Balancing work life and home life has never been a struggle. Prior to having children, I simply worked. Even my personal relationships revolved around volunteering and other activities related to the human services field. Youth group for LGBT teens, training programs for survivors of sexual violence, and projects and fundraisers to support local non-profits. In my very naïve approach to life, I never anticipated that having children would impact this single-minded approach to life.
The first year of parenthood was simply a struggle to get everyone’s (including my own) basic needs met. Year two I experienced a two-month recovery from our daughter’s traumatic birth and the reality of raising a special needs child alongside her more ‘typical’ brother. Work life became a distraction, ‘adult-time’, and a necessity with thousands of dollars’ worth of medical bills between our son’s week-long PICU, our daughter’s one month NICU stay, and everyone’s recovery from an unusual six months of health related problems.
As our pre-school aged kids successfully transitioned to school aged kids, I discovered that work was no longer the center of my world. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy going to work and look forward to my work day, but I also watch the clock with anticipation. Something I honestly NEVER did before. No more last-minute phone calls or quickly drafted emails. My to-do list stays locked in my file drawer, ready for review the next morning. Even the way I work has changed. In an effort to complete projects efficiently, I fill my schedule and encourage ‘working’ meetings. Why put off a task that can get done in the moment? In a similar fashion, I have difficult conversations in real-time by getting straight to the point (and always with kindness).
I recently brought this up as a topic of conversation with my spouse and she kind of laughed at me. Apparently, my single-minded focus from years past was no secret to her. She is clearly years ahead of me. Sharlene had made a critical decision to change jobs when our son was born. As a result her work life is actually more complicated, but her current position allows her to be home more often. I admit to feeling a little jealous leaving in the mornings first and missing the few hours she spends with them in the afternoon.
Today I realize that most of the Moms I spend time with prioritize home life in much the same way. At work we have a small group that encourages this decision and they have been a great support to me. So that being said, I’m off to spend time with my family and hope you enjoy the time you spend with yours!!!