I recently left a job that I was really enjoying for an opportunity that came up at another company. I wasn’t not looking, but I also didn’t really expect to leave until the more I thought about the idea the more I liked it. I’m in a very privileged position to be in a field which currently has a bit of demand at a senior level, so this was the first time I had the luxury of being able to be picky knowing that I’d continue to be happy at my old job if nothing came up.
Usually I’d leap from one job straight into the next, with only a weekend in between. The closest thing I’ve experienced to time off between jobs was four weeks of parental leave before my first son was born (which was lovely but also had the physical limitations of being extremely pregnant, and not knowing exactly when my new job as a parent was going to begin). This time, with a lot of unused leave to fund my break, I had two whole weeks between my last day and the first day of my new job.
The temptation was real to try and use all of this time productively, but this of course was never going to happen with two young kids in the house. I spent some time sorting out things that were starting to weigh on my mind, decluttering the pantry and wardrobes for a bit of a fresh start for this new stage of my career. But otherwise I spend my time doing the kind of stuff that if someone enquired, I’d probably say “not much really”.
I spent extra time with the kids, one-on-one and together. We went to the museum, saw dinosaur skeletons, and ran around roaring. I took my dog for more walks between the rain, took some naps. Did a watercolour painting. Read some books. Discovered a new note taking system to try out (Jeff said “that is a very you thing to do”). We managed some kid-free dates. Caught up with some friends. Sat in our courtyard with a cup of tea, reading or writing or singing with the kids. Spent a bit of time thinking about what habits I want to bring with my from my old job, and what I want to leave behind. Tried to soak up this unique time in my life, where we’re both not working and the boys are so young and sweet and clumsy, still learning about the world.
It was a “not much really” two weeks in terms of productivity, and it wasn’t exactly restful either. But it was full of the kind of small everyday things that are so important and restorative, the kind of thing you have to be very intentional about carving out time for when you’re working. And now that I think about it, it’s pretty much what I’d want to spend time doing if I didn’t need to earn an income – play, walk, paint, read, write, chat, sip tea in the courtyard.