The other week I forgot non-uniform day. I wasn’t the only one of course, and after delivering the kids to school on time, I returned for their morning break with their own clothes so they could get changed to ‘civvies’. To be fair to my girls, they didn’t make a fuss; there were no scenes or tears, I volunteered to come back with the alternative outfits. If anything, I think they were a bit stunned that Mummy had dropped the ball. I can honestly say it’s the first time I’ve forgotten a school event/special day sort of thing.
The dreaded work/life balance
Just the once in four years isn’t bad right? But I felt bad. I thought it related directly to the fact that I’ve been flirting with the idea of going back to work since September. That’s seven months of writing this blog, managing a couple of Pinterest accounts, completing a smattering of creative writing projects and a smidgen of networking. My life is no longer ‘just’ about the children – I have some other responsibilities and other interests.
More recently I have noticed my mind wandering and wondering. What do I want to ‘be’ in the future? How do I want to spend my time? What impact will my working have on my children, both emotionally and in a practical sense? Alongside that I’m left questioning if I’m actually capable of working again? Have I been out of the loop for too long? Do I have the confidence to meet new people, in a territory beyond the mummydom I’ve become a native of? I don’t even have a copy of my CV to hand…
And it seems I’m not alone. A quick check on the Mumsnet boards reveals the agonies mums returning to work face. Members are asking if they can go back to work, if full time or part time is best, how they will manage to fit a career around their children, which careers are most flexible, if they can cope with parental guilt and where, oh, where, can they get a decent cleaner?! Further Googling brings up plenty of advice too – how to decide the type of career that might suit you, how to choose childcare and more practical info on tax and benefits. Bloggers too are discussing the merits of mothers in the workforce.
Childhood should be cherished - not put on a schedule
At the top of my list are concerns about achieving a balance – really asking myself how much time I want to spend working and whether I am motivated by money or the need to challenge myself or even to set an example for my girls? Alongside that, it’s suddenly dawned on me that just as I am getting my business appetite back I’m fast approaching six weeks of ‘summer’ holidays. Even during term time there are sick days, inset days and half terms to allow for. To achieve my goals in both my career and as a mother would I turn into an OCD organiser – flapping my things to do list in my loved-ones faces and running what should be the halcyon days of childhood with military precision?I feel like I have a lot of questions – and that my answers still need a bit of work. I think it’s likely that I’d remain working from home, living the freelance lifestyle I enjoyed before babies came along. In some ways that affords me the freedom to juggle my working day to suit my own schedule, but it could also mean that I’ll find it difficult to say ‘no’ to clients, and assume responsibility for far more than I would as an employee. In fact, today is actually National Work from Home Day, which is set up to get the UK to re-evaluate the work/lifestyle mix.
I’d love to know what you feel about the difficulties of combining a family with work, and if you are considering returning to work after a career break. Please use the comment box below to add your thoughts. Maybe my concerns are common ones – or maybe this dilemma is different for you?