Some parents are fantastic at the work / family life balance. Me… not so much. I felt guilty. A lot. It wasn’t that they were in care – they love day care. They have more fun there then at home! It was more how our home life flowed once we actually got home. I would be tired from work, they would be tired from care, and what came next wasn’t always the best combination of the 2. I was just losing my patience constantly. I couldn’t switch straight into Mum mode like some can. Not to mention when they got sick – I was frustrated that my first thought when they fell ill wasn’t ‘oh the poor thing’ it was ‘of sh*t another day off work’. This just fed the guilt.
I struggled to keep up with the house work and I struggled to stay on a budget because I was so tired. Everyone was stressed. So whilst I could have gone back into full time work for my employer, I decided to leave there and do night fill work for $40k less then my full time wage would have been. I now work 3-4 nights a week, 4 hours a night and am a lot calmer. Once my daughter starts school next year I will be there to walk her to the bus, meet her off it and hang out with her during school holidays. Just like my Mum did with me.
After I lost my Dad this decision was cemented for me. During the days we were in palliative care I realised that everything material doesn’t matter. Doesn’t even come close to mattering. The relationships & the memories you have mean everything. I will never regret the money I didn’t get to spend. I will regret not being the best Mum I could be to my kids because I was too stressed out.
Our home life is much calmer now and I think after a period of adjustment (wondering what the hell I was going to do all day every day) I feel more certain I made the best decision for our family. It certainly sometimes isn’t easy. With such a difference in pay between what I was earning working days to now we need to be very careful with our money. We need to budget and I need to watch every dollar. There are lots of things we cant do that others can which can sometimes be hard (the whole grass is greener) – we drive old cars (my car is 14yrs old), don’t go on fancy holidays and don’t have fancy stuff – but then I remember back to how I felt juggling all those balls up in the air and I feel content again. I take my hat off to those that can juggle it all well.
I think every family just needs to find the right balance for them. For some they can juggle it all and still be ridiculously happy – for us for now at least it needs to be this way for our lives to run smoother & everyone to be happy.
So for now, I’ll make the most of being home with the kids while they’re small, stay frugal and take in my slower life 🙂