My alarm used to go off at 5:30 am, and I’d peel myself out of bed, and with loads of guilt wake up my baby sons to get ready for work. I’d dream of a job where I could “have it all”- cozy cuddle time in the morning with the kids, but a job that got me out and that I found mentally stimulating. And then, by some miracle, just after having my third son, this became a reality. I had three kids under three, and I started working five hours a day.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going part time but this is what I found:
It eliminates the Sunday Night Dread.
Also called the “Sunday Scaries,” some people really get that anxious vibe on Sundays as they mentally gear up for the work week, and man was I one of them. Even Saturday was sometimes a dread because the next day was Sunday, which is such a waste of a Saturday! It’s not that I don’t love my job, but I dreaded the go-go-go and missing my kids throughout the week. Now not so much.
The work guilt…
Let’s face it – you can’t get as much done in a half day as you can in a full day of work, even with less work and things being “proportional” and such. I don’t know how the math works, but you just can’t. There is less extra time at the beginning and end of the day to do the things others who work all day do. You leave work with your desk covered in to-dos, but you have to cut yourself off.
…and the home guilt.
The laundry still piles up like when you work all day. You still end up in a drive-thru for dinner sometimes. But the difference is the guilt that comes with those – I “should” be able to get this done because I “only” work part-time. I “should” have dinner ready. The guilt list goes on. But the truth is part-time life is purgatory, as you don’t fulfill your image of a perfect stay at home mom, nor the image of a full-blown career woman. When you come home from a long day at work (even if it’s short), the house still shows the full catastrophe of trying to mobilize three kids in a half hour period.
The intangibles are worth it.
Things that are worth it: not packing your lunch every day, tucking your kids in for naps in their own beds, having enough energy for the rest of the evening. Being able to listen to your husband’s after work stories attentively because you’ve already organized dinner (okay fine, every other day) and had time to play with the kids and eat something without anyone bothering you.
I’d encourage any working parent or stay at home parent to look into the benefits of part-time, but not to think of it as the shiny alternative to either full-time gig. All three options are all so equally difficult and rewarding in their own ways.