Being a working mother. It’s not easy, but most of us do it these days. It’s a subject I could go on and on about, but I will try and keep it short. Firstly I have to admit that, on the whole, I’ve been very lucky with my career and my employers. I have been able to work part time in the past and am able to leave early or come in late when I need to. My job does involve random late nights and some stupidly early mornings too, so I try and balance. Of course I have had my fair share of frustrations. Twice I was passed over for promotion because I wasn’t in the office the full 5 days a week. I was also demoted when I came back to work after my 2nd child, but I persevered and am now very lucky to be in a great position and to really enjoy my job (most days!)
It has to be said that I have the utmost respect for Mothers that chose to stay at home with their children. I would probably have strangled mine by now if I had gone down down that route. Children are great and I love mine (obv), but I need to be around grown-ups, I need to earn my own money, I need to achieve my own goals and I need to get out of the house at least 4 days a week for my own sanity.
So, here are the top five things I have learnt about being a working mother…
1. DON’T TALK ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN
Yes, you’ve pushed a baby out of your fangita. Yes, you love it and you are raising it to (hopefully) become a decent human being, but I am telling you now, that doesn’t make you any better than anyone else and most people are just not interested. They do not want to hear how little Johnny had finally learned to crap in the toilet and not under the kitchen table. They don’t care that little Silvie is a genius at the Ukelele, and they couldn’t give a stuff that Horatio is having trouble with his long division. There will be exceptions (usually other mothers who hang by the coffee machine with a vacant look in their eyes) but your single, younger co-workers and your ambitious steely eyed boss do NOT want to know about it all the time. Do not be a baby/toddler/pre-teen bore, only share the classic anecdotes. I have one about a poo in the tumble drier that I wheel out when there’s a lull in conversation sometimes…
2. DON’T FADE INTO THE BACKGROUND
When you are at work, be at work, make your voice heard, don’t fade. Walk the floor, talk to everyone, make your presence felt. Your option still counts even if you have to leave an hour before everyone else so that the nursery / after-school club / nanny won’t start charging you late fees. Have belief that you are good at your job and that you can do this just as well as anyone else. Having a child does not make you any less committed, it just means you have to compartmentalise your time a bit more. If you start to fade you will get overlooked. Also, as a side-note, don’t expect those without children to stay later just because you can’t. They should not have to pick up your slack, It’s not fair.
3. HAVE A NETWORK OF ‘MUM’ FRIENDS
This is crucial. You need to have support, you need to help each other out. This goes for getting what you need within work and outside work. If you are late for pick-up or you need to get into work early you need local mums to help you. This is two way street. Offer to help others out and they will reciprocate. So many of my local mum friends have got me out of tight spot, and I like to think I have done the same for them.
4. ASK FOR HELP
Most children have two parents. Even if they are not together. Ask the father for help. Yes he has to work, but is his job infinitely more important that yours? Possibly not, so if your child is sick take it in turns to do the looking after. So many mothers I know take all the responsibility and that’s just not on. Get your partner to do the weekly shop, do the football/ ballet lesson run, go to the play/parent teacher meeting. You don’t have to do it alone and you don’t have to do it all together either.
5. GET A CLEANER
I know this is so middle class, but you just cannot do it all. If you are at work 9–5 then you need to have quality time with the family when you get home. Do whatever you can to maximise this. I hate cleaning, but I also hate the house being a mess. I’m happy to part with £30 a week so that I can come home on a Thursday safe in the knowledge that our house will have a maybe 12 hours not looking a bloody tip. By Friday evening it will be back to ‘normal’ and the toilet with once more be an absolute disgrace due to boys that find themselves incapable of aiming right. (honestly, ‘Rivers of Piss’ is how I describe it, it’s a joke) I would also suggest doing your weekly shop online, which I always MEAN to do but rarely get around to because I can never think ahead with grocery shopping. Something I aim to improve this year. #goals.
I’d love to know your tips. I don’t believe anyone can ever ‘Have It All’, but maybe, if you are lucky, you can have some of it some of the time…
P.S. I passed a Warehouse the other day — they’ve really upped their game recently — especially in the smart ‘Work wear’ stakes. I *might* have bought the camel coat. (I did buy the camel coat obvs)