Getting The Right Balance

cup-of-coffee

Balance is a word I’ve been thinking about a lot, recently. It’s so important that we have balance in our lives. Time on our own, time working hard, time with friends, time watching Friends (with pizza), time at the park with the family.

When things gets imbalanced, it all gets a bit stressy. At least, it does for me. Often, the first sign for me that things are imbalanced is me feeling a bit panicky or paranoid. Then I realise: I need to rebalance my life. I’m either knackered from too many late wine-filled nights, or often too many late nights at my laptop.

But recently I’ve become aware of a new kind of imbalance. For two and a half years I’ve worked full time, while my daughter is at nursery, and that’s worked really well for us. It has kept me sane in the aftermath of (undiagnosed) post natal depression and it has helped turn her into the sociable, happy four-year-old she is now. But something has changed recently. Perhaps it’s the realisation that she will be going to school in a year’s time – our time together now has a cap on it. This time next year, I’ll be picking her up from school at 3.30pm (is that even when school ends for the day? I have so much to learn) and we’ll have just a few hours a day to hang out. We’ll be restricted by a weekday timetable that will limit how much time we can spend together as a family. And then, all too soon, she’ll be at the age where she doesn’t want to hang out with us at all. (Unless she realises that I’m actually a COOL MUM *cough*)

So I’ve decided to change the four-year-old’s pre-school week and reduce her from five days to four days. On one day each week, we’ll hang out, maybe go to the library, meet friends for coffee or meet her nana for lunch. We might do painting or bake cupcakes. There will almost definitely be difficult days and tantrums, but we’ll get through those with as much of a smile as we can. I’m ignoring the small voice in my brain that is trying to remind me of the last time I spent weekdays alone with her. She was a baby back then, rather than a chatty, fun, four-year-old. And my head and hormones were totally messed up. So sshhh small voice, I’m not listening.

Of course, this decision probably doesn’t seem groundbreaking to you. After all, don’t loads of mums work part time? But it’s a big deal for me. And it signifies a real switch in my head. For the first time ever, I’m actually prioritising my family over my career. It’s SUCH a cliché but nobody ever did lie on their deathbed and wish they had worked more. Women are asked about their work/life balance all the time (men aren’t asked about it, but that’s a whole other blog post) and I’ve always been happy with mine – until now.

So I’m going to work less (I’ve already turned down work this week *high fives self*), perhaps even blog less, and focus on my family. I’m also going to do all of the things in my home that I’ve been ignoring for three years – like organising all of our crap, spring (autumn) cleaning, selling stuff on eBay and redecorating and reorganising the four-year-old’s bedroom. I might even paint her playhouse that’s been waiting to be painted for a whole year.

Wish me luck!

Image: DTTSP

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17 Comments

  1. Louise
    October 17, 2014 / 10:15 pm

    Love this article. So brave and honest. Although I don’t think I suffered from PND I used to plan our day to be filled to the maximum. If those plans fell through for any reason I’d feel bereft. How could I possibly fill a whole day for a 2 year old by myself?! Two tears later and with number 2 I am much more laid back and realise a walk through the woods might take 3 hours on his timetable but that’s all he wants. There doesn’t need to be an agenda, in fact it’s better if there isn’t.
    Xx

    • Alison Perry
      October 19, 2014 / 8:35 pm

      I’ve thought about your walk in the woods comment a couple of times this weekend – it’s so true. As long as we do things at their pace (which isn’t always possible granted) and focus on what they will enjoy, I think we’ll have a great time.

    • Alison Perry
      October 19, 2014 / 8:36 pm

      I think we’ll have a ball too! x

  2. October 18, 2014 / 8:19 am

    I made a similar decision at this point. It’s true, you never get that time back. School is such a whole other world. Nursery tells you how they’ve been, what they ate. School you hand them over the rest is a mystery. Enjoy the balance, make some memories and my top tip would be do every London museum before you are restricted to school hols and weekends. Queuing for Natural history museum, in the rain. Queue snakes round the building at half term. It’s hell.
    Helloitsgemma recently posted…The Boxes are Back. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

    • Alison Perry
      October 19, 2014 / 8:38 pm

      GREAT tip. Totally going to do that. Thanks Gemma.

