Welcome to another instalment of my new guest series #MumisBest! #MumisBest is all about the ever-growing SAHM/working mum debate. I really want this series to highlight that there’s no right or wrong way, but whatever works for you and you family. If you’d like to take part do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you! For now, I will leave you in the hands of Vicky from The Mummy Bubble Blog!
When hubby and I were first discussing if it was the right time to start a family one of my biggest worries was a work-life balance.
When I’m not dashing around as the cook, cleaner, drink-pourer, bum-wiper and all-round dogsbody for my kids, I work as a journalist for a tabloid newspaper.
I work from home, but my job can be extremely demanding, involves a lot of driving and drops extra hours in my lap at short notice.
I’ve also been asked to travel abroad at the last minute to cover a story with no guarantee of when I will be back home. I’ve known colleagues who have been stuck abroad for weeks on a job, it’s just the nature of what we do.
And don’t get me wrong, it is a very exciting career, but my big worry was when you bring kids into the mix, how can I possibly do both?
I want to work. It’s a valuable break, it makes me feel good to do a job I can take pride in and, let’s face it, one income doesn’t cut it these days.
However I also do not want to be a mum who isn’t there for bedtime. I don’t want long chunks of time away from my children where I don’t see them for more than a week.
A couple of nights away from my kids every now and then is the maximum I’m prepared to do when they’re this young, that’s just how I feel about that.
Every mum is different I know and some are happy to concentrate solely on work in the week and then find time for their kids at the weekend.
We all have to find our own way, but this really wasn’t for me. How could I have the best of both worlds?
In the end we decided that we couldn’t let this worry influence when we start a family. You can get too bogged down in perfect situations for when you should have your first baby.
There is no right time.
So I got pregnant, suffered terrible morning sickness which disrupted my work days hugely, and finally had our first child.
As my year of maternity leave went on, we discussed what we would do next.
There were a few factors in play here. We couldn’t afford for me not to work, we wanted a second child and soon, and how would things like the nursery run work?
I was very lucky to have supportive managers who were willing to discuss my concerns and offer me the chance to return to work full-time with hours that would work for me.
My daughter was put into nursery four days a week and spent one day with my mum. My hours were adjusted so I could always pick my daughter up from nursery on time.
This meant never missing a bedtime.
But after all that, just two days before I was due to return to work I found out I was pregnant again.
When we started trying for our second baby I had no idea it would happen so quickly, but there you go!
I now faced a huge amount of guilt as I went back to work with improved hours, knowing that soon I would be buggering off again.
When I did come to tell my manager, he was nothing but supportive. Phew.
I went back to work for just seven months. In that time we got in a good routine that I felt really happy with.
I dropped my daughter off in the morning, then went home to work and before I knew it, it was time to pick her up again. What really helped was that she loved going to nursery.
And now I’m back in that return to work situation once again.
Except this time the nursery bill will be doubled. To put both kids in to nursery four days a week would cost more than my monthly take home pay.
So, why work? Because I want to. But I also want to be a mum. Can I achieve the holy grail of “having it all”.
The answer is no, I don’t think we can have it all. You can’t be a full-time mum and have a full-time career. But we can find a balance.
My balance is my children will be with my mum one day a week and I will work Sundays in exchange for taking Fridays off to be with the kids.
This means both are in nursery for three days. It’s still going to cost more than a monthly mortgage payment to send them but it’s more manageable.
Also my eldest will get some free childcare hours from April next year and this will help.
I return to work in January, so that’s when we will find out if I have managed to get the balance right.
So after rambling through my story, I thought I would share some tips with you from what I’ve learned over the last three years of trying to find a good work-life balance:
Talk about it with your other half. Having a discussion and deciding what the ideal solution for both of you would be is a good start. Then you can go into the practicalities of how it would work.
Do the math. How much as your bills and how much would childcare cost? Can you afford it with your salary? Would it be more affordable if you worked just three days a week? Can a relative help out one day a week so you can save a bit of money?
Be honest with your boss. If you can be upfront with your manager from the start about what your concerns are then you can hopefully meet in the middle. Most good employers will offer flexible hours as an option. Remember just because you’ve had a child doesn’t mean you’re not a valuable asset. If anything you’re more of an asset now as you can juggle like a total boss after having kids.
Let go of the guilt. Just because you have a job you love, doesn’t mean you can’t have a life outside of that. Having a child is no reason to feel guilty.
I’m Vicky, a mum of two gorgeous girls – aged two and eight months. I live in the South East with my hubby. I love food, travel, a good walk, a decent movie and a compelling TV show to get hooked on. I’m on maternity leave at the moment but work as a journalist when not chasing around after little people.
I blog about all aspects of parenting young children – it’s what I do all day every day after all. I like to write about the funnier side of having kids, because you’ve got to laugh sometimes! I’ve also been known to get a bit soppy about my kids. I love to share my parenting SOS tips, highlight my favourite child and baby products, and big up fun and fabulous places to visit with the family. News is a big part of my life so I’m also bringing you the latest news for parents with young children.