#momlife, Work

I Never Thought I Wouldn’t Want To Work

I have a confession to make. This is really hard for me to say, but I would rather stay home and give the baby my undivided attention than work full time. I know this does not seem like much. I know that this seems to many like the ideal situation. Of course, I’d want that! For me though, it goes against everything I know about myself.

I have always been all about my career. I was always top of my class. I worked my ass off in college, I got one of the most prestigious scholarships in the country to work abroad, and I went through grad school hell to get my PhD. I’ve been working in the private sector for 6 years now, killing it at operations management. Yet, when I went back to the grind after maternity leave, I was not feeling any of it anymore. I’m still not feeling it almost 8 months later. I can’t say I know what to do about it either.

I can’t concentrate at work. I’m not my usual go-getter self. My motivation sucks. By my standards, I feel like I’m failing at my job because I can’t put in the effort I used to. I’ve even thought about demoting myself to have a more flexible schedule, but really, that wouldn’t solve my problems either.

Everything is exacerbated because I can work mostly remotely. I’m very lucky to be able to do this, but it largely contributes to my lack of focus. I could go into the office or work at a coffee shop when I have help with the baby, but I’d really rather be able to be home with him. I somehow feel worse when someone else is watching him than when I’m unsuccessfully trying to do my job and take care of him at the same time.

There is never enough time in the day for everything I’d like to do with him, and there is never enough time to sleep, which is generally necessary for accomplishing anything that requires thought. As a result, thinking does not seem to be one of my strengths these days at work.

I know that I’m not alone here. I’m really just having trouble admitting it to myself. Where do I go from here? I’m not really sure. Quitting or reducing my hours is not an option at the moment, so I need to just suck it up. That must be step 1.

Suck It Up

Put on your big girl pants and do your work. That must be my mantra every day. Everyone has to do things they don’t want to do, and for a lot of people, work is just a job. I used to love my job, and I’m very lucky to have a job that’s stimulating and interesting. What I really need to do is to learn to love it again. I need to remind myself what’s great about it and that other options have far fewer advantages than where I currently am. Working on a path towards a career change is a more extreme solution, but I don’t think I need to go there just yet.

Work-Life Integration

I have always been about work-life integration rather than work-life balance. Being able to travel and work when I want to in my line of work has made work-life integration the better concept for my situation. Given the flexible and remote nature of my work, I could be doing a much better job managing my time to make the most of the situation. Time blocking has proven to be the most effective way for me to accomplish the most and be the most productive. I just need to be more diligent about scheduling and actually following through with my plans.

I Need To Want To Be Better At Work

I need to want to improve my job performance. I need to block out time to be able to focus on my work, and I need to carve out time for professional development. Like any relationship, a job can also have its ups and downs, and sometimes you have to put in the effort to make it work. I’m not just talking about doing the job. I’m talking about the emotional effort required to make the job sustainable. I do want this to work, and in order to make it work, I have to perform at the standard that I believe I can. If not, I’m prone to guilt and putting undue pressure on myself. None of that is any fun.

Just writing this all out has been cathartic. Even if we can’t quite “have it all”, the goal is to have as much of “it all” as possible, and I hope that is motivating enough to give me the kick in the pants that I need.

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31 thoughts on “I Never Thought I Wouldn’t Want To Work

    1. Yeah, I came back half time for month, and that was much better. However, I did find that they would push me to working over, so it started to not make a difference how many actual hours I was signed up for. It’s kind of all or nothing in this kind of salaried position.

  1. It’s so hard when you feel like you’re not doing anything properly. I went back to work as a teacher last year and it made me miserable as I wasn’t giving it all to my job, and I wasn’t giving it all to the children. Plus I was just so tired all the time that I was horrible to the children and my husband so everybody suffered. Including me as I felt bad about it all all the time! I was lucky that it was a short term contract and I haven’t gone back this year but I empathise and sucking it up must just feel so rubbish. #ablogginggoodtime

  2. I felt EXACTLY like this when I went back to full time work after having Amelia. Like you, I had always been super focussed and driven at school, university, and work. I ran a successful business, and work was very much a part of my life, and a part that I enjoyed. I was excited to get back to work, but when I returned found that my motivation was low, my performance was acceptable but not meeting my own high standards, and I wasn’t able or willing to give it the focus and attention I felt it deserved. I discussed demotion, making my role part time, or adjusting my schedule, but nothing seemed viable. After 6 months I did something totally out of character – I quit! Just like that. I called my superiors on Friday and didn’t return on Monday. It was scary as hell, and I spent 6 weeks out of work (oh the joy of ‘signing on’) before finding a part time position in a nursery which would also accommodate Amelia. I couldn’t not work at all, but I do feel the absolute benefit of work that requires less of my attention. When my working day finishes, that’s it. There’s no crossover into my home life, I can totally switch off from it. Yes, we now rely on things like Working Tax Credits for the first time ever to top up our income, and I spent a long time reconciling with that, but I also know that it won’t be forever. Right now, no amount of money in the world would get me back to working the way I was. I cannot even put into words the dramatic positive effect the change has had on both my children, and us as a family. I hope you find what works for you. #ablogginggoodtime

    p.s sorry for the essay!

