Friday, 9 March 2012

Limbo

OK, REALLY need to get 'cunt' out of my title. Sorry, I wouldn't want you all to think I'd either a) gotten divorced, b) stabbed Ryota multiple times with a kitchen knife, or c) crumpled up in a heap on the floor and was still having a wee sob. No, all is fine, but March and April are incredibly busy months for me, so I've been distracted from twat husband antics with work.

Which brings me to today's dilemma. I'm busy, busier than I can handle at times and it stresses me the fuck out. I like being busy, but the work/home balance is hard for me and it's only getting harder this year, with more students than I can handle AND a new bouncing baby boy (did I mention it was a boy...? Can't remember...) gracing us with his noisy presence in June.

There are days that I seriously consider giving the school up, selling it, or just closing it, and being a stay at home mum. Now Ash is older, I actually think I might be able to do it, probably not enjoy it ALL the time, but be half-decent at it at least.
I even went as far as to make a pro/con list of working vs. not working. I discovered the main pros of quitting: I'd be a better mother and have less (or at least a different kind of) stress.
The cons: M-O-N-E-Y. That's pretty much all it comes down to. OK, and the fact that I'd be bored shitless a lot of the time, but pretty much just comes down to cash. I'm the better earner in our house so it really doesn't make sense for me to quit, but there are times when I feel a whole heap of pressure to keep my shit together, just this afternoon I felt like having a big cry when I looked at my schedule for this week and next: no days off for two weeks and the earliest finish of 7pm, usually 8pm. 7pm isn't that late (especially by J-standards) but when you have to factor getting dinner on the table, bathing your kid, and actually seeing him before bed time, it fucking sucks.

I think I'm just feeling pressure, cut off from anything but work, mummy guilt, and preggo hormones. Whatever it is that's making me feel this way, it fucking blows!

Again, I feel like it's unfair, women can never have it all, not without sacrificing something. As I see it, I have 3 options...So should I embrace my maternal instincts and scrimp and save to get by on one (crap) salary, throw myself into work and hope my kids survive without the need for a therapist before they hit their teens, or suck it up and keep this balancing act going...?

All opinions/experience with being a working parent are welcome!

38 comments:

  1. Long time reader, just don't comment lol .... I was a single mum to 2 kids until 6 years ago. I used to work, I used to hate having to work, but I HAD to, then I met my husband, and was able to not have to work !! YAY and then the boredom kicked in, so I worked at a supermarket, where I had to work nights, that sucked arse, I saw the kids for maybe and hour in the morning before shcool, and then I didn't see them in the afternoon after school. It sucked :( Changed my hours around, and made it all work :) Left that job, and now, of all things, I deliver pamphlets .. whoopy effing do, I know right, but, I am HOME for my kids, i don't have to miss any shcool things, like carnivals and what not, I'm there for them, which I LOVE ! so the moral of my big boring story, is that you own your business, you could pick and choose your own work hours, even if means being open on a weekend (not sure if you are or not) and then close earlier during the week, so your home with the kids :) working and kids really does suck, it's hard to find a balance, but I wouldn't give up the pamphlet job ever :)

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    1. I think if you enjoy what you do then it makes it so much harder to quit, and that's the thing, I love my school, it's my 3rd baby! And I bitch a lot, but I actually can go home on my breaks unlike a lot of normal jobs. It's such a hard balance but I'm so glad you've been so successful at finding it!

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  2. Unfortunately no one but you can answer that. It is only going to get harder with 2. You ll have 2 little people viaing for your attention. Can you cut your schedule to 3 days a week? Good luck. ( the lentilweaver)

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    1. Yup, you're right lentilweaver, as usual the voice of common sense! :)
      3 days a week just wouldn't be worth it for me, We rent the school building so I need to be making enough to cover that and to make a profit, at 6 days a week it's sweet. I am considering hiring a teacher to do Saturdays, because they just piss me off. That way I'd have a real weekend...

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  3. Sorry, no actual experience of being a working Mum, but it sounds like you're up against it. Is there any way of reducing student numbers, or combining classes to reduce your schedule? We did it a lot when I worked at the Eikaiwa, mainly for teachers who were paid by the hour, but in your case it might work in your favour. Hope you have some more helpful readers, and that you get your balance back.
    And a boy? Congratulations!

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    1. Thanks for the boy congrats!
      I'm trying to condense class numbers but being a small school it's a lot harder, the personal, flexible touch is the appeal. It's definitely a good way to clear time though, I may have to be more ruthless and make my little kids choose between me or swimming school. :)

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  4. I can't give you an advice (aside from the one I've aready given), but I wish you all the best!

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    1. Thank you so much, I actually feel a bit better today!

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  5. What I'd like to know is how're going about protecting Ash from getting a severe case of Chonanitis?

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    1. So helpful Salaryman. Although you make a valid point, he has the high chance of not only getting chonanitis, but he's the only grandson on both sides, this could be a lethal combo...

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  6. My experience: I did the stay-at-home thing with the first two, but not by choice -- we moved to a strange city in the throes of a recession (Los Angeles), and I couldn't find a fulltime job, and had two babies in two years. I was miserable (post-partum hormones, lack of a support network, etc.) and most certainly NOT a good mom, even though I was at home. The third baby was born when I was back in Tokyo working fulltime at a high-pressure job I hated, but I was making great money, so I went back after a 14-week maternity leave. It was TOUGH, but we had a great babysitter, a great network of friends, and my third kid is the most cheerful of the bunch so far. My advice? Do whatever feels right. Then when it doesn't feel right anymore, do something else. No matter what you do, you will feel pulled in too many directions, so just do the best you can at all times, to find that elusive "balance." Your boys will love you no matter what.

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    1. That's another good point, the grass is always greener, I feel like I'd be a better mum if I wasn't working but maybe I'd be crap! :D
      I'm planning like a 4 day maternity leave, well not really, but the odd morning class I'll still be hobbling around and leaking profusely from the nipples. At least my job isn't THAT high pressure. Thank you, very sound advice!

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  7. I finish at 9:30 pm 5 times a week and start at 10 and my school is packed. It's the changing season so everyone's schedule is flipped which means mine is and some will lose and others will get into the school finally.

    It's 9:50 and I'm gonna eat dinner then exercise and stuff and I was feeling down till I read this. I can't fucking imagine carrying a little baby inside me and having to take care of a family after this......FuuuuUUUUuuuck no!!

    You>Me

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    1. 9:30 is harsh, I couldn't keep it up. We open at 9 so it's usually 9-8 but students are constantly asking me to open until 9. I guess I should be happy that it's not the other way and I'm stressing that I can't pay the rent...
      Sometimes it really does blow to come home and cook dinner but most of the time it's a change so I don't mind it, if I was coming home and teaching eikaiwa I'd totally hang myself on some (unwashed) sheets.
      Oh and the baby inside me is sweet, I like him inside, once he's out I actually have to take care of him and shit! :D

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  8. Who is going to be taking care of Baby Boy ( congratulations!) while you work? Teaching kids while pregnant, especially in the last few months was completely exhausting for me, but I only teach two days a week (Tuesday afternoons and all day Saturdays). Otsukaresama! Now dd3 is almost ten months and I'm adding another day from April, she's going to go to ichijihoiku that day. We have no other family support with babysitting. I don't know how you do it! But even you, Ms. Superwoman you, can't do everything. At least not perfectly, all the time. Allow yourself to cut back work (both teaching and at home) and force that hubby of yours to pitch in more. Mine is going to be strapping dd3 on his back and heading off to the park with dd1 bright and early tomorrow morning for kodomokai cleaning duties. Is he happy about it? No. Does he have a choice? No no no! I'm working, end of story. Saturdays he does kodomokai, shopping, makes dinner and whatever else needs doing. Yes, we have curry every Saturday and the house is a wreck, but I don't have to cook. And yes, he's a chonan. Not perfect by a long shot, but so much better than he was raised to be, and truth be told, I'm not perfect myself. Where was I? Oh yes, you can't do it all, and you shouldn't have to do it all alone. Can you get more housewife and/or mommy&me daytime classes and cut back on evenings? Consolidate days? Best of luck!

