Money enough, and time

Recently I read a really good article on what wellness can and cannot do when you’re overworked. Oh, do I get it. One of the bigger balancing acts I perform in my day-to-day life is that of time and money. And it seems like I always fail, but at least I’m doing better than I was.

Years ago, I had slightly more prestigious job. I was very good at that job. I got stuff done. Really, just mind-boggling amounts of stuff. My shoulders tended to hang out in the vicinity of my earlobes, though, and I was exhausted much of the time. I worked, came home and worked out to try to burn off my stress, then Netflixed myself into oblivion. On the weekends, I ate and drank and shopped to excess. Because I’d earned it, right? I deserved to blow off steam.

Then I had a baby, and that crap wasn’t going to fly anymore. For starters, I had moved an hour away. And I had a baby who thought 5:30 am was sleeping in, even when she’d awakened every 2 hours for the previous 6. So I stopped working late. But I was still busting my hump all day long, and had nothing left over by the time I got home. My house was a wreck. I went 3 weeks without doing laundry. I was snapping at my partner. At my parents. At my baby. Something had to give.

I took another job within the company. One that paid more, for less work. (I know, right?) But it was still an hour away. And my baby wasn’t sleeping any better. So I made what seemed like a crazy decision in the moment: I quit that job for a part-time job, cutting my salary by more than half, because the new company would allow me to work from home.

But it really was a smart decision. My new job came with a manageable workload. A caring company. And an office 5 steps from my bedroom. After a year, I went full-time. Raises caught me up to what I’d been making, then took me past my previous salary. (Not much, but every little bit helps.) But I didn’t know that would happen. I was really making a leap of faith, leaving my old job.

It’s not been an easy road. Moving, and taking 3 months of maternity leave – twice – really put a dent in our financial picture. I’ve had to freelance long hours to make up the difference in my salary these past few years. My children cry when I go into my office now. But I have been able to provide for my family outside of the cubicle. And I’ve learned what a true work-life balance is.

And that’s important, because I just got laid off.

It was nothing personal. Not performance related. Just budget cuts. My entire department was laid off. That takes the sting out of it, sure, but it doesn’t feed my family.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. I am a little worried. But I am also…hopeful. I’ve been wanting a change for a while now; I was just waiting for a more opportune time to make it.

No time like the present, I guess.

I have no intention of returning to the office. Working from home gives me time. Time to play with my kids. Time to pursue interests. I’m not exhausted at the end of the work day. I have the mental and physical energy left over to be present with my family. That’s what they really care about. Not how nice our house is, or how much stuff is in it. They want me, healthy and happy and engaging with them.

How you spend your time is just as important as how you spend your money. With any luck, I’ll find a new job (or jobs!) that gives me adequate amounts of both.

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