Slate.fr headlined today:"Is it better to have a 4-day week for a year, or wait for the vacations?" We chose neither! (and that's okay).
The real question that comes up regularly after each vacation period is: "Did you manage to cut back a bit?". The answer is no. It was hard to admit at first that you couldn't cut work any more. It still is sometimes when you see friends who have nothing to think about from 5pm on Friday until 9am on Monday. But if you take a step back, and listen to the podcasts ofAdrien Garcia from EDLM (which I recommend) and Guillaume Gibault helped us do just that: it's not about disconnecting, or working less, or more. It's about organizing ourselves to achieve a work-life balance that works for everyone.
With 4 children between the ages of 2 and 16, there are plenty of opportunities to get away from the office: dropping them off, picking them up, snacking, attending school fairs, taking them on outings, making dinner for them, and so on. So there were 3 solutions open to us, and it took us years to figure out what to do.
1/ we hire a nanny to look after our children and cook for us, freeing us up to work and finish our day at a "normal" time.
2/ we oscillate between childcare and work, juggling between answering an urgent e-mail and doing homework with the youngest, and hesitating between making lunch and finishing that damn Excel spreadsheet.
3/ we make the most of our children, picking them up from school, looking after them on Wednesdays, and working when they've gone to bed, at a time when the world is settling down to watch a TV series.
Solution 1/ Spend money on childcare (when in a few years we won't be able to) and cooking (when we love to cook). Doesn't make sense.
Solution 2/ We tried it, and it was clearly a failure. Dissatisfaction on both sides, professional and personal. In the end, the meal wasn't ready, and the Excel wasn't finished. 😅
Solution 3/ Well, it won everyone over. We get our kids back. We really enjoy them. We cook and eat as a family. And then, if the period calls for it, we get back to our Macs, work (as a couple, which is really cool, isn't it, Manon? ??) and go to bed satisfied with what we've accomplished. (This also works for weekends and Sunday evenings).
This doesn't mean that we shouldn't set ourselves rules (in our house, the rule is either the kids or work, but not both at the same time), it doesn't mean that we have to work day and night, it just means that each of us has to find our own way of organizing things.
Today, we no longer try to exclude work from our family life, and turning off your computer doesn't mean turning off your brain (it's still working 🧠 ), we try to segment our lives so that the 2 fit together as well as possible.