Last spring, I explained why I left my job of almost five years. I left a job I loved and where I worked with many people I loved. But after the birth of my daughter, the hours became too much. I was stretched too thin and close to a breaking point. I had to find a job that required fewer hours and more flexibility. Several months into my search, I found one that allowed me a 4 day work week and a few less hours. I made the change for my daughter, to have more time at home to play, cuddle, and to watch her grow.
But, while the work was interesting, my new job turned out to be almost as many hours as I had before, just chunked up differently. The flexibility was great, but the hours were still too many. I had an extra day with Maddie, but I often gave up my nights and her nap time to work. This meant less time for sleep, exercise, my spouse, my friends, and my solitude. (And if you’ve read another one of my posts, you’ll see why alone time is important to me.) So with a few less work hours, my mommy cup was full, but my Amy cup was empty.
Now eight months later, I’ve left my job again in search of even fewer hours with even more flexibility. But this time I didn’t do it for her. This time I did it for me. (Please substitute parent, daddy, nanny, grandparent, guardian, whatever for mommy throughout as you please. No discrimination here.)
We’ve come a long way since the 50’s housewife days when many mommies gave up everything to cook, clean, and care for their families. But even in this new century, society still pressures mothers (whether conscience or not) to live for our family, help them realize their dreams while putting aside our own. In the age of helicopter parenting, soccer moms, preschool waiting lists, double booked schedules, and constant communication….we have no time for ourselves. You see time and time again mothers putting themselves last, ignoring their physical and emotional health for the sake of their family, and becoming more and more unhappy for it. But the kicker is, the less we take care of ourselves, the less we are able to take care of others, and the less fulfilling our daily lives become.
Our modern society leaves so little time for self care, and it’s taking a toll on everyone – in the form of more chronic disease, more violence, more substance abuse, and so on.
Without the time to take care of me, I felt depleted emotionally and physically. I was sicker, crankier, short tempered, and blasé about things that once energized me. So I left my new job to gain more time to take care of myself, to fill my cup with all the things that make me..well me.
I think the old saying goes, “when mommy isn’t happy, nobody’s happy”. So I’m choosing to be happy, be fulfilled, be present, and be healthy for me and everyone I love. And that means (at least for me) working less and doing the work I truly want and love to do.
So I’ve started my own business, Amy Landry Communications, which will (part-time) consult with small and medium size healthcare organizations on communications strategy. I’ll choose my clients, choose my hours, and choose the work – finding activities that excite me and challenge me, while leaving time for my family and myself.
I signed my first client this past month, a fascinating healthcare analytics company in Palo Also, HBI Solutions. I’ve got coffees and lunches set up with many friends and colleagues to build a larger client base going forward. In the month since I quit, I’ve already taken a five day trip alone with my husband (marriage cup) added about five or more hours of sleep to my week (health cup), started lifting weights and exercising more (health cup), and started reading and writing again (mental health cup). I start my new venture in earnest next week both excited and invigorated. With Amy’s cup maybe now half full and filling, I’ll soon be prepared to take tiny sips from it when needed, but will be careful to never let it empty again.