Two hundred hours--that's a busy month for some of you; a slow month for others. To maintain some semblance of privacy, I will leave ambiguous the number of days it took me to hit this threshold. I will also let you all decide whether defining life milestones in billable hours is a healthy practice.
So far, things are going well. I feel lucky to be able to work from home full-time for a couple of months, setting myself up for a soft transition. I'm sure you all probably sensed the anxiety seeping out my previous post on this topic. Turns out, the anticipation of returning to work was so. much. worse. than the experience of actually working.
Let's dive into some specifics.
When Billable Baby turned four months old, we converted our home office into a nursery and moved her in there. As a result, I had to commandeer a corner of my living room as my new home-office nook (with "nook" being a generous description). Although my sun-filled view of Washington D.C. forms a nice backdrop on Zoom meetings, the trade-off is a loss of privacy and a rather unsightly living room off-camera. Who would have thought that an old office desk with two computer screens don't really fit the mid-century modern aesthetic we were going for as a yuppie, double-income no-kids couple?!
I pump five times a day for 20 minutes each. I blocked out time on my work calendar for the three pumps that happen during the work day. With the exception of a few days when I had back-to-back on-camera meetings, I have been able to pump on time. One unintended benefit of my early morning and late night pumps (at 7am and 10pm, respectively) is that they force me to sit in front of the computer and plow through pesky tasks that I have procrastinated on, like paying bills or entering time. Now that Billable Baby has started solids and my supply has been dwindling, I do feel like I'm approaching the end of my "pumping journey", whatever that means. I doubt I will want to lug pump parts to the office, so I've set a target end date to pumping that coincides with our projected return-to-office date.
Through word of mouth, we found a fulltime live-out nanny (meaning she doesn't live with us) for Billable Baby. Our nanny speaks the language we were looking for and also cooks for us. She has been a wonderful addition to our family and makes our lives a lot easier. There are three main downsides: (1) nannies are expensive (we are paying double the average cost of daycare in our area); (2) managing a household employee is challenging, even if the employee checks all of the boxes on paper; and (3) eventually we will need to figure out how to make sure Billable Baby is properly socialized with other children.
Time with Billable Baby
If you recall from my previous post, one of my biggest concerns about returning to work was that I would regret not making the most of my time with Billable Baby while on maternity leave. I'm happy to report that I feel very little regret. While there have been busy periods when I was glued to my computer all day, for the most part I have been able to be fully present for one or two of her four wake windows during the work day (usually the 7:00 - 8:30 am slot or the 5:30 - 7:00 pm slot). It certainly helps that she is at a fun stage where it is exciting watching her try new foods and explore her surroundings.
Time with my husband
My husband started a new job recently that requires him to be in the office. His first day of work felt a bit surreal--it was the longest amount time we had been physically apart after 18 months of WFH (neither of us has taken any long trips separate from each other due to the pandemic, my pregnancy, and of course, Billable Baby). Distance definitely makes the heart grow fonder!
I attribute my relatively calm first 200 billable hours to a number of factors: (1) I have the luxury of working from home, (2) I haven't had to travel or attend any in-person meetings for work, (3) my workload hasn't crushed me (yet), (4) my husband is extremely supportive of my career and picks up my share of child care duties when I'm busy, (5) we have the financial means to afford a nanny, (6) Billable Baby is on a predictable schedule, and (7) everyone has been healthy. In other words, life hasn't thrown us any curve balls like the one that hit us in the face during Billable Baby's birth.
I know it will only get harder from here, so for now, I'm counting my many, many blessings.
(Source: image credit)
1 thought on “Reflections on the First 200 Billable Hours After Parental Leave”
Such a thoughtful post and so helpful to others envisioning what that work life balance looks like!!