Sunday, August 4, 2013

A job like thing

On Tuesday, an important phase shift in our family life came to pass as I headed off to my first day in my new fulltime salaried job. My husband had taken a day off to enable me to not worry about pick-ups and drop-offs, so I left home at 7:45, which turned out to be way too early - I was at my workplace, parked, and waiting outside my work area door by 8:25, significantly before anyone else was even in the building!

Last week probably wasn't the most reliable test - I didn't start til the Tuesday, so it was a 4-day not 5-day week; husband took the Tuesday off; and as it transpired, he was home, sick as a dog with flu, on the Thursday and Friday, which meant that, while our "regular" arrangements were still in play, I was able to get the kids dropped home earlier (to him) than will usually be the case. So it was an atypically gentle introduction to the hectic juggle that is going to form an inevitable part of our lives.

On a "normal" week, the plan is thus:

Mondays I drop the kids off at school and kinder and start work at 9:45; my Mum collects 4yo from kinder at 1pm, big kids from school at 3:15, and stays with them til I get home around 6-6:30.
Tuesdays I start work at 7:30am, so hubs drops 4yo to her kinder friend's house and big girls to school, then continues to work; I leave work at 3:30 in time to collect 4yo from kinder at 4:15 then big kids from after care at 4:30.
Wednesdays is hubs' day off (he's on a 4-day week now). It's a normal-to-long work day for me, where I will pick up any slack from the previous two days.
Thursdays I work at home, with 4yo here. Naturally I also handle the school run on this day.
Fridays I start work at 7:30am, so hubs drops 4yo to kinder and big girls to school, then continues to work; my neighbour collects C from kinder at 2:15, then the big kids from school at 3:15, and takes them back to her house, from whence I collect them around 4:30.

The scheduling will get marginally easier from next March, when C is in school and on the same fulltime school schedule as the two big girls. For the next five months, though, before the summer hols arrive, it's a finely tuned balancing act, with contingencies and possible breakdown points all over the place.

Of course, I do have fallback plans for most days and times - when my Mum's away, for instance, I have a local friend (from my old playgroup in fact) who does ad hoc babysitting and can take C for the afternoon on Mondays, while I have several lovely friends who can cover the occasional pick up on Tuesdays if I'm running just a bit late for kinder. (I'm going to need to invoke this next week, in fact, as I have a meeting that won't finish til 4pm). Hubs and I both have access to carer's leave too, although in his case it can be hard to take it, and in mine, I wouldn't want to try it in the first month unless all other avenues were exhausted.

Even so, there are bound to be - and already are - sticky times when meeting all obligations is hard. For instance, my 8yo has come down ill, so I'm going to need to get to work later than planned tomorrow (around 11) and I've asked my Mum to come over earlier than she normally does - she'll be here hopefully just after 10. She won't always be able to do this, but fortunately, for me, this week she can.

That's the tricky part, but here's the good part:

I am really enjoying the job. There's a huge amount to wrap my head around, but I like a challenge, and there is certainly one to be had here. The people are terrific, the work environment is positive, and the conditions are great. I think it speaks volumes of the flexibility of my workplace that nary an eyebrow was raised at my desire to work at home on Thursdays, or timeshift two other days. I am starting to see the shape of what my work will be, for at least the next 6 months, and it's an interesting and nicely complex set of tasks. (I don't do well with boredom and not enough to do).

I also think it's really good for my husband to have a day off a week, the morning of which he'll spend with the 4yo, and three hours of which he'll have to himself after dropping her to kinder (until school pick up time). He's worked fulltime all his adult life and I am so glad he can set back a bit now, and have a chance to have a bit more one on one time with the kids. I think the kids, too, will benefit from this.

Financially, the stability and extra money will come in extremely handy, and makes our hope of being mortgage-free within 10 years look like it might even be achievable. We are also going to be in a position to help out more with emergent family and community needs, as well as increase our aid contributions, and that's a very good thing.

So I know that one week is a bit too soon to call it, but I'll go with "so far, so good" at this stage. Let's see what happens in 6 months, I guess!


  1. Wow, that seems like a military precision plan! I am so pleased you are enjoying the new job, somehow juggling all the pick-ups and drop-offs is not so bad if you enjoy the reason behind it all. Hope this week runs as smoothly xxx

  2. So organised Kathy! Great to hear you love your work - so important. Look forward to reading more about your full time work adventures.