Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Tiring Work-Life-Family Balance.

This weekend I've felt pretty knackered. Yesterday morning I could hardly keep my eyes open. Luckily I have a wonderful partner who took over childcare so I could go back to bed for a bit, and I got a lie-in this morning too. Excellent!

But I wondered why I was so shattered. Then I added it up. Over 5 days I had worked 35 hours, commuting for 5 .5 hours on top of that. I'd worked full days Monday-Thursday and then a few hours on Friday evening. I'd had a night out with friends on Thursday, and then taken ET swimming on Friday morning, before heading to work again at 5:30pm. So when I thought about it, it was hardly surprising! Especially when you consider, that once you're a parent, your working day doesn't stop when you get home. You can't just collapse on the sofa once you're through the door. Your time is not your own. Things happen at set times; playtime, tidying, washing, dinner, story, bed. Once the little one is asleep that's when you can start to relax.

Now, I'm not complaining. I chose to be a parent, knowing full well that life would change. I just didn't realise how much free time I used to have! Seriously, what did I do with it all (aside from sleep a lot more)?

I know that I am lucky because my OH shares a lot of the household chores and childcare. He's a fantastic cook, so regularly makes dinner, and he looks after ET when I'm working at weekends/in the evening. Most days we take turns at bathtime, while the other one tidies up the kitchen once dinner is over. So I get a lot of help, and I appreciate that other people are not always so fortunate, whether through being a single parent, or a difference balance/way of doing things within their family. I know some women who are happy with that balance and some who are not.

Generally in today's society, Dads are a lot more hand-on than they used to be. The concept of not being so is alien to my OH. When I was on maternity leave I used to read clips off the internet, written by expectant women, whose partners used to come home from work and wonder what they'd done all day. These men would question this because the house wasn't sorted/dinner wasn't made/their every whim wasn't catered for etc. Furthermore, such men wouldn't have dreamt of getting up in the night with their child EVER, because "that's the women's role". My OH thought that perspective rather ridiculous, since most of these men had deliberately aimed to produce children, and therefore chosen to be a parent. He's Mr Logical in a lot of ways.

This post was going to be a discussion about work & childcare, but I guess it has turned into a bit of a love-fest for my partner.  It makes me happy to think that we support each other and work together in our lives, rather than living separately under one roof. It means that when one of us is knackered, the other gets a break. When someone is ill, the other takes on more. We share in the funny moments and the stressy ones, the adorable ones, and the times when we could throttle ET for being such a monkey. (Obviously we wouldn't, before anyone suggests such a thing and does a referral to Social Services). Neither of us is perfect, we can both drive each other crazy and disagree on things, and irritate each other. But we're a little family unit, and I like that. It was worth waiting for.

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