house in a basket, making me feel bad for not folding it.
Getting out of the house for at least one activity a day is a really great idea. Just don’t try and push for two. A regular swimming lesson and a catch up at the park with friends has been more than enough. These activities keep us on track for our toddler’s nap time, and give us a good hour or so extra at home in the mornings than we get on normal days.
Speaking of mornings, they're the best bit. I keep the kids in their PJs and we move from bedroom, to kitchen, to toys, TV and outside to put some washing on the line, before heading to the park or the pool. It's just slower than daycare days and that's a novelty in itself.
Lunch is always eaten in the backyard unless it's raining, and we often crash our elderly Greek neighbours next door for a cup of tea (and several biscuits) in the late afternoon.
I always feel extra joyful about returning to work the following day and sitting down! The change of pace between work and home life is definitely noted. :)
For me, this year has been about giving the boys a break from the daily rush of the wake up, daycare, workday, rush home at night routine. But it's also gifted me with a stronger connection to each of them, and an appreciation for balance in my life.
It’s been a privilege and a time I will always remember.
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