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 Kate On Thin Ice talking all things working mummy!
Tell me a little bit about who is in your family.
My family is myself and my husband and our 3 children, sons aged 11 and 16 and a 13 year old daughter.
What age were your children when you returned to work?
I returned to work and a brand new job with a new company 6 weeks after giving birth to my first son.
Did you return to a job away from the home or within the home?
I worked in an office about 6 miles away from my home in the nearest market town.
Did you choose to return or did your circumstances force you back?
Work was always my passion and I had sent out a cosmic order for the job to come up that did and for it to go full-time instead of part-time. When it did, I had to go for it.
Did you return to work full or part time?
It was a full-time job.
What childcare do you have in place and how did you go about choosing it?
The embarrassing truth is it was only a few weeks before my son was born when Mum asked me what I was going to do about childcare. I don’t know what was up with me but I had not even given it a second thought. Fortunately, Mum was more than happy to step up to the challenge so my son’s first days during the weeks were with my amazing Mum and Dad who did a far better job of looking after him that I could have as I was completely clueless.
What do you find the most difficult about being a working mum?
I have 3 children now and have tried just about everything, from full-time work which works with one child, is possible with two, but becomes just about impossible with three. I have worked part-time and been expected to deliver like a full-time worker. I have worked freelance but it has taken me ages to believe in myself enough to make a success of that. In one job, I was bullied because I was pregnant when I went for the interview but did not know until after they offered me the job.
How do you deal with the working mummy guilt?
I have learned, perhaps the hard way, that guilt is a pointless emotion. If it is bothering you so much then you need to question whether what you are doing is OK for you and yours at any given time in your life. When my children were not in school, if I could take them to work with my husband providing back-up in terms of driving and looking after the children whilst I had meetings or delivered training, I would. It got harder when they went to school with all the various events they put on. That is when the juggling act becomes nigh on impossible.
How did you feel when it was time to go back to work?
Excited the first time round.
Bullied the second time round.
The third time I returned to work with an employer, I only did it as my Mum was terminally ill and I wanted her to see me back in work before she died. That was stupid looking back but it was how I felt at the time.
Is your work/life balance what you want it to be or would you rather work less or more?
I love work and I think it is a good thing for my sons and daughter to see a woman using their skills and talents. I have found a way that really works for me now but it has taken me almost 17 years to get there.
What advice would you give to a mummy heading back to work?
Do what works for you in both your head and your heart. Accept that if you do go back to work outside the home, you will miss special moments and memory making. If you can hack that then great, but if you really can’t then be honest with yourself and those around you.
Ensure you know all your rights around leave, pay and discrimination because you never know when you might have to fight for them. Seek financial advice from free agencies such as Turn 2 Us to see if you are better in or out of work and if you choose to stay out of work, know you are still making a hugely valuable contribution and that you inevitably have more special moments and memories with your children.
Look into freelance opportunities where you set the agenda around your needs and your family’s wishes too.
Kate, thanks so much for providing such an honest and interesting account of your return to work. I can’t imagine the juggle you have faced with having three children but it sounds like returning was definitely the right thing to do. I love what you say about the guilt factor, you are so right that if it is really unbearable then you need to really consider if it’s for the best. Your advice to new working mums is spot on, it’s so important to know your rights because it quite often feels like there isn’t enough support for working mums. I am glad that you have the balance right for you now, even if it did take a while!