Can women really have it all? The career, husband, children, social life? The answer, yes, you probably can, but it’s likely to come at a cost. To me, this is so frustrating. I was, and still am a woman who wants it all, I don’t want to give up my career to look after my children, and I don’t want to miss out on important milestones in my kids life because I’m working. I have to try and split my time between home life and work.
So what do we do? How can we have it all? Can we do it without it coming at such a cost? If there is, I haven’t found it yet. I’m hoping my career in blogging and vlogging will take off, and I will be able to be at home working, and looking after my children at the same time. Thankfully at the moment, I am on maternity leave, so I haven’t had to worry about what is written below for a few months, however that is about to come to an end in April when I’m due back at work.
Fortunately our household has just had a shift in dynamics, and my partner has gone part time at work. This will allow me to go back to work part time without the worry of looking for suitable childcare, or being able to afford it. Private childcare for babies is crazy expensive, and I’d be paying out any extra money I’d earn working full time on childcare. It will also allows us to share responsibility, and take it in turns to do the school run, attend school events, look after the baby, and being able to spend quality time with the children.
Below are a list of challenges I have faced as a working mum.
1. Missing out on important school events
This was the one that happened all the time. My sons school are really great about involving parents in what they do. They have open days about learning, teaching parents basic French and Spanish to help with the kids homework. They have had cookery lessons, and open days about homework. I missed all of these because I was at work, and I couldn’t put in individual holiday dates, as I needed these for when the schools broke up for summer. I’d miss out on concerts, and assembly’s because I just couldn’t get away from work.
I remember one day in particular, and this probably sounds really stupid to most people, but I missed my sons pre-school graduation! I mean graduating from pre-school, it’s not that big a deal, but to me it was. I was so proud of my son, and I wanted to see him get his little certificate, and applauded him for doing so well! I missed it because I mixed up the dates and took time off for his end of year concert instead, which was still fantastic, and I loved every minute of it, but I was gutted that I had missed his graduation. My mum phoned me at work to tell me (as she had managed to go) and I stood in this tiny office, and cried! Cried like a baby, because I was gutted, and I felt that huge weight of Mum guilt getting heavier on my shoulders! My son will never remember that day, however I will always feel guilty for missing it. Fortunately this year I managed to go to his nativity play, that I had to miss last year, and it was fantastic. Fantastic not to feel that Mum guilt again!
2. Having to take time off work when your child is unwell
So here is the other end of the stick. When my son was unwell I had to take time of work. I was a single mum to my son for the first 4 ish years of his life. I was solely responsible for him, so I had to be the one that stayed home with him. My son picks up every bug and cold going, and sometimesI felt like, work are going to think I’m messing them about. I just couldn’t take any more time off work. So he had to go to my mums
house….que the Mum guilt again! Sometimes I’d be able to work from home, but that was only really in my last job. My previous employment was in care, so it wasn’t possible to work from home. I either had to let me employer down, or my son down. I didn’t want to do either.
A lot of employers aren’t sympathetic to your other role as a parent, especially if they aren’t a parent themselves, it can be really hard for them to understand why you need to be the one to take time off again.
3. Missing out on first words/steps/quality bonding time
I went back to work when my son was three months old. Due to being a single Mother, I had no other choice. I had to work, I had to provide for my son. So I missed out on so much of his early years. His first steps were caught on camera and sent to me, his first words, giggles, tucking him into bed every night. These were all things I missed. As a single Mum, you have to do, what you have to do, to look after your baby. I would work nightshifts, come home, and sleep for an hour or two, and then I’d go collect my son, and stay awake until bedtime. I’d be so tired sometimes, I’d be zoned out. So even if my son did do any firsts at that point, I wouldn’t be able to remember it anyway. I still feel a huge sense of guilt for not being able to either remember his firsts, or that I wasn’t even there to see them.
That was one thing I didn’t want to do this time. I couldn’t imagine missing all of those with my daughter. There’s a chance that I still might, while working part time, but I have a higher chance I won’t, as I am going to be at home more. One thing I always want from now on in, is to be tucking my babies into bed every night. Regardless if I have to go back to work part time or full time.
4. Not being able to have a family breakfast
This one was a more recent one, as the job I was in before I went off on maternity leave, was an office job, Monday to Friday, 9-5. Even those this has many perks, especially having my weekends off, and being able to put my kids to bed at night. My son had to go to breakfast club at school every morning. He’d be at school from 8.15am most days. Fortunately he loved breakfast club, and misses it sometimes now, with me being off on maternity leave. I still felt bad for him that as soon as he was awake, it would be a quick shower, dressed and into the car to go to school.
5. Trying to fit in home work, after school activities, dinner and quality time in within a couple of hours before bedtime
Oh my goodness, 5 year olds get a lot of
homework, he still gets lots of homework now, but we have more time to complete it. I’d really struggle with trying to fit all his homework in, especially as we weren’t getting home until almost 6pm most nights. We then had to get dinner, try and spend time together and fit in homework before bedtime at 7.30pm. We’d have swimming on a Thursday night too, so that day was out of the question all together to complete homework. It would be rushed and half arsed most of the time, and it usually result in us getting stressed at each other. Not how I wanted to be spending my quality time with my son after I got home from work.
6. Not being thought of for promotion
It’s no secret that gender pay gap still exits. Fortunately not in any company that I have worked with, but it defiantly still there. This goes for promotion and recruitment too. It has been known for employers to even ask woman if they plan to have children/more children in an interview! I never mention that I have my own kids in an interview unless asked. The fact that I had a child or children doesn’t affect how well I can do the job. Women are less likely to be considered for promotion or even have it mentioned to her if she has children! That’s just crazy, the independent wrote a good article about it.
7. Having to try and find childcare for during the school holidays
This is a massive pain. My sons school gets 7 weeks off during the summer! 7 fricken weeks. I get 28 days annual leave. I have to try schedule 2 weeks off, schedule my sons Dad having him a week or 2, him going to his grandparents house, my aunts house, and anyone else who is free to take him! Luckily I have a great family who always help out at the drop of a hat, but it’s still pretty stressful.
8. Fighting with the other parents at work to be the first to try and get the school holidays off.
On the back of that, you have to try and get your holiday dates in before the other parents to ensure you can get that time off. Most parents like myself, put those dates in as soon as the new holiday year begins.
9. Childcare! So pricey
I’ve been looking into childcare for going back to work, and one of the main reasons for both myself and my fiancé looking at part time work was because we’d be paying out anything extra we make working full time, into private childcare. Your talking on average £1000 a month! That’s just a crazy amount of money to pay out.
10. Having a social life
Trying to fit in a social life when being a parent and a full time worker is just so difficult. Luckily and not so lucky, me and my friends are mostly in the same position, so we understand. We try to get a catch up once a month, some months we see each other more then that, and sometimes we can go a full month without seeing each other at all. It really just depends on how busy we all are.
It’s really just a juggling act. You have to weigh up your tasks and priorities them. You can defiantly have it all, but you can’t have 100% of everything, and as a working mother, that’s something I will just have to learn to live with.
I’d love to hear how other working Mothers get on, do you face difficulties in your workplace. How do you juggle parent-life with a career? Leave you comments below.