Series: Tackling Work-Life Balance (19)
The Joy of Realizing You’re Sleeping Alone in the Living Room
Kaoru OGAWA, Cultural Planning Section, full-time staff
1 I love my job.
I really do love my job. Even before I changed jobs, I was the type who wasn’t bothered by late-night overtime and all-nighters. During my time at the Academic and Student Affairs Section, Administration and Technology Management Center for Science and Engineering, work was beyond hectic due to reorganization of departments and graduate courses occurring at the time. I would begin in the morning and the next thing I realized, it was already night—but I’d think, maybe I could stick it out just one more hour… Even after getting married, this lifestyle continued, returning home after my wife was asleep and going to work before my wife woke up. I communicated with my wife through a journal. That’s how bad a husband I was.
2 Goodbye, my beloved home
After our first child was born and we began our life as a trio, we ran into problems with which of us would deal with our child’s illnesses and drop our child off at nursery school. We both worked then and my wife was a teacher. She could not take days off and it was impossible for her to work in shifts. I also couldn’t take much time off. We felt our only choice was to ask our parents for help… We left our beloved home behind and moved right near my parents’ house in Kanagawa. My new commute took an hour and fifteen minutes one-way, including my running from place to place. I rushed to the nursery school the minute it opened at 7 AM, set the sheets on our child’s futon, and ran to the station. The school only keeps our child until 6:30 PM, so I would rush out of the workplace at 5:15 PM, the official end of my workday, and run to Takadanobaba Station. This was my new life. When our child was sick, one or the other of us would take time off as much as possible, but my mother really did help us out tremendously.
3 Experimenting with childcare leave
When my wife became pregnant with our second child, the expected due date turned out to be in late March to early April, a busy time of year for academic department offices. I thought it would be difficult to juggle work, caring for our first child, and seeing my wife in and out of the hospital all at the same time. As a result, around six months before the due date, I declared that I would take a week of childcare leave.
I was worried about whether the section’s work would carry on all-right without me in such a busy period, but as it turned out, work carried on without any problems at all. I was deeply moved by how kind and competent my workers were.
4 Bicycle accident
Eventually, I was unable to fall back on my parents any longer and we moved to downtown Tokyo. Here we found we were unable to secure a spot for our child in nursery school. Unfortunately, my wife was forced to quit her job. Due to getting too little exercise, I had begun riding my bicycle to work sometimes, which led to me having a bicycle accident. I broke both hands and chipped a tooth, ultimately taking a month off of work. I spent a lot of quiet time with my children during this period, and I came to a simple realization: the more time I spend at work is time I’m not spending with my kids.
My current daily routine is to wake up by 5 AM, check my email, go for a run, fold the laundry, read the newspaper, and play with my kids. I arrive at work around 8 AM. I feel like my use of time in the mornings is useful for organizing my thoughts and prioritizing my work. I come back home by 7 PM and eat dinner with my family, play with my kids while I get drinks, and the next thing I know I’m the only one who’s fallen asleep in the living room. This is a satisfying way to live, and it’s all thanks to my wife and coworkers being so understanding.
Recently I’m out of the house a lot on my days off, as I attend every one of my son’s little league baseball games. My wife and daughters beat me up over this, asking if I think I only have one kid! It seems I still need to work on using my time properly.
(I believe I was asked to write this article because I took childcare leave, but it was just a week long. Given how much I rely on my wife [who is a housewife] for everything, I do not think I’m qualified to discuss work-life balance, but please take this for what it’s worth.)
■ Profile ■
Kaoru Ogawa graduated from Waseda University’s School of Commerce. After working at an insurance company and a sporting goods manufacturer, he joined the school as staff in 2005. From 2005 to 2014, he worked at the Academic and Student Affairs Section, Administration and Technology Management Center for Science and Engineering on general academic and school affairs. In 2014, he transferred to the Cultural Planning Section, where he works on events and preparation for the March 2019 scheduled opening of the Waseda Sports Museum.
■ Family ■
He lives with his wife, son (9), and daughters (7, 4) in a family of five.
（by SANKAKU NEWS No.21）