Focus and distraction

I had a job interview on Monday, my first official one in many years.  I haven’t been offered the job yet– and who knows, maybe I won’t be. But the interview went well enough that it has me thinking seriously about how a job would affect our kids. John and I are hopeful about the idea of getting our Ethiopia trip fully funded, getting the house paid off quicker, and working toward some other retirement-related goals.  Raising 10 kids tends to make present expenses feel more pressing than those in the nebulous future, but hey, we’re both 48 this year.  It’s time to think more seriously about some of this stuff.

And yet, in all this thinking about finances and dreams and goals, the last thing we want to do is short-change the kids.

So.  As we ponder all these things, we seek a sometimes-elusive creature called Balance.

The job I applied for is night shift, two nights a week in obstetrics.  Two nights away (of course) means 5 nights still AT home, which is great.   But still, it’s 24 hours a week that I’ll need to shift around– to decide what I’m not going to do so I can have time to do this new Something Else instead.

Since it’s night work, obviously part of what I’ll give up is sleep, at least on work days. (Yawn.)  No doubt I’ll need an earlier bedtime on  other days, to make up for that.  That means a little less Netflix, I’m afraid.

Other obvious things to delete or drastically diminish include Pinterest and Facebook– fluffy time-sucks that they are–totally non-essential. I’ll be doing them much less frequently even on my days off to keep home-time balanced as it should be– toward parenting.

Then there’s email.  Despite my current habit, I don’t really need to check it twice an hour. Once or twice a day really should be plenty.

Blogging may need to happen a bit less– tho I’m hoping if I just spend my very first computer moments each day on the blog, it can still happen fairly routinely.  Except then instead of footle-ing around on the internet endlessly, I’ll need to SHUT my computer and walk away and spend focused time with my people.

As I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve come to see that my current life has a fair bit of padding that has allowed me a lot of sloppy time-wasting.  A regular job will make it necessary to be wiser  and more intentional with my hours.

John has been thinking along those lines too.  He says when I’m away (or needing to sleep), he’ll focus in on the kids– work out in the shop less and make sure he’s available to help with school or arrange lunch or whatever the kids need.  And since he currently only works 3 days a week– and opposite the shift I’m applying for– there will really only be a few hours a week where neither of us is home.

Though it’s only a part time job, it’s been so long since I’ve worked away from home that it feels like kind of a big deal. (All of you full-time-working Superwomen have my awe– this is just not the arena I’ve lived in for the past 15 years.)  But I really think we can do this.  It just comes down to being intentional, and reminding ourselves routinely of what’s really important.

This past weekend at the adoption retreat, we did kind of a neat exercise where we were given a plate and a sharpie onto which we could write down the name of something we wanted to release or get rid of or end– something that held us in bondage or didn’t add joy to our lives.  See all the plates heaped at the front of the auditorium?

Then we had the chance to SMASH the plate to bits in a big bin that was full of cement blocks, as a way of making a statement about that thing– drawing a line in the sand.   And say, enough. It was kinda crazy, kinda cool, to see hundreds of people smashing plates, and releasing something that had not been a blessing to their lives.  Many people were releasing impatience, unforgiveness, fear, and all sorts of negative emotions.

the things we hold onto

I was one of many who wrote about forgiveness, but I also wrote ‘distractedness’.  Always in this world there are things vying for my time things like facebook and blogging and this new job possibility .  But always, no matter what, I want to focus most of all on my people– the ones I love who are entrusted to me.

Releasing the old


And honestly, that’s one thing just thinking about this job has done for me.  Sure, it’s a great chance to (hopefully) get the house paid off a little faster, and invest in the future, and to minister to women at a beautiful, transformative time of life (oh, I love seeing new babies born).  But it’s also a great juncture at which to examine my life, and make sure I am intentionally and lovingly mothering my precious ones in a way that will cause no regrets ten short years from now when they’re all grown and gone.

So prayerfully we wait to hear about this interview.  And thoughtfully we will go forward, through whichever door God opens.


  1. Lee Ann says:

    I worked 12 hour day shifts for a few years after my kids were born – mostly just one a week. (I went to Respiratory therapy school in Boise and often wonder if I ever shadowed your husband 🙂

    I quit once my husband started traveling more and it became difficult to have someone at my house at 5:15 am to be with my girls. I do miss the actual work sometimes (I worked in a NICU in Portland for 11 years.) I don’t miss all of the hospital politics. And something else to remember – especially with nursing- it becomes more than just your shift work. There is so much training and many meetings to attend. Hoping this all works out for you – and that you can stay awake those long nights. 🙂 That’s definitely something I could not do well.

    • yeah, the meetings are definitely a factor. When did you do RT in Boise? John has been there since 1990.

      • I graduated in ’98 and moved straight to Portland so I didn’t ever have a job in the Boise valley but did lots of clinical hours at several different hospitals there.

  2. Gary Coryer says:

    You can get some “interesting” quality time with the kids if you do some of your catch up sleep in a public room. My six year old takes the opportunity to “do Dad’s hair” when I nap in the recliner catching up myself on sleep due to some work hours. At first it was pretty normal hair but over time she’s gotten more adventurous. I’ve woken up as the Grinch, Santa Claus complete with red cheeks, a Who, the list goes on! She thinks it’s very cool and occasionally my transformed sleepy self reduces the two boys to tears they are laughing so hard. I do hide the permanent markers though!!!

    • That’s hilarious, Gary! I might not be quite that deep a sleeper. 🙂 But I do like the idea of a nap in the afternoon out in the living room (esp if I don’t work that evening) as a way of being obviously still available to the kids. 🙂

  3. Victoria says:

    I just returned to work as an ER nurse after staying at home for a few years. There are definitely pros and cons, many you mentioned, but ultimately my husband and I decided that the benefit was greater than the sacrifice. My license would have expired if I didn’t have any practice hours within the next year, I really enjoy the work, and we felt the freedom from the Lord to make that step.

    Like you say, it does take time, and you have to decide what will give, We see all of life as ministry and the hospital is an excellent place to love people like Jesus. We don’t feel pressure to serve in a formal church ministry. Also, we’ve chosen to hire people to help out: childcare, of course, and someone to clean the house once a week, occasionally a project around the house that we would’ve done ourselves in the past. Big step for frugal DIYers but my wages are excellent so it is still financially advantageous. (You have big kids – mine are all under 7 – so they may be able to pick up that slack.)

    Meetings and committees aren’t too frequent in my hospital, and they are fine with children coming, a good opportunity to expose my children to what I do. I did start on nights and find it difficult for my mental health (physical too – I gained 15lbs!) but now work a midshift, 12-24 hours a week. You’ll have to find what works best for you and your family. Blessings in your new pursuit.

  4. I’ve been wondering what to do about working again when our 3-year-old starts school in a few years. I will be following your journey with interest!