Day #172: Quality Matters

Just yesterday I told myself that I would shut down for the rest of the year and focus on family. As a professor, I tend to see each year into three, 15-week segments with two week breaks in between. In the spring or summer I tend to take an additional week to get away with my family.

Out of Office
Now, this sounds as if I take seven weeks of vacation each year, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I’m pretty sure that many of my friends and family members think this is the case. Instead, it feels as if I am ALWAYS working. Yesterday I vowed to do better. I said that once the children went to bed Christmas would begin and I wouldn’t think about work again until 2011. It was a nice idea, but it didn’t last. I am trying to restrict myself to blogging, tweeting and emailing for the next four days. Believe it or not, but even that is difficult and I feel quite guilty about it. Tonight, we watched holiday movies with the boys as I set up a website on my laptop. This morning, while waiting at the doctor’s office with my son who was roasting with a 104 degree fever, I was busy tapping out email messages on my smartphone. That’s wrong and I know it. My kids and my husband deserve better.

Be Careful What You Wish For
I always longed for technology and flexible work hours so that I could fashion a career that is convenient and conducive to raising a family. The trouble with technology and flexible hours is that you are always working. This is the same issue that entrepreneurs have – especially those with small or home-based businesses. I worry that when my children are older, what they will remember most about their childhood is that I was always working. This has been bothering me so much lately that I’ve already started thinking about my New Year’s resolutions. I am in desperate need of some boundaries. I decided to get help. It seems strange since I’ve been so budget-conscious, but in order to do all that I want to do and still be available for my family, I’m going to have to make room in my budget to pay someone to help me. I’ve hired someone to pick up the children from school every day, bring them home and work with them until dinner time. She’ll tutor my aspie child and make sure that both boys get their afternoon snacks and do their homework and even take them to their music lessons. This will keep my husband and me from having to break up our day so much and limit our time spent working on weekends.

New Year’s Resolution #1

It struck me recently that quality matters in more ways than we might realize. It turns out that my kids would rather have my undivided attention for 1-2 hours each night and most of the weekend than to have me around more often but distracted with emails and other work. It also turns out that the benefit that I receive from paying someone to take care of the kids for a couple of hours each day greatly outweighs the cost. It looks like we’ll be spending some significant time revising our budget before the New Year starts so that our spending is more in line with our priorities. I think we’ll all be better for it. My first resolution for 2011 is to improve the quality of my interactions with others – especially my family. If I have to cut my spending in some areas to achieve that goal, I am more than willing to make that sacrifice.

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