Sunday, 3 August 2014

A balancing act.

Something quite exciting happened in the Lewis-Wild household this week - Alex has gone from a 5-day to a 4-day working week. We made a family decision for him to work a day less and spend more time with Arlo while he's little. It means we'll have a bit less cash to spend each month, but a whole lot more family time to spend together, so in the end it was a very easy decision to make.

It feels very empowering to make a decision like that. Right when we were thinking about having a family, a (very wise) friend said to me "the first thing you have to do is realise that money is not important. Then a world of opportunity opens up to you". She was right. As soon as she said it,  something just clicked. Everything changed. With that perspective everything seemed obvious to us and within a year we had moved from London to the country, Alex had left his job, and Arlo had arrived.

'Work/life balance' was a  term we used to use a lot when I worked in London but I never really got it. It didn't feel particularly relevant to me in my full-time, full-on job, and, as I've mentioned before here as a self-confessed workaholic I was pretty happy to give it my all at the time. But now that I've had Arlo I totally get why everyone's searching for a work/ life balance and why it's so important. Don't get me wrong, I would never want to not work, and I do love my job, but doing it part time means I'm lucky enough to enjoy it when I am doing it, knowing I have enough time to spend with Arlo to make up for it.

And it's also got me thinking about the whole 'women having it all' thing, which is apparently something I'm meant to aspire to, if you take all those exactly-the-same-every-week Grazia articles at face value. I think the concept is pretty ridiculous. All any woman - or man for that matter - needs to look for in life is to be happy. If happy for you is getting to the top in your career, bravo. If it's having a house full of kids and cats, high five! If you fancy moving to Peru to become a monk then hey, can't say I quite see where you're coming from, but good for you anyway! It's such a weird (and potentially dangerous) benchmark for women to feel they have to have it 'all', because - psssst! 'all' doesn't actually mean anything, so let's all just give ourselves a break and get on with doing whatever it is we want please.

Funnily enough, since we made the decision for Alex to go down to a 4-day week, I've noticed a few articles online about the benefits of a shorter working week - both from the point of view of employees and employers. This feels like something really exciting, and something we'd never have been able to make happen if we still lived in London. We get to have a long family weekend together every week, who could say no to that?

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