Do you try to balance it all?
Successful career, the breadwinner or income boost to make family life easier, however much you do or don’t enjoy the day job, keeping enough time and energy for a demanding family too is a hard juggling act. Wether you are a working Mum now or considering going back to work, here are my tips on "having it all"
The kids come first
Child care is the number one thing to be comfortable with as a working Mum. The guilt we give ourselves at not being with our children can best be managed by the reassurance that they are in fact safe and happy.
If you are lucky enough to have helpful, loving, local parents who choose to help out, then use them! I have never been in that position and relied on a nanny or nursery until school age. Looking back now I can safely say that both were a huge help in the development of my children and I really don’t feel they suffered from not having me around, but I do feel I missed out on a level of involvement with them.
If anyone suffered it was me! When I finally gave up corporate life and moved to the country to run our own family business, I had never so much as bought a pair of shoes for my eldest son, by then age 4! That may sound crazy, but I worked eