By far the best part of the move to Abu Dhabi so far has been how much more time both Tony and I seem to have. On my end, it’s quite obvious — when you go from working full time to being fUNemployed, you naturally have more time. I spend 40 hours more a week with my son. That is amazing! Staying at home with Matteo means that I can get chores — things like laundry, cleaning the house, working out, etc. — done during the day so that when Tony is home from work, we have time to spend as a family. I know there are “fights” in mommy land about which side has it tougher, working moms or SAHMs, and I don’t want to weigh in on that — they are completely different lifestyles and not all women get to choose which role they fill. I know SAHMs who wish they were working and I know working moms who long to stay at home. Both have challenges, pros and cons. All I can say is I’ve found myself saying over and over again that I don’t know how I managed to do all of the “household” stuff + work full time. No wonder I was always ready for bed by 9:30 pm! Thank goodness for our wonderful Auna, who took care of Matteo during the work day for us. I know now more than ever what a blessing she was to our family in the 2.5 years she cared for Matteo.
Tony has significantly more time on his hands as well. As he did in the US, he leaves for work around 6:30 am, but instead of getting home at 5:00 (during the off season) or 7:00 or later (during the soccer season depending on game day vs. practice day), he is home at shortly after 3:00. That’s a minimum of 2 hours more a day not spent at work! The attitude here is just different — you are expected to go home at the end of your workday and spend time with your family. Family is valued here, it is the most important thing. Work is important too, of course. During your office hours you are expected to work hard and produce results, but at the end of your contract day you go home. There are no raised eyebrows about leaving the office on time, no guilt trips when you go home to be with your family.
This slower lifestyle is great for us at this point in our lives. All parents know, your child is only little once and the time goes so fast! What a wonderful gift for all three of us to have more time to spend together! We’re also reaping the benefits of being able to travel during Tony’s time off work. Though we both worked in the school district back in the U.S., my position was on a 12 month schedule and I did not have near the amount of time off work that the 9, 10, and 11 month employees were granted. That meant that if we wanted to travel during fall, winter, spring, or summer breaks granted to Tony, I had to dip in to my vacation time. Now we get to enjoy the breaks built in to Tony’s schedule without worrying about requesting time away from my job.
Of course there are things I miss about working — for one, I worked with the BEST core group of people in the district office. I miss them very much. I also liked knowing that the work I put in brought a financial contribution to our family. Tony and I have been a “shared money” family since the day we were married, but its still taking some getting used to knowing that I’m no longer depositing a pay check in our bank account each month.
Along with a sense of adventure, appreciation for travel, and a desire to go after what you want in life, Tony and I hope that this experience abroad also helps us show Matteo that there’s more to life than punching a time clock. Work hard, YES! A work ethic is an invaluable trait to to pass on to a child, but we also want him to grow up knowing that what he does with his time off the clock is just as important. From my point of view, there’s no better way to spend that time than loving on your family.