By some measures, this has been a busy past 7 days. Starting on Wednesday last week, I’ve been to NYC twice and to Illinois once. My husband went to Boston and Geneva (yes, Switzerland). On the other hand, we’ve done a lot of family stuff too. I went to the second grade back-to-school night. We picked apples. My husband baked an apple pie with the kids and took all 3 kids to their soccer practices this weekend. Our set-up managed to absorb the unexpected (the 4-year-old getting sick at school on day 2 and needing to come home) and my husband and I were never both gone overnight. Our new nanny just started and I didn’t want to spring that on her right away.
Making the puzzle pieces fit with two parents who don’t stick to a 9 to 5 schedule and who travel isn’t easy. It continues to be a process. But it’s not mind-bogglingly difficult either. A few things I’ve figured out:
We need a scheduling meeting. I can send emails to my husband reminding him that I am speaking in Illinois on Friday, but that bit of information doesn’t necessarily translate to “I will be leaving first thing in the morning for the airport so you need to be home Thursday night.” He might interpret this as just needing to be available at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. We need to sit down with our calendars and hash all 168 hours out.
We book (and pay for) more sitting than we need. Even when we look at calendars, things change. My husband sometimes switches things last minute. I thought he was flying to Boston Wednesday — that’s what we’d talked through and planned on — so I booked a sitter to take over from our nanny at 5:30 p.m. and to stay late (until I could get home from NYC). I came home at 11 p.m. to find my husband’s car in the driveway. He’d decided to fly to Boston first thing Thursday. For all I know, he was home at 5:45, but we pay for at least a few hours when we book someone.
We have a sitter “portfolio.” In a comment on this blog, reader Griffin had mentioned always having a handful of sitters who were trained to care for her young children. Since many are college students, she’d look at things like who’d be there in the summer, who was a first year and might be around for a while, who had mornings free vs. evenings free, etc. It’s a good idea. I’m still trying to get the right mix of availability vs. what I need (because people lose interest if you don’t call often enough), but we have the major potential flash points covered.
We cram a lot into a day. Turns out you can go to middle-of-nowhere Illinois and back in 1 day! Yeah, it was a 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. day, but still.
I don’t feel bad about advocating for my career. From logging my time, I know I spend a lot of time with my kids, so I’m not worried about that potential guilt factor. But I suspect a number of people in marriages like mine might succumb to the tendency of the party with more testosterone to push on things. Yes, I said you need to be home Thursday night. You can take your Friday meeting by phone. You can ask me again, but I’m going to say the same thing. This is what we agreed to. Kiss!
If you and your spouse both travel or have irregular hours, how do you make the pieces fit?
Photo: The mosaic of our lives involves two traveling parents, and apple pie. My husband neglected to peel the apples before baking, and hence the kids wouldn’t eat the pie because it has green stuff in it. I like to think of it as a high fiber apple pie.
In other news: Eric Baker’s Barking Up The Wrong Tree blog runs an interview with me on “How the Most Successful People Manage Their Time.“
New round of title ideas proposed by publisher: possibly “Have it All: How Real Women Build Lives That Work.” This is for the book formerly known as Mosaic. Thoughts? (someone also threw out Have-It-Alls but I’m not sure about nouning such things).