I need to make a public apology to all working mothers. You see, I have been a working mother for years now, but only recently started working full-time. I split my work time between home, the office and travel commitments.
When I was solely working as a freelance writer from home I pitched lots of stories to publications about being a working mother. Mostly they were stories about providing advice on how to juggle work, life and family commitments. You know the stories – 10 easy ways to exercise when you’re a busy working mum and 8 tips to keeping your relationship strong when you’re a busy working mum or even this gem 5 simple things you can do to help you find time for yourself when you’re a busy working mum.
Don’t get me wrong, I was a busy mum. As is any mum – working or not. I just wasn’t a full time, mum of three, working and traveling semi-regularly mum.
I am now the person to whom those stories were aimed at and I realise those stories were a crock of shit. I lied to you all, I really had no idea what I was talking about and even if you had the time to read any of them, which I seriously doubt you did, you would agree with me. I was blissfully unaware.
Here’s five things I know for sure now I am a busy working mum:
1- Work life balance doesn’t exist.
There is no such thing. Life is a frigging rollercoaster and although you sometimes just want to get off so you can lay in a dark room with no noise or demands – you can’t. Every day you just have to put one foot in front of the other and get on with it. Every days goes a little like this for Twiggy and I. Wake up and get everyone ready for school. Get yourself ready for work. Clean up the house. Put washing on. Twiggy gets everyone to school. I get to work. Work. Twiggy works, does housework, watches Storage Wars and renovates the house. Twiggy gets everyone home from school. Twiggy gets dinner ready. I get home from work. We all eat dinner. Clean up after dinner. Bath time. Get everyone ready for bed. Get all the school bags, school clothes and work stuff ready for the next day. Sit on the couch for half an hour exhausted. Go to bed. Lie in bed thinking about all the things we have to do tomorrow. Go to sleep. Get up and repeat. Over and over into infinity and beyond.
2 – Me time is a cruel joke.
Yes, I get it’s important to make time for me, but I’m pretty sure there are only 24 hours in the day and I’d like to sleep for some of them. Looks like me time is when I am in bed, asleep. Some weeks it’s either me time or see my children and husband time. I choose the later.
3 – Date nights are but a distant dream.
Seriously when you have children and work you use up most of your babysitting credits just to get shit done and then when it comes to going out with your partner kid-free you have no more credits left. Luckily, I have an amazing mum who will step in when we need time out, but by the time we have both juggled the demands of simply getting through each week we just want to sit on the couch in our pjs.
4 – Time is on fast forward.
When I used to write regular columns, I’d always be able to neatly fit everything into a day for readers. In my fantasy days, women would have time to exercise before or after work, read a book, catch up with friends, spend quality time with their family, be productive at work, be involved in the school and be an awesome lover. What was I thinking? I was thinking there were 50 hours in a day, that’s what I was thinking. Now I know that there are only 10 hours in the day and I’m asleep for at least seven of them. Well, that’s what it feels like. Time rushes by so fast and no matter what good intentions I have, nothing ever gets done.
5 – Guilt is your annoying invisible friend.
Well, it’s not actually my friend but it seriously won’t leave me alone. It’s always hanging around in my personal space. I feel guilty about everything. Guilty that I am not at my girls’ school enough, guilty that I am not spending enough time with each of my children, guilty that I am not spending enough time with my husband, guilty that I am not spending enough time at work, guilty that I am not spending enough time with my friends, guilty that I am not doing enough housework, guilty that I no longer have time to blog, guilty that I don’t do any exercise and guilty that I feel so guilty. Guilt is a bitch of a friend.
Anyway. While I love my new job and I think the kids are coping with the change amazingly and my husband is being super awesome, it really is a huge upheaval and one I am slowly getting used to. I know as time goes by I’ll work out ways to juggle it all better, but at the moment I am just concentrating on throwing one ball up at a time. When I’m at work I work. When I’m at home I concentrate on my family. Each week I’m starting to add in one or two things outside of those two commitments – a drink with a friend or a blog post here and there. I know it’ll get easier as I find my feet, but far out how do you working mothers do it?
Seriously, if you have ever read one of my crappy stories giving you tips on how to be a better you then I wholeheartedly apologise because from what I gather talking to other working mums you don’t have time for anymore pressure. And that’s what those stories do – make you feel inadequate, like you should be doing more to be a better you, when all you’ve got the energy for is being yourself, not better, just yourself.
