Five months of our family sabbatical have passed. I’m excited that we are actually making unexpected discoveries about ourselves, each other and life every month. This is what our sabbatical is all about!
Lesson 1: The middle ground between work and family
Through my online writing class, which I wrote about last month, I’ve been forced to think harder about the one lesson I would like to share if I were to write a memoir about our sabbatical. It probably has something to do with helping people find a middle ground between work and family. Rather than trying to balance work and family in any given year, why not alternate years in which you work hard, with sabbatical years? I call it a YoYo lifestyle, swinging from one extreme to another. In working years, I am fully committed to my job, so I can have a bigger impact, and also earn the money needed for gap years, whereas in the sabbatical years that follow I give back to my family, community and myself.
This is my second such sabbatical. I had three children in fairly short succession, without ever taken any parental leave. I was a big believer in Lean In long before the book was written. However, when my third child was about one year old, I had completed a successful stint as a Chief Executive Officer and I felt that I had supported the feministic case sufficiently. I was wondering what was next and I was looking for new meaning in work and life. I announced on my Facebook page that I was taking a ‘sabbatical’. I had thought of taking just a few months off, but inspired by our good friend Rani’s off-hand remark that “a sabbatical is supposed to be a full year”, I turned it into a year, and into a life philosophy.
During that first sabbatical five years ago, I took on a new project very month: I studied positive psychology, tried my hand at being class parent and volunteered with a non-profit. For the first time since become a parent, I was truly enjoying my children, not just ‘processing’ them. The capstone of my first sabbatical year was a two months road trip from New York, cross-country along the Northern route, via Seattle to San Francisco. My kids were just two, three and six years old. At the end of the two months the kids asked: “Why are we going home?” I agreed with them, but for one regret: that my husband hadn’t joined us, aside from the occasional week(end). It took me five years to convince him, but we both quit our jobs on July 1, 2015 and boarded a plane for Europe on July 4, 2015.
I covered other November lessons in separate posts: