Work v Baby... Baby v Work... Everyday I'm Juggling...by Ellie Thompson
God, the work-life balance sucks, doesn’t it? I’m just getting that in there quick. Let’s forget about the small talk; us mamas don’t have time to bullshit around with pleasantries these days. Time really is, of the essence.
Trying to be a full-time mum and work full-time hours is STRESSFUL. Am I right, guys?! Don’t leave me hanging!
No. This can’t just be me.
The whole population is faced with the work/baby dilemma at some point, whether money comes in to play or not. What did you decide?
I’m lucky I enjoy my job and for the most part, get to work from home. I’m building up a small business that understands that until recently, I’ve had to work my full-time hours around the clock. Billy is still only just six months and I’ve been working around him from the start.
Whether it’s an 11 o’clock stint at night, an hour at 4am in the morning during those early months of night feeds (yep, a great time to schedule content with the baby attached to boob) or 7am on a Sunday morning. I’ve been busy clocking up my hours since Billy was born.
In fact, my working hours are quickly getting back to normal now, which means I can breathe a sigh of relief… As of this month, Billy is now at our childminder’s for 3 days a week, where Maddie is already a frequent flyer.
I do worry - is he too young? Yes, of course he is. But it’s surely better than the alternative of keeping him home while I try and work. He can’t entertain himself.
Billy deserves 100% of my attention, but the reality is that I’m not in a position to give him that 100% of the time.
The truth is that sometimes whether you like it or not, your choices are made for you.
You try your best to better yourself, to put yourself through university with student loans, hardship loans, overdrafts and credit cards.
You do the same in your late twenties when you buy a place on your own without the help of a man, all while working your arse off to get somewhere – anywhere, career-wise, only to wake up and realise you’ve then met the man of your dreams apparently too late in life to conceive naturally.
You end up on a terrible infertility spiral, which involves a huge remortgage for treatment. You come out of it winning post two IVF cycles later (yay!), only to face the reality that although you’ve had your kids in your mid to late thirties you have still monumentally failed to be in a position to properly provide for them and yourself without both being employed full time and relying on handouts from parents.
Argh. You do what you’ve got to do. Like everybody, you find a way to make it work. You go to bed at night and you thank your lucky stars for what you’ve got.
I’d spent so many years thinking I’d never get to be a mum. And what’s more - in comparison to some, we’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to fund treatment via a remortgage. And to think – all we had to do is promise the lady at Santander we’ll work until we’re at least 76 thousand years old. Not sure who saw who coming on that one…
My NCT group was having a WhatsApp discussion the other day when I waded in on the defensive again. Harry and Megan had been abroad without their baby, who must only be a few weeks younger than Billy. How on earth could they jet off and leave him home alone? I was quick to defend them: Perhaps they didn’t have much choice in the matter. I can identify with that (on a slightly more modest scale, of course – we’d only ever use the private jet on very special occasions).
I’ve had people tell me this time is precious – enjoy the cuddles, don’t worry if he doesn’t nap, they’re only this little once, tiny for such a short time… OF COURSE I treasure his littleness: completely. I’m mesmerised by his little ways, his sense of humour, his laugh, his smile, how ticklish he is, his chubby little thighs and his beautiful big smiley eyes. He’s a boy who wants to be happy ALL of the time.
I would love to be stress-free from time to time to gaze at him all day and not worry if he’s obeying his routine, having an off-day from teething or if his bad mood is a mid Wonder Week Leap, without my inbox pinging every thirty seconds with new email alerts.
It seems every one of us mums is set to be wracked with guilt when we work, and wracked with guilt when we’re not working. How is it that we cannot seem to comprehend that we can’t be in two places at once?
Sometimes I feel like a complete shit of a mum having to enlist outside help already. When people hear I’m working with such a young baby, I’ll get
‘OMG, you’re Superwoman!’ but that’s not true.
‘I don’t know how you do it!’ Well, I do. It’s called childcare.
Oh, and the fact that our house is officially a shit-tip that hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned in a long time.
But at least this way, when I am with him – I am with him: I’m completely in the moment. It’s the old adage of ‘quality over quantity’. It’s so important and so true.
I don’t want my choices to be at his expense, who would? But I have to be realistic about what I have to do to be able to help keep my family under our roof.
I keep telling myself I can’t ever look back and regret these choices. You can’t really regret the things you can’t change or do anything about. You can only do your best from day to day, and hope that it’s good enough in the long run.