Monday, February 16, 2015

Working part-time, writing a novel, and doing life

So I started my part-time hours at work two weeks ago - this is week three. I now work 0.6 over four days - school-hours days on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a regular 9-5 on Wednesdays. This means I have Fridays off and that I am able to pick the kids up from school every day except Wednesdays, which is their dad's day anyway (he works 4 days a week).

I also started a writing class at the weekend, called Novel in a Year. The goal, you'll be unsurprised to learn, is to produce a novel across the course of the year, with help, encouragement and instruction along the way. My work in progress is a sort-of science fiction novel, with a provisional title of The True Size of the Universe. I am off to a flying start, but as all writers know, starts aren't the hard part ... let's see how I'm travelling once I hit the 15,000-word-doldrums.

Two weeks is, of course, very early to make any sort of judgements about how anything is settling, but my preliminary observations are these:

1. The extra time I am now not paid-working on my three short days (ie the hours between 2:30 and 5) has been swallowed without trace by kids' activities. Instead of the kids going to after-school care two nights a week, I chauffeur them to netball and swimming, do their readers and help with their homework. Instead of an extra night of takeaway or leftovers, I just cook from scratch. Instead of a cleaner once a week, we're defaulting to once a fortnight.

Bottom line - I don't feel any different about my Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays (and Wednesdays, of course, are the same as before). They don't feel shorter or easier or less tiring; the work is just configured differently, that's all.

2. Fridays off, on the other hand, have been very nice, and quite different. (From a sample size of two, but still). Again, the amount of time gain has been much less significant than I thought it would be - I do only have 5.5 hours from when I leave the kids at school until when I need to be back there for assembly, and that really just isn't that much time - but the *mental* break from work, being 3 days long, has been very welcome and quite total.

The first of my days off I did housework, had a haircut, had a friend over for lunch, and watched Parks & Rec while folding laundry. The second, my husband also had the day off, so we went to Docklands for a pre-Valentines Day lunch, had a lovely long walk, and came home to do laundry for an hour before picking the kids up, and taking them swimming. Both haven't been overly productive per se, but they have been nice, and have extended the value of the weekend greatly. I am really hoping this will continue to be the pattern.

3. My life is still overcrowded and not likely to get less so in the foreseeable future. Working less paid hours simply resets the emphasis, it doesn't magic 40 more hours out of the air. Especially now I am trying to write my novel, I am going to need to remain very mindful of my health and its vagaries, and give myself permission to take downtime when I need to, even if it means a sick day from work, housework undone, events missed, or doona days.

Anyway - so far, so good, I guess. The next month is a bit hyper, with my youngest's 6th birthday, many activities and commitments, and our wedding anniversary night in the city; but it's not too long really til Easter, which means 10 days off for me. Things could be a whole lot worse!

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