I am two weeks into my life as a tenured professor. For the last two weeks I have been consumed by professional tasks - planning an institute, writing syllabi, visiting classrooms and guest teaching for the research I am doing, and writing an accreditation report. As I told my chair the other day, I am working harder now during the summer "break" than I did during the regular semester.
I am one week into my life without a babysitter and additional help around the house. A few weeks ago my babysitter informed me that she had been offered a job that would help build her resume for a career in the criminal justice system. (I guess it's a good thing that taking care of my children hasn't really given her any practical experience for working with criminals.) Given this crossroads heading into my kids' summer vacation, I had a decision to make - hire a summer sitter or wait until the fall to find someone new. I opted for the challenge of balancing work, house and childcare without the help of a regular sitter this summer.
For the first time in nearly 6 years, I don't have help with the kids' laundry, meals, and dishes. I don't have someone to run them to activities while I squeeze in a few extra hours of work in the afternoon.
All of the tasks that I delegated out so that I could focus on my career and still find a few moments now and then for "me" are now my responsibility.
The balance I recently achieved is seriously threatened.
This past week went reasonably well in terms of adjusting schedules and reconceptualizing tasks at home. I'm developing a routine that involves the kids in chores and involves me in more playtime with them. It will be a challenge as we move forward and I return to regular commuting into the city for my summer classes, but it is a manageable challenge.
To manage it, however, the balance must shift, and I am most afraid that the piece I will lose is the time for "me." All of my childcare time for the next three months must necessarily coincide with my work and writing time. I can no longer run errands, make appointments, and meet friends for lunch while the kids are in school/camp. I'm not sure where or how I will be able to carve out the time that I cherish for my rejuvenation, time that makes me a better wife, mother, friend, and educator.
But this is my summer challenge, and I will meet it with a willingness to learn and grow in this new phase of life.