Monday, October 22, 2012

Flex time family decisions

For over a year now, my department has had the option of working from home one day each week. It might seem like a small thing, but that one day of working from home has been amazingly helpful. Busy weekend and no time to do laundry? I can get caught up while working in my PJs (trust me, nobody needs to see that). School function in the middle of the day? Work from home and don't miss a minute of it. Did I mention gas savings? I was surprised to see how much further my gas tank went just cutting one day of commute (I have about a 28-mile round-trip commute). Multiply that by at least 2, since my husband and I work for the same company and his department also has the ability to work from home at least once a week.

Recently, it was announced that the one day a week work-from-home policy has been going so well, we get to increase it. Now, we have the option to work from home two days each week! I. Am. ECSTATIC about this. No, really, ask my department manager about the “WOO-HOO!” I shouted out at the announcement. So, between my ability to work from home two days a week, and my husband’s ability to do the same (and often more), we recently discussed the option of pulling Sam out of daycare.

It was a short discussion. Sam’s staying in “school.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have my munchkin around me all the time during the week, and saving nearly $200/week on childcare would be a nice boon to our bottom line. But have you ever tried to be productive at tasks requiring concentration and brainpower when you have a two-year-old constantly peppering you with questions or wanting to sit in your lap or being so adorably irresistible when he’s asking you, “come pay wif me?” Yeah... it’s tough.

More importantly, though, we feel that Sam is learning more in school than we could teach at home, and will ultimately be better prepared for “real” school when the time comes. He loves his teachers, and they love him. He’s made friends and is learning early that toys must be shared, teachers must be listened to, and that the world doesn’t always run on his schedule. And, let’s not forget the blessing behind the curse of “daycare germs.” Yes, he’s had his share of “daycare crud” colds and bugs, but he’s also building that little immune system so that – hopefully – he’ll have fewer sick days from “big school” when he gets there.

So, right now, I’m happy with just having Dark Brown Sugar Bear (yes, that’s really his name, and yes, we have a Light Brown Sugar Bear, also) and the dog to keep me company on my work from home days. The house is quiet; I get lots of work done and am able to fully enjoy the raucous-ness in the evenings when everyone’s home.

We’ll likely revisit the childcare discussion in a few years when Sam starts kindergarten. Maybe then we’ll opt to give up childcare if our work schedules are still as flexible as they are now.

Do you have flexibility in your work or childcare schedule? How do you decide what works best for your family?

Julie Daneman is wife to Bryan, Stepmom to Jacob and Caleb, and Mommy to Sam. They are a boisterous, loving, happy interfaith family.

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