I've essentially always worked since I finished school. I was lucky enough to find work pretty quickly in France, too. And I only took a few months off when Juliette was born, though I again had some very light work days when I returned to my job. But it has taken a bit of adjustment to have this much spare time. How do I fill that time, you may ask?
Tea, tea and more tea
Luckily I've got colleagues and girlfriends who are kind of in the same situation lately. And what do ladies with gaps in their schedule do? They get together for tea. And cookies. And chatting. This slow period also being in winter, tea or hot chocolate are the things to drink. So in addition to checking out a salon de thé with one friend, I've had girlfriends over for a quick tea. And I've been able to go to morning tea with the Anglican group. That's something I could never do when my schedule was filled.
I'm so lucky to have discovered this group through my other expat friends. It's quite amusing just to listen and observe. The women who come range in age from 30 to 75. Some are British with chirpy or crisp sing-songy accents, as compared to my "flat" American one. There is tea, Marks and Spencers, last time, and conversation. Last time an older Scottish woman asked in her soft voice if anyone was going to England and could pick up some black currant throat losenges. When the other ladies said that brand was available in France, she said, but not the black currant ones. Some French women come to practice their English. Once a year they do a book sale with mostly English books. It's a very pleasant way to pass the time.
Time sort of well spent
At first I had high hopes of getting some of those old projects done. Like finally finishing my photobook creation online or, who knows, actually filling the photo albums from Juliette's toddler years. So many projects, so little motivation. Because now that I actually do have some time, I generally prefer to do other things. Like drink tea. And get Juliette for lunch or on Wednesday afternoon when she has no school. I have done a wee bit of organizing.
It's also been an opportunity to get some long-needed doctor visits out of the way. I've been to the dentist and Juliette, too (her first time, mind you!) and I took her to the dermatologist. It's just a little easier to arrange these things when my schedule is lighter.
And as you may have noticed I've been a bit better about regular blog posts. It's a slightly positive note that in no way will counterbalance what will surely be puny pay for January.
I also was able to snap some photos in the snow one morning (since I had the time...)
I wish I could tell you I've cleaned my house from top to bottom and totally solved my organisational issues. That would be lying. But I have cleaned my living room windows a bit more than usual. And I must say, of all the methods mentioned to me by overzealous French cleaners, the winner is... good old Windex. Whenever I try the white vinegar and soap, it still seems to leave streaks that look worse than before. Even trying to use a squeegee to dry it up leaves streaks (guess I'm not ready for Olympic Squeegee trials).
Let's face it, I'm just not a clean freak. When I have time to spare, I'd rather be doing more interesting things like baking, writing, playing with Juju... But not having to rush off to work right away some mornings means my kitchen is generally a little cleaner than when I have to start at 8 o'clock. I've been able to stay a bit more on top of my recycling bin and trash. Anyway, when our lives are over, I don't think we'll say, man, I should have scrubbed my house more often. However, they do say, cleaning can help you "clean out" your mind, too and settle things for you. Just seeing something that you made cleaner yourself can give a feeling of satisfaction.
The best of both worlds?
In the end I know that I need to work both to keep us afloat financially and for my own mental health. By saying that I mean absolutely nothing negative for those women who are full-time housewives, be it by choice or because circumstances have put them in that position. I just see for myself I need activities to get me out of the house (work or otherwise) and the company of colleagues and friends (lucky for me my colleagues are friends, too). That said, I really enjoy having some flexibility in my schedule and being able to participate in other activities. Soon my work will increase (I hope!) and these will just be distant musings. I'm glad to have had this time for myself.
Where do you see yourself on this issue? Can you stay home? Do you want to? What's ideal for you?