When I went back to work in January this year, I was working part-time. For the best part of 11 months, I was only working 24 hours a week and I had enough time to get a few things done in the house or to pick up the kids from school and nursery and although it was still a balancing act, it didn’t feel as unbalanced.
Since I started a new job at the beginning of November full-time, I am learning what unbalanced really means. Luckily, Mr A is only working 4 hours a day at the moment but that won’t last forever. We have found a Nanny to start in January, we are using a budgeting spreadsheet to try and make the money work and I have quickly realised in the last month what it means to be a full-time working mum (again).
Yes, I worked full-time for a year in 2015 but the children were super young then and Mr A only worked weekends. This time around things are super different and this is what I’ve realised so far:
- For a while there, you’re not sure if you’re eyes are sore because of how tired you are or if you’re getting an eye infection. At this point, it could be either. But you’re probably just super tired from your 15 hour work days (including your time at home).
- You had this vision of your weekends being spent relaxing or making the most of your time with the children and SO. The reality is you now need to do most of those things you used to do during the week/your non-working hours in the space of 2 days – laundry, meal plans, food prep, homework, hair wash days, and food shopping… the lot. Oh, and spend quality time with the family. Relaxation… What is that?
- You keep planning to have an early night but once you’ve done all the necessaries once you get home from work (make time for children, cook/eat dinner, tidy, talk to SO, bath/shower etc) you really need some time for you to just unwind. The next thing you know, it’s past 11pm and too late to be considered early – again. Try again tomorrow (and repeat).
- Work never ends. A different kind just begins when you get home (unless your kids have grown some and become a bit more independent and able in their helping abilities).
- Mum guilt. It’s so real. You know why you’re doing what you’re doing and normally it’s for a better future (and some sanity and adult interaction) but that doesn’t take away the feeling of failure from not being an all-star baking, sewing, crafting, home educating stay-at-home mum. Every bad mood or incident at school makes you wonder if it’s because you’re working. Is this really a form of neglect on your behalf? Will they be psychologically damaged because mummy wasn’t home all day long? It doesn’t go away but you get used to it and one day, you should be able to see that you’re doing something right because your children are happy and healthy.
- The above aside, you’re also proud of what you’re doing. You’re providing for your family and you’re a role model: you’re showing your children what hard-work, motivation, perseverance and ultimately, your love looks like in the form of paving the way for a stable, secure future.
- You seem super forgetful at times – not sure of the day, date, month or even year. You might miss some important detail. Or ask somebody to repeat what they said for the 3rd It’s called tiredness. Your brain is tired from trying to keep up and this will just become normal until your children are grown and you can sleep in and work less (one day) and your brain fog finally lifts from 18+ years of sleep deprivation, childcare and gruelling work schedules.
- You don’t understand childless people struggles anymore. It’s as if life before kids didn’t exist. Sarah from Marketing is tired she says? But she has no children. How can she be tired? She probably is tired to be fair, but she hasn’t experienced your level of tiredness you decide and nothing will change your mind.
- Some mum’s admire you, some relate to you and others pity you. It’s part and parcel of the playground life. Some mum’s are longing to get back to work, some are already back in work and others could think of nothing worse than going back to work and couldn’t possibly understand why you don’t feel the same. Smile, make a noise of neither agreement or disagreement and zone out.
- Coming home to excited hugs, kisses, smiles and tales from your child/rens day is totally worth it.
- But sometimes, the best part of the day is actually the part when you relax in the tub, read a book or just get into bed knowing your children are asleep and you are genuinely able to take a deep breath and relax in peace.
- The truth about childcare: it is expensive AF. And sometimes, you might wonder if it’s even worth working. Until you remember what you would have financially if you wasn’t working and realise you really don’t want to go back to the struggle so you suck it up and pay the childcare costs until next month when you wonder all over again!
Is there anything you’ve realised whilst you’ve been a working parent? Or is there anything you didn’t realise about being a stay-at-home parent?
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