Before I had kids, putting in extra hours was a piece of cake. I did it often and I didn’t mind it. I’ll text the husband, order takeaway, share it with my colleagues and finish the work. Go home, sleep, repeat. I’d even have time to squeeze in a workout at the gym.
But like with everything else in life, having kids complicates the whole thing about working overtime.
Since I returned back to work from my maternity leave, I’ve had a few days that turned into late work nights and I soon discovered that it wasn’t the same anymore.
I don’t believe in staying late just because the bosses do. I don’t believe in doing that kind of dance in order to get ahead in my career. I work late only if I have a piece of work (or many) that simply needs to get done.
As I step into this new phase of my life, I also realised that the people around me don’t seem to know what it means to me if I work late. They are nice people who try to understand but I don’t suppose they ever will.
“My husband will have to take care of the kids alone”, I’d explain.
“I’m sure he can do it”, they’d say politely.
My 2 kids are very young (4 months and 2.5 years old), I have a helper and I’m grateful that my husband’s working hours are relatively more flexible than mine. We have a hectic after work/school routine that goes like this:
- Every evening, my husband rushes to pick 2.5 year old Daniel up from his childcare before it closes at 7pm and he just makes it on time everyday.
- My helper will magically manage 4 months old Nathen at home all day and cook dinner.
- We’ll all get home and take turns eating dinner (because the kids always need close supervision). My helper will then wash up while the husband and I go 1 on 1 with each kid.
- We’ll all be in bed by 9.30pm because the kids needs to sleep early or the world will end tomorrow when we attempt to wake them up.
That is a routine that will be disrupted if I work late. My helper will have to help with the kids till I get home at 9ish. The kids sleep later, the helper starts cleaning up later, and I don’t get time with the kids at all. My husband would have to fly solo with the kids, while the helper cleans up after dinner, and he will be dead tired trying to keep things under control when I get home. To make things worst, baby Nathen refuses to be carried by him and will launch into a mega crying session if he is held by my husband for more than 5 minutes.
After a very long day at work, I would come home to a lot of chaos and crying. I’m hungry and want to eat but the husband is understandably very eager to be relieved of the kids.
That’s the kind of stress that I face at home if I work late. Imagine when my kids grow a little older and they start forming an opinion towards me working late. That’s going to add to all of this.
And that’s why I never work late if I could. My family needs me. After 6pm, I knock off work and make my way to my 2nd and more important job. The routine needs me to play my part and be there. Daniel listens to me more than he does to my husband. Baby Nathen only wants my helper or I.
I wish there was a better way to do this but I guess only time can help make things better. Are you facing stress from working long hours too? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.