After two years of pushing full-time to help Stay Forth have its best chance of “making it” I sensed a change was coming. I had asked my amazing wife for a two year pass to push harder than normal, and my buzzer was approaching. In addition to fighting through lingering losses from the pandemic season my wife stepped into a full-time role for the first time since having four kids.
In order to account for these changes I prepared to shift my work day to end by 3:00. It seemed like the only way it could all work. This would give me more time for the kids, random family tasks (that have to get done) and carrying more of the load at home (like making dinner my kids would inevitably complain about).
I’m six months into ending my work day by 3:00, and I’m loving it. Please know that my decision and journey is descriptive, not prescriptive. It’s not the right way, it’s our way in this season. And yes, I’m privileged to have the autonomy to make this decision that many don’t have the privilege of making.
Here’s what I’ve learned quitting work by 3:00…
I was missing valuable connection time. The afternoon hours of snacks, homework, errands and dinner prep are valuable hours I wasn’t able to connect with the heart of my kids.
Work grows to the time we allot for it. Parkinson’s Law tells us that things grow to fill the space we have for them. Work is the same. When we have less time we “magically” figure out how to get it done in that time.
Stay-at-home parents are All Stars! They don’t get enough credit. I now have TONS more respect for them!
Saying NO is hard, but essential. The shortened work day has forced me to more carefully filter my NO and YES, and I’m grateful for that. I have to make sharper decisions more closely aligned to my priorities.
There are effective ways to save time (without rushing). Limitation breeds innovation. When we need to get things done in less time we get creative and efficient. Limits can be gifts and pathways.
There’s no template for parenting. The needs of your family are unique and seasonal. This gameplan might not work for you. Some of you may even be appalled that I don’t see my kids until the afternoon five days a week. Figure out what your family needs and what would have to be true to meet those needs.
We get better with reps (even with scheduling). We improve with reps. My wife and I have gotten better at scheduling and communication over time. For the first few months this was hard and awkward, now it’s starting to work and feel easier. Hang in there; every day is a rough draft.
Running your own thing can control you more than working a “regular” job. Lots of people come to me dreaming of the day they can create their own schedule. Lots of people also come to me wondering why they feel trapped by “their own thing”. Don’t believe the lie that creating your own schedule and leading your own thing is THE pathway to freedom.
Life is about tradeoffs. There’s no perfect solution that won’t cost you anything. Life is full of sacrifices; just make sure they align with your priorities.