Busy is relative. Some people work 2 jobs, take care of their kids, and go to night school. When people are unemployed, retired, or just taking a break, they find ways to fill their days. I asked my retired uncle on Christmas day to describe a typical day in the life. It involved reading the newspaper, doing chores, making meals, grocery shopping, eating meals. He admits to being a bit bored, but I bet he feels to busy to volunteer or take on a second career (I didn’t press him on that). At this point in my journey, I don’t have any idea how I used to work 40 hours a week while finding time to sleep, eat square meals and not live in total squalor. I even used to fit in an occasional visit to the gym. I believe what got sacrificed was Melody.
Out of my previous 40 hour work week, I am on full mom duty from 7 – 9 am and then again from 1 – 5 pm. That’s 30 hours in a 5 day week. For that time I save $700 a month in childcare costs, equalling a meager “paycheck” of about $175 a week. Yet, I am not doing this for the money am I? This is one thing I have confirmed on this 100 days: Melody is better off and so am I. We will never get this time back and it’s priceless.
The hours I could do paid work is when Melody is in preschool: 20 hours a week. For the last 88 days I have been using my 20 “free” hours to exercise, shop, cook, clean and do household projects – what I used to do on weekends before Melody was born, and would try to squeeze in after she came. (Honestly! I don’t remember how I used to manage it) So as I stare down the end of my moratorium on paid work, I wonder, “How will I fit work into this life?”
Tom and I did some brainstorming the other night. We know I am unwilling to give up my 2 yoga classes a week (the other thing I learned from this 100 days). What I can give up is the household projects and grocery shopping on weekdays saving those chores for late nights and weekends like working folks do. I can use my Monday and Friday morning kid-free windows to work on a project (+8 hours). Then after dinner on Tuesday and Thursday nights, I can go into our home office and work from 6-10pm (+8 hours). To get to 20 hours I have to work another 4 hours on the weekend – there goes the household projects.
This math has been leaving me to question how hard I should really be seeking out paid work. I am torn. I want to be a part of the world that contributes to the gdp. I want to spend time making cool stuff with smart people. Yet, I don’t want to lose the equilibrium I have achieved.
So if busy is relative, I suppose I can slowly creep the slider up, and perhaps I won’t even feel it. I don’t have to flip a switch like I did when I left my job. I can dip my toe in and then take a breather. Then go in up to my ankles and so on. Sooner or later I will be swimming laps.