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,