In 2018 my wife enrolled at the Fernuniversität Schweiz, because she had been dealing more and more with the care of refugees and war victims for a few months. She questioned whether she could carry out her work, which in principle was a lot of fun for her, with the same devotion for the next few years, or whether it was time to change.
Psychology has always been a topic that she found very exciting and more topical than ever. Unfortunately, hundreds and thousands of people are still fleeing today. They leave their families, set off for unknown lands and do not know what to expect. They have wrong expectations and in the worst case the journey to a distant country where they could live in safety leaves behind a trauma. For this reason, my wife wanted to take exactly this course of studies in order to help such people. But for this an entrance examination in 3 subjects was necessary.
As a family we made the decision very quickly and agreed that this passion for one thing is the key to being really good at your job.
Also my task was relatively simple and clear: Take care of our daughter, so that my wife has the necessary freedom to learn. Sounds like a simple plan.
But if we break down the entire plan into individual parts, it means making many decisions:
What is there to eat on weekends?
What food do I need to buy to cook?
How can I motivate our daughter to help with the cooking or to be on her own?
On what days do I have to take our daughter to the children's house?
When do I have to pick her up from the childminder?
When do I have to pick her up from the kids gym?
On which days do I have to go home earlier from work in order to be able to cover unscheduled situations?
How do I organise my work if I need 3 days off in the last week of exam preparation?
How do I distance myself when I play together with my daughter and have professional issues to deal with? At the same time, I have to find ways to do important professional things when I am confronted with private issues.
Questions after questions and one decision after the other.
Probably everyone can understand that there was a lot to do.
And may I be honest? This phase lasted for a relatively short period of time. But it is precisely these decisions and plans that mothers have to make week after week. It is demanded of them as a matter of course and through their routine they do it with dream walking certainty. For women it should be the normal case to take care of family, child and husband. And of course, they shouldn't let themselves go. They have to do the shopping, educate the child optimally and give him the best development. They should be professionally successful, look good and sexy in all situations and always laugh. And, of course, the worries of us men still sound when we come home from an oh so exhausting working day.
In these last weeks and months, during which I was able to spend a lot of qualitative time with my daughter, my relationship with her has changed and strengthened very positively. It was very exciting to find out what she was busy with, how she experienced the day in the children's house and what worries she was dealing with. We laughed a lot more and I comforted her more often. It was quite an enrichment, albeit very exhausting, as I tried to spend the hours I spent with her without distraction.
Therefore I was also less annoyed if it did not "work" on difficult days. She had bad nights and too little sleep, but it was nice for me to respond to her needs because I realized what she lacked and what I had to do to make her better. Even if it's just a little hug.
The way we argue has also changed and improved during this time. My daughter and I can both be very impulsive. I am happy, she has such a strong character already at such a young age. However, if there is too much discussion, we both need a short break. Usually we each go to a different room for 5 minutes and calm down. After these 5 minutes we could approach each other again and continue respectfully with each other. This was only possible because during this time we only spent time together and there was no escalation point that would have intervened arbitrarily (which my wife would otherwise have done).
The maximum attention I gave my daughter and the time I gave my wife to learn often put my system to the test.
Again and again I noticed that I didn't give enough time to plan my tasks for the next day, that I often jumped back and forth between different tasks due to the reduced working time and didn't focus on one task. I often allowed tasks received after my working day to influence my prioritization.
I had a lot of doubts on those days and it wasn't easy for my family again because I was more stressed and couldn't concentrate on them properly.
However, with a good system and habits that you have built up over months and years, you will quickly realize that something is not running smoothly.
Setbacks are perfectly normal. You react to these setbacks by recalling and implementing what you have learned.
My idea of "being productive" means that I can no longer create in the same time. But that I can work through the tasks I set myself for the day and that I have more time with my family. That's why I didn't have a guilty conscience with any trace, because I was less present in the office. In my profession it is possible for me to work anywhere and anytime. But the basis for me was that I organize my work well. I informed my colleagues and customers at an early stage that I would be less available in the near future. And it didn't bother anyone! If you don't have a guilty conscience, don't let it talk you into it - it's not as dramatic as you think.
Under all circumstances, your goal should be to bring your email inbox to 0 at the end of the day. If you don't do this consistently, more and more mails will accumulate in the next few days that are not processed correctly and then go missing or rot in your inbox.
Also take time at the end of the day to define the most important tasks for the next day. On days when you have less time available, you plan only one main task for the day. But be sure to implement them. Block your time in which you have to work concentrated in the calendar and turn off all possible disruptive factors.
Even with less time you can deliver tasks in good quality. Less time does not mean forgetting things or not having to litigate.
Simply reduce the amount of tasks for this phase and plan tasks that will take your project one step further. It doesn't have to be huge steps - even small ones get you to your destination.
Life is like this and it cannot always be influenced according to our wishes. Your family should be the most important thing and you should consider this in your planning. This phase was very intensive for me and I already miss the fact that my wife is again the central contact point for our daughter. Nevertheless, I believe that we have consolidated our band and that makes me proud.