I don’t know about you, but I suffer from a constant guilty feeling of being torn between my work career and motherhood – trying to be the hands on mother that I want to be. I’m constantly reaching and trying to get the right balance, but momma’s arms were never made to be this elastic! I give them a good stretching through, at times near the limits of breaking point. Speaking to other full time working mums around, this is no surprise – many seemed to be burdened with this sinking feeling and constant conundrum of how we can manage to stay sanely afloat. And the emphasis there is on staying sane and not becoming an over tiered stressy bessy in the process.
Personally I find it really hard going at times, I can just about get by if there is no chink in the chain like the childminder falling ill or child getting the lurgy. Just the hint of possible infectious illness breaking out sends me into a secret mode of crisis management. What am I going to do about the product launch meeting I’m supposed to be joining tomorrow afternoon, what about my customer visit on Friday? And it’s always down to me to step into the breach and cover sickness duty, with hubby’s excuse being “my work doesn’t offer the flexibility to do that kind of thing and besides I’m got an important meeting on system integration blab la bla” – why are his work commitments always more important than mine…grrr! Then there’s the excuse that I work from home and it’s easier for me and I breastfeed so she’ll want me anyway – well there is some truth in the later part of that statement.
Everything being relative though, my situation is not as bad as many. I work from home with only fortnightly visits into the office, and have agreed a flexible working arrangement where I work a block of core hours and then fit the rest of my working hours in around after this. By getting up at the crack of dawn to start work before the rabble awakes, I can get a good couples of hours work done – then the rest I kind of fit in and around hubby being home to occupy the child. It’s a gruelling schedule, but it means that I get more quality time with my daughter a day. This does inevitably mean that she goes to bed later, because I let her sleep in to allow me to crack on with my work in the wee hours. It also means I need to go to bed earlier, which ultimately means less time for hubby and me on our own – this is a BIG gripe for him.
From my own personal experience, here are my top tips for staying sane while working full time:
– Build in some room for flexibility for when things go wrong (child illness etc)
– If you’ve got a partner, make sure they pull their weight when things go wrong – make it clear that other fathers have to take time off work to cope with family situations too
– Generally try and be honest and up front with your employer to build up trust and they are far more willing to be accommodating during those tough times
– If you’re in the UK make the most of the 13 weeks unpaid parental leave you can take within the first five years of your child’s life (note you need to give notice and they need to be in one week chunks)
What are your experiences? Do you have this constant dilema of balancing your commitment between work and your role as a mother – not to mention a wife/girlfriend?