Whether or not you work as a matter of necessity to pay the bills or work because your career is part of your identity and a passion, working mums face challenges and frustrations that leave us wondering if it’s all worth it.
I know that at least once a week I wonder when things will get easier, I calculate my hourly rate in my head after deducting the cost of childcare and hang my head in disappointment, feeling that my efforts are worth so little.
But, in thinking this, I also realise that I’m am one amongst many working women who question the realities being a working mum and so decided to put together a post of moments that I experience and that only working mums would understand.
Things only working mums would understand
Being time poor
You can only make your 24 hours stretch so far. After work, kids extracurricular activities, housework, making dinner, kids homework, attending kids birthday parties and so on, there’s not much time left to scratch ourselves let alone focus on self-care.
Missing out on kids stuff
The mummy guilt goes up a notch when you have to miss out on your children’s sports, performances etc because you have to work. My son keeps asking me when I will help in ‘groups’ like the other mums do.
Apart from the sheer immensity of being a working mum and juggling everything to absolute exhaustion, a child who is up during the night adds another crazy level to the need for sleep. Trying to work while only being able to function at the speed of a sloth and with the lowest of cognitive ability is truly frustrating and exhausting in itself. The thought of curling up in bed uninterrupted is just rude. If you’re a shift-working mum, well sleep goes to a completely new level again.
Keeping on top of housework
Throw in the point of being time poor and add in some messy kids and it’s a shit fight trying to keep on top of housework. The only way I’m able to keep on top of it is with these tidying up tips. They’re not quite minimalist living tips but they’re great for time-poor working mums who want to tidy quickly. Otherwise, I quite often opt for something I prefer instead of folding the washing. I have multiple piles of washing going at one time. It’s all about priorities, right?
People at work without kids
I’m not talking ALL people without kids here but yes, there are some that expect working mums to do the same hours and those that get frustrated when working mums get to ‘leave early’ to pick up the kids. It’s a well-known fact that working mums are the most productive, utilising the sometimes minimal time they have to get as much work done as possible. I think many businesses would be better off with more working mums if you ask me! We get shit done!
I have never quite known or felt guilt as I have as a working mum. I’d have to say mummy guilt is one of the strongest emotions I feel. School holidays for example; I work from home but that doesn’t mean I’m free to do things with my kids every single day.
Then there’s the mums that don’t work from home, the ones that go and work hours away from their kids, week after week. I take my hat off to you. Holidays come and these working mums are at work while their kids are at vacation care or staying with friends or family. Oh, how these mums wish they could be enjoying a school holiday with their kids and how guilty they feel about sending them elsewhere on the holidays but alas, they must work to pay the bills (and the childcare fees).
Feel guilty like I do? Read ‘How to stop feeling guilty by being self-aware‘ for insight into why you think this way and how to banish the inner critic.
Playing catch up
There’s nothing worse for a working mother than when the kids are sick and you have to take time off work. Depending on how long your child is sick for, there can potentially be days of playing catch up on work including early starts and late finishes.
Tired at 7.30pm
We have so much to fit into our day, it’s easy to feel mentally and physically exhausted early in the night. Throw in a glass of wine or two and you’re definitely not getting off the couch and doing anything after 7.30pm.
No family time
I know that I often feel like my life is made up of work, school runs, getting kids ready, getting kids out the door, cleaning and cooking. By the time that’s all done and at the end of the day, the kids are in bed or everyone’s buggered. It seems that family time is really something you have to schedule in if you’re a working mum.
It’s human nature to feel jealous. When you see other mums who don’t work or work fewer hours, able to attend school activities, do things with their kids all the time and enjoy holidays while you’re slogging it out at work, it can be a real dampener. But don’t forget, don’t fall into the comparison trap. You don’t know what’s going on in their life and they could actually be envious of you being able to work.
I am not generalising here because not all men are like this, however, it is certainly very common that women who work just as much as their partner/husband also have to do the cooking, the housework, homework with the children, grocery shopping and so on. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a wife? I know I’d love one.
Having to rely on others
I will admit that I’m not the greatest at asking for help or even accepting it. I always worry about putting someone out and not being able to reciprocate. But, as a working mum, relying on others when our kids are sick, when we need someone to pick them up from school or sports training, is something we need to do to make things work.
As I look at these 12 things only working mums would understand, I come to realise how bloody fantastic we are. We are so completely selfless in what we do, we are tough as nails, the glue that keeps our families together and the wheels that keep things turning. Give yourself a bloody big pat on the back, give yourself some time-out pretty please because gosh, you deserve it (and so do I).