This whole working thing has been an interesting life to dive back into. I feel like certain things have been easier than I expected, and certain things have been harder.
Let's start with the Hard Stuff:
1) Readjusting to our new normal has been a bit of a tricky prospect for Carter. I purposely kept him in daycare two days a week while I was off to minimize the trauma that he'd experience if he was out of daycare for a while and then thrust back in once I found a job. I also didn't want to have to get him re-registered, and I knew that if he stayed I could get him back full time very easily. I knew that this was a prime opportunity to give him the one-on-one time he never gets with already having an older sibling, but at the same time I knew I'd need and enjoy some time for myself, if only to job hunt. Well, now that we're back in the groove, there are a couple adjustments that are still in process. Carter is hating drop-off time each morning. He will cling to my legs and whine. He's usually fine two minutes after I leave, either settling in to breakfast or giving me a wave from the window and moving on, but this sudden freak-out has been a switch. I know he loves it there because half the time he ignores me when I come to get him! But I will say that lately I've gotten some very nice afternoon hugs upon my return! I'm also missing our time together. I miss eating breakfast together, watching him expertly eat his yogurt at lunch, and his smile and hug after nap. I miss the Duplo sessions on the floor and being able to just hang out and watch him play. Most nights are so jammed now, with errands and dinner and him wanting to play outside, that quality time is limited. And weekends are tough, too, because I'm usually trying to cram in a few tasks around the house, as well. Which brings me to...
2) I am already drowning in piles of stuff at home. Not physically being there as much makes things extremely difficult in the "keeping things neat" department. I no longer have the time to leisurely sort through piles or spot clean when I notice something. I am trying to be better about that stuff than I was, as I know it really just takes a few minutes to make a big difference (even if it's just mental) and I like feeling productive. But it's hard. Jacob's school papers pile up, both boys' artwork is waiting to be photographed (seriously, that is such a great thing. I can take pictures of the good stuff to alleviate the guilt of throwing things out, and I only keep the stuff that's really noteworthy. Well worth the five minutes it takes every few weeks.), and mail tends to build up very quickly if I don't sort it immediately. I can't get over how quickly my dining room table became a mess, or how quickly the gathering spot in my kitchen filled up. I miss knowing that I have the time, and being able to spread out those tasks enough to still have plenty of time to relax and play with the kids.
3) On the job side of things, it has been quite a challenge to learn new things. I like learning new things, for the record, but after nine years of mastering so many aspects of my old job, learning a lot of new stuff is hard. I think the mere knowledge that I had so many quirky little things in my old job that only I knew (and may not have been formally documented anywhere) makes this challenge especially daunting, because I know from all I've experienced so far that there will be a lot of that going on here, as well. The work itself doesn't scare me too much. I know that I am capable of doing it. It's just learning the many steps and getting used to those quirks that I'd never even know to look for...that is the hard part. I'm very capable of the Excel work, which is a huge relief on their end and on mine, but there's a lot of adjusting to do on where to find things in our server folders, how to integrate each piece into the work, and learning a lot of processes. I've got a great teacher, but she's very busy...which makes it all the more important that I learn what I need to ASAP, so I can take some of the load off her.
4) One of the most unexpected hard parts of this process has been readjusting to drinking large quantities of water every day. I used to drink about 40 oz. of water every day, if not more. Here I've been averaging at least that much. With less to do, I tend to notice sooner when it's empty. I've probably had 48 to 60 oz. most days, and after three months of not drinking very much, I've consequently been spending a lot of time visiting the ladies' room. Most days I average four or five trips, which is crazy. I'm hoping I readjust soon!
