life Reading

5 on a Friday: Time, Booties, Books, Etc

February 3, 2023

1- Time & 60% Thoughts

So. I am ~4 months into my 60% transition (began 10/1). In general, I really love it. I actually *do* feel I can effectively disconnect from clinical work on my days off, which is awesome. YES, my inbox is a little more full each time I come in (because messages/results build over 2 days instead of just 1) but it has been manageable.

On the flip side . . . I am having a hard time corralling my creative work to the 2 days/week. There always seems to be some ‘exception’ – a kid dr appointment, a sick kid, a call week. I did some dumb things like take off a Monday but then add patients to a Tuesday (totally warranted if I were running out of PTO time, but I’m not!). ALSO, once the kids get home (~3:30) — it is very hard to focus. They may not need me, but they want me! Which is not necessarily a bad thing. BUT I don’t necessarily like the work that overflows – like having to record podcast episodes on weekends or after work at the end of a clinical day.

MAYBE I need to do a more ruthless job using the hours I have. MAYBE I need to hold off on any judgments. MAYBE I need to recognize that getting BLPA off the ground took a lot of work, and now that it is scaffolded things might be easier. . . but I’m always thinking of more things I want to do, so I kind of doubt it.

I don’t think I can realistically go any lower than 60% at work so there’s no easy solution here but I’m going to start being a little more aware/careful about how I am using my clinical days.


One of you remarked that yesterday’s dress would look good with some booties. I AGREE. But which ones? I’m hoping I can find wedges (or a blockier heel) that look formal enough because I don’t think my feet are excited about stilettos.

(The event is a 10 year anniversary dinner at a nice NC steakhouse later this month for context!)

These are probably too casual with the dress . . . but they look comfortable . . . if any fashionable people reading this have ideas I would welcome them!

3- Weekend plan

Well, I’m on call. But I’m hoping for:

Saturday: easy run + weights (early), take A&G to gymnastics (YNAB audit while I’m there!), take A (and possibly G tagging along) to haircut, drop A off at sleepover, round in hospital. Takeout . . . sushi vs Mediterranean maybe . . .

Sunday: longish run (10 mi with a faster component), round in hospital, get some BLP work done, hopefully have some time to relax. A wants to make dinner! Week prep stuff, though I want to meal plan/make grocery list today!

4- Currently reading + enjoying:

love his writing style, as I did in A Gentleman in Moscow. It somehow reads . . . in an elegant way, but also feels like it goes by quickly. His words just flow very well.

5- Date nights – Not for me this weekend (see CALL above) but Josh has been taking the kids on some 1:1 Friday night date nights! He spends a lot of time with C (as the main soccer parent – thank the lord because my circadian rhythms reject the nighttime practices/games) but he took A a couple of weeks ago and tonight he’s taking G. Super cute and I’m not sure whether he was influenced by BOBW (mommy days?) but either way . . . love it.


  • Reply Courtney February 3, 2023 at 12:17 pm

    Nothing but solidarity and commiseration on the idea that the time not spent working at a part time traditional paying job is much less than you think once you add in the rest of life. I work part time ideally 20 hours, but actually more like 25–30 hours, and by the time we add all the life things not covered by daycare, housekeepers, and my husband, there’s just not much time leftover.

    • Reply Brenna February 4, 2023 at 8:24 am

      Are those the Toms booties? If so, highly recommend! I love them and I have had a few pairs over the years and they are so comfortable!

  • Reply gwinne February 3, 2023 at 12:27 pm

    Sarah, something about the 3:30 time shift really resonated with me. One of the things that your new schedule might not (yet) have accounted for is your kids are growing up and have different schedules, which will never change, and that might in fact mean you want to be more available in the evenings/after school hours. Looking back, my “easiest” time as a working parent–at least from the angle of having most control over my own schedule–was when I had ONE child in the 5-7 age, because that particular child slept for 12 hr stretches (now granted those years also coincided with fertility treatment, so very challenging from every other angle!) But I had a couple hours each night to myself, even if much of that was work.

    Since the pandemic–and this is also since Tiny Boy has gotten older (8+)–I realize I am less available at 3:45 when he gets home. I do teach two days / week until 5:00 pm and use aftercare to accommodate….but H is NOT willing to be in aftercare other days, as he used to be in the beforetimes. So what I do in the afternoons now is a mishmash, depending. I can easily do zoom meetings or email or other work tasks that do not require “deep work” because Tiny Boy’s mode is crashing hard in front of the TV. When we hang out together in the evenings, it’s later, during or after dinner.

