I have been a working mum since 2013. I have worked part time, full time and as of now, I am working from home as a blogger. Some days being at full time work was extremely difficult while on others it was nice to be able to sit and have a hot cup of tea without having to wipe a nose or change a bum! I know there are a heck of a lot of working mums out there, some who love it, some who hate it and others who 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!
Today we meet the lovely Kate from How To Feel Sexy In Big Knickers talking all things working mummy!
Tell me a little bit about who is in your family.
I’m a mum of three to Emma (10), Izzy (6) and Elliott (1).
What age were your children when you returned to work?
I returned to work when Emma was 9 months old and then when Izzy was nearly 6 months old. I haven’t gone back to work after Elliott and am focusing on building a business from home so I can be around for my children as they grow up.
Did you return to a job away from the home or within the home?
The first two times I went back to work, I went back to working in London. This time around I’m focused on working from home. Both had their benefits (as well as disadvantages) but as my kids get older I want to be around for them more.
Did you choose to return or did your circumstances force you back?
The first time round I wanted to go back. I felt like I’d lost my identity and was missing out on my career which was really important to me at the time. The second time round I went back for financial reasons although again, I missed having something outside of being a mum. This time round, I really don’t want to return to working in Finance so if I end up going back it will be because I’m forced to.
Did you return to work full or part time?
After both baby 1 and 2 I went back full time. Sadly, within a year of going back the first time I had a breakdown from the stress (I worked in banking and was having to work 70-80 hours a week). The second time around I managed to get flexible working that meant I worked my hours in four days and had one day off a week which helped a bit. I wouldn’t work full time again unless I had no other choice as I feel I missed out on so much (I also had long commutes which didn’t help.)
What childcare do you have in place and how did you go about choosing it?
I’ve been very lucky with my childcare and it’s all been done by family. Both my daughters did go to nursery when they were ready for it but that was because I wanted them to get to socialise with other kids and get ready for starting school. At the moment I don’t have childcare. I work as fast as I can during Elliott’s day time nap and then log on again after the kids are in bed at 8pm. If I end up going back to finance though I would choose a nursery rather than family as I think Elliott would really love being around other kids and using family for childcare isn’t without it’s pitfalls!
What do you find the most difficult about being a working mum?
Definitely finding time to do everything else I need to do as a mum on top of holding down a job. Children need so many things and that doesn’t stop when you go back to work. Drs appointments, parents evenings, buying school uniform, planning birthday parties… it never ends! It was the day after my second daughters 4th birthday (which I hadn’t managed to do much for) that I decided enough was enough. I felt terrible that I hadn’t given her a good birthday and the run up had been soooo stressful. I knew at that point that I wanted to leave my career and start something part time and home based that would let me be a better mother.
How do you deal with the working mummy guilt?
For the most part I ignored it and rationalised it as just being something I had to let go of in order to be able to provide for my family. But eventually it caught up with me and I couldn’t cope with it. I was at the extreme end of things though, it’s not like that for all mums. But I was working at Director level and that required long hours and being constantly available. It was exhausting and really impacted on my time with my kids which just added to the guilt even more.
Now I’m working from home I find it much easier. I make sure I don’t work when my kids are around, even if that means working late into the night. It’s still hard but I don’t feel the guilt anymore. It’s all about the boundaries and making sure that you find the time to be mum as well as a career woman. The guilt comes up when you don’t feel like you are doing your role (whether that’s mum or worker) to the best of your ability. So by setting strict boundaries and making sure they are equal priorities you can minimise this as much as possible.
How did you feel when it was time to go back to work?
The first time I was excited. I went back on a promotion so it was a new job and my first move into senior management. I wanted to prove that it was possible to be a mum and advance up the career ladder, so I was proud that I had achieved that. The second time around I would have liked to have been at home longer but was finding motherhood a little more challenging at that point so relished the opportunity to be ‘Kate’ again. I think if I end up having to go back to finance this time round though I’ll be heartbroken. I don’t know how I’d leave my kids with someone else given how close we’ve all got over the last two years since I’ve been at home.
Is your work/life balance what you want it to be or would you rather work less or more?
At the moment yes, although it’s not sustainable if I want to be able to afford to work from home running my business. I find it hard because there is so much I want to do and create that there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do it all and be there for my kids. My kids take priority so it’s a little frustrating but slow and steady wins the race.
What advice would you give to a mummy heading back to work?
Find a balance that works for you. Don’t be afraid to do an ‘average job’ if it means leaving on time to get home to your kids. You have nothing to prove to an employer, so develop healthy boundaries that mean you leave work at work and don’t let your job get in the way of being a mum more than it has to.
Kate, thank you so much for taking part and giving us an insight into how you have juggled being not only a full time working mum, but also a home-based one too. I am so with you on all of what you said. I eventually went back full time after I had Zach and then thankfully after Oscar, that wasn’t the case. But trying to do everything in a nap time and the evenings is a bit of a nightmare (especially when the littlest likes to wake up a lot!). I wish you so much success on your venture because you so deserve it (and working 80 hours a week sounds like hell!).