5) Finally, I miss having time to shop. One of the more challenging aspects of this job, believe it or not, is keeping up with the fashionistas that work here! Coming from an office where almost everyone wore jeans every day, working here has been a switch. Not that everyone is wearing suits or dresses every day, but pretty much everyone dresses really well and accessorizes very nicely. I'm glad I did the wardrobe building I did while I was off, because that has been a huge help, but now that I know better what I'm facing, I really want to get back out and do a little more work. Of course, with Craig on the road so much, and evenings so busy, and Carter napping away most of our weekend afternoons, there is very little time to run out and shop. I've had a Kohl's bag sitting on my floor for weeks waiting to be returned. Of course, now that I got a couple huge coupons from them, I will HAVE to find time to go. Hence why I dragged both kids to JCPenney at 5:30pm on Sunday (when they close at 6) because I had a $10 off coupon that expired that day. I got a couple things that I liked in the five minutes I had to try them on, but I'm still pondering if they will work with the rest of my wardrobe. It's just hard to price shop and things like that when I only get one shot to get out there and get something done!
Now the surprisingly easy stuff...
1) My commute has been one of the pleasant surprises of this job. I thought it would be about the same, but it turns out it's about five minutes shorter. Add in the fact that a 5-10 minute process of walking to/from my car and weaving in/out of the parking ramp has been replaced with a 30 second walk, and it's heavenly. I do have to negotiate a traffic circle, however, and I tend to run into icky traffic in the evening, but even so...it's maybe a five-minute slowdown. I haven't actually hit much morning traffic, though I know I will at some point, but even still, it has been so nice to not be rushing around like a maniac.
2) As much as I expected more HR-type structure at my new job, one of the nice things is that I'm no longer tracking my time in 15 minute increments. I used to have to account for all the time in my 7.5 hour day (plus a half hour lunch), and here they're actually a lot more relaxed. It's nice, especially right now when I'm not overflowing with projects, to not have to account for every moment. I'm doing work when I have it and trying to fill the downtime with relevant stuff--looking at our sample binder, researching the school, etc. This morning I spent some time looking around the giving webpage at my alma mater, just to see how their setup differs from my department. Not exactly hardcore work, but relevant and fine when nothing else is pressing. I probably would have felt weird putting something like that in my old timesheet, but here it's more about holding myself accountable, which feels much better. Does that make sense? And if I'm five minutes late or have to leave a few minutes early, I don't have to obsess about making it up. Oh, and I get an hour lunch now, which is amazing!
3) I've found it easier to stay on task at home now that I'm back up to full speed. It's easy to get complacent when you're out of your groove, and I started to near the end of my break, in particular. I forgot one of Jacob's practices, as well as one of his doctor's appointments, both of which fell around afternoon pick-up time...just because I was in such a routine that the break in routine was easy to forget. Now that my schedule is busy again, I'm finding it easier to remember things--that laundry must be done, that projects need completing, etc. I suppose that could be because my brain had time to refresh, but I'll take what I can get. Now if I could just remember every morning that I need to cook dinner every night, that would be great.
4) Getting comfortable with my co-workers has been easier than I thought. There are still awkward moments with the people I don't know well, and I haven't exactly found a BFF yet or anything, but I think that for the most part I did better remembering names than I expected. I had some nice small talk with different people, and for the most part it's been pretty comfortable. I really like my boss and we have a lot in common with two boys at similar ages. I found out today that her oldest, who's five, has a severe tree nut allergy, so we bonded a little over our kids' respective food challenges. My closest co-worker, the one who's teaching me everything, has three boys (older) but as a whole we don't have a ton in common, yet we get along surprisingly well. That's been a much better relationship than I probably could have hoped for. Ironically, my lack of smell comes in handy since she's a smoker, so there's one plus for an otherwise crappy problem.
5) I'm not going to say this is truly easy, but I must say that waking up earlier has been going better than expected. I used to set my alarm pretty early and snooze forever. Now I set my alarm a little earlier (6:10) and only let myself snooze until 6:30 when a second alarm goes off. Lately I've let that slide to 6:45, but then I put myself behind the 8-ball a bit so I try to keep it as close to 6:30 as possible. With that I can usually get out of the house by 8:20, drop off Carter at 8:30, and get to work by about 8:50. That's a perfect schedule for me, and I happily leave at 5pm every day. Everything about this schedule just feels so much better than my old schedule, and I think that's why it's been a little easier to get up...well, that and knowing I really don't want to be late! But I like the feeling of being early and not rushed, so that's been nice.
I'm sure there's more, but right now I have to go off and do one of the other hard parts of this transition....figure out my benefits! Again. Sigh.