Being a working mum is the ultimate juggling act. Trying to balance the demands of work and family often leaves me feeling tired, guilty and like I’m just keeping my head above water. But while part of me would love to stay home with Ethan all day, I know that I wanted to get a little bit of the ‘old me’ back. Not to mention that financially I had no choice but to work in order to pay the bills!
Once I’d decided to return to work, the next traumatic decision was what to do about childcare. The cost alone is enough to make you rethink that return to work! With grandparents miles away in Scotland and South Africa, we dithered over the pros and cons of nannies, childminders and nursery. In terms of cost and practicality, nursery suited us best, it’s just around the corner and I’m always impressed at the range of activities Ethan gets to do. There’s also the social aspect as he learns to get along with others, and so far the only downside seems to be all the germs he brings home and shares with us…
So what can you do to ease the transition back to work? Here are my top tips for surviving life as a working mum.
Whether it’s for food or clothes there are so many good online retailers that will save you valuable time. Depending on your boss you may even be able to do some sneaky surfing at work, but I often add stuff to my virtual shopping basket while catching up on telly once I’ve got Ethan off to sleep. Working mums are definitely the masters of multi-tasking!
Share the chores
This may sound rather sexist but in my experience, men have a higher dirt-tolerance threshold than women. To avoid frayed tempers over dirty dishes tell your husband what you would like him to do. Through years of training I have discovered it’s best to choose one thing that you really want done, and accept that when he empties the dishwasher he probably won’t wipe down the worktops even though you would do such things automatically. If all else fails, treating husbands like toddlers can work a treat. In short, give him two options to choose from. He feels like he had a choice, you get something done. Everyone is happy.
Don’t feel guilty
Easier said than done but don’t let anyone make you feel guilty. I know some colleagues may moan that you have to leave at a certain time to collect your child, but as long as you are pulling your weight and doing the hours you have agreed with your boss then it’s their problem not yours. Similarly, don’t let your little one tug on your heart strings too much. I know there is nothing worse than a little face crying out “Mummy” and clinging onto your leg in an attempt to stop you leaving without them. But once you’ve gone your toddler will bounce back in seconds and happily move on to something else.
As for me? I’m enjoying having my own identity (rather than just being Ethan’s mum) but I would like a laundry fairy. Or perhaps just some decent summer weather so things dry quicker. Oh, and a few more hours in the day wouldn’t go amiss when I’m trying to write a blog while starting a new job that involves ridiculously early starts (3.20am…)!