Article first published as Can I Have Work/Life Balance Working Full Time?on Technorati.
Going back to work Full Time has always been in the Plan.
The Plan was that when our youngest was 2 1/2, therefore old enough to start preschool, I would return to work full-time.
Logically this makes sense:
- I am an advocate of preschool. I really believe that kids benefit from the structure, the social skills, listening to authority figures other than their parents, and actively being taught academics.
- My husband lost his job in May and we need the money.
- A person’s 30’s and 40’s are key years for building a reputation, making connections, and really establishing yourself in your field. I’m in my prime earning potential and career making years.
Great. Everything is going according to plan and logically the plan makes sense.
So, why aren’t I jumping up and down with joy about how great everything is working out? After all, my Myers-Briggs says that I am a logical person (INTJ), right?
There isn’t anything large and definitive that I can point to and say – aha! That’s why. Instead, there are little things:
- My 2 year old calls for Daddy to come help her on the potty. This used to be my job, but he’s the one home with her during the day. Weird, to be upset about not having to wipe a poopy butt, don’t you think?
- My kids walk to the bus stop at 8:30. I have already been out of the house for over an hour by then. Most days they wake up about 5 minutes before I walk out the door, so I am able to kiss them goodbye and tell them I love them.
- I kiss the soft, innocent cheek of my sleeping 2 year old just before I walk out the door.
- I don’t recognize who my husband’s talking about when he says “You know. Tracy? The blond lady that usually sits in the minivan at the bus stop?” No, actually, I don’t.
- I recently told my executive coach that I was planning to start working out regularly once I went Full Time. I felt I would have more time then.
That sounds backwards doesn’t it? Work more hours and have more time for me? How does that work?
I think what it comes down to is that because I am working 5 days a week now, I have to give up control. Not of everything, but of some things.
When I was working part-time, I struggled to do it all. Be everything to everyone and not doing a good job at any of it. You may have heard of it…you know, the “supermom” syndrome.
It is uncomfortable for me to relinquish the authority and control of packing lunch for my son and going to every soccer practice. But, there is relief in it too. In just this first week I can see that I don’t have to do everything for things to get done. Hubby is in fact capable!
He may do things differently than I do and yes, he’s still learning the whole primary caregiver role (such as regular showers and 20 min reading every day), but the sky hasn’t fallen.
I wouldn’t have thought this a few years ago, or even a few months ago – possibly not even a few weeks ago – but me working more hours has been a blessing for our family and my marriage.
My husband is stepping up to the plate and I respect him for the things he is getting accomplished. I am allowing him to make decisions without my involvement – by necessity – but it is still empowering to him. My kids are learning to turn to both parents, not just mom, for support and care giving.
Yes, I am nostalgic that my “baby” doesn’t need me as her wooby any more and that Daddy is equally acceptable for cuddling. Yes, there are details that I miss being a part of during the day. But overall? It’s been a surprisingly good decision for our family.
So to answer the question that I posed in the title. I do think that “Yes.” I can have work/life balance working full time. The balance has had to shift some because the work side is more weighty now, but there is a balance for sure.
How do you split responsibilities in your family? Does mom do everything? Are parenting responsibilities (not just chauffeuring) split equally? What do you think?