25 Nov 2012
I went back to working full time in July.
After a reasonable period of part-time with an unencumbered day off to
clean, shop, drink coffee, run errands, write, it was something of a shock to go to work every day. In the beginning this was only to be a six week stint, and then back to the previous arrangement. Of course, life doesn’t always work like that, and I found myself negotiating to move to full time and to move jobs.
Lots of people have asked me how I manage. I am always reticent to talk about the difficulties because they are wholly middle class problems. I chose to work full time, and if I were really unhappy with the arrangements I could change them. It is not a necessity for our survival.
I do think that there are compromises, cut corners, sacrifices and bargains. There is also outsourcing and a slackening of standards. What bothers me the most is the enrichment activities that I can’t do with Benedict. In Canberra there are so many activities, lots of them free, it’s easy to get to most of them; the only issue is making time.
I try to take him to the monthly Art and Me program at the National Gallery of Australia. It is a fantastic program with excellent early childhood educators and art is a gap in my knowledge and I always learn something.
I would like to participate more in Libraries ACT’s excellent activities for young children. Watch the excellent Vanessa Little talking on 7:30 ACT last Friday about her plans for the libraries of Canberra and their transformation. These programs in the libraries are vital for all kids, particularly kids with parents with low literacy. The library is a gateway to reading, to experiences, to other people who are not like you, to life long habits and patterns where reading holds a primary place in a life.
There are other experiences that I wish I could do with Benedict during the week. Paint and Play, a weekly outdoor riot of kids activities in local parks around Canberra. Swimming. Kids music programs. Bike riding in the park in the afternoon. These are the activities that I wish I could do. These are the sacrifices.
Of course this choice to work means that we have great financial stability and it means I can buy lots and lots of book to make up for the lack of trips to the library, but it isn’t the same as engagement with the community. It is no substitute for a broad range of experiences with a broad range of other kids and in quality early childhood programs.
My challenge for the new year is how to make sure we participate in more of these kinds of activities that bring joy.