In one month from today, I will relinquish my title as full time SAHM. I’m going back to my position as a teaching assistant and marker grader in the department where I completed my undergrad and graduate degrees. I will be working part time, and a good deal of my work will be able to be done from home, yet it is still going to require some adjusting.
Back in January, when Eva was 3.5 months old, I took a very very part time position. At that point, I was responsible for leading 2 seminars, which worked out to about 10 hours per week. This year, I will have 5 seminars under my charge and will be the marker grader for 3 other courses. My contract will be for 25-30 hours a week. Some weeks I will have much less work than that, and some weeks, more. The way it works is that my contract is spread out evenly over the academic year, so I am paid the same amount each week, no matter how heavy the load is at that particular time during the semester. Near the beginning, all I will have is prep work and actually leading the seminars. As the semester progresses, the grading will start coming in and things will be b.u.s.y.
I am blessed because our child care arrangements have worked out better than I ever imagined. To begin, Evalyn is going to be staying with my girlfriend, C-Biscuit, who is expecting her own little one in December. This means that the adjustment will take place with someone Eva is already comfortable with, she’ll be at a house she’s familiar with, and my worries will be eased. Once C-Biscuit feels as though she is too, ahem, rotund, to continue caring for my baby (who will be a gigantic toddler by then!!), and/or when I reach a busy point in the semester where I need childcare more often than just when I have to be in seminar, we’ll make the switch to day care. At first I thought it would be a breeze to find childcare for just a few hours a week. But, since we don’t really have any family in the area who is able to help during the day, it actually made it more difficult because keeping a kid for just a few hours a week isn’t really worth it for most daycare providers. Thankfully, I found a daycare that is, literally, two minutes away from our house, which is run by a girl I went to high school with. She is very relaxed so I am able to take Eva as little or as much as possible, depending on the amount of work I need to do each given week. Some weeks, I’ll only need her to go for two half days. Some weeks, I’ll probably need three full days. It’s not often you find a place with that flexibility. What a blessing!
All of this is to say that in the next month, I need to get my act together as we prepare for these changes in our family. I’ve been a bit nervous about how I am going to manage splitting my time between work and home/family – especially since the two will overlap quite a bit. How will I get all my work done without taking away from the time that Evalyn needs me? How will I manage the housework, the work work, the mom work, the wife work, the secretary work and so on? It’s not like any of the responsibilities I have right now will disappear. I’ve had a few moments of slight panic attacks and my dear husband attempts to calm me – reminding me that I tend to thrive under pressure and stress and that when I’m busy, I’m productive. He is certain that I will quickly get into a groove and settle into a new normal. That being said, he also knows that he will have to pick up some of my slack around the house, take on a little more of the childcare, and become more organized in terms of time and communication.
And I know the areas I need to make changes in. I need to become more organized with menu planning and grocery shopping. Some mealtimes will be rushed. Some evenings I won’t be home to cook or eat or clean up, or all of the above. Menus will need to be planned accordingly and groceries will need to be bought efficiently to avoid 68 unnecessary trips throughout the week and weekly take out. Of course, there will be times when it just has to happen, but for the most part, a little planning can avoid this and help me feel way less stressed on a week to week basis.
I need to become more strict with our budget. Once I start bringing in an income, I need to make sure we’re not letting things slip. Am I the only one who feels like it’s easier to stay on track with the budget when you have less money? I mean, when there’s no money, it’s simple – you can’t buy stuff. But when there is “extra” money (ha, extra?) it’s easy to let loose here and there, and before you know it, you’re living to an entirely new standard. That is exactly what we’re trying to avoid as we don’t want to get too comfortable with the extra income.
I’m going to have to become more efficient with housework. I am considering formulating some kind of weekly routine, where I do a little bit each day. I’ve always been a “housecleaning day” type person – where I spend a day doing the cleaning, but that just may not be possible anymore. In order to avoid going through an entire month before I realize I haven’t cleaned my house, I think I’ll need to set up a chore chart. Eva should be able to start scrubbing toilets or something pretty soon, right?
And the biggest area where I will need to become more efficient and organized, obviously, is with my time. Specifically, naptime and after bedtime. At this point, Eva is still taking 2 solid naps per day. That may start to decrease as we progress through the school year, but for now, I count on that. I tend to get a lot of my stuff done when she’s sleeping. It’s just easier. I can unload the dishwasher in 4 minutes while she’s sleeping but it takes me 40 if she’s tugging on my legs. That being said, though, I do give myself quite a bit of downtime during naps and after she goes to bed in the evening. Especially in the evening … usually I just finish cleaning up the kitchen if it hasn’t been done, put together Evan’s lunch (which I slack on all.the.time) and maybe do a little bit of work out in the garden or something… but usually, I spend a good few hours in the evening on my booty.
I don’t want to get to the point where I am not having any down time – that’s just not healthy – but realistically, I need to accept the fact that naptimes and evenings will have to be productive if I’m going to stay on top of things. Grading, prep work, chores, paperwork for Evan’s business, cooking and so on will need to be done. And done efficiently at that. I have a feeling when September rolls around I will be relying on my trusty list making system more than I ever have before. Organization and efficiency are what makes me tick and I’m counting on those skills to help me out.