My 4 Day Workweek: Am I Doing it Right?

January 16, 2019

Clearly, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to best prioritize and use the hours that I have. Like most parents in a busy phase of my work life, there is a lot going on. Which really is a great problem to have!

One major source of chaos right there!

I recognize that I am incredibly lucky to be able to work a 4-day work week. I chose to take this 20% pay cut (not a small sum!) to have one day in which to:

  • Be available for the kids (appointments, school events, days off, events, etc) at times – often this requires moving patients because I don’t know when they will be, but having a day off allows for the flexibility to do this (ie I have somewhere to move them TO, whereas I did not when I was full time).
  • Catch up on life’s obligations: dr’s appointments, home administrative things like paying bills or balancing our budget, some errands that I prefer to do myself
  • Spend time on my creative endeavors, such as this blog, the podcast, and hopefully at some point (soon) a writing project
  • Enjoy some treats sometimes, like a mani/pedi, shopping at an actual store, or lunch with a friend

This was working fairly well until G was born. Then nursing happened, and all the sudden I felt like I was mostly just on baby duty. And nap duty (necessary at the time when G was not sleeping at night). It felt absolutely right for that phase of time. But now I think I’d like to reclaim some of that time. I don’t think I’d have any problem dropping G off in day care, honestly, if that was our childcare situation, for at least part of the day. But with our nanny here and her RIGHT THERE, I often end up hanging out with her rather than getting much done for myself. And then I wonder whether my 20% sacrifice is really worth it. It’s not that I don’t want to spend some time with G, but I don’t necessarily need it to be all day — we definitely do that on weekends already.

(Note, I definitely feel an undercurrent of: “Am I a terrible person for not wanting to spend 100% of my free time with my toddler?” because that is what I am supposed to want, right? I mean, she’s so cute and squishy and loving and needy? And yet I know I would support any of my friends facing a similar quandary with total understanding.)

So, I think I probably need to be stricter about setting an agenda for what I’d like to do for these days. I also need to probably GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. I am dying to catch up on several home projects today that have been languishing on my goals list for months. They are important to me (otherwise I would have nixed them from the list!) but never seem to be a priority.

And there can still be some G-time, A-time, and C-time.

Hmmm. Things to ponder.


  • Reply Sarah K March 10, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    You’re not terrible! I’ve never had a stay home nanny so any random day I managed to get off work while my kids were still in school, I relished to the fullest! I’d say yes – plan a day outside the house. Or maybe G and nanny can go on an outing?

  • Reply gwinne March 10, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Yes….getting out of the house is a good idea. I often use a Sunday afternoon babysitter for 3 hrs; I go to the gym and then hole up in a coffee shop and catch up on work/prep for the week. I could not do that in the same space as my child and have it be productive (and he’s now 7).

  • Reply KGC March 10, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    Another vote for sending THEM (G+G) out of the house for a little while to give you some time at home. It’s too easy to get distracted while they are in the house (even if you are ‘supposed’ to be in one area and they are ‘supposed’ to be in another). If they aren’t there, then the guilt disappears and you get some time to yourself to get stuff done that actually needs to be done while in the house. And you leaving to get stuff done is also an option, but sometimes there are projects that really require you to be in your home!

    You and Laura have normalized my need for time away from my toddler, so there’s no reason you can’t do the same for yourself. I love my kiddo (2 years 9 months, with another on the way) but I’m a better mom to him when we both get some time away. For one, then I actually get things done and can focus on him during the time when we are together. I work full time in the medical field with an hour commute each way (ughhhh) so sort of feel like I should be with him all the time when I’m not at work but then I just end up an anxious mess about some of the other non-work, non-kid stuff that also needs to happen. Compartmentalizing time to be productive lets me relax and actually play/engage with him during the designated kid-time.

    Good luck!
    (also I feel like this came across as too much of ‘giving advice’ when it really shouldn’t be…mostly because you have more kids and more experience at Mom-ing than I do and I basically feel like I’m floundering about 97% of the time. So take it with a grain of salt!)

