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Thoughts on Work-Life Balance from the 16:41 to Aberdeen

Posted on Thu, 2017-11-30 18:49 by Claire Carmichael

I’m writing this on the train from Glasgow to Aberdeen, which seems like the best use of the rather unreliable on-board Wi-Fi. I dropped my small person at nursery around 8am this morning and I won’t see him until around 11pm tomorrow night, meaning that (if I keep the noise down bringing the roller case in) he won’t see me until the following morning.

That is a long time when you’re not quite four. Though, before you ‘well up’ at his misfortune; he has the best babysitter in the world and he will be allowed to watch ‘Paw Patrol’ tomorrow morning before nursery (though he will deny this when asked) – something this tyrant mother would never allow.

Almost three-quarters of mothers with dependent children are now in full- or part-time work according to the Office for National Statistics. Guardian analysis of this ONS data revealed much of the rise to be driven by mothers of three- and four-year old’s in full-time work. Making me officially not special but not necessarily alleviating the guilt this week.

This is but the most recent statistical marker in the rapidly shifting landscape for working parents. You may be part of this group with me, or you may not; though I can safely guess that you work with at least one of us. We’re usually pretty recognisable; we might have a personalized desktop background or a framed family photograph on our desk, and a big giveaway – we know what ‘Paw Patrol’ actually is (and may, in fact, be able to name all the characters) …

We tackle every crossing of the threshold as it comes, often surviving hard-fought battles of wit just get to the office in the morning, we must survive in that landscape but while the ground shifts underfoot, organisations must adjust their positions and shift their weight to stay upright, let alone ahead, and to retain the best of the talent in that ever-increasing group.

The ability to work flexibly is crucial to me being a productive member of my organisation, I mean, look at me right now! I can work on almost anything from almost anywhere, meaning that inevitable case of chicken pox won’t take me out of action for a fortnight, just out of the office. This is my first trip to Aberdeen in just over a month, my most recent three meetings have been via Skype, saving me around 20 hours in the car which is good for my family and my organisation.

I can do more with my 40 hours than ever before because I have some autonomy over which hours they are, I can pick the most suitable and productive of the 168 available.

I can then make the most of the precious few hours in a working day I have with that little guy. Crushingly, I am aware that he will eventually grow out of wanting to draw, play or be read to, maybe even sharing a universe with me for a spell - but until then, I will play, draw and 'horse about' as much as he has time for, anywhere in those remaining 128 hours. Housework be damned.

And then there’s the odd trip like this, I’ll be getting off the train shortly and going straight for a quiet beer.

Which I feel is all pretty balanced.


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