Tag Archives: work-life

Deja New

Remember that time I left my long-term corporate gig to embark on a new adventure?

I’m done now.

After about a year and a half of self-discovery, trying new things, stretching myself and doing the work that I never would have had the opportunity to experiment with if I had stayed in my position, I’m back in “corporate gig” land. In fact, I’m back working for the same media company I left, albeit for a different division.

And it’s funny; whenever I leave a job (to start a new one), I’m asked if I did so to spend more time with the kids.

Nope.

Life-work “balance” isn’t strictly about time management. It’s also about fulfillment, and joy and productivity, and knowing yourself. I learned a lot about myself the last year and a half. I’m someone who craves more of a structured environment; I’m attracted to bigger organizations with proven best practices. And most of all, I need to see the fruits of my labor. I need to see I had impact, or at least made improvements.

Because that makes me the happiest. And my family is better off with the happier version of me.

Happy means showing all the teeth.

Happy means showing all the teeth.

The job I left was fulfilling in a very important way; I was doing what I wanted to do. I tested myself; and I learned so much. I re-ignited a creative spark that had fizzled out a while ago and made it so hard to stay motivated. And now, I bring that spark to my new job at Sundance TV.

Part of the same company I left in February 2013.

On the same floor I sat for almost seven years.

Seeing old colleagues whom I missed so much this last year and a half.

But reincarnated in a new role, in a new division, at a network that just feels like a good fit.

I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to work at a production company the last year and a half. I had the privilege of working among driven creatives who taught me such an important lesson: why not?

Why not was something I didn’t ask often enough. I learned to fail fast, and get smarter faster. I learned that taking the G train to the Williamsburg office every day made a considerable dent in my enthusiasm, even though I got to interact with the NICEST Dunkin’ Donuts staff in any of the boroughs (they memorized my order after only 2 times!). I learned that I still want to learn; that it’s important to me to have mentors and people who model behavior and business practices to which I aspire. I learned that I am good at things nobody had offered to have me try; that I had to make my own opportunities and trust my gut.

Me with the office mascot, Hall. This can only happen when your production office is a loft above a custom motorcycle shop in BK.

Me with the office mascot, Hall. This can only happen when your production office is a loft above a custom motorcycle shop in BK.

I am not home any more than I have been since my maternity leave 4 years ago. I work full-time. My partner works full-time. It is not easy. We have a babysitter, grandparents and are currently looking for a second babysitter to cover holes in our childcare. We have full day pre-k and after-school. We have piano lessons, dance classes, Brownie meetings and karate. We have started buying pre-sliced apples for the lunches because I just…can’t anymore. We have to wake my daughter up to make a 7:20am bus. We have a lot of half-days that require feats of scheduling gymnastics nobody warned me about. We have more homework than last year. We have new chore charts I keep forgetting to print out. We have to stop the yelling.

And I have a new job that, from a title perspective, is not a step up. In fact, it’s a position I occupied a decade ago. Does that matter? For a minute it did.

I read LEAN IN over a year ago and have mixed feelings about it, but I think there is one thing Sheryl Sandberg got right about having a career, for me at least:

“It’s a jungle gym, not a ladder.”

So I have zig-zagged and I’m back in with the same company, in a whole new way. Boomerang employees are trending, apparently.

 

 

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Afternoon is no Delight

I woke up in the middle of the night in a scheduling panic. Charlotte’s afternoon arrangement was changing – they were combining the drop-in first graders, of which she is one, with the kindergarten kids in the after-school program she attends. I knew this would be, at first, disappointing to her; she would be pulled out from the “every day” after-school group, her peers since last  year, and put in with younger kids, and a new teacher. A teacher I didn’t know. And all this was to start today. I was given 1-day notice.

I really don’t want her in after-school. It’s a great bargain – $17 for up to 4 hours of care, which includes a snack (which she doesn’t eat), homework supervision (which apparently means not reading the homework instructions, causing us to have to re-do it at the 11th hour before bed) and playtime/socializing with a fun outdoor space that promotes physical activity (no complaints there). Our need for after-school care for Charlotte is imperative, as both Scott and I work full-time. Campbell, at 3, will be in full-time daycare for 2 more years. But I feel this after-school scenario is becoming less of a good fit as Charlotte advances through the grades. As her interests blossom and we find creative outlets for her to explore, I’d like her time to be spent in less of an after-school “daycare” setting and more focused on extra-curricular activities. She already has dance once a week, and Girl Scouts every other week. I’m not looking to fill every day with something. Having been an over-scheduled kid, I know how that could backfire. I just want her time to be fulfilling, with more breathing room for all of us.

If I had a part-time or no out-of-home work schedule, I could pull her out of after-school and divert those $17/day costs towards individual classes. Sometimes. We could be a bit more leisurely about homework so we’re not cramming it in when she is completely spent. She’d be more attentive during her reading. The time between the kids getting home at 6:30 and getting to bed by 8:30 (or earlier!) wouldn’t feel like a race we’re set up to lose. We could spar less. We could talk more. Playdates could happen. And not just for Charlotte. I need some friend-time too.

That’s not going to happen. Not now at least. And when I woke up with my mind frantically arranging and rearranging the puzzle pieces of our schedules, it hit me. A puzzle it was, but there didn’t have to be only one way to put it together. I pictured a modular one that offered a variety of conjoined possibilities. And then I realized, that’s it. That’s how I need to see all this. All the different pieces will fit together SOMEHOW for a time, until we rearrange them to make a different fit. Maybe not a better one, but one that still offers a solution for the time being.

If I'm gonna do a puzzle, it's gotta have Mace Windu.

If I’m gonna do a puzzle, it’s gotta have Mace Windu.

Once I accepted that merely putting the puzzle together is more important than putting it together PERFECTLY, I was able to get back to sleep. I am disappointed I can’t offer my kids, or me, the “dream scenario” – work that fulfills and provides a comfortable life, while keeping hours that make me available to my children as soon as school is out – but disappointment is part of the flow. Like clothes that only look good on a hanger, sold-out concerts and boys who break your heart, the rhythm of our lives will disappoint us at times. But it IS a rhythm. It IS a flow. The pieces DO fit. Even if it’s not always fun to put together.

Are you stressing to make it fit? What’s YOUR “dream scenario?”

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