I started a full time job last week. Does that statement stir the intensity for you as it does for me? I haven't worked full time since 2004. At that point, I had no children, I was just about to get married and start graduate school.
Now, we have two young children, we live in a new town and I am SO ready to be engaged more fully in a focus outside of our house. AND...I would really love a little financial relief!!
So I am coordinating a teen sexual health grant in our county. The job is really perfect for me. Besides the personal commitment to children's health and wellbeing, I am working on something with intensity. There is a chance of confrontation and scandal that keeps me excited. The hours are completely flexible and I can work from anywhere. Plus, I get to travel around the county and out of state, I get to meet folks all over who are invested in teen health, I get to teach and I get to organize communities around this important issue.
And yet...the transition to full time work, to adding another compartment in my multi-tasking brain has been exhausting. The family is doing great. We are working out the logistics of a one car family with two jobs. I take the bus most days but its not always practical with the amount of stuff I have to lug around for my mobile office or with the locations of some of my meetings. So we are planning on getting a second vehicle in a couple months. I really like feeling good about being a one car family and riding my bike all over town but I will have to impact my carbon footprint in other ways.
Some things I've learned so far on this journey:
1. ALWAYS get fully ready for the day before the children are awake. (this means showered, dressed, makeup and hair done and sometimes even breakfast!)
2. It really does make sense to do lunches the night before. As exhausting as that is each night its better than the rush and craziness to start the day.
3. Notes to self at the front door are not silly. They keep clothes from getting left in the laundry for several days and keep me from paying gigantic library fines. (I had such a nice routine when I wasn't working)
4. The tantrums, defiance and general irritating behavior from the kids in the morning are directly related to their sense of disconnect from me. They are tired, need me to stop hounding them to hurry up and mean that this week, I will work one day from home with a toddler so she can have a little break from her big transition to full time daycare.
5. Family time has a different value now. I am appreciating little interactions more than before.
6. Listen to my husband when he says that we don't actually have to attend the parent info meeting at school on a night when we are all exhausted and just need to have a quiet night at home even though this goes against every cell in my body that must meet or exceed the expectations of authority figures. Thank you Rodney!
7. Living with extended family is SO great but it is also necessary for our mental health, our stress levels and our family's success.
I'm sure there are more lessons to be learned. I'll share them as I discover them. Mostly I am grateful that I was able to be a mostly stay at home mom for the girls first few years of life. I am grateful I was able to maintain a connection to my work life with part time jobs with lots of flexibility in a field that understands and respects family. And I'm intensely grateful for all the family and friends who continue to be our support through each transition we make.