jenward

Mommy Law: The Gift

I am currently enjoying one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. I have 10 weeks off from my career. No school. No work. The only commitments I have are family and “catch up” time. I took the California Bar Exam at the end of July. Then I spent August traveling and hosting out-of-town guests, and the entire month flew by in what felt like seconds. Now I have September to focus on getting life up and running for myself, my daughter, and the rest of my family. You might be wondering what I could possibly be doing with all of this time. Sometimes I wonder that myself, but in truth it has been incredibly easy to find projects. I’ll share a glimpse of what is keeping me busy.

Projects for Myself

After spending the last three years thoroughly devoted to both family and law school, I am now re-learning the value of “me” time. I have had a weekend away with girlfriends, a massage, a new haircut, and lots of time to shop. I have also made efforts to re-connect with some of the family and friends I neglected during law school. In my remaining time off, I plan to take steps to jumpstart the networking component of my career by joining bar associations, exploring social media, and expanding my LinkedIn profile. Since all of these endeavors are likely to be pushed to the back burner as my career life gets busy again, I am taking time to focus on them now.

Projects for My Daughter

I’ve been researching schools for my daughter for next year in order to avoid making any hasty, last-minute decisions on this subject. I have a range of choices since the community where I live assigns children to public school programs partly based on a lottery system. Parents may select their first choices for where to enroll their children. There are several unique programs available, including a Montessori program and two Spanish Immersion programs, so the selection process requires a fair amount of research and thought. I’m getting a headstart on that research now.

Meanwhile, I have spent several days volunteering at my daughter’s current preschool to learn more about her daily activities and social interactions. I have had a lot of fun re-connecting with my daughter and with the other children. I have also realized how little I knew in the past about what my daughter does in the middle of her day. It’s a startling reality that as busy professionals, my husband and I are rarely able to be involved in daily school life. Volunteering has been a great opportunity to make up for lost time.

Finally, I have also made efforts to establish better relationships with the parents of my daughter’s closest school friends by setting up playdates and cultivating better communication. My daughter has already encountered some confrontational situations at school, so the more parents I know the easier it will be to work through any problems that arise down the road. It is a harsh reality that bullying is not uncommon, even on preschool (yes, preschool) playgrounds. I am taking steps now to help my daughter better cope with these unpleasant situations.

Projects for the Whole Family

Family life is now easier than it’s been in a long while. Since I am more available there is no question who will be picking up my daughter from school, no debate about who’s responsible for dinner, and no fight about the next trip to the grocery store. Nevertheless, I know that all of these issues will become complicated once again.

In the coming weeks I hope to start organizing our life differently. I have done the obvious by cleaning out closets and drawers, but I also plan to research phone apps and organization software so that my husband and I can better share calendars and to-do lists. I hope to establish a better routine for both mornings and evenings so that we can all get where we need to go with less fuss. I also want to set up a “shopping notebook.” My hope is to create a system so that when my husband or I can’t remember what to pick up at the store we can open up a spreadsheet with a list of the staple items we regularly buy. This will jog our memory so that hopefully we will pick up the essentials on every shopping trip.

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I recognize that I am in the middle of a unique time in my life. At the macro level, I am at the start of a legal career that will be constantly balanced against my personal and family life. At the micro level, I am in the midst of this small pocket of time in which my personal and family life clearly dominates. Now that I have shared some of what I am doing during my time off, I would love to know what you would do if you were in my shoes. If you had the gift of a few weeks off from your career, how would you spend your time?

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