A good point was made the other day.
As a working mum my blogs so far have not actually mentioned how I juggle work and home life. I think a lot of the issues I’ve mentioned are things most parents experience and struggle with, but it has to be said that I wonder whether I would find it so difficult if I wasn’t working.
It is an issue I’ve been thinking about for some time now and discussed with colleagues at work and friends . Modern women have it all – or we seem to have it all.
It is great that women can get ahead in their career and I can’t imagine never working myself. I hate to say it but I admit I found maternity leave quite difficult. It is only in the last year or two that I have begun to appreciate how wonderful it is to be a mum. The change in lifestyle, the responsibility, the fact that you leave your work and in many ways, your identity, behind when you leave employment was harder to deal with than I thought it would be. Then there is adapting to being at home and taking on the role of homemaker when before chores and cooking were things you did with your husband.
Recently I think I’ve figured out why it was difficult to make that transition. Many of us have grown up at a very privileged time – a time when women were developing the confidence to take on men in the workplace, changing attitudes and becoming more gutsy than ever. Growing up at this time has given many women the chance to follow their dreams. And I did. I wanted to be a journalist so that’s what I did. Why not? And why shouldn’t I?
However there is another side to this “follow your dream” coin.
It appears when you have children. Sadly there is a tendency for some people to look down on women who choose to stay at home and bring up their children. I admit even I looked on in wonder at friends of mine who chose not to return to work and be a full time mum. Why would they choose to do this? Surely they need money to survive just like the rest of us? Surely they want some “me” time?
After my first baby I couldn’t wait to get back to work. The second time it was something I had to do. I’m glad I did but now I have begun to realise that although I found it hard to stay at home in the early days, having more time with my children is becoming more important than following a career – at the moment anyway.
I couldn’t give up work completely, but I find it increasingly difficult to work four days, keep on top of chores (which thankfully have been split equally again!) and spend time with the children. The guilt weighs heavy as I’m sure it does for most working mums.
Each day is a mad rush to get ready in the mornings to get to nursery/grandparents and work on time. Most of the time it’s fine but if the children are particularly full of beans it can be a nightmare (funny isn’t it? I love them laughing and playing together but the machine that is morning routine can break down at the slightest laughing fit).
After a day at work it’s a mad rush to pick them up, get them ready for bed and try and read a story to squeeze in that extra time with them before bed.
Of course you have your own things to do. I like to go to the gym and I like to cook. But you can’t always do both on the same night. After shovelling down some dinner, it’s a bit of tv, clear up and bed. If I’m lucky I get in a bit of ironing.
Which is why I came to the conclusion that having it all doesn’t mean you’ll be happy with it. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my job and I love being a mum. I wouldn’t change any of it. But I think growing up in a time when the ethos of the working woman was so strong, it makes you believe you have to work to have any worth. Most people have to, to pay the bills. But working isn’t the only way to have worth. Bringing up little people to be healthy, happy and balanced adults is more important and these days, parents live with the challenge of trying to do just that alongside working a day job too.