Saturday, 6 October 2012

The life of this working mum

I've started this post many times.
Sometimes I am bitter and twisted; sometimes I am grateful for the life working allows; sometimes I just don't know where to begin.

Today is a mixture of all of those things.

I spend a lot of time wishing me and Mr J could change places. That I could spend my time focused on the little people, that I'm not distracted by guilt when at work, and distracted by work when I'm on 'our time'.

I wish that work could be more forgiving. That there was more of an appreciation as to what a talent juggler I am.

In July the cookie crumbled. I got the worst headache. I can't remember the last time, well I sort of can, I suffered from migraines in my teens, and that was a long time ago.
I think it was me bringing things to a head, without knowing.
The acknowledgement that since returning to work the previous July that I hadn't really found a fair balance.

Since July I've paced myself a lot more.

I did try and look at a flexible working arrangement, the idea of Friday afternoons off is an attractive one- my  thought process being that I could do all the housework then and have the whole weekend with my little people.

And it's probably where the realisation took place. That flexible working would make me even more bitter. I could commit to an arrangement which has been working longer hours each day.  On the surface that seems fair.

Apart from the fact, in the role I have, I do not qualify for TOIL (time off in lieu). So, I can leave for work at 6am on a Monday and return home at 7pm on Tuesday, and that currently stands at 14 hours work.
So, if I went for flexible working if might count as 17 or whatever, but I'd be expected to work extra for the remainder of the week to get my afternoon off.
And that would make me resent work even more.

Because the reality is that my flexible working arrangement would probably result in me working more rather than less.
And that actually things need to be considered about working practices rather than my working practices.
So, for now I have decided two things, unless it's a dire situation I will only stay away for one night at a time.
And I will not seek promotion, I can be told I am capable, but as I watch colleagues regularly stay away two or three nights a week, I know the balance I need to retain.

I have thought about looking for another job.
And I am my own worst enemy.
For all the worst things about my job, I happen to enjoy it (in the main).
I have some very favourite bits, and I am given the freedom to do my job in a way that makes it work for me, and my customers.

This year has been one of a huge challenge, immense stress, and tensions at their highest.

And as we move to October the rewards are emerging.
We were successful in supporting a consortia of employers in securing government support for training. My role changes to take on this project with my other work. And I fortunately get resource to support me in doing this.
We sorted our first Awards for the core bit of my role, and in spite of the difficult process of the judging panel, and trying to find a way to ensure we had the best of the best practice, we got there. Planning the Awards has been a great motivator, and I even got some help!:
And yes, between the Awards event and interviewing for the new roles, I'll be doing two nights away.
I am not unaware of the irony.


  1. I've not worked for 18 months - I am acutely aware of the impact on my career of this. I read your post with a mixture of feelings. I miss my career and I do want to work again, equally I dread the juggling.
    well done you for holding it together for so long.
    I desperately hope you find a balance that suits you better.
    I feel very strongly that employers need to do more - that they should be approaching and offering. That promotion shouldn't be dependent on long hours or nights away because that doesn't suit mothers.

  2. The constant juggling really is the hardest part of being a working mum I think. I'm lucky in many ways, in that I get afternoons with my toddler. But that means I have to start work at 5am - which means at 3.30am wake up call in order to do the commute and get there on time. I also work every evening, which eats into time I used to spend with my husband. I know I can't work at this pace - 60/70 hours a week - forever. It's not maintainable. But I see the rewards coming in, our savings account gradually building so that huge deposit now required for a mortgage is now not looking so unrealistic. And we're a step closer to more financial stability and the chance to grow our family. This is what keeps me going. It also helps that I enjoy what I do. But, like you, I'm still struggling for the balance. I'm not completely sure it exists really.


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