Perhaps also Psychologist-in-Residence, who has noticed that motivation is flagging, enthusiasm sorely lacking. It surprises me, this. I have always been very ambitious. I have never just ‘worked’. I don’t just go to conferences, I speak at them and to hell with the fact I don’t look old and wise enough to do so. I network and shmooze and brainstorm and love it all.
Until now. I just don’t have the time or energy to do anything other than simply work, to do the bare minimum to keep my clients happy. It is so unsatisfying, says the perfectionist in me. I could solve this by going into full career-girl mode again, and leaving the Bean at nursery from 8 AM until 6PM every day. The parent in me really, really doesn’t want to do that though. In fact, I’m going the other way.
Quitting work completely is not even close to being an option, but maybe it’s okay to christen this as a Period of Ticking Along rather than always going full pelt. Maybe it’s better to be happy to have some clients and some money coming in, instead of always wanting to be the best, the most well-know, the most successful. Maybe I’d be an utter idiot for not making the most these precious early years of M-Little’s life, given that I answer to no-one apart from my own overactive sense of Guilt and Duty.
So that’s my first, selfish reason for wanting an extra day a week with him.
The second reason is about the Bean himself. He currently goes to nursery Monday to Friday, from 9 AM to 4:30 PM. That’s 37.5 hours a week. I think that’s rather a lot for a 16-month-old. Too much: by Thursday afternoon he is TOAST. He is stroppy and tired and incapable of playing or even enjoy rooting around in the park.
I can’t help but wonder whether some down-time with his Mama would do him good. A day a week to potter about at home, go to the park or the pool on a nice day, curl up in bed with a cuddle and a video when it’s raining. Do what we loved most during my maternity leave last year: walk over to Daddy’s lab for an outdoor lunch and loads of attention from the colleagues. Then back to nursery on Friday for one more day, perhaps already feeling a little calmer before the weekend.
So we’ve agreed to disagree, in the sense that we’re both happy for me to give it a go. If it doesn’t work out, if the Bean really is bored to tears or if I end up completely stressed and losing clients due to my reduced hours, we can just go back to the five days a week.
So the Executive Decision is made. I shall report back in due course…
It's been almost a year since I made my Executive Decision, so I thought it was about time to report back... and I'm pleased to say it was the right decision. We talked to the nursery and settled on Wednesday as the Bean's day off. We also kept things flexible: if I'm swamped with work or full of cold, or if there are already a lot of holidays in the month, I send him in.
Otherwise, Wednesday is Bean Day. Pyjamas until noon day, pizza for lunch day, park in the afternoon with the bestie day. Sometimes we go to see Daddy, sometimes we're too lazy to get off the sofa. Sometimes there's playdough or painting or threading, and quite often the house looks like a bomb's hit it by the end of the day.
Sure, there are days when things don't go smoothly - I shall never forget the Wednesday of Doom, on which a teething Bean, steaming with pain and rage, got off his bike and ran into the road... The rest of my week is also more hectic as a result of these Bean Days, and any pretense of meal planning has gone out of the window.
But most of the time I love these days. When he's awake I concentrate on nothing but him and his odd little games. Taking things at his pace means I never fail to learn something new about him. A word I didn't realise he was able to say, a skill I'd been too busy to notice he's mastered. When he's asleep, I don't feel the slightest urge to be "useful". Rather I doze with him, my arm curled around his chest and his fingers in my hair. Or I sit on the sofa and crochet in the middle of the day, without any guilt at all.
They're good, Bean Days.