It’s Fall. The summer holidays are over. If you had a sinking feeling after reading those words, you aren’t alone. I’ve worked with adults struggling with depression and anxiety which have their roots in elementary school experiences. School is a big stressor for kids and parents alike. For adults, work is also a mixed bag. I talk to people from every line of work from coffee shop baristas, to lawyers and CEO’s. Stress from overwork, conflict in the workplace, and finding meaningful work, impacts mental health and relationships for individuals and families everywhere.
My belief is that a large portion of the stress experienced in school and the workplace is related to the ideas that we have about the roles they are supposed to play in our lives.
The next few entries will talk about alternatives to these ‘givens.’ I feel like we need to deconstruct the messages we’ve received throughout our lives about the role that school and work need to play in our lives, and then look at our own values, priorities and interests to determine how we want to actually live. This takes time, sometimes years, to find the balance that will free us from that trapped feeling so many families experience, particularly when they have young and school-aged children.
In our house, we have experimented with public school, homeschooling, private school, post-secondary and graduate school. In terms of employment, we have owned businesses, job shared, worked part time, full time, casually, and on contract. Working with various combinations to find what works for our family has taken a long time, but I can honestly say, that there are very few things we do which feel like drudgery. Being open to re-evaluating our schedules and to experimentation, has been key.
Figuring out where you really want to go, and the tools you need to get there, are the first steps in being able to re-consider employment and schooling alternatives.
This also involves re-thinking what is necessary to feel financially secure. Work and school take up such a huge part of our lives that it is worthwhile re-evaluating what we’re doing, when it’s not working for us or our kids.
Paying attention to what you are currently doing will show you where you are right now. Start by taking note of what you do each day for a week and how long you spend on each activity (include things like transportation to and from events and time it takes to decompress from work or school). Then, note what you spend your money on, over the course of the week. Later, as we talk more about values, you will be able to see how they line up with where you are now. You may find that some small adjustments may bring you closer to living in line with your values already.
For more on Work/Life Balance regarding eduction see Time to “Quit” School
For information on alternative education choices see Quitting School- Part II (A more literal interpretation)
For more on work alternatives see The Rat Race Ain’t Made for Humans – Get out in 4 easy 😉 steps
For more on discovering your values/ life directions see What’s Worth Digging For?