"Can we have it all?" The question I ask everyday as a working mum
As mums, we’re constantly putting pressure on ourselves to be perfect.
Let's face it, this isn't a standard anyone can live up to and yet we still beat ourselves up for every little mistake we make.
One of the biggest difficulties for modern mums is whether or not to go back to work after having a child and for some, it’s not even a choice due to financial pressures and the rising cost of living.
I'm constantly trying to find the balance between family and career. It never seems to go away. We walk around constantly questioning every decision we make.
When it comes to motherhood I feel like you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. There isn't a right or wrong choice when it comes down to going back to work or not, but we feel torn no matter what route we choose.
Every family situation is different and every mother has their own reasons for going back to work but mums get the rawest deal when it comes to judgement.
In my opinion, this is unfair on dads too as it implies that it’s not as much of an emotional tug of war for a father to say goodbye to his children in the morning.
Social media has also given rise to a whole host of 'mummy shaming' too. Stay at home mothers are accused of being lazy or unambitious while working mums are called 'career mad' and asked why they even bothered having children.
It's cruel and causes no end of mammy guilt which I myself have felt in overwhelming waves in my parenting journey.
I wasn’t able to be there for my son's first day at playschool and I remember crying on my drive to work that day. Up until then, we had always been together and I knew he was confused as to why I wasn’t going with him. All of this was while I worked with people who questioned how far I could go with a career as a mum, even though I put in the same hours and energy that they did. For some reason, it was assumed that because I had a child I no longer had dreams or goals or bills to pay. Every day was an exercise in not giving in to frustration.
I worked for a scientific corporation at the time and I worked 12 hours overtime that week, all so that I could leave early that Friday to collect him from school. I was completely exhausted but it meant the world to me to see him come running out of the school gate with his tiny backpack and finger painting. It made all the tough stuff worthwhile.
Going from having one child to two children has been a big game-changer.
The guilt strikes me sometimes and I feel like my daughter is being cheated as her brother had more one on one time before I went back to work, but I power through in the knowledge that I'm doing it for her and her brother.
Right now, she's too small to understand why I need to be gone three days a week but when she's older and has a garden to play in and a kitchen the four of us can fit in at the same time, I hope she'll feel it was worth it.
So can we win either way?
Short answer no, but I sometimes feel there’s no real winning in parenting. We constantly feel like we should be doing more for our children and be better than we are when in reality, the only person who can judge how we’re doing are our kids. If they’re happy that’s all that counts.
Whenever I have time off, I try to get out with my children and do as much as possible. Working in online media, I’m pretty good at finding out what’s going on around the country.
Kids appreciate time over money so don’t sweat the small stuff like trying to buy them the best of the best and just focus on enjoying the moments you have together.
When I think back on my childhood, my most vivid memories are renting Disney movies on a Saturday night and having water fights in the summer. Neither of those required massive amounts of money (though a Cornetto or two may have been involved).
At the end of the day, you are the greatest gift that you can give your child and don't you ever forget that.