Being Flexible with my Flex Schedule

I had a light bulb moment this week. Perhaps the reason why “flex scheduling” isn’t more readily embraced by the corporate community is that employers aren’t sure they can, in fact, be flexible. They may feel that the burden will fall on them.

The fact of the matter is, my current employers have asked, simply, that a certain level of work be completed. Other than perhaps understanding that my best days for meetings are Mondays and Wednesdays, the reality is that, as long as I deliver, they’re pretty much fine. Sure, some employers may balk at employees working out of sight for fear that they can’t supervise or offer input. And some jobs certainly can’t be terribly flexible (a chef or a doctor can’t work from home the way an accountant or a PR pro can). But for many companies, does it really matter whether you finish that report in an office or at your kitchen table as long as it is still quality work?

My personal light bulb went on earlier this week when I realized flex scheduling is less about my employer being flexible (although, obviously the fact that I have this arrangement indicates that yes they are) and more about me being flexible. I plan my work around the two days both kids are in school, around typical nap/quiet times, around evenings or early mornings. But then, inevitably, something will happen. A colleague will have a request that might need to be met on a timeline that doesn’t fit the mental parameters I have anticipated for a day. Or that early morning I was planning on is traded in for a snooze button after being up for two hours in the middle of the night with an inconsolable toddler. Or in order to make a crucial meeting happen, I need to suck it up and find a babysitter.

Strangely, the hardest part of my flex schedule is being flexible with myself. Letting it go until the next day so I can get to bed early or postponing that revision because the toddler decided to skip a nap or buckling down for several hours of work on a weekend when the hubby takes the kids on an outing are all part of me rolling with the punches. The press release doesn’t know the difference. The research still gets done. The plans still get written.

As long as I can be flexible with my own expectations, this flex schedule thing may just work out.

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Mommy’s Jobs

I’m only in the office two mornings a week. The rest of the week, I’m balancing work during the boys’ nap/TV time, post bedtime, and weekend outings with daddy. When I pack up my laptop and head out for car pool pickups on office days, the office manager typically says goodbye with a “Have fun at your real job.”

And that’s certainly how it feels. I definitely bill more hours to the mommy job than the other. Each has its own uniform with a nice Mr. Rogers-like transition when I come home replacing the skirts with jeans and the heels with slippers. Each has its own compartment in my brain and color on my iCal. Both are relieved with a glass of wine and a good book.

I took a little time off from the hustle and bustle around the holidays and put work away for a bit. When I came back, ready to tackle the scheduling and the balancing act again, I decided to approach it a bit differently. To mentally stop trying to balance a see-saw that defies all rules of physics to begin with. To approach each day with a unique task to accomplish. To only judge my performance on that one task whether that day’s focus is bringing snack to my son’s preschool class or developing an outreach plan. To try not to say “in a minute” to my kids when I’m trying to finish an email/press release/dinner.

The last has been the toughest. Inevitably, the boys are done with naps/videos/Legos five minutes before I’m done with whatever task I’m trying to accomplish. I want them to know that mommy works and that what mommy does is important but that they will always be the most important job mommy has.

At dinner recently, the five year old was asking the hubby to stay home from now on and mommy could go to work (the boys enjoyed the extra time the hubby was around over the holidays burning some saved up PTO). I explained that mommy already goes to work, just while they are at school. I thought I could use the opening as an opportunity to explain a little bit more about what mommy does. And so I asked him, “Do you know what mommy’s job is when she’s not home taking care of you?”

His response, “Loving me?”

It’s good to know that he understands my real job.