Not long ago, I spent almost three weeks on the road, doing meetings and talks in multiple countries and a couple of U.S. cities, too. I enjoyed the travel and the work, but it was with relief that I returned home. I was ready to relax.
But I didn’t find the refuge I’d hoped for. I was confronted by not only all the business matters I’d neglected while away but also a myriad of tasks and errands I needed to do for my family, friends, and church congregation. Eager as I was to reengage with all of them, home didn’t feel restful. It felt busy, demanding and a little chaotic.
I articulated my frustration in a weekly newsletter and was surprised by the response. Many people seem to find, as I do, that their life at work runs more smoothly than their life at home does.
I should take a step back here and note that I’ve been a primary breadwinner since my husband and I moved to New York City shortly after I finished my BA in music. He completed a PhD and then did post-doctoral work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and I began an unexpected journey on Wall Street. Eventually we moved to Boston, where I continued my career in finance, and he started his academic career at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. After a few years, he off-ramped and became a stay-at-home parent. I recognize that this is a luxury that not every family wants or can afford.
But in those years I worked long hours and traveled even more for business, and I’ll admit that I became accustomed to an arrangement in which all routine household and childcare tasks were well-managed by my spouse. It wasn’t exactly a role reversal of the classic 1950s dad coming home from the office and putting his feet up to watch TV, but it was close. In many ways I didn’t have to get involved; most of my family time was fun time.