Get Out

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Sometimes all you need is to get out.

The past few weeks have been a big change for me. I’ve loved every second of them, sure, but I have begun a new chapter in my first-time-mum journey and wow – it’s full on.

For the first time since Ashton was born, I’ve taken up a desk job. It’s not full-time, and my employers are awesome so my work hours fit completely around my schedule with my son. This means I’m able to keep him out of childcare and work in the afternoons when Olly is home.

I work an hour here and there, I work at home, I work in the office and I’m still a mum.

Basically, as I mentioned above, it’s been full on. The juggle is real!

One of the things that keeps me going is the fact that I love the work I’m doing. Still I’ll admit that there is tension in my life right now. All I want to do is get absolutely stuck into my job, but before I know it the two hours has flown by and I have to pack up, go home and switch back in to mama-mode.

Having a job (full-time or part-time) instantly changes the dynamics of your parenthood life. There’s not as much down time anymore. There’s no more “let’s see how the day goes”. Instead, everything in your day (including your child) rotates around your work schedule.

If you know me, you’ll know I’ve been pretty fluid on the ol’ “schedule” with my baby thus far. To put it bluntly, I have never been able to stick to anything regarding sleeps or feeds. So having a start time and end time to my working days has been a bit of a struggle.

It’s times like these where I become so incredibly thankful for my amazing husband.

A long time ago he organized a family get-away to the Bay of Islands. So on Friday afternoon, once my drama class had wrapped up (yes, another “on-the-side” job) we set off for Paihia.

We stayed at a house two minutes from the shops. My parents, twin sister, brother-in-law, youngest brother and youngest brother’s girlfriend all stayed with us.

On Saturday we took the ferry across to Russell and spent the morning drinking good coffee and visiting the historical sites. That evening, back in Paihia, we sat on the wharf drinking cocktails in the warm autumn sun. We ordered Thai take-away and played a game of Taboo at home while Ashton slept. We stayed up to watch the Royal wedding. We didn’t do much else.

The day was like magic from a bottle. Everything great spilled out, all at once, instantly.

My schedule slipped my mind. The more time I spent with people who mattered to me, the more I relaxed into my seat and the larger my smile became. The happiness around me was infectious.

On Sunday we drove to Keri Keri and walked down to the first Missionary settlement in New Zealand. There was such a feeling of peace permeating the air. I watched my husband and son playing together on the grass where the first New Zealand church service was held over 200 years ago. Suddenly the ins and outs of my week seemed miniscule.

Here were my joys. Father and son. Olly swooped Ashton up in the air who laughed uncontrollably in response. A big joy, a little joy. My boys, playing together without a care in the world.

As I sat on the grass reflecting, I found that in the last three weeks I had been so absorbed in my job, I’d forgotten about this kind of stuff. I’d forgotten about how much I loved to watch my boys playing together. I’d forgotten to just sit and watch.

It is so easy to get caught up in whatever our weeks throw at us. It’s like we feel the need to be constantly on the go, to be ticking off the boxes on our never-ending lists, to be charging through it all.

To some extent that’s life. Work is our reality and work comes with striving to achieve your goals. I always knew getting back into the workforce would create tension between home life and work life. While I’m okay with that, I just hope I don’t ever lose sight of what’s really important:

What happens when my work day is done.

See, some things are worth waiting for. Some holidays require months of saving up money and planning excessively. Sometimes you have to wait for the “ultimate get-away”.

But mamas (and dadas too), sometimes “getting away” simply means clocking out. Leaving work at work. Making your down time nothing but down time. It seems simple, but it’s so easy to check your emails from home or to stay late just to get a few more tasks completed. It can become such a regular thing that we hardly notice it encroaching into the family life we once said we’d keep sacred.

What I’m trying to say is, take a freakin’ break!

I get that sometimes that’s more difficult than it should be. Not everyone can drop everything to go for a holiday on a whim. But sometimes a “break” doesn’t look like a fancy, expensive treat-yo-self holiday. Sometimes it means travelling an hour or two up north in your own backyard. Sometimes it means hanging at home in your pajamas, watching your little one play. Sometimes it means cancelling all your plans and planning to do NOTHING.

Your break is waiting for you. Take it from me, it’ll enable you to do your job well, whether that’s as a mum, as a worker, or as a superhero (or all three).

Rachel Chen