This post has been in the making for a long while…. (You may have noticed a theme in recent posts, and, indeed I’m cleaning out my old drafts and finishing up posts that were left half-finished). In fact, this post is a reflection on the period in 2017-2018 when I was working 6 hours a day.
When I returned from maternity leave, I went back to a schedule of working 6 hours per day (this policy is by law in Ecuador, and is called “nursing leave” until your child is 1 year old), including 3 breaks for pumping. Practically, this meant that I was working 8am – 2pm. Some days I had to leave earlier to take my daughter for her checkup. Working a reduced schedule allowed me to spend the afternoons with my daughter, and take her to activities. It also meant that sometimes I could take a nap with my daughter.
At that time, my reduced schedule meant that I had very limited time for work. When I wanted to write this blog post in 2018, I stopped writing it, because I felt I had nothing positive to say about the reduced schedule. Looking back on this time, however, I’m more than grateful that I could spend the afternoons with my daughter. And, while at the time I was feeling that I was behind on everything, in hindsight it does not seem that bad. Yes, I published less in that year, but I also carried forward a fair amount of research work.
If I compare my calendar from 2018 with my current calendar, I certainly have many more meetings now as I supervise more students now and have more service and admin commitments. As I was making this comparison, the first thing that came to my mind was: “I don’t know how I would do a 6-hour schedule now”. On a second thought, however, I’m sure in the end I would somehow make it work, redistribute work to others, and find the time to spend my afternoons with my daughter.
Because, after all, a lot of what we pile on with respect to work is by choice – and having a choice, I’m happy that I got to spend my afternoons with my daughter when she was a baby. Those two or three less papers that year were more than worth it. And, looking back at that baby-year, I am reminded of how much more time I could free on my schedule.