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    1. I'm planning to send baby boy to private kindy from 6 months, depending on what kind of baby he is. In the meantime, SIL, MIL and grandma are going to look after him, or I'll strap him on me and take him with me. Thinking of setting up a bassinette at the school! But we just never know, it would have been impossible with Ash but I might get lucky and have a baby who is easy to drag around and plonk down. I REALLY want to try and get more morning classes and cut back on evenings, but unfortunately that 4-8 time slot is where all the group cash cows are. :( Your hubby sounds like a trooper, although I should give Ryota a bit of credit, on the days I just don't have time to make dinner, he never does it himself but he'll either scavenge from the in-laws house or order-in and never complains about it.

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  9. I feel weird reading these kinds of posts because I have all the time in the world, which means I should stop bitching about having to deal with word verification. ;) p.s I agree with those above who said to take it a bit easy, for now, or a bit later, at least, do what feels right for you.

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    1. Thanks, yeah I wish word verification was the biggest of my problems!! hehe just kidding, it is a pain in the arse...
      When I figure out what's right for me I will attempt to go in that direction... I hope.

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  10. I deal with this kind of internal battle all the time. I am not the higher earner in the partnership though so although it would be slightly tougher, given everything I spend on childcare over the year we could make me not working a viable option if we had more kids. BUT I did the SAHM/working part-time thing until Joey was 2 and I hated it. Really hated it.

    Nowadays my life is a crazy roller-coaster of balancing everything and that is only set to get worse as we get busier but you know what, I am happier than I have been in a long time and because I am happier, I have noticed a shift in Joey and he seems more content as well. You are right though. It is impossible to "have it all" and not feel guilty in some way. I had moments in my past jobs where I debated cutting hours/going part-time and I know that if that is what I chose to do then M would support me without issue but now that I finally feel like I am achieving something in my career, I can't even imagine going part-time/ stopping work. I do feel guilty about missing out on so much time with Joey but we get alot of quality time these days and as I am happier we have alot of fun during that time. That said, we have a cleaner to take the pressure off the housework side of things and Mal steps up and helps alot with Joey (doing the school run a couple of times a week etc..) so I feel less like I have to do absolutely everything.

    Only you can know what is right for your family but despite the fact that we have never met, I think you are similar to me in that the idea of staying at home and being all maternal seems like a wonderful idea but the reality would be quite depressing for us as we aren't built that way!

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    1. I hated it with Ash too, but now I think it's just because he was a tiny baby, I had no experience and nobody to really talk to apart from him... But I did really hate it... :)

      That's the thing too, building the school up from nothing and being flooded with students is a huge achievment that I am very proud of, I don't want to give it up and have regrets, I'll never get the chance to do it again if I give up now. You are a big inspiration for me Midori, thank you!

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  11. As a mom to grown boys (25 & 22) and mom again to nephews (13 & 7), I say let the housework slide. I let it slide now and I really don't care anymore if my carpets are vacuumed and kitchen floors are polished. If Ryota-man bitches, he can do it or hire someone.

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    1. Housework is far from perfect, but I'm probably more ocd than I like to let on, maybe it's more for my mental state than his. But it's true, I really need to prioritise what to do first, if it's cleaning or napping, maybe I should just screw it and go for the nap. You're amazing what you're doing for your nephews by the way, they're lucky to have such a wonderful auntie!

