I've been on a leave from work for almost nine weeks now - since March 1. It doesn't seem like it's been nine weeks, but May 17, I am scheduled to report back to work.
This has been my big change to experience, in a safe way, how I would do staying at home with the wee ones - and how they'd do with me at home. I had tried this route before three years ago and failed miserably.
A lot of that failure had to do with the fact that I had gone from 500mph to zero, with a toddler and infant (who was very mobile) who couldn't be left alone long enough for me to go to the bathroom. We had just moved, and I didn't know anyone nor did I have any activities for myself or the wee ones.
This time around, I've been working part time three days a week - and two of those from home. I am involved in the wee ones' schools, in my church, in neighborhood organizations and more. I have a routine for myself and for the wee ones. Theoretically, staying at home should be easier.
My grand images of having tons of time to tackle my miles long to do list? Shattered.
That doesn't mean that I've gotten nothing done, however. I've been a regular at the gym. I've managed the preschool fundraiser that will be complete this coming Wednesday. I've started the process of remodeling our master bathroom. I've cooked a lot more (which I enjoy). Oddly, I'm home less than what I was when I was working, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Staying home means giving up a huge portion of my family's income, as well as the good insurance from my job (he's a teacher - even working part time, I out earn him). I won't be able to get a position like what I have again, especially in this economy. I have a career that I'd essentially be throwing away, and for the most part, it's been on that I've really enjoyed.
But then I read a book by a working mom who talks about the balance she has in her life and keeping sane. She looks at her life with a great deal of humor, and it works for her. Some of the quotes really stuck with me, however.
Ravage of Time: The damage you inflict on those around you when you find yourself with too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. It's no accident that I rarely yell at my kids or snap at my husband unless I am late or overwhelmed by a to-do list that seems to have no end.
And it hit me. This is what I do. When I'm less stressed by deadlines and things I can't control, I'm more in control and calm. With my wee ones - especially Mister Man - being in control and calm is critical to having a productive day. And working - even part time (or maybe because it's part time?) - is stressful. I'm never fully home or fully working. Because I have a foot in both worlds, both worlds expect my all. And I can't give 110% to two different places. I'm lucky when I'm giving 80% to one!
I'm pretty sure now that I will be remaining a stay-at-home mom. It seems to be what's working better for my family. We're all happier these past two months, and happiness is what's most important, not who has the biggest bank account.
The trick for me now is to make sure in my head that I'm really sure this is the direction I want to take, since I won't be able to change my mind. And then I need to figure out how to tell my work that I won't be coming back. Do I tell them now? Do I offer to come in for one last day? What about all my work from home equipment? And at what point do I lose my health insurance and need to ensure I'm covered by my husband?
But most of all? I feel like a weight has been lifted. The confirmation that I'm seeking started coming through stronger and stronger the more of Kristin van Ogtrop's Just Let Me Lie Down I read. While being a 55 hour a week working mom with three boys is the path that she chose and the option that (no pun intended) works best for her, I shied away mentally from many of her anecdotes. That life was so unappealing to me now.
So let's see how I'm doing in another six months!
This post was inspired by the book Kristin van Ogtrop's "Just Let Me Lie Down" which I received from the SV Moms Group Book Club. There was no compensation nor review involved.