I’ve worked out that we are just keeping our heads above water. And you know what, that’s fine. But if you feel yourself sinking, reach out and ask for a helping hand because we are all in the same boat and we can pull you back up into safety. We might be rowing around in circles, but we are rowing.
Happy paddling everyone,
Oh I love this. Relate. Relate. Relate.
I felt this way when I was working full time with my youngest. I ended up moving into a part time role because I felt like I was (barely) existing. Three cheers for all the women who somehow manage to make a full time career and kids work – you are amazing.
As a former full time working mum I can relate to this so much! Unfortunately as much as I loved my job, I could no longer keep treading that water and made the decision in the middle of last year to leave work and focus on my family. The decision was made when work started to creep into my home life and that so-called ‘balance’ was way off! I was lucky to be in a position to be able to do this and It’s what led me starting my own blog.
Been there, although rarely working full time for other people. What I was doing was contract work at this place, part time freelance at another place, study, and then home and the kids – on my own, as a single parent. Most of the memories are pretty blurry. I DO remember the frantic phone call to my mother whenever I got the next rehearsal schedule (I worked contract for the chorus of the SA Opera Company for 15 years), when I’d look at it and panic and have NO idea how it would be possible. Somehow, we worked it out and there was a mix of Mum and my regular sitter to cover the evening and weekend rehearsals. In between, I scrambled madly to finish assignments and still have enough working brain and energy to be with the kids and manage the house. It doesn’t matter what you do, if you’re working and you have kids, there is NO balance. It’s a continual tail chase, and occasionally that ends up with you staring at yourself in a mirror trying to remember who you are and what you have to do next!
You wrote a pretty lucid blog post here Bianca – you’re going well!!! x
Ha – I never read those posts as they are impossible to live up to! But I totally relate to this post. I went back to work just before Christmas and it’s only 3 office days (with some extra stuff around the edges). I never seem to get on top of anything, my brain is a bit of a whir and my house has piles of paperwork I need to confront (but conveniently never have time to). As for exercise.. Hmm total fail. Just incidental. I do occasionally have me time, half of the time tho that involves housework (cos when my house is tidy I do feel saner).
On the upside – my brain is mostly whirring with good stuff.. Leaning new things at work and thinking new thoughts. I am also getting better at getting on top of stuff – so i reckon Bianca this past 5-6 months has been a shift or an adjustment.. I feel like I am beginning to up my game and priorities better. And use my time better. And make decisions faster. This stuff is good.. Give a busy person something to do right?!
Keep on paddling. No one said it was going to be easy, so it sounds like you are juggling all your balls just fine Bianca. And as for guilt – that bitch is no ones friend!
Firstly, you’ve never written a crappy story in your life, so stop that talk! Secondly, go to point #1, remove Twiggy and add his tasks to your workload and you have a regular day in the life of single, working mums. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and my job, but I stopped reading ALL ‘How to…working mum’ posts years ago – for my own sanity
Truth!! I admit when I was working full time with 3, 4, 5 then 6 year old twins, stories like those used to really annoy me. I started my blog initially with the idea of countering with some stories for mums working full time! But I was too busy! 🙂
I work 4 days a week now and I know even though I am still busy all the time, that one day makes a huge difference.
But by the way, everything we read is truthful or useful in some way, so don’t beat yourself up! 🙂
if your articles were anything like your blog they were great 🙂
I always laugh at the phrase ‘work life balance’. Clearly anyone who has it either doesn’t do much work, or doesn’t have much life 🙂
Is it bad I feel the same but I haven’t even started a family yet 🙁 I do believe that life is on fast-forward all of the time and we spend it just trying to catch up and exist not live.
I think this is modern life, whatever is keeping you busy. We just pack so much in and then… well, what’s it all for anyway? At least you’re getting paid and you get to go to the toilet without anyone watching. Small things matter. And I reckon that the more you get the hang of your new routine, the more your old articles might become surprisingly helpful. ‘Cos you’ll realise that you’ll WANT to make it about more than just work, mothering and keeping the household clicking over and then you’ll be searching for articles just like the ones the old B wrote. I guarantee it… x
Gawd, how do you do it… as I just said in last comment, I’ve worked part-time for last 9 months and it nearly killed me and it was TWO DAYS a week… I’ve been solo mum a lot of the time with four kids, some with a few extra issues, but still…. man just the getting people to right place at right time was murder. But I loved the work… there’s the thing.
Yep… and then try being a fulltime working single mum. I’m too exhausted and broke to even try and be humorous xx