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The Painful Truth About Being a Working Mum

by amanda

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Today, I attended a very noisy Christmas Decorating Workshop at Fred’s school.

Bad mummy confession time..I would rather have not been there. I’m not a “crafty mum”; in fact I’m more of a “crappy mum” when it comes to imaginative ways with a piece of card, a prit stick and a tube of glitter.

But I went because Freddie wanted me there. Simple as that.

Girls, I bet most of you can *secretly* relate to this.  I bet you have your own equivalent to the Christmas Decorating Workshop.  My point is this – we are doing our best – we bend ourselves into funny shapes to try to be the best mums that we can. That doesn’t mean that we have to have glowing halos on top of our heads whilst we’re doing the bending!

This week’s post is about how much we bend ourselves into funny shapes as working mums trying to get it all done. It’s a video blog this week.. In it, I’ve focused on freelance mums/Work at Home Mums.

But please, do read this whether you’re employed or self-employed.

So, onto the video… I was talking to my friend Audrey Boss from www.beyondchocolate.co.uk on Monday whilst walking Ernie after the school run, which inspired me to shoot this video.

Audrey and I both run our own businesses and we were “putting the world to rights” and discussing the challenges that we face combining business with motherhood.

Both Audrey and I had corporate careers B.K (Before Kids). We were earning decent salaries before we became mums. And we agreed that no matter what, we we have the skills and determination to earn a buck and feed our family.

Each of us discovered that having children and continuing on our corporate paths was going to be extremely difficult.  So, we gave up on the corporate path and we chose instead to earn our dough via our own businesses. As with any choice, there are benefits AND downsides.

In our case, the downside of our choices mean that  economically, we are somewhat stilted. We both working very hard on our businesses. But quite simply, we never have enough hours in the day.

Sound familiar?  Read on…

Audrey said “After the school run and walking the dog, you unload the washing machine, you sit down to work at 10 a.m., you sort out a problem with the website, you respond to enquiries, you keep your community going. You’re creating new content, you’re serving clients, you’re developing the business… and then suddenly it’s 3pm and it’s time for the school run again – Lo and behold, your working day has ended after 5 short hours”.

I frequently hear the same from other mums who work freelance. Some have partners who say things like, “Now that the kids are at school, you have plenty of  time” or “What do you do all day?”

In response to a similar comment, Audrey calculated her own working time over the year:
  • 17 weeks school holidays
  • Add another 2 weeks for various school trips, bake sales, volunteering for bonfire night setup, sick days, dentist appointments etc.
  • That leaves 33 working weeks but of course that’s just for 6hrs a day.
  • If you have a lunch break (a novel idea) you’re left with 5 hours a day.
  • By the time you’ve cleared away breakfast, stuck some dirty laundry in the washing machine, put in an online shopping order, bought a birthday present for some kid you’ve never met and located your son’s sports kit in the mass of tangled clothes in his room, you’ve got about 4 hours left.
  • So that’s 33 working weeks – 4 hour working days.
Freelancing or running a business from home is *not*  the holy grail of work life balance for working mums. We still find ourselves running around trying to fit in all the other demands on our time.  Of course, we benefit from our time being “our own” (LoL!!)  so we can empty the washing machine, buy the birthday presents and so on.

But there are also downsides. By dropping out of paid employment, your chances of returning to work on anything even close to your former salary diminish as the years pass. You may struggle with your sense of status – it’s a lot easier to tell people what you do when you have a “proper job”, and it’s true that most people won’t have a clue what you actually do in your business. Some will even think that you are sitting at home with your feet up, scoffing chocolates and watching daytime TV.

And meanwhile, our employed sisters face overlapping and different challenges.  Whilst we are bemoaning the fact that our days are gobbled up by others, they are wondering if they will have the energy to do the laundry at the end of a long day and a draining commute. They worry about the possible effect it will have on their professional reputation when the school calls them to say their child is ill. And they are wondering how they are going to get the time off to attend their child’s nativity play or sports day.

There is no ideal choice… there are just choices.

So what is the painful truth about being a working mum? 

The painful truth about being a working mum is that there is NO perfect choice that will spare you from the juggling and the spinning.

We’re all on this crazy working motherhood journey together, doing the best we can in our different circumstances. It ain’t easy at all – so you need to give yourself credit for all the things you manage to do each week (nobody else will!)  And you need to treat yourself with infinite compassion.

So, my friend, if you’re reading this on Friday evening, perhaps you’ll join me in raising a “wine o’clock” glass to yourself and all that you are and all that you do as a working mum.  You’re amazing and you’re doing brilliantly!  Well done! :)

Please, join the conversation.. Tell me about your experiences as a freelancer/ mum in business or as a mum who is employed.

And if you like this post, please share with your friends on your favourite social network!



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