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Yes, get out! Do something fun/pampering or go to a coffee shop to work on your writing/side projects or do blog stuff. I know its tempting to stay home but impossible to truly feel like you can get a break otherwise. And OBVIOUSLY I don’t think you should feel guilty in any way!

  • Reply Gina Kim March 10, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    I would ask the nanny to take G out on fri mornings on a regular basis. Then you can get stuff done at the house and then leave in the afternoons for errands.

  • Reply Sb March 10, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    You need to leave the house. Sure, sometimes your nanny can leave with G, but They may not be able to all the time. Are there coworking places in your new neighborhood? I rent a desk for $60 per month and I love it. Also, sometimes I get distracted by Dylan when I’m trying to get work done, and lately I’ve just been trying to embrace it, because that’s when we have the best conversations.

  • Reply Maxine March 10, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Appreciate that you are normalizing time away from toddler. I struggle with this with my 22-month-old, and it seems his separation anxiety is worsening. My big mental block is finding a caregiver/nanny as we just moved and it’s hard to find someone! Agree with nanny taking G out in mornings. Also appreciating your frequent posting, esp in light of recent blog transition and your move! Thanks for all the good you are putting out into the blog and podcast spheres.

  • Reply Millie March 10, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    I had a nanny from when my daughter was 4 months old until she was 2.5 and we moved/started daycare. And I worked from home the whole time. I agree with the the others who are saying that the nanny should be taking your child out without you. My nanny’s daily routine included morning and afternoon stroller walks when she was littler and a combination of stroller walks/neighborhood playground visits when she was older. We were lucky in our old location– there was a walk/run/bike path that ran behind the house and the park was very close by, as well. That time with them out of the house was pretty important for me to be able to get things done.

    As far as the feeling terrible goes… I get it, because I cannot express how much I LIVE for daycare sometimes. I love my daughter to pieces, but work is honestly easier. And I do also often wish for time that was just mine for R&R without a continuous awareness of the clock. There have been a few days where my daughter was in daycare and I wasn’t working, but they’ve never felt truly free.

  • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly March 10, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    Could the nanny take G out to the playground or something to allow you some quiet time in the house? Then maybe you could go out while they’re back at the house. I think if they’re around and you have no other agenda, it’s easy to feel guilty but if you have some sort of plan you won’t end up puttering around doing kid stuff. That’s how I feel, anyway, when I’m in the house with the kids and a babysitter. Also, FWIW, I had the hardest time with 1 year olds….they’re cute but also not that communicative and I sometimes struggled to spend much time with my kids at that age. I like the even ages!

  • Reply Erica March 10, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    You’re not terrible at all – toddlers are all of those things but they are also exhausting … and frankly kind of boring. I usually squander my rare days off because of poor planning. Maybe you could make a Gretchen Rubin-style Power Hour list of the things you want to accomplish and set up a schedule of your day the same way you would at work. It might not feel as relaxing, but I think you like to schedule in your downtime as much as your work time :).

  • Reply Anon March 10, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    I work from home and have a nanny for my son, who’s just a bit older than G. I love seeing him but yes it can be distracting! On days when work is light I wonder if I should feel guilty, but the truth is that I love my job and I still see my son for many hours of the day. Both of us are happy, and from the pics you post of G she seems extremely happy too : ) The routine we’ve fallen into (not with much design, but basically due to nap schedules) is they go on an outing or to a playgroup in the AM and then return home for lunch and PM nap. I have the house to myself to work in the morning (or do house projects if work is slow), and then in the PM time I am either out of the house or make myself scarce doing work or other quiet things, aka bill paying/home organization. We live in a small apartment so this schedule has been a lifesaver! I don’t know how much having the older two complicates things in the afternoon but even if you could have some time in the morning to yourself while G and nanny go out, might be useful?

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