On this my tenth day at work I broke my run of codeless days and wrote about three lines of javascript and three lines of C# (both surrounded by lots of boilerplate so it looked like I’d done more work than I did). And a teeny little html page. All this I sent off to a team of developers somewhere to whom we’ve outsourced the development of the next version of our web site, as an example of how we expect the web site to integrate with our product.

But most of my limited hours at work I spent in meetings or with Outlook, discussing and organizing. Activities like this used take up less than half of my time. Now that (a) work has piled up while I was gone and (b) various one-off things are happening, such as us hiring new staff and offshoring web work and (c) I only work half days, they take up all of my time. Not much to be done about it, I guess.

On the home front, Adrian is happier than he’s ever been. And I, too, feel better than I’ve done in weeks. Everybody is feeling good. And the reason is simple: we all have time for each other. Each afternoon the whole family is at home. Everybody gets the attention they need and want.

I spent the last weeks (or maybe even months) of my time at home in a near-constant state of low-level stress. Alone in charge of one to two kids for about eleven hours every weekday, with Eric at home for an hour in the morning and another hour in the evening. Each afternoon was a three-hour juggling session, trying to get dinner on the table while offering some love and attention to both kids.

The stress sort of crept up on me, so while I noticed it, I wasn’t fully aware of its weight on me. I was irritable much of the time, true. And I wasn’t sleeping very well. And each evening after the kids went to bed I was so exhausted mentally that I couldn’t even find the energy to read a book. But it somehow came to feel normal. Not good, but normal.

Having a stressed-out, irritable mum affected the kids, too, especially Adrian. I think we were both mirroring each other’s frustration, which is why he was mildly dissatisfied so much of the time. Now that I’m feeling better, he is, too.

I suppose that this is as good as everyday life can get (for the foreseeable future). Soon I will work longer days – probably not full load but I will at least get back to my previous 80% – because this is financially untenable in the long run. That still gets me home by 4.30 or so, well in time before someone needs to start cooking dinner, so it will reduce but not totally take away the time we can now spend with the kids in the afternoons. But then in January Eric also goes back to work, full time, and Adrian starts at nursery, and our evenings will again have lots of hurrying and little time for just being with each other.

I will savour this as much as I possibly can, while it lasts.