One of the many reasons why I love my job is the fact that my hours are as flexible as how I want them to be. True that lecture times are set by the University, but, I am free to determine when I want to have my tutorials.
My teaching timetable this Semester, is the same as it has always been for the last few years. Again, I have loaded my Tuesdays and Thursdays, and kept the other days of the week free for my research, reading and writing.
I would send Hilman and the maid to my MIL's before I go to the office every morning, and my MIL's driver would send Hilman to, and fetch his sisters from school every afternoon, and the girls would stay at their Wan's house until I fetch them and the maid in the evening. My MIL's house had always been our depository centre ever since we came back from the UK in 1997 simply because it is right smack in the middle of the route between our SD house, our workplace and the kids' schools.
I have always had my lectures and tutorials on Tuesdays and Thursday for as long as I could remember. And alang-alang those two days are packed, I had also arranged for the kids to have their mengaji class at my MIL's on Tuesday and Thursday nights. This had been the arrangement for the last 4 years.
So, every Tuesday and Thursday, I would finish my class at either 5:00 or 6:00p.m, after which I would fetch Hilman from school, go back to my MIL's place which is just 10 minutes away from my office/the kids' school. Hanna and Hasya would already be there since after school. Ustadz would come at 8:30p.m, and their mengaji class would end at 9:30p.m. We would normally leave for SD around 9:45p.m, and would reach home by 10:00p.m - just in time for the kids to catch Naruto on Astro Channel 616.
This arrangement had meant that after a packed day at work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I wouldn't have to worry about preparing/cooking dinner, as we would be having dinner at my MIL's, and dinner would normally be cooked by my MIL's maid, except on a few occassions when yours truly would help out. Good strategy, huh? ;)
Nevertheless, even though I had been quite free on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays all this while, I still had to leave the office at 6:00p.m. as I had to wait for Hilman to finish school and fetch him, and then fetch the girls and the maid from my MIL's, THEN only we would go back to SD. More often than not, we would reach home just after 7:00p.m and I would straight away cook dinner for the family (except on Wednesdays when the kids have their piano lessons from 6:30p.m until 7:45p.m. after which we would have dinner outside).
As I said, their Wan's place has always been our stop-centre, ever since we came back to Malaysia in 1997. In fact, when we first bought our SD home way back in 1999, we rarely stayed in SD, preferring to stay in PJ simply because it was just so convenient to do that. And when the kids started schooling, it seemed to be the most sensible thing to do - depositing the kids there until the time came for me to fetch them after work and go back home to SD.
However, this year is a bit different as I now don't have to wait until 6:00p.m before I leave the office because Hilman now goes to school in the morning. Meaning, theoretically, for THREE days of the week, i.e. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, when I don't have any lectures or tutorials, I can actually fetch the kids from their Wan's house earlier, so that we can reach SD by 5p.m, or even 4:30p.m, I guess. And I was really looking forward to the change to the routine, when finally we all can reach home earlier than we normally would, and this would mean, for the first time in years, the kids would be able to spend more time together at home in SD, instead of in PJ on weekdays.
However, with Hanna sitting for her PMR this year, we decided to register her for extra tuitions, and it's just our luck that her tuitions are held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30p.m to 6:30p.m. in PJ. This means that realistically, the ONLY day that we will be able to go back home early now will be on Fridays.
There goes my plan of spending more time in SD with the kids this year :(
The only way to go around this is to come out of our comfort zone which we have been in for the last 13 years (at least!) and change our after-school deposit centre to our SD home instead of their Wan's place in PJ.
A perfect arrangement would be for Dar (when?!if?! she comes back) to stay at home in SD, instead of me sending her to PJ every morning, so that she would have more time attending to our SD home, and more time for her to prepare the meals (or rather, for me to start TRUSTING her to use the stove while I'm not at home!).
We should also have to consider getting our own driver instead of relying on my MIL's driver to fetch the kids from school everyday. At least I won't feel guilty if I'm asking our own driver to drive the extra miles to send the kids back to SD every afternoon. We do give him a certain amount of allowances every month for helping out with the kids, but, of course, at the end of the day, he is still not OUR driver, kan?
And I feel Ayah desperately needs a driver to drive him around, too, especially now that his "kais pagi, makan pagi" activities are done in 4 different hospitals (which are NOT close to each other!) I can see that all the driving around has taken its toll on him... Not just that he's SO exhausted every night when he comes back from work, his back-pain is becoming...well, a VERY REAL pain in the ****, and it's becoming more painful for him by the day.
We SERIOUSLY need to change our routines, especially in cuting down on transit times in PJ, and also the travelling/driving/sending/fetching/ etc., times so that everybody will be more relaxed at home AND at work.
The questions are -
Are we prepared to come out of our comfort zone which we have been in for the last 13 years?
Are we prepared to change our daily routines which so far have been quite convenient to us?
Are we prepared to bersusah-susah sedikit and not rely on my MIL's maid and driver anymore?
Are we prepared to start a new routine so that we can enjoy our own home more, now that the kids are bigger?