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  12. I completely lost my train wreck of thought there (babies eat mmommies' brains, I swear). I also wanted to say that it makes a big difference how happy you are with your child care. Much easier to leave the kids and work when you feel confident they are being well cared for in your absence. This was hard for me in the beginning. Doesn't help that in the summer I could hear dd3 wailing while I was teaching (and my students were all "Miss Xana, Kaya cry. miss Xana, Kaya loud cry!") and dh was going on about how he needs to do what he needs to do and old go off to the far garden leaving 4yo dd2 with baby in the house. Sigh. He's a good dad to the big ones, in his way (which isn't my way, for better and worse), but when she was under six months it was really tough.

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    1. haha yeah dads kinda suck with the tiny babies eh... Luckily for me Ryota would never be alone with little boy, he'll just take him to the in-laws, and they are a nutty bunch, but I do feel fine leaving my kids with them.

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  13. It's a hard choice and I can't imagine working full time with a young baby.

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    1. Yeah, it's definitely going to be a challenge, but I guess it's all part of the crazy, stressful fun!

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  14. Is it possible to hire some help at work? Even just a secretary? My friends were doing their own eikaiwa and they were extremely stressed trying to do it all so they hired a college student to be their phone/copy/schedule/etc assistant. She gets to practice her English for free and they get someone to do the little stuff. It's a win win.

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    1. I7ve considered it, and if I could find the right person at the right price I totally would, but I've done everything myself from the beginning and I guess it just seems a waste. Of course once little boy is born I may think differently and totally go looking for someone...

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  15. Not working isn't an option for me. However, I do feel your pain when you are the breadwinner/childwrangler/food shopper and preparer. Nothing gets me more frustrated than when I come home from work and have to cook dinner with the food I bought on my 30 min lunch break, while teaching the kids English, running the bath, and putting on their uniforms for laundry for the next day, all so I can finish my translation at night. Then my husband complains that we are in his way while he is watching tv or something. Garrrrh!

    It is a hard gig, you do a good job. Personally when I am on mat leave playing at being SAHM I get less done, mostly just watch a lot of tv, read a lot of FB. I am a better person when I am working.

    Hope your husband steps up. And then tells my husband to step up.

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    1. Oh my god I'm so glad I'm not the only one!!! I was starting to feel like nobody else was in my shoes with the dodgy hubby! :D
      And you're right, I have no idea what I'd be like as a SAHM, but more than likely I'd just waste a lot of time and begin to loathe housework even more than I do now... Thank you!

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  16. Have you considered getting another English teacher for a partner (that you can trust) that could share teaching hours with you? (Maybe another unemployed teacher) It would still be your business and you would still be owner/in charge but you could teach the person how you want the business operated. Then make a schedule where you all share hours/days-or as Jane suggested, an administrative assistant. It would reduce your income but give your more free time for children.

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    1. I think I'm going to have to for a while over the summer, it's a pretty small school though with only enough room to teach one class at a time so I wouldn't be able to keep that teacher past the time I'm taking off, which is unfair on the teacher. I'm hoping to find someone who is on hols over summer and wants some extra work. It is the best solution though I think!

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    2. Getting help may be a good solution. Ihope it works out. Maybe another Mum that wants to work part time. For example, if you want two afternoons a week free, maybe she could teach when you are off and would like some free time with children. Best of luck. You do a wonderful job already taking care of your family and working too. I enjoy your Blogs very much.

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  17. A mother of many once told me that work, for her, is an escape from the chaos at home. If you do decide to keep working, you just might want to make sure your First (Ash), Second (to-be-named), and Third baby (the school), are able to get the right kind of attention they need. As far as the M-O-N-E-Y thing goes, understanding what is 'enough' (google "the fulfillment curve") is key. You get the 'enough' question answered and you are light years ahead of most people who build themselves into life-traps. And never forget to reward yourself for the amazing job you've done. That's my two yen.

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  18. Don't feel guilty! My mum has always been working, and me and my siblings turned out just fine. We all have a great relationship with her.