    1. Ha, no worries! That is exactly how I feel. We’re working on a few things to alleviate some of the stress, but so far no solutions that would allow me to quit. I really do have a great job where I can work mostly at home, so if I can get it together, staying is probably the better option anyway. If I were not working from home mostly, I don’t think I could do it anymore.

  3. I feel your pain! We change after having children, we might not think we will but it just happens, it’s out of our control. I had to go back to work when my son was 4 months and I hated it. I resented my job because it got in the way of me being a mum. My priorities had changed and I just wanted to be at home. 12 years on and I am just in the position where I can work part time, I have a 6 year old as well now. I would still rather not work at all but what I have now is a good balance. I thought the feeling would subside as the kids got older but if anything it got worse. I have no career drive or desire to do any high powered job. It’s weird but I’ve accepted it! #ablogginggoodtime

  4. It is so hard when you are a mother to try and balance everything out. I know I was determined to return to work but as they years have gone on I have gradually reduced my hours at work so I can spend more time at home and blogging. I now only work 20 hours over three days and I fin it a perfect balance <3 #ablogginggoodtime
    Rebecca recently posted…Say goodbye to stress: Cry your way to happinessMy Profile

    1. Yeah, I’m trying to find gradual solutions that won’t totally uproot everything. I’m glad you’ve found something that has worked for you!

  5. This resonated with me – I’m still on mat leave but dreading going back. My role is full-time or nothing and although my work are going to see if there’s anything part-time available, it might end up being a choice I have to make. I’m so pleased that you can work remotely as it sounds like you are already working on motivation & will find your mojo soon! I never imagined how hard the balance would be #ablogginggoodtime

    1. It is really hard, and it’s good that you are already looking into options. Maybe they could do part time for a little while to help with the transition? I went back half time for about a month first and really needed that. Good luck!

  6. Oh goodness, great read and I’m sure you’re not alone at all – in fact the comments bear this out. I can’t imagine how hard this is, but I think you’ll achieve nothing by beating yourself up. Wishing you success as you find your way through this and thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

  7. A great post. Feeling some of this and I’ve not even got the baby to show for the efforts! Motivation sucks. Need to find some reachable goals… #pocolo

  8. It’s incredibly tough. I think the ‘job’ of mothering is such a challenging and all consuming one that afterwards work can sometimes feel a little insignificant. I was off work for 13 months in the end (11 of those with my daughter) and I found going back hard. I only went back 3 days a week and I’m not sure I could have done more. At times I have wondered if it’s the right thing but the pros outweigh the cons. Instead I have just come to accept I am taking a slower career road and I am trying to just focus on some interesting aspects of the job. Good luck with your plans – I hope you get the integration you want soon enough. Just give yourself some time! #DreamTeam
    Angela Watling (Life, Motherhood and Everything) recently posted…What Little H did – 2.3 yearsMy Profile

    1. It is comforting to know that so many people feel the same way. In the US, I only had three months off and came back half time for the fourth month. Had I not eased into it, I probably wouldn’t have lasted this long.

  9. Finding the balance is SO hard. I love what I do and 3.5 days works for me. I would say you should go for part-time IF you can/work allows and definitely get away from the house and the baby. You kind of put ‘work head’ on and focus at being awesome at the work you for that period. Then you can be full time awesome Mummy the rest of the time. Good luck x

  10. I like the idea of work-life integration, rather than a balance because we all know the balance will sway heavily one way over the other (for me recently it has been work unfortunately). I totally understand where you are coming from, I’m very career focused but when I returned from mat leave I lost my focus (mind). After the “hard part” was over (i.e. Bear was a year old, sleeping through the night) I realised I was unhappy with the role I was doing, so just recently I found a new job and I am so much happier both at home and work. I originally thought I was unhappy because I wanted to be at home with my son, which is true on some level, but the reality was I was unhappy with my job. To be fair, there are still some days where I wish I could do three days in the office and two days at home! One day! I’m sure you will find your way soon. Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama!

    1. I think balance is at some level unachievable, and integration makes you think about work as something you want to make part of your life, so it is important to do something for work that actually makes you happy, if possible.

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