In April, I left my former life as a Big Law (firm) lawyer for the wonderful life of an in-house (governmental) counsel. In addition to the usual perk of schedule stability that comes with in-house counsel life, my new gig also comes with a perk often unheard of for attorneys, in-house or otherwise—every other Friday off. This magnificent perk is part of an Employee Travel Reduction (“ETR”) work plan. The General Counsel of my company did warn me before I started that there’s a remote possibility that I would have to work on an ETR day or two a couple of times a year [in his position, he has to work quite a few; but that’s rare for the other attorneys], but at least when that rare occurrence happens, I would have the luxury of being able to work from home, in my pajamas, rather than trekking out to the office. In the four months I’ve been here, I’ve only had to work one ETR day. Ironically, it was my second week of work (my first ETR day). The Monday after, it was clear how rare working on one’s ETR day must be, as I had several visits from internal higher-ups (including our Executive Director—the equivalent of a CEO in the private sector) thanking me, commending me, and apologizing to me for working on my day off… even though it was only a few hours out of my day.
Every ETR day, I have huge plans for my day off. The Pop Culture Girls are still at school on those days, and Pop Culture Dad is at work, so it seems like with nearly 10 hours to myself, I should get a ton of things done, right? Wrong.
I understand that part of my problem is my ADD. I have a number of home projects in the works, and there’s no possible way I could finish them all with one day to myself—or even 10 days! Somehow, though, every other Friday, I assume that all of these time-consuming tasks can be completed in a couple of hours. To give you an idea of how far my delusion goes, here’s a list of the projects I’ve been working on over various ETR days:
As you can tell, “overly ambitious” is probably an understatement for what I have going on here—especially since every week I seem to be under the impression that more than one of these things needs to be on my list to complete in the 10 hours I get to myself that day. Also, with this day off (and me not having yet accrued any vacation time—not that I’ll really have any extra time once my vacation accrues), I have to throw in doctors’ and dentist appointments for the kids [I have yet to take myself to the doctor, even though I’m probably in desperate need for a visit to the chiropractor if nothing else], hair appointments, and the occasional extremely long lunch with my mother. I also generally don’t take my ADD medication on my day off [why “waste” it on chores??], so you can imagine how many times I find my motivation waning the second I sit down for a breather.
I know “day to myself” is a fantasy for most moms, whether they work outside the home, work at home, or stay at home with kids. The frustration of getting things done with little people [or big significant others] underfoot is a common problem of all women. I wonder, though, how realistic our fantasy of “All The Things I Could Get Done Alone” is in 10 hours. I mean, 10 hours certainly sounds like a lot. At work in 10 hours, I could have (and have had) three meetings and drafted a contract. However, with 10 hours at home, I’m lucky if I’ve gotten through three baskets of laundry. Is my ADD truly compounding my problem [not the project-starting issue; that, I clearly know is a problem], or is it that moms are so used to having to be able to do anything and everything to keep the family running that we don’t even realize how few hours there practically are in the day?
How about the rest of you: What is your fantasy of what would want to do with the day to yourself, and what do you think you think you would actually do?
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