Saturday, September 28, 2013

On Working

When I last wrote about work, I said I was leaving my role with ReNEW Charter Schools to do more freelance work with the goal of having a truly flexible schedule.  But soon thereafter, I started working on some projects at ReNEW that helped me envision how my role could morph into one that might actually be a fit for part time work (something I'd struggled with up to that point.)  I was part of ReNEW's founding team in 2010 and served as the Director of Literacy, but as we grew from two to four campuses, it felt impossible to do the role justice and work part time. 

Two of my favorite parts of working with ReNEW are the people and the level of trust and autonomy I've always been given.  So when I was asked to stay on in a more defined, part-time role, I said yes and I've been really happy with my decision.  I manage an outside grant and an internal budget to build a strong foundation for literacy instruction at our school (leading to my new title: Director of Literacy Foundations).  I jokingly say I now traffic in books :)  I manage our librarians, helped us upgrade to a new library software, work with our curriculum team to integrate texts into all subject areas, run reading incentive programs, and get to buy lots of books.  I'm so much happier now that I have a work load that is closer to fitting into my work hours (an agreed upon 20 hour target).

So in my fourth year of working as a mother, I finally can say that I feel like I'm in an ideal situation.  I've always worked a version of part time, but it's always felt like I was trying to both work and be at home and the balance was never quite right.  There are now five things in place that make the levels feel right:
  1. I have TWO, YOUNG children and really need some time that is my own where I can be productive.  Working in a job that I like allows me to be productive and have some separation and distinction for myself.
  2. Cora is beyond her first year.  It was really hard for me to leave both Jack and Cora when they were babies.  
  3. We've found good childcare.  We continue to love the Waldorf School for Jack.  Two of my three work days, Cora is at a school and she is thriving.  She's having fun in a setting that I'm happy with, so I feel relaxed about leaving her.  For the third day, we have found a great sitter.
  4. I'm doing something I believe in.  There is SO MUCH that needs to happen in our public education system and a lot to have doubts over.  As Jack gets older, I think a lot about what I will want for him in his education.  What I'm spending my time at work doing aligns with what I'd want my child to have access to, namely an environment that encourages reading at every turn.
  5. A schedule that, if not entirely sustainable and perfect, has lots of perks.  It is a little ridiculous how complicated our childcare schedule is, but I wanted to minimize my time away and preserve some 1:1 time with both Jack and Cora each week.  The 1:1 time has been working nicely. It's practical in that I can schedule doctor's appointments and hair appointments with just the child in question to take.  And it's also special for reasons easy to imagine.  I have one full day on Thursday with both of them.  I love knowing that Thursday has no work, no school, and no schedule.  We have been having lots of fun with this so far.
 Each fireman  needs their own time, sometimes!

I'll be lucky if the balance continues, but at the very least, I've learned some important lessons on what I need in my work:life balance set-up.  I feel enormously fortunate to have the option to work part time and also to be in a job that is a good match.

Now for a brief soap box.  Our society needs to redefine WORK. Parents need to have time with their children and our work schedules and goals shouldn't be so arbitrary.  Every parent who wants to should be able to have conversations around flexible schedules.  And our childcare options need to be more flexible to match this on the other end.  Cora's school, the Child Development Program, does a great job with this, offering 9-12, 9-1, 9-3, plus early care and after care options on whatever combination of days you choose.  That is INVALUABLE for making part time work feasible.

I love time with my children and I'm so thankful I've been able to carve it out and still contribute to our family income and to professional goals. 

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Your job sounds awesome! I wish there was a way for me work part time, especially because I'm like you--I need a little separation and purpose beyond just mommy. It's not that mommy isn't a fulfilling role; I'm just not happy when it takes over my entire identity. And on a completely separate note, you are absolutely right to be concerned about public education for reasons that I wouldn't write in a public blog comment. ;-) Love to you and your precious family!