There is no perfect balance between work and home when you are a parent. I do not believe that the equilibrium will ever be ‘just so’ in this respect. Parenting is the single hardest job you could ever do. There is no break from it, it is unpaid and the boss isn’t always as grateful for your work as you’d like. It is characterised by constant evolution – changing, growing, changing again. Balance? Probably impossible.
When I was pregnant with Joni I really thought – and I was right – that I’d want to be at home with her. When the time came to back to my job I was pretty upset. This wasn’t helped by the fact that when I got there after 11 months of maternity leave my manager was too busy to speak to me for 3 weeks, a lot had changed and I was told to ‘amuse myself’. It’s an absolute mission to get yourself and your child up and ready and deposited at childcare/work – especially if it’s to a job like the one I had. When I quickly went on maternity leave again with my second child I silently promised myself that I would do all I could to manage our finances so I wouldn’t have to return. In the end that decision was made for me as the entire team was made redundant a couple of months later. Little did I know that with two under two at home I’d feel really different though. Having two young children at home was hard, far harder for me than the transition from no children to one – going from one to two was tough.
One thing I hadn’t banked on was my yearning to be doing more than looking after my children and the nagging truth that I wasn’t really cut out for 24/7 childcare. I think it is clear that I love my children. They are the sunshine of my life. I just can’t be with them 24 hours a day. Some days I feel guilty about this and other days I feel empowered – but that’s just parenting as a whole, isn’t it? Perhaps I will regret not spending all this time with them, perhaps not. Groups and messy play make me feel tired and uncomfortable, perhaps this is a failing on my part but I think giving them my love, security and being happy is worth more.
Opportunities arose that meant that I had the chance to turn a dream – a good idea – into a reality. This is where the slightly intense last year and a bit started. In that time the cost of living went up a lot too, so now I have an admin job that I do in the evenings to pay for the childcare in the day to run the charity. So I went ‘back to work’. Apart from it doesn’t feel like work a lot of time. It feels good and enjoyable. I hope, I believe, it makes me a better Mum in the time that we are all together. How I feel about working and the balance we (don’t) have changes all the time. I’m conscious of the fact that I have a choice, we could just about survive on one salary – really, once childcare costs are paid that is exactly what we do, although our lifestyle is far from what we would like – no holidays, for example, is a bit disappointing.
Recently I have made a decision to be more present when I am with the children. Some days this means going somewhere, playing or reading together for a while then hopping onto the computer whilst they play or nap. Some days it means leaving my phone elsewhere and choosing to switch off from everything to focus on them. Some days it means dropping them at the childminder in the morning and not thinking about them (too much) until the evening. Some days it means doing things as a foursome at the weekend and some days it means I have to escape for a break on my own. Fortunately I have a husband who facilitates this and is my biggest encouragement. How we handle things is constantly evolving – there is no perfect balance. Working is what keeps me sane, focused and satisfied. I’m tired often and it’s sometimes stressful – but I’m building something from nothing so this is par for the course I suppose, and like I have said – it is a choice. My biggest fear as a parent is doing the wrong thing for my children and damaging them in some way, but I am sure that I am doing my best right now and that is good enough, right?
<div align="center"><a href="http://bornin2011.com/" title="Born in 2011"><img src="http://i1146.photobucket.com/albums/o528/Emma_Cantrell/Addalittlebitofbodytext_zpsdf99add2.png" alt="Born in 2011" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
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