Growing up I watched my parents work long hard hours to strive to make ends meet. When it came time to ask for pocket money I was given chores to complete so that I could earn $5 a week. After a while I wanted a raise but the funds weren’t available. So, at 14 and 6 months of age I got myself a dish washing job and I began to see the benefit of working to earn an income. Ever since then I have either worked or studied to further my career.
Now I’m in my 30’s and have 2 kids and a loving Husband. We both worked full-time, kids are in full-time care, Matt does freelance graphic design outside of work and I have a few creative projects on the go.
“How do you do it?” Was the question I was asked all the time by friends and co-workers.
I would reply with: “You make it work!”
I love my Job, my family and friends. We strive to keep the balance between those 3 and this is how it “worked:”
Wake at 6am: get Arvi’s bottle ready an breakfast for the other 3 of us. Drop a coffee in to Matt. Have a 2 minute shower, dry, dress, hair, make up. (takes 20 mins)
7am get Arvi out of the cot, change nappy and bring out to kitchen for breakfast. Matt fixes lunch for us all while I get Arvi sorted for breakfast and remind Ella over and over to keep getting herself ready.
7:20am I leave to drop Ella to before school care and drive onward to work to arrive at 8am and finish at 4:30-5pm. Matt Drops Arvi to daycare and tries to arrive home at 5:30 (traffic pending)
5:30pm we all arrive home again. The kids and I have showers while Matt prepares dinner and then have a play around until 6pm. Ella begins dinner, Arvi plays until 6:30, he then has his bottle.
6:45 Ella finishes dinner and races off to brush her teeth and do 10 minutes of reading before bed. Meanwhile I prepare dinner for Matt and I.
7pm Arvi goes to bed (we’re so blessed- we put him in his cot say good night and don’t hear a peep out of him until 6:45-7am)
We eat dinner, talk about our day and bills that are soon coming up. When we finish, we start on tomorrows lunches, pack the dishwasher and clean up the kitchen.
8pm Matt glues himself to the computer and I tend to update and monitor social media platforms, plan out the next day and try to flick through a magazine to “switch off.”
On an early night: 10:30pm down tools! Good night!
This was our daily routine but on top of that I paint artworks, attend water aerobics twice a week and I haven’t included doing housework, homework with Ella or grocery shopping (of which I now do online) let alone trying to have a meaningful relationship with Matt.
The weekends were all about family and occasionally we’d catch up with friends but we’d be so exhausted that all we’d want to do is go to sleep! Despite our automated interaction, Matt and I would arrive at Sunday and found that we missed each other.
We were a great team and mastered this, but… I was waiting for the “bubble to pop.” I knew that all it would take for this routine to buckle would be one of us becoming sick. Sure enough Arvi began to suffer from teething and Ella was exhausted from outside hours school care. Matt and I missed each other and were always tired. We asked ourselves: “What’s the benefit here?” We’re working to pay for our lifestyle but look at our “lifestyle!” We’re rushed and tired and seem to be only treading water. We forged on for a little longer with our goals in our sights as our motivation.
I attended an appointment to check up on a critical illness that I was treated for in September 2011. I was expecting the worst but hoping for the best. I attended the clinic where the head of the department was called in for a consult. I knew at that point it was likely that I could be suggested for more surgery. My heart sank as the department head started talking medical lingo to the attending. Then he looked at me and said “you’re all good!” see you in a year for a check up! It was a surreal moment and all I remember is me signing the discharge papers and hearing the stamp on my paperwork.
I walked out to my car. Got in and…. burst into tears (of relief.) I took a moment to take in the news. Do I celebrate? Do move on? What now? The view of Matt and the kids was the only thing in my mind. I let my folks know the good news and drove to pick up Arvi. One thing my mum said to me was “now that you’ve got your life back… don’t waste it. Have fun!” It all seemed very clear to me that I’ve been given a new lease on life and now all I wanted was to be at home with my family. I’d realised that I was stretching myself too thin and didn’t want my kids childhood to fly by all for the sake of keeping the title and having the great responsibility of my “paid” job. When I should have realised the even greater responsibility was them. Being there to enjoy them, sharing in their moments, communicating with them (not at them) There needed to be balance!
Fortunately my place of employment was very understanding and allowed me to step into a casual position within the same department. After all. I enjoy what I do, I just wasn’t able to be great at everything all of the time. I think sometimes we forget that no one is.
Nearly 2 years have passed and now I see the benefits. Ella and I “chat” more and she tells me the gossip from school and the highlights of her day. We complete homework together. Arvi loves interacting with Ella and myself but we also get so much more quality time to play together.
I manage the house and the home duties don’t seem like a major deal as it gets done on a daily basis rather than scurrying around all weekend. I laugh more and take more notice of the little things that I used to skim over. Matt arrives home more relaxed and is still just as helpful as before, but now we have time to talk and laugh together. We have more time and energy for each other.
Work is more enjoyable and less stressful. Each week I’m more energised and focused to perform my duties. At first I felt terrible about having to give up my job because I’d worked so hard to get to where I was and looking at how I started out; I was very career focused. But when I weighed up my home life the choice was a “no brainer” I can put career on hold for a little while and return to it, but I can’t put my family and the kids childhoods on hold and find that lost time.
We don’t have major assets to boast about but we have got balance and our health. Now I feel like I have it all.