Balance: a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.
Life with Hanaan during lockdown has been great. Although sometimes difficult, I have truly settled into life at home; I’ve enjoyed spending every minute with her; being able to lay in bed in the morning, putting her to bed without worrying about where we have to be the next day, cooking with her and just taking our time with everything because we can and most importantly, not feeling guilty for going to work! As I prepare to return back to work, I can’t help but feel sad about how things are going to change as life slowly returns to normalcy. This brings me to answering the question a friend once asked “How do you balance being a mum, a wife and a teacher?”
The short answer is, I don’t. I do what I can, when I can. It is quite difficult to ‘balance’ things when you have a set amount of things that have to be done. As a full-time teacher, I work five days a week. Each morning, I leave home at 6.50 am each morning to drop Hanaan off at her childminder before making my way to work. I arrive at work at 7:00 am and leave at 5:00 pm to go pick Hanaan up from her childminder. We get home just before 6:00 pm and by 7:30pm, she’s in bed ready for the next day. After putting her to bed, I take some time to do a bit more work before going to bed myself. The routine begins again the next day and this continues to happen until the next holiday. Evidently, during the week, there is little time to do anything else but work. However, there are a few things that I do to maximise the little time that I have whilst also making sure that I fulfil all of my responsibilities to my family.
- Trustworthy Nursery/Childminder: As Hanaan spends a lot of time at the childminder’s during the week, I find it really important that she is with adults that are trustworthy and good role models for her. I personally chose a Muslim environment because I wanted her to be in an environment that supports our morals and way of life. I also make sure that she is in a place that supports her development. Some other things that I look for in a childminder are: clean environment, low teacher to child ratio, up to date licenses, extensive experience, great references and a trial day so that she can settle in and I can see how comfortable/uncomfortable she is. Most importantly, I constantly communicate with the childminder so that I know what Hanaan has been up to.
- Meal prep: I plan our meals for the week at the weekend so I do not have to worry about it during the week. This means that the little time I have in the evenings is spent with my family rather than in the kitchen getting dinner ready.
- Quality time: We do not have a lot of time together during the week so I try to make sure that the time that we do have together is quality time. I spend most weekends doing meaningful and memorable things with her. I give my undivided attention and avoid doing any school work until she is in bed. I also get her involved with my chores to keep her busy whilst I work but also to maximise the time that we have together (E.g she may help me ‘spread’ the clothes) This means that some things may take longer than they should but I try to turn mundane tasks into quality time with her.
- Early starts: I start my days (weekdays and weekends) quite early so I can get the most out of them. Hanaan gets up early too so I use her as my alarm clock. Once she’s up, I start my chores for the day so that the rest of the day can be spent together.
- Date night: My husband’s work schedule is just as busy as mine. So, we have learnt to be more intentional about making time for each other. We pick an evening where we forget about work and just spend time reconnecting without Hanaan.
- Maximising time: I don’t always do this because I like to socialise but I do try to make the most out of my hour lunch break. I generally work through lunch so that I have less to do later and can go home to my family. Someone also recently suggested ordering groceries online to save additional time.
- Communicate with your manager: My manager is aware that I have a daughter that depends on me; she is aware that I have to pick up Hanaan at a certain time and so I can’t stay in meetings that run past 5pm. Speak to your manager and let them know your situation. This doesn’t mean that you’re not going to do your work, it just means that they may need to be more flexible.
- Self care: In the midst of all the chaos and rush of the week, it is very important that I have time to take care of myself. Personally, I do this through praying and exercising. I wake up earlier than the family most days to take some time to work out and just have a moment to myself. This makes me feel good about myself and gets me ready to take on my responsibilities. It is also important to note that sometimes, getting enough sleep is self care for me! So, rather than waking up to exercise, I may just choose to sleep in! Not everyday workout!
So, there you have it – how I balance home life and work life. Do you have any tips for balancing your home life and work life? Please share them with me in the comments below.
Till next time,