I love the saying ‘the grass is always greener on the other side.’ I think it’s the most wonderful rebuttal for any discontent person who has managed to create an argument based on the advantages of something they are not actually experiencing. Don’t get me wrong, I'm not judging. I too have fallen into the trap of believing things are definitely better, ‘if I only I were…’
My biggest mistake in life is definitely thinking that the grass is greener on the other side of the working fence.
No doubt, it was during one of the many mornings on my way to work that I came to this fundamentally flawed theory. Battling the bitter winter cold on a train platform before even the sun thinks it’s a respectable time to get up is environment enough for anyone to believe things have to be better on the other side, right? I thought, if I were a mum, I would still be tucked up in bed in a heated house. I would get up soon then the kids and I would hang out in our PJ’s for a bit. We’d have a leisurely breakfast together and then play something or watch something on TV…it just gets more misguided from here.
I can’t lie and say that I didn't have a small break down right before I finished work though. It suddenly occurred to me that my life as I knew it, as I had hand made it through blood, sweat and tears was about to become redundant. In its place would be a life totally devoted to the wishes and desires of another person. I’d put in all that effort to succeed and now it all seemed irrelevant. There wasn't much I could do about it by that stage though…given the growing baby and all.
Now I know, it’s not greener, it’s just different. I have so much respect for stay at home mums. Staying on top of everything whilst miniature destruction pods annihilate your house and then want sustenance so they can keep going is pretty intense. In a bizarre twist of fate though, it’s pretty cool having the opportunity to watch them learn and grow. One minute you’re telling your friends that your expensive designer vase is thankfully out of reach of little hands, the next minute you have a toddling baby with a penchant for expensive designer vases.
I now work part time, and it’s definitely the best of both worlds. It’s like having an access all areas pass to both sides of the fence. I get the opportunity to make all those years of effort before having had kids worth it, and I also get time to enjoy my kids. They also get a chance to experience something different on those days when I am not their sole caregiver.
As with everything, it isn’t all smooth
sailing. With two people in the house working professional crack-of-dawn to
well-past-bed time hours, there is clearly added pressure on life. The key to
this, we’ve found, is organization. Of course, that’s all well and good unless
someone gets sick…aka all of winter. Then it’s a whole new set of dilemmas.
Who’s responsible for dropping everything and going to do the midday pick up?
Who gets to do the daycare drop offs and pick ups. Here’s a hot tip – if you
have to choose, the pick-ups are the way to go. It’s like having the choice of
ripping your heart out with your own bare hand and then watching it beat for
the rest of the day versus being some Santa-Tooth Fairy-Easter Bunny hybrid
with fairy floss and ice cream. That might be a slight exaggerating of course
but trust me – the picks up are a lot more fun the drop offs.
Even the best laid plans can go astray, so it’s also important to master the art of flexibility, compassion and team work. Personally, I try to remember that every time I feel like I’m working harder, sleeping less or organizing more, that everyone feels the same way. We try to split up the tasks between us but know them all so that if one of us falls behind the other one knows what needs to happen next. We also try to work off the same motivation to get everyone out the door on time. So it doesn’t matter what you have to do to make that a reality.
There are obviously so many things to consider when it comes to becoming a working parent. Personal circumstances, future, profession, local care facilities, care options etc. all play a pivotal role in people’s decisions to get back into the work force. Unfortunately it’s not often as easy as just ‘deciding’ to be a working parent and then ‘choosing’ your work-week.
Ultimately the right decision for each family is personal but from my experience, being a part time professional – part time Household CEO has afforded me the unparalleled experience of loving my life. There is always enough time between my roles that each mini work-week starts with fresh eyes and gusto. The work gusto only an adult-deprived parent can understand and the home duties gusto only a parent missing their kids can understand.
My 5 top tips for working-parent sanity;
- Plan weekly meals so you don’t have to think about what you’re having
- Get as much done the night before as you can
- You will never want to do those annoying tasks like ironing or packing bags…so just do it
- Try to give each other one night off a week
- Remember that it’s always noon somewhere in the world so you can totally have a wine…