    My boyfriend's mum has also been working since he and his brother were little kids. She's a pharmacist and used to work crazy shifts in the past. She was pretty strict with her boys (though she always gave them the freedom to choose their own paths in life) and both of them grew up to be independent, well mannered young men, fully capable to look after themselves, and they have lots of respect for their mother. They don't expect her to cook for them, appreciate everything she does for them, and best of all, they tell off their dad when he expects her to serve him his rice (she earns more than him btw).

    It's fun to listen to their conversations when they all team up on the father because he is such a typical Japanese male (a very good-hearted man still, don't get me wrong).

    I seriously cannot thank this woman enough for the great job she did raising my boyfriend! I hope I will be even half as good as a mum.

    So if you want to quit your job, go ahead, if this is your wish. But don't do it because you're feeling guilty. If you are a loving mother to your children and make time for them when you are not working, they won't miss out on anything.

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  19. As obvious as it sounds, it gets much harder with two kids. It will get increasingly harder to cope with everything as the baby gets bigger and more mobile and more demanding. (Let's face it newborns are easy compared to toddlers and infants) When you return to work things get even more chaotic. There really are not enough hours in the day. This is why Japanese mums rely a lot on their parents (If possible)to help with hoikuen drop off and pick up for this very same reason. Daycare schedules and workplace schedules are not always compatible. It is usually the woman who has make sacrifices. I work full time on a part-time contract for the flexibilty this gives me with the kids.

    That said, it isn't impossible but some things have to slide My kids are in daycare and they get a healthy meal at lunch so I don't go all out making a big thing about dinner (or breakfast). They love onigiri and fruit and soup and sandwiches thank god and so I hardly ever cook a proper meal once we get home at around 6 or 7. Prioritise the cleaning too. Cut corners, big corners. It isn't important in the big scheme of things. I find I became a horrible mummy when I'm stressing about getting the apartment looking spick and span when I should be spending more time with my kids. Kids don't care/notice if you've vacuumed, but they do notice if you prefer to spend time doing chores rather than spend time with them. (This advice is for me, too, I need to constantly remind myself of this.)

    Unfortunately, we are not anywhere near being equal to men regarding the work/home balance. Good luck getting Ryota to help out more. I found that my husband does less around the house since we have two kids and even more so since I returned to work. It seems he still thinks I am a stay at home mum and can do everything. It's only when he runs out of clean shirts and socks that he realises I can't. Funny how he never forgot to do his laundry when he was living alone as a bachelor, eh?

    Congratulations on the boy!

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  20. I haven't read the above comments, so sorry if I repeat anyone. KEEP YOUR JOB AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. My opinion. People say the biggest change is having your first child and that the second isn't really all that different. To that I say bollocks. And that word doesn't even really seem strong enough. Once you have two children, having one seems like a piece of piss in comparison. I imagine this is true for any consequent children also. My husband used to help when I had my first, then it was old news second time around. Everyone thinks you can cope because hey, you've already had one baby. I suppose it depends on how your son is though, and he's older than my daughter was when I had my son, so it could be way different. I remember settling down to bfeed my son and then my daughter shouting, "Mummmmmmy! I did a pooooo!" from the potty. I was up and down like a yo-yo.

    Taking on staff temporarily would be good, eh? Can't imagine how hard that would be though, but your school seems to be doing well, so maybe it would pan out?

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  21. Being the bigger earner in my home, I can identify with you. This morning especially! I could have thrown the dirty laundry all over the living room and thrown a hissy fit. But I would have just looked like a fool and shown up with puffy 'just cried' eyes at work and blame allergies. Sometimes it's tough

    I made my choice not to balance career and family; I chose career. I don't have any words of wisdom to impart but at times watching my friends have their family time gives me a twinge of jealousy and a pang in my heart for choosing instead of opting for a balancing act.

    Also as a latch key kid, eldest of 6, we all came out ok with the exception of 1. But then again with that many kids my mom got lucky more didn't turn out sour :P Good luck! :) I am sure you will do just fine.

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