    My willingness to work on the weekends has also shifted over the course of my 18+ years parenting; I have now shifted to a no-Saturday, okay-Sunday afternoon work policy (pretty standard for several years) but this year, partly to accommodate reduced hours on weekdayd (see above, and some medical appointments) I might need to return to some Saturday work again. My overall work hours have not changed radically over my career, but WHEN I work has.

    I really suck at time tracking, but I should look more carefully at particular moments (i.e. 3:30-9:00 pm and weekends) to fine tune.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger February 3, 2023 at 12:43 pm

      Yep – the activities are real, and the kids needing/wanting me more in some ways is real, too. AND me wanting to be there more (no secret I prefer tweens to toddlers!). You may be right that reframing a weekend work session makes sense. Maybe one lazy/napping weekend afternoon and one working one . . .

    • Reply omdg February 3, 2023 at 3:12 pm

      I agree with this. The afternoons are definitely taken up by more kid stuff now that my daughter is 11. I’ve been accommodating this as much as possible by getting up and starting work earlier (by 6:30 or 7 most days). That way if she needs me to do math with her when she gets home at 4, I am READY for a break, and I don’t feel as guilty about not doing any more work for the day.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns February 3, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    Wow, it’s already been 4 months since you made this change! That has gone fast, but at the same time you are still really early into this change. So I think it’s good to recognize what is challenging and try to put some changes in place. Can your kids see you when they get home or are you in an office with the door closed? If you aren’t in a room w/ a door closed that might help them see that you are off limits at that time? That said, I’ve never had a caretaker in the home like you do… but when our kids are at home with us and Phil is in charge, I’m in my basement office w/ the door shut. Or could the nanny takes the kids to do something at that time, like plan to take them to a park, etc? The other stuff that has come up is hard but is probably/hopefully seasonal since this is a period of time when kids get sick more often…

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger February 3, 2023 at 12:45 pm

      Sometimes they are outside or at activities. But also sometimes they want to talk w me or want homework help. Oddly enough the older they are the harder it can be at times to sub in childcare. Not necessarily something I anticipated!

      • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns February 3, 2023 at 3:57 pm

        That is interesting about it being harder to sub in childcare as they get older. That’s something I never would have thought of, but that seems to be the sentiment from other commenters, too! But it sounds like you are happy to get pulled into those conversations/take them to activities/etc. You might just need to reframe how much you get done during those off days. It’s hard for me to even wrap my mind around this because my job will always be full time or nothing due to the nature of my industry – which I am ok with. But I like reading about your experience and imagining how I would structure my days.

  • Reply KGC February 3, 2023 at 12:39 pm

    It’s really helpful to read about your transition to 60%. I’d eventually like to do something similar, but have always wondered how much time I’d really get back because all of the ‘life stuff’ would probably just fill the space. In any case, I wonder if you need to remove yourself from the house during those non-clinical days if you truly want a ‘full’ workday that ends at 5, rather than 3:30. I assume your nanny is there, so the kids don’t actually need you to be home? You could take this time to hit a local coffee shop 2x/week or the library – just someplace where you can continue to work for 1-2 hours to actually get the full day. Otherwise, you’re not actually working for 40 hours total (and my impression has been that you wanted to work the same number of hours, just with a different balance of clinical vs. BOBW/BLPA/etc).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger February 3, 2023 at 12:46 pm

      Yeah, I’m not sure I feel particularly strong about 40 hours!!! I want to get a lot done, but if a kid wants me to take them to 4:30 gymnastics then I want to be able to do it 🙂

      • Reply KGC February 3, 2023 at 3:32 pm

        Ah okay! I couldn’t tell whether you wanted the extra work time or just were musing that it isn’t there now that the kids are around =) I recall from LagLiv’s original BOBW appearance that she was glad to have been less available when the kids were younger because they are needy in a different way as they get older (and in a way that she prefers to be there for). Sounds like you are in the same boat!!

  • Reply Jacqui February 3, 2023 at 1:19 pm

    Love the dress from yesterday! I think a black platform shoe with a chunky heel would look great with it-something like this:

  • Reply Lori C February 3, 2023 at 1:33 pm

    I am not fashionable but I love those booties!

