One of my dear friends said to me tonight "I knew I had to make this job work because I don't know how many first years I have left in me." I have turned into a bit of a crank. I didn't know this about myself until I started a new job (at age 47) this fall. I still have a lot of energy, a bit of humor, and some flexibility. I also carry with me an internal standard of how to do my work. When I was younger, I looked for an external framework. Around job # 3, I realized that some external frameworks are termite-ridden and you better build a back-up for yourself.
The building takes awhile but if you do it mindfully, you get pretty attached to it. I like mine, that's why I bring it with me now. The trick is in presenting your framework without dissing everyone else. There are many ways to do things, I just know what works for me. I hope that I am not holding up my way as the way but just a way. Cut to home.
When you go back to work, you have to turn over some stuff to your partner. Then, you have to be OK with how he/she does it. Go easy on yourselves, all the way around. I was was giving this very speech to a friend when my husband casually walked up to me and said "Oh, I was supposed to pick up Luke"...and turned around and left to take care of that. We are eating on the run, skipping food groups, and the house is never, ever, ever in drop-in condition but we will find our balance.
Meanwhile, my kids see us both sharing in more of the responsibilities of home and that work is equally important to both of us. Two salaries in this economy make a good back up plan. Some of my friendships seem to be taking a hit but in the end, your friends hang with you through all facets of your life and so you might as well get that sorted out now, before illness, old age, and hospice.
See, I think I have maintained my cheery outlook:)
Peace to us all.