The Truth About Being a Working Mum

Last week Laney over at Crash Test Mummy posted Part 1 of the Truth About Being a SAHM. Thinking back to when I was a stay at home mum, I could absolutely relate to every single point Laney listed. And if I’m honest, the things in that list were what drove me back to work.

We all have these preconceived notions of what being a mother is like. I thought I was going to love being a stay at home mum. The stay at home mums I knew played tennis and went out to lunch. Heck yeah I could be a stay at home mum! What didn’t compute with me was that the stay at home mums I knew had kids all in school! So when this tiny baby came home with me, and cried and cried, and wouldn’t sleep, and pooped and peed everywhere and spat up milk, I wondered what I had got myself in to.

I stayed home for almost 18 months, then my husband and I decided that if I could find a couple of days a week work, we’d put Nick in daycare and I’d get the break I wanted while also making a little extra money and feeling like I was “contributing” again.

A couple of days turned into 3, turned into 4, and is now 5. And my little man isn’t even in school yet. This was never my intention. And with that, here are a few truths I’ve found about being a working mum.

-Dropping your child at kindy to go to work rips at your heart. No matter how long you’ve been doing it, how great his kindy is, how happy he is to go, you still wish you weren’t doing it.

-Leaving home before your child is awake, not getting a cuddle, kiss, morning smiles makes the day longer and harder to get through.

-Knowing your child is at kindy for 9 or 10 hours, often the first one there, often the last one picked up, breaks your heart in a million pieces.

-Having to call in sick because your child is sick is terrifying. And it shouldn’t be. But we all know those bosses who “don’t get it.”

-When it’s Christmas holidays, and your husband is off work for 3 weeks and you still have to work because you’re casual and no work = no pay, it really sucks.

-It also really sucks when you work any part of the weekend and as you are getting ready for work, the husband and son are getting ready for Dreamworld.

-The more you earn, the more you spend. I often wonder how we got by those first 18 months, but we did. Now we are making twice as much as we were then, and barely still getting by. But we also have a new car, a new couch, a new fridge, a new iMac and a big holiday coming up….I think I see the error of our ways!

-The mums and kids you met at playgroup and saw at least once a week, every week, who became your best friends, your child’s best friends, are now people you just hope you get to catch up with once every few weeks and you miss out on all the regular catchups they have.

-The time you do have as a family is so precious, and goes so quickly. It is also never enough.

-You worry that your kids will be grown up before you know it, and you missed most of it, because you were at work.

-You justify going to work because you need the money, you like the lifestyle it affords you, you don’t want to be out of the workforce too long because it would be harder to get back in, you have to take the work while it’s there because jobs are scarce (this much is true).

The way I see it, mums can’t win. There will always be someone who thinks you should be working, someone who thinks you should be staying at home, someone who thinks you’re doing it all wrong. If we are working, we will wish we were staying at home, if we were staying at home, we (most of us) will wish we had just a day or two reprieve from being “mum”.

I learned years ago to not give a damn what anyone else thought. Our family is our business, the way we spend our time, raise our children, manage our finances and prioritize our lifestyle, is our business. We are not abusive or neglectful. Our son is fed, clothed, safe, confident, loved beyond words.

And no matter if we are staying home or working, sooner rather than later, our kids will be grown up. And I suppose by then there’ll be other things to feel guilty about. The important thing to remember is that we are all doing our best, and really, that’s all anyone can ask.


18 thoughts on “The Truth About Being a Working Mum

  1. As you say, you can’t win. So let’s decide not to win. Or to lose. That is the obvious inference.

    Let’s just ignore the stupid people who make the comments that seem nice on the surface but are needling underneath. Let’s not engage in competitive discussions.

    The mother guilt strikes deep and hard. I had five years at home before I returned to part-time work. My son is in after school care one day a week and the rest of the time I do the school run both ends of the day. I had no choice but to put him in daycare for two days a week when I wasn’t working because I had a chronic illness. I felt guilty for needing some rest time and guilty for using childcare when I wasn’t working. Hell, I felt guilty for getting sick in the first place!

    My son is now 8 years old and in Year 3 and I found myself apologising for missing Athletics Carnival yesterday to one of the OOSH carers, who told me about the huge effort my son had made during the day. The mother guilt will probably still kick in when I realise he hasn’t shaved properly on the morning of his wedding!

    Just know in your heart that you are doing the best for your family. Therefore you are a winner! x

    • Mother guilt does strike deep and hard, but we’re the only ones who can choose to not feel guilty. And I guess like you said, that comes from knowing in your heart you’re doing what is right for your family. It’s also important to understand that for different people, different things are right. You didn’t choose to get sick. Maybe “we can’t win” wasn’t the right way to put it, we absolutely CAN win! Doing what we know is best is definitely winning. I just meant as far as others are concerned, there’ll always be a critic, and that is a shame. But can’t let them bring us down. I chuckled at feeling guilty when you realise he hasn’t shaved properly for his wedding! LOL! Thanks for your comment.

  2. You hit the nail on the head when you said it doesn’t matter what other people think – you need to do what is right for you and your family. From what I know of you, that is what you are doing – keep on doing it.

