Friday, April 10, 2009

Part-time Work = Full-time Stress?

Since coming back from maternity leave in mid-October, I've slowly been transitioning to working part-time in the office. Through December I worked 15 hrs/week from home, mostly evenings and weekends. Then in January, Eleanor started taking a bottle and I switched to 20 hrs/week. At that point, I started working 12 hrs/week in the office during office hours and 8 hrs/week from home, whenever I could fit in those hours.

But since the end of February, I've been working all 20 of my hours in the office. And it has been quite an adjustment. I thought it would be less stressful. It was really hard to be fitting in my hours at home. I would feel like I need to get up early so that I could work before Eleanor woke up. Every time Eleanor went down for a nap, I would be frozen with indecision. Do I try and clean up a bit around the house? Put in some laundry? Or get some work hours in? Plus it could be hard to get larger projects done, when I could only commit to working 15 minutes or so at a time. If I was lucky, it would be an hour or more .... but I could never count on it.

So I was looking forward to working all my hours in the office, and being able to enjoy just being home when I was home. No more carting home my computer and piles of paperwork. Work that I wouldn't have even been able to finish in the same amount of time at the office, much less with my fractured work schedule at home. I thought it would make life simpler.

But I was a little sad, too. I was committing to being away from Eleanor for more than 20 hours a week, once you added in commuting time. It helped that my younger sister is watching her the majority of the time, so at least I know she's in good hands. But it's still hard to leave in the morning when she realizes what's going on and she starts wailing.

At the same time, the days that we have together are more precious because of their scarcity. I'm a little more willing to let the to-do list wait and play with Eleanor now, because I know I won't have that time tomorrow. Being away makes me appreciate my time at home more.

I'm getting the feeling that, like many things, I won't know if I've made the right decision until months or years from now. Was going back to work the right choice? Should I have stayed home? Before Eleanor, I thought juggling work and home was difficult, but I had no idea!

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