Let’s face it, whether you work or not, being a mummy is bloody hard work. Rewarding and enjoyable? Yes, but hard work nonetheless.
Back in May I returned to work on full time condensed hours. This means I work 36 hours over four days instead of five so I still get to spend Friday’s with my
little bundle of joy crazy toddler. If I thought returning to work part-time, three days per week on extended hours, was a shock to the system, I certainly wasn’t prepared for the rollercoaster ride of full time hours! Throw in putting our apartment up for sale and it’s been one helluva a stressful few months!
Work life balance for working mothers?
I’ll be honest. I don’t have the whole working mummy thing sussesd. I can’t claim that I have a good work-life balance, or that I have any balance at all for that matter. But over the past few months I have found a few things that help me to retain at least a small level of sanity, so whether you’re just returning to work after maternity leave, or you’ve been doing the daily motherhood Vs career grind for a while, I thought I would share with you my top five tips for working mothers
1. Keep your outfits simple
I used to love a good coordinated outfit, all heels, patterned tights, matching jewellery – the works. To be fair, in those days I did work in a trendy office in Solihull, rather than in the offices of a local factory so being a working mother isn’t the only reason that my outfits have become increasingly simplified. After all, rocking a pencil skirt with steel toe capped shoes and hi-vis jacket is best left to some crazy catwalk show.
I digress. These days it’s all about the dress. Not the fancy dress. Mostly any dress that can be worn with leggings or tights and even better if it can be worn without both of those things. Shirt dresses are great, as are cheap jersey tea dresses (Sainsburys’ do some great ones in their Tu range). The more versatile, the better. I’ve recently added a couple of pairs of trousers and tops into the mix. These outfits are typically worn with ballet flats, a cardigan and my only accessories are my mama necklace, wedding and engagement rings and a huge mug of coffee. Oh and eye bags, always eye bags.
But, seriously, gone are the days of debating what to wear in the morning. There’s simply no time for that. I grab a dress out of the wardrobe, chuck it on with a pair of leggings, some shoes and a cardy and I’m good to go for the office and dressed practically for picking up the toddler from nursery too.
2. Batch cook
The concept of batch cooking used to blow my mind. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t get my head around it. Then came weaning and, before I knew it, the freezer was full of casseroles, pureed vegetables and lamb tagines.
Now batch cooking is an essential part of life as it’s the only way we can get a decent dinner (that’s not pasta or stir fry) on a work night.
My favourite meals to batch cook are:
- Lamb tagine
- Beef chilli
- Chicken casserole
- Pasta sauce
- Butternut squash soup
Rather than spending all day batch cooking. I tend to make double portions of the meals when I’m making them on a weekend and simply add one portion to the freezer. Lasagne is particularly good as we can generally get three meals out of two lasagnes. Batch cooking is also really cost-effective and I can’t wait until we move so I can get a chest freezer in the garage and take my batch cooking to a whole new level!
3. Get help!
Help comes in different forms for different people. For some, this might be by employing a cleaner. For others it might be getting grandparents to do nursery pick up (or even provide childcare). For me, it is my husband, who is my absolute rock and cooks, cleans, washes up, takes control of the laundry, empties the bins and generally keeps the house ticking over.
There are two issues that people can have with help. The first is asking for help. Do it! There’s absolutely no shame in it and generally people are happy to help, especially if you give them a specific task to assist you with. The second is guilt. Naturally, when I was on maternity leave I used to do the majority of the housework. Then, when I was working three days, I still did most of the housework. When I went back to work full time, even though I knew it was perfectly acceptable for Mr H to help I felt guilty that he had to. I’m over that now and realise that’s there’s no way I can keep on top of housework and work full time. Another issue can be if you have a partner who refuses to help. If that’s the case remember it’s perfectly acceptable to nag him. Remind him you are his partner (i.e. his equal) not his mother!
4. Chill out
I find this one particularly difficult. Hence why I am writing this blog post at 11pm on a Wednesday night after a busy day at work, but I do recognise that you truly can’t pour from an empty cup and when I’m feeling particuly run ragged I will invest in some ‘self-care’, for me this is usually reading a book, but sometimes I do partake in the stereotypical bath (complete with Lush bath bomb).
Other times it can be kicking back and watching some TV (generally the trashier the better, although I am currently enjoying Riveria on Now TV), or maybe doing some yoga (I love Yoga with Adriene for a quick at home yoga fix), watching YouTube videos (currently favourites inlcude the Saccone-Joly’s and The Meldrums). Painting my nails is also a good way of making me stop as it means I literally can’t do anything whilst I wait for them to dry. I’m trying to do that at least once per week at the moment just to ensure I make some time to stop. Oh and music. I will often put my headphones and put some sweary rap music on Tidal on really loud when I need a quick pick-me-up.
5. Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself
Guilt is a bitch and as a working mum you will probably get a pang every single day. But, honestly, you can’t do it all. There’s no way you can be a Pinterest perfect mum making weekend craft projects and a kick-ass career woman who never misses a meeting because her little one has caught the latest bug doing the rounds at nursery. It’s tough, especially if you’re an older mum, who is used to feeling relatively in control of her life pre-children, but it’s something you have to make your peace with. Well, that and the fact as a working mum you probably have an unhealthy addiction to coffee.
My nan always used to say ‘you can only do your best’ and, now more than ever, is this mantra true. No, I can’t create some intricate tuff-spot messy play activity for Elliott, but do you know what? I don’t need to, he has plenty of stimulating activities at nursery and that’s what I pay the big bucks for each month. Likewise, I’m not going to be staying at work until all hours because I need to leave to do nursery pick up and put a little one to bed. It’s not an ideal situation in some respects but that’s the way it is, so I prefer to accept it and enjoy the moment rather than fight against it and get overcome with a case of the guilts.
How do you cope with being a working parent?