    We all go through life thinking that we could have made better choices and look back and say how we should have done things differently – hind sight is 20/20 vision and it is easy when you look back to feel guilty about the choices you made. I have to remind myself that I have always made the decision I felt was the best at the time with the knowledge I had – and tried not to beat myself up too much when I got it wrong – instead used that the next time I had to make a decision.

    Love, hugs and positive energy and HUGE wishes for a great birthday for N tomorrow !

    • That’s all we can do L, do our best, learn from our mistakes, and move on. Life’s too short to look back and see the regrets. Should always look back and see the good times, smiles and laughter.

  3. That’s true. You can never run away from the “guilt” no matter what you do, either from other people or from within yourself. Really relate to what you wrote about as most of those things run through my head as I work too. I think one of the most impt thing is to accept we can’t have it all, and just to make the best of what we do have.

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    • Definitely right Ai! We should really appreciate what we have, no matter what is we do/choose. And the best part is, if what we are doing doesn’t seem to be working for us, we have the power to change it!

  4. For me the part that rang the truest was the more you have the more you spend. Every time I think about going back to the workforce I tell myself this. And while it would be nice having all those extras, for me they can wait.

    What I also love is hearing woman reconfirm that what works best for them is the most important. Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses lovely

    • We thought we would “get ahead” if I went back to work. All we got was more “stuff” and we do both realise the “stuff” isn’t important. If we lost it all tomorrow, as long as we had the 3 of us, we’d be fine. Will definitely start prioritising better and making better choices and making the most of our situation. I don’t want to say I was always at work just to have stuff! That’s for sure!

  5. I was just speaking to my husband literally 10 minutes before reading this post about how I want to go back to work yet at the same time I don’t think I’m ready to face the guilt. Thing is, we’re never “ready” are we?
    We just need to take the plunge and as you said, stay confident in the fact (and not worry what other people think)that you’re doing the right thing for yourself but also for your family.

    • Thanks Grace! I definitely felt ready to go back to work, but it was much harder than I thought it was going to be. I think there’s a lot to be said for finding a balance that works for you and doing it. And just making sure that you don’t compromise what you think is best. In the long run, it probably doesn’t really matter if you stay home or go to work, as long as you provide, love, comfort, nourish and raise your kids with a sense of self and community, you’re doing great.

  6. Your post reflected back at me everything I felt being a fulltime working mum. I loved my work so much, but I didn’t have the balance right. This was 10-14 years ago, and when my now 14 yo was 4, I decided to work for myself. Not everyone can do that I know, and I felt very lucky that I could work from home and get that satisfaction and challenge I so needed, and not have to feel guilty. Right now my little kids are in daycare 3 days a week and that feels right to me – they love it and I love it 🙂 But funny how just 1 or 2 more days I’d feel totally different and right back where I was, and as you’ve expressed in your post. I hope you find a way to not feel so guilty.

    • It really is about balance, isn’t it? We CAN have it all, if we want it. Even if having it all means we work 1 day a week or 4 or whatever it is. It is our balance we need to find, the place where we are happy with our schedules and how we spend our time, what our priorities are etc. I would love to work from home but no idea what I could do! So for now I plod along and just try to make the most of things. And you’re right, Nick goes to kindy 4 days a week, but I feel “funny” about him going to school 5 days next year! Weird isn’t it?!

  7. I know I made the difficult choice to be a stay at home mum until the children went to school. We’ve coped well and I don’t think we’ve missed out on anything really. Do I have any guilt? Yes, because I’ve had the luxury of time with my children as they grew. Hopefully I’ll move on fast… now that I’m intending to go back to work!
    Hugs to you! xxXOoo

    • I think it’s great you chose to stay home and also love that you don’t feel like they missed out on anything. They’re wonderful years to get to spend with your kids, because as we all know, they grow way too quickly and soon they’d rather be with their friends and later they’ll be with their own families! These are really the best years to lavish them with our time.

  8. I work 5 days outside the home. So yes I get everything you are saying. I have been through etc. What I don’t get is what are other women trying to ’win’ when talking about working mums? I know I’m not trying to compete, I’m just working to achieve dreams. I’m just being honest, not hating.

    • Like I said earlier I might not have used the right phrase about not being able to win. I don’t know if anyone is trying to “win” anything (oh heck, I’m sure a few think it’s a competition). We all want different things and we all do what we have to do achieve them etc. There’s nothing wrong with that. If we are all happy and our kids are happy, then I’d say we’re winning!

  9. What a great post you have written here! I loved the honesty with which you have written it. I think mums everywhere can relate to Mummy’s guilt! I am about to go back to work after having spent 18 months at home with my youngest son. While there are so many valid reasons for me returning to work, I know that I will be heartbroken when I drop him off at daycare for the very first time. 😦

    • Oh Leanne, best of luck to you and your little man with starting daycare. It is definitely hard at the start, but it is so great for them. Nick has just come along in leaps and bounds since starting daycare. There are many positives to them going. And I think it can make us better mums, too, because we get that little bit of separation that makes the together time that much sweeter. I hope you both adjust quickly!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s