Friday, March 02, 2007

Personal Reflections 2 March 2007

I mentioned in a previous post that I am presently working on site as part of a team in place of my usual pattern of recent years of working from a home office mainly on stand-alone assignments. I am finding it very interesting, I find most things interesting, but am now wresting with all sorts of adjustment issues.

One of the reasons I have worked from a home office is that for much of the last ten years I have been the primary child care.

Back at the start of 96 we moved down from Armidale so that my wife could take a job as a CEO of a firm of patent attorneys. For much of the time before this we had had a nanny or some other equivalent support, allowing both of us to work full bore.

Once we got to Sydney and with the girls well beyond the nanny point, just as well because we could not have afforded it anyway, it was simply easier for me to take over the core domestic roles because I had the greater flexibility. Now this role has become thoroughly built into family structures. The things that I have done including blogging sort of fit around this.

The biggest adjustments that we are all having to make link to the additional drive time combined with reduced flexibility.

The office is quite close, about 7k, with free parking not far away so long as you get there at the right times. So that's good. The office is also reasonably flexible and family friendly, so that's good too. The only problem is that the office is in the opposite direction to school.

For historical reasons, this family faces east. My wife was born in the eastern suburbs, many of her family still live there. So when we came down we lived first at Coogee and enrolled the girls at school in Waverly. The natural outcome of this is that most activities - school, sport, family, social, doctors, whatever - centre on that thin coastal strip that runs from Bondi at one end to Maroubra. I still find Sydney tribalism interesting, but that's a different story.

Working in the opposite direction, while quite close, adds forty minutes drive time. Now I am trying to work out times, best routes, to see what can be done. In doing this, I am also working through how I restructure my own activities.

Take yesterday as an example. I still wake quite early, so had a bit over an hour before the family stirred to do writing, check emails etc. About ten to seven I left to take youngest to school, parking near the office a bit before eight.

Wednesday youngest has English tutoring at Rose Bay. I left the office at 4.20, picking her up a bit after five. Rose Bay to Rosebery is a nightmare at that time of the afternoon, so I got home after six. I then had to cook tea with the usual interruptions, then get things ready for the next day. It was about 8.30 before I again had any time to myself. I was tired partly because I do get up early, so actually went to bed about 9.30.

When I look at yesterday, I spent something over eight hours at the office including the lunch break, three hours travelling, two and a half hours domestic duties, with two hours for all the other things I do. Next week my wife will be in New Zealand for most of the week, making things more interesting still.

I am not complaining in all this, nor suggesting that the situation is in any way unique. Most Sydney families experience something of the same. The challenge is to work out the best pattern in the circumstances, one that will also allow me to maintain in some way my various interests.

It's now six and the family is stirring. I have a backlog of things that I want to comment on - there has been some really interesting stuff over the last week - but that will have to wait.

1 comment:

Christine said...

Hi Jim,

Guess what? Its Christine here! The Christine from OCH. I finally got around to visit your blog. Quite interesting really, although I never had a real interest in history or social science (apart from economics of course), I do find reading the Quong Tart bit insteresting still. At the moment I am also making myself to read more so that my English could improve.. haha.

Anyway, here's my favourite quote from your blog:
'The challenge is to work out the best pattern in the circumstances'.