People nowadays — well, SOME people, anyway — strive to find a good work-life balance. Some people don’t care, and they’re all WORKWORKWORK or they’re all LIFELIFELIFE, and that works fine for them. But for a lot of people, it’s a continual struggle to find that ideal balance between work life and home life.
As a stay-at-home parent, albeit one who does do some paying work part-time from home, it’s a different sort of struggle. You’re kind of always at work. If the kid is up, then, well, you’re on.
So, finding time for yourself is sometimes a hard thing to do.
We’re in the position of being alone in our life here in Suburbiaville. I know I’ve mentioned before, we don’t have family or friends that we can rely on to take care of Stinkerbelle so we can bugger off and have some time doing grownup things. Not really, anyway. We have been fortunate to find a couple of friends and a sitter who can do duty for us on occasion, but it’s pretty rare. It took three and a half years to find them, just for BDH and I to get a night out together.
But that’s okay, because we knew that, going in, we’d be on our own. We knew it would be tough for awhile, and we knew we’d just have to tough it out and help each other out as best we could. And we tried to spell each other off when we could to give the other some time to go to soccer or book club or sleep in or whatever.
But things are getting a lot easier now that Stinkerbelle is older, in that she can be more independent when she’s home. She’s out more with school and activities which frees up some time as well. And if we’re not doing the “quiet time on the sofa while Mom works on her laptop” afternoon thing, she actually doesn’t mind having a nap when she’s had a busy morning and is feeling tired, so that gives me some time as well. And so now, as opposed to before, I’m finding the work-life balance thing is actually becoming a thing for me to consider.
Now that That Girl is in school three mornings a week, and more independent, a world of possibilities opens up. I can get more work hours in during my week, if I wish — and hey, more money in a single-income household is ALWAYS welcome. I can exercise. I can cook. I can even clean WHAT IS THAT THAT IS CRAZY TALK AND I WON’T HEAR IT.
And let’s not even talk about the possibility of a Y membership with its free daycare while I exercise or take a class OMG WHAT IS THIS NIRVANA OF WHICH YOU SPEAK NO NO IT CANNOT BE TRUE.
The problem, I am finding, is what to do, and when.
Before, it was all Stinkerbelle, all the time. All about her, and her needs, and her safety, and her amusement. Now, I have time where she’s not here, or if she is, she doesn’t mind sitting and watching Sesame Street for 45 minutes. So I can, you know, DO OTHER THINGS.
I don’t know what to do with myself.
And so, consequently, I am trying to DO ALL THE THINGS!
It’s a good problem to have, actually. I’m feeling like I have choices, and that’s empowering. I feel like I am contributing to the household more, which is also empowering. I feel like I can take time to do things for me, which is a nice bonus. The problem comes in deciding how to allocate my time.
What’s most hilarious of all is that my favourite hobby, knitting, is kind of thrown by the wayside because after DOING ALL THE THINGS! all day, at night time I am too pooped to do much except sit like a lump in front of an episode of QI and then shuffle off to bed.
So yeah. Not so much balance there as I would like.
Still, it’s good. I am feeling like we’re ticking along here at a fine pace. And getting a variety of things done, useful things, during the day, which is nice. There are still days, however, when it’s all work and no play — when there’s no school or activities, for example, I’m “on” all day. When BDH has soccer in the evening directly after work, I’m “on” all day. And there is no taking a sick day when you are the stay-at-home parent.
But I think I am getting better at balancing those days, too, mostly because Stinkerbelle is older and can understand and participate and follow instructions. She doesn’t mind playing quietly if I need a little quiet time, and loves to help clean or do chores, and even something simple like a walk in the woods or to the dollar store keeps her happy and we both get a break and some fun.
Balance between the things I want to do and the things I have to do comes easier these days, if I can just find the right combination. I’m feeling pretty fortunate to be in the position once again that I am searching for the right balance, that I have choices, and that some of them are about me. It’s nice, and I am grateful, because I know many people don’t get that luxury.
(Of course, winning the lottery and having a staff to assist me so I can do whatever, whenever? YES PLEASE I AM SO TOTALLY ON THAT TEAM. BRING IT ON.)