Recently I’ve been contemplating life without work, what would it feel like to wake knowing I only have the school run to negotiate, how cool that would be.
There would be no income, that’s a bit of a downer but the thought of dropping the kids into school and then wallowing in my duvet would be a nice thought.
Waking up in the morning worry free – a nice feeling, after all no matter how much you kid yourself you don’t worry about things – you do.
And no matter how hard you try to push stuff that worries you to the back of your mind it’s always there.
At times I feel like I am co-existing in a time warp, stumbling from one day to the next trying to hold it together. God forbid my cleaning lady retires, my whole house of cards will definitely come tumbling down.
You see my working life is a fine balance – more like a juggling act.
GCSE’s have dominated our household for the first time and I considered a ‘TAXI’ sign for the top of my car and adding a duvet and pillow for the back seat given I’ve spent more time in this vehicle than anywhere else.
‘As soon as the exam is over I need to be collected so I can get back home and study for the next exam’, my son says nonchalantly.
Like I have nothing better to do with my time, ‘I do have a day job’ I tell my son.
I know it’s important to do what you can for your kids when they are right in the middle of important public exams and I’m one of the lucky ones I can leave work to collect them and then work from home.
These last few weeks have all been about the exams but I realise that this treadmill I call life has nothing to do with work but rather kids.
When they are babies they are cute and cuddly and you love, adore and dote on them jump forward 15-16 years and they are bumbling teenagers with grotty tempers and raging hormones and you are just the over worked, stressed, under paid parent doing the running around.
A eureka moment, I’m not actually stressed about work, I realise that I’m stressed because of kids.
They are hard bloody work and it doesn’t stop when they become teenagers.
More time running around, never a moment to sit down. A late pick up from school at 8PM; a cricket match at 9:00am no wonder I’m knackered all the time.
What do non working mums do? It’s hard enough fitting all this in as a stay at home mum but fitting in work as well?
In fact work very definitely fits around school life and not the other way around, unfortunately.
Type into google ‘working mothers’ and there is a myriad of ideas to help the working mothers of today:-
How to balance your work/life schedule? You can’t
How to fit sex into a busy work schedule? Plan 2 years in advance by that time he’ll have forgotten.
How to make time for yourself without feeling guilty – Pleeeeease, working mothers always feel guilty whom ever they are and whatever they do.
Working mothers risk damaging their children’s prospects – just make us feel even worse than we do already why don’t you?
Can women really have it all? – If I hear that phrase again I’d probably kill the person who says it, the answer is NO we can’t!
The case for working mothers – DO we really need one…
The pros and cons of being a working mother – that’s a new one on me!
The best companies to work for as a working mother – None they all want your 110% commitment, they use cute advertising to induce working mothers.
Kids benefit from a working mum – that’s because we don’t spend 24/7 with the little buggers.
And so it goes
What is it like for me?
When I established Digital Print Management fifteen years ago I had a son under eighteen months and he came everywhere with me.
The office, on appointments when I needed to visit customers.
I wanted to break that mould and take my son with me after all, I’m a mother why should I hide him away just because I had a meeting to attend too.
Back then business was fun and a lot easier. I wanted to do my own thing so I could be with my children more and take the time out to see those school concerts and sports days.
And I’m proud to say I’ve only ever missed two events, one due to sickness the other because of a train delay. Ninety per cent of the time I drive them to school, pick them up and drop them around to their extra activities.
But it has been a different level of sacrifice and at times I’ve cursed the office.
It is a half-term break and I am working from home but the office is like a vortex it sucks you in and spits you out at the end of the day.
Before you know it, that trip you’d scheduled is abandoned, in mutual agreement, but that time you had committed to spend with your kids vanishes into thin air.
It’s all in the planning, I know, but when something unexpected crops up you can’t tell the customer can you wait until morning I’m on the way out with the kids.
The downside of running your own business is there is very little ‘me time’. It is impossible to to justify time away from the office when it is your business.
Ridiculous really because what’s complicated about booking an afternoon out in your diary, thousands who work for companies do but when it’s your business it isn’t always that easy and you end up playing catchup for the rest of the week.
Trying to get 8-9 hours of work into 6-7 hours won’t go so it feels like you never really empty your plate by the end of the day.
I have learned to be less hard on myself and not to go into panic mode if something isn’t finished on time. The other thing I’ve learn’t is not to put so much pressure on myself to get things done. No one will die if that task doesn’t get finished on time.
Prioritising has become an essential part of planning and now I try and go with the flow of things. Just when I think I’m on top of everything, some other issue comes along that needs to be sorted.
I know I’m not the only woman that feels like there is a permanent vice like grip in the pit of the stomach, the ‘I’m sure I’ve forgotten something’ moment when things seem to be going too smoothly are commonplace.
Friends who know me suggest that I would be lost if that’s the right word without work, I don’t think so it’s just that thing you do because of necessity rather than choice.
I’m still trying to find that balance between calm and stress, there are days when I could pack my bags and walk but instead I get my head down and carry on.