Sunday, February 23, 2014

Should I stay or should I go?



Lately I’ve been struggling with a feeling of restlessness, which seems kind of ridiculous given we have made 2 international moves in under 3 years. But as we are now settled in Sydney, the boys are in school, Ella has her activities, and the house feels like our home, I can’t help but feel l personally need more. I really do love most parts of being a stay at home mom. When I was working and Kellen was a baby I wished I could stay home and when the opportunity came up I jumped at it. For me the most challenging part of staying home has been trying to make sure I have interests or activities outside of the kids and the house. In England I had a great circle of girlfriends and I would take the occasional evening class so I felt like even though my days are dominated by baby and toddler related tasks I still have brief breaks of conversation or learning something completely removed from them. Here is Sydney I’m having a harder time finding those outside interests. When we first arrived I did some basic research on classes but we don’t live 5 minutes from a university campus like we did before. I have also started to make friends but for the most part still feel fairly isolated out here. So now what? Lately I’ve really been feeling like maybe it’s the right time to go back to work. Right before we left England I had started networking again and thinking about going back. At the time it was really more financially driven and when it became clear that we would be moving again shortly my 1 week job search was over. Now it is more of a personal desire to have interaction outside of the house and the chance to focus on something non child related.

It seems really simple, if I want to work I should find a job and go back to work. The reality is a little more complicated. If I were to go back to a full time job then the kids would need to be in full time day care. That means that Kellen would have to stop going to preschool and both Kellen and Ella wouldn’t be able to continue their activities. That also means I would be gone as often as Jamie is given that where we live is a long commute to almost anywhere an office would be. Do I really want to disrupt them again after having gone through a major move less than a year ago? No. Would I be able to handle only seeing them a few hours a day to get breakfast and dinner in them before they need to go to bed? No. Unless the position was so great that we could afford a nanny to watch the kids and keep their current schedules uninterrupted this doesn’t seem like an option. Even if a great nanny is a possibility do I want to miss things and be away from them that much? I don’t think so. Part of me feels like the reward for being housekeeper, primary potty training, and the target of the tantrums is that I can go to the ballet recitals and school concerts. When you stay at home you get all the worst parts of young kids but the balance is the ability to pick Kellen up from school and have him show me what he’s been working on all day. Ella is 2 ½ now and Jamie questions whether it is just a year or so too early? Next year Ella will be in school 2 days per week, Kellen 5 days and every year after that I will be on my own more so will have more and more flexibility to pursue what I want.

So I’m trying to figure out what does make sense for us. If money were no object I would not hesitate to enrol in Le Cordon Bleu and eventually open a little bakery. Or go back to become a nurse and work in a local family practice. My interests are varied but unfortunately most require going back to school full time so in that scenario we would have full time child care costs, school tuition, and no income. That scenario is easily ruled out for us at this time.

The ideal balance would be a position that would be a contract, it would be part-time, and it would allow me to work remotely. I remember when I was working as a full time recruiter and we would bring contractors on to help with sourcing and I would hear about people who got to work remote from around the US and had flexible schedules, I would always wonder how they managed to work that deal. So that’s what I think I’m trying to do now. I don’t even know if those types of opportunities exist here is Sydney or if you really have to know the teams in order for them to allow that kind of work but I figure it is worth a try. In my head I imagine myself going through our normal morning routine and then spending 3 or 4 hours working while Ella plays and naps, then once they have gone to bed at night I can work another 3 hours or so. As it is I’m sitting next to Jamie on the couch while he is working away, there is no reason I couldn’t either. This might be totally unrealistic and in reality they end up wanting you in the office in person a lot more often or for the amount of money the contracts pay here it isn’t worth trying to find backup childcare on occasion or whatever it might be. But the thought of having a job and a focus outside of our household is really appealing right now.

I miss feeling a sense of accomplishment, while it is a miracle when all the laundry hampers are empty at the same time it’s not quite the same thing. I want to interact with people even if it is primarily via email. An income would be nice too although I can’t imagine part time remote work would be a major windfall. What I don’t want is the daily stress of which one of us can get off work early enough to get the kids from day care. Or when one of them is sick what do I need to cancel and fall behind on to stay home. So really I want all the benefits or both working and staying home.

I can’t imagine I’m the only stay at home mom trying to figure out how long this job lasts. Sometimes I think about how great it is when Patrick gets home and can spend an hour talking about something from school, by dinner he has moved on and is just trying to get excused from the table as fast as he can. So does that mean to have the same experience with Kellen and Ella that you can never go back? I just can’t believe that.

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