  • Reply Megan February 3, 2023 at 1:42 pm

    These everlane heels look pretty comfortable but still elegant:

  • Reply Grateful Kae February 3, 2023 at 3:03 pm

    I remember feeling surprised when I started working from home full time in 2016 how I swear, I’d blink and the kids would be coming home from school already. They really aren’t gone THAT long- certainly not normally an 8-5 workday+ commute… at a stretch, mine are gone just over 7 hours. And I think it’s easy to originally think, Oh, I’m going to have this whole long day to do all this stuff!! But you inevitably end up moving at just a little slower pace than you would on a regular workday, because… you can. You don’t “have” to race out the door, so maybe you linger doing breakfast dishes, or wake up a little later, or decide to work out during the day, etc. I remember thinking I was going to have SO much extra time due to no commute anymore, but in reality, that extra 35 minutes each way gets sucked right up usually and I barely even notice that extra time anymore.

    I’d say if you really want to utilize that time to the max for your side job, you’ll have to be pretty deliberate with how you spend those ~7 hours before the kids are home. I know I used to think I could just sort of take a real loose approach to the days, but I very soon found the time just wasn’t stretching for me like I thought it would! I usually have to be pretty strict with my time in order to ensure I’m really using it well on work days, especially if I want to wrap up early when the kids get home or schedule a workout break. Because otherwise it can be so easy to have the time just slip away…. 🙂 Maybe on your work days you can “block” say, 9-11:30 and 12-2:30 or something and just put your head down and work with zero interruptions during those blocks, making sure to really try to avoid appts or scheduling anything during those designated “work hours”. Or whatever works for you- maybe you do 10:30-3 with minimal breaks, allowing 8-10 for workouts or appts or whatever, and after 3 you basically plan to just be done and with the kids. Cal would argue you could get a lot done in 4.5 hours of deep work. 😉

  • Reply Gillian February 3, 2023 at 6:08 pm

    So I work at home 2 days a week. My kids are big. I schedule a break when my kids get home at 3 and then I dive back in at about 3:30. One day a week I have a meeting scheduled outside the house at 4p.m. and Fridays if I need to keep working I tell my au pair I need to keep going and she wrangles them. It isn’t always easy but with big kids you can set up the expectation that you are working and you can be with them at a certain time. I plan to cut off at 5 on my work from home days so I get another 90 minutes of work in after they arrive home from school.

    You could also purposely schedule them to be out of the house on the afternoons when you are home…playdates, after school activities etc.

  • Reply Elisabeth February 3, 2023 at 7:44 pm

    On paper I have exclusively worked part-time since having kids (in that time I also co-founded two small businesses and that work is…never done!) and know several mothers who have commented on how much free time I must have; while my work is flexible, it is INTENSE to be home when the kids arrive at the end of the day. And they are only gone ~6 hours. The math does not add up and I do typically work some in the evenings/on weekends. It is hard to find part-time care where we live and we don’t need a full-time nanny, so our paid childcare is limited…and it is rare they have school all five days in a week; between snowdays and inservices and holidays, the majority of weeks seem to be 4-day.

    At this stage the kids have big emotions, need/want help with homework and are up so much later than they were in toddlerhood/the preschool era. I’ve chosen to be home and available and don’t regret the decision…but it’s not glamorous and I’m not lying on the coach watching soap operas and eating bonbons.

    I really enjoyed The Lincoln Highway! Not as much as A Gentleman in Moscow, but still such a treat to read.

  • Reply Gina February 3, 2023 at 9:39 pm

    I have these booties from Toms that are really easy to wear

    They also have a cut-out version are cute and add a little extra style

  • Reply cooc February 3, 2023 at 11:03 pm

    glad to hear you are liking your new part time work. it might still be transition time, just like I am, and things might fall into place in few more months (that’s what I am telling myself). Every change is uncertain, every change takes time to settle, so I try not to over judge it when it’s still in transition.

  • Reply Emilie Schario February 4, 2023 at 6:52 am

    Have you thought about timing it so you move to a coffee shop right before the kids get home? An hour and a half of deep work at Starbucks between 3:30 and 5 can really make a difference

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger February 4, 2023 at 12:10 pm

      Ooh those are cute

  • Reply L. February 4, 2023 at 10:56 pm

    When my kids were in upper elementary and middle school, they needed me to be around and listen a lot. I tried to get home early a few days a week and those days I’d do more extensive dinner prep or clean a kitchen drawer or something that could be interrupted or I could do while listening. It’s also a good time to batch little things – making online reservations, drafting something to revise later, going through the mail etc

  • Reply Kate February 5, 2023 at 4:16 am

    I’d probably try something a little edgier with the dress – like these

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