As a working mum, some days I find it extremely difficult while on others it's nice to be able to sit and have a hot cup of tea without having to wipe a nose or change a nappy! I know there are a heck of a lot of working mums out there, some love it, some hate it, others are somewhere in the middle. I thought it would be interesting to see exactly how others feel about being a working mum and maybe we can all learn a little something about dealing with that dreaded mummy guilt!
This week I have Donna from What the Redhead Said answering all those working mummy questions.
Tell me a little bit about who is in your family
As well as myself there's my Husband David who works as a Police Officer and our two children – Athena and Troy. Athena is now four and a half and Little Man is two and a half.
What age were your children when you returned to work?
I was really lucky to have 15 months off work as maternity leave both times – about 4-6 weeks before they were born and the rest afterwards. It meant that they were around 13-14 months by the time I returned to work.
Did you return to a job away from the home or within the home?
I returned to my previous job role away from home.
Did you choose to return or did your circumstances force you back?
I think a bit of both. When I had Athena I knew that we'd have another child in the not too distant future so I returned purely because I wanted to get another lot of maternity leave. After Troy was born I knew we could just about manage financially if I didn't go back to work but thought the extra income would be nice so decided to return again.
Did you return to work full or part time?
After Athena I went back to my previous role full time. This was mainly because just before returning to work we found out we were expecting another baby and so it made financial sense to go back to work full time for 6 months before my next lot of maternity leave.
After Troy was born though I knew I couldn't juggle two children, childcare and a shift working Husband if I was also working full time so I went back part time. Although I wanted to only work two days a week, we agreed to three days on a flexible basis.
What childcare do you have in place and how did you go about choosing it?
We are lucky that two of the days I work we have grandparents that look after the children. One of these is sadly a Saturday so our work/life balance isn't great as it's difficult to see friends and family but it means we don't have the added outgoing of childcare during the week. I then work a third day which is always one of Hubby's days off although this changes every week and some weeks he doesn't have a day off for me to work so I have to work two days the following week to catch up.
What do you find the most difficult about being a working mum?
Because we don't have any childcare costs the only difficulties come from actual work. It's hard not being at work full time, not getting everything communicated to you and not having your own desk. There's also so much to catch up on each time I go in and being away for 3-4 days feels like I've been away for weeks.
On a home level it's hard working Saturdays now that Athena is at school as it often feels like I hardly see her but we just make the most of afternoons, Sundays and school holidays!
How do you deal with the working mummy guilt?
At the start of working after having Athena I felt so guilty. I didn't feel like I was giving work or home my best and that Athena deserved so much better. But then I realised that I can't do everything, something always has to give and it's best to build foundations for a brighter future when the children are young and won't remember it as much.
Now that I work part time I don't get as much Mummy Guilt. We have a good balance and I make sure that I spend as much time with the children doing fun things and going on adventures when I'm not at work. They also get so much quality time with their grandparents and solo time with their Daddy too that they might not get if I wasn't working.
How did you feel when it was time to go back to work?
Awful. I think whenever a Mum goes back to work after having a baby it will be hard. You wonder if it's the right choice, whether anything has changed since you were away from work and then you think of all the things you're missing whilst you're working. It was a really hard time but within a few months it becomes the new normal and it's fine really. Not great but you deal with it and get used to it.
Is your work/life balance what you want it to be or would you rather work less or more?
I would say we have a pretty good work/life balance although because I have the blog as well I do feel like I am constantly working in one way or another. I would love to drop my third working day of the week so that I can spend that day off with Hubby instead of being at work but for now it's working and it isn't so bad – it could be so much worse.
What advice would you give to a mummy heading back to work?
Children do grow so fast and you will feel like you are missing so much – that's normal – but you won't miss that much at all. You'll still have quality time with your children, and the time you do have with them you'll put in 110% because you'll over compensate for the time you're at work. Before long you'll get used to your new normal and it will be fine. Plus, your children will be having a great time whilst you're at work – whether that's in childcare or with family. They'll be well looked after and will be socialising and having fun. Don't worry about them, don't beat yourself up. Just do what you have to do and everything will be fine.
Donna, thank you so much for sharing an insight into your life as a working mum. It sounds like you have it allpretty balanced at the moment although I do hope you get that extra day off some time in the future. It's so brilliant that your little ones get such quality time with their Dad and Grandparents – I have adored watching the bond between Zach and my Mum grow while I am at work although i do get a little jealous at times. I'm glad that your mummy guilt faded over time, I do agree that it gets easier after time although there are times when I still find it really hard! I absolutely love your advice for mummies heading back to work and definitely agree about them having fun. Zach has fun at nursery and at nannie's and I have no doubt that our children's days go far quicker than ours!