  3. October 18, 2014 / 9:20 am

    You are definitely doing the right thing. My youngest has just started school, she’s an August baby so very young, and I made quite a lot of sacrifices for her to start on half days, but you know what, we’ve had the best time together over the last few weeks. I’m so glad I made that choice. xxx
    Emma recently posted…Finding a bit of magic. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

  4. October 18, 2014 / 10:43 am

    It’s so tricky isn’t it? Why was none of this mentioned when we were growing up – that you can have it all, but will feel guilty and judged and exhausted?! Sounds like a good idea – our babies are young so this feels like forever, but in the grand scheme of things they’re only going to be young for a little while longer. I actually wrote about this yesterday, would love you to read it. And good luck – days at home can’t be harder than with a baby, right…?! Xx
    Steph @ Sisterhood (and all that) recently posted…What do I ‘do’ now?. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

  5. Busola Evans
    October 18, 2014 / 12:18 pm

    What a lovely, honest post, Alison. It’s not a decision you are likely to regret. A is at nursery three days a week and when her free 15 hours started in Sept, we contemplated increasing it to four days (mainly for my benefit work-wise tbh) but like you, it dawned that she’ll be in school this time next year and I realised this time is very precious. It can be a juggle especially if work or deadlines slide into one of your ‘mummy days’ (which it will do occasionally) but you find a way to make it work. Some days we do things, other days we do very little but it’s always lovely hanging out and there is way less pressure to cram in a million things at the weekend. You’ll both have a blast! X

  6. October 18, 2014 / 1:13 pm

    Brilliant advice from Gemma on the museum front. And hurray for balance. I took Frog out of pre-school on Fridays last year and we didn’t look back. We’d have breakfast together in bed and go out for day trips. Loved that time with her and miss it now she’s at school. Enjoy your time with G – it’s a cliche but I really does go too quickly. x
    Molly recently posted…My baby sleeps in a box. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

  7. October 18, 2014 / 1:20 pm

    Love this Alison, it’s really tricky to find that balance isn’t it? I think you’re making the right choice and making the most of this pre-school year. I love my Wednesdays with E and I know I’ll miss them next year.. *sob* xx
    Morgana @ butwhymummywhy recently posted…Love the little things, week 42. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

  8. Jenn
    October 18, 2014 / 10:00 pm

    Love this post Alison. Totally agree that when things start to feel a little, sort of, not quite right, it’s time to make a change. I also don’t think you’ll regret it – you’ll remember when my oldest was in nappies (promise I won’t tell the Sellotape nappy story!) and now he’s at senior school and I’m lucky to grab a quick kiss as he’s out the door. Go have fun together!!

  9. October 19, 2014 / 8:18 am

    I definitely find it hard to find that balance, it is so hard, and I am yet to completely achieve it. It’s Sunday and as soon as my girls nap this afternoon I am off to our local hotel to work because I have so much to do and am behind. I would ideally like to make it so I don’t have to do this anymore and I can enjoy my family at the weekends, but with the girls only in nursery two long mornings and with me working most evenings too, I just have to. It sounds like you have made the perfect choice, I know I will miss Mads so much when she is at school, so I am going to try and enjoy this year as much as I can! x
    Katie @mummydaddyme recently posted…{The Ordinary Moments 14} #39 ‘This Is Motherhood.’. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

  10. October 19, 2014 / 7:28 pm

    I have found being part time so so difficult. Really hard. I have found it hard giving over my responsibility to someone else and just having to say “no” sometimes. Which kills me but at the end of the day this time is so short and fleeting and our careers are so long that it is the best move to make. You will have stacks of fun! xxx
    brummymummyof2 recently posted…My Life: The Insta-Sham. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

  11. October 20, 2014 / 10:09 am

    The constant juggling and feeling like nothing is getting done properly. Yes I hear you. I think that is a lovely idea to have a day off with your little girl before she starts school. I hope you have the most wonderful time. I too have just the one day with the littlest and I must stop using it to drag him around the shops and watch me clean. Good luck x
    Complicated Gorgeousness recently posted…The tale of the mad woman and the slaughtered phone. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

  12. October 20, 2014 / 6:57 pm

    I think when you have kids you spend the next forever striving to get the balance right. In my nearly 8 years of being a parent I’ve been a full-time working mum, a SAHM and a WAHM and there are pros and cons to all of them, but the main thing is being as happy as you can be as then you’ll be the best mum you can be. But I definitely think that having an extra day can only be a good thing as these early years do fly by sadly 🙁
    Franglaise Mummy recently posted…Raising feisty females. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

  13. October 23, 2014 / 9:42 pm

    The voice is talking rubbish! This sounds like it will be a great thing for the both of you, make the most of the before school days all of a sudden F seems to very grown up :-/ xxxx
    Hurrah For Gin recently posted…School – what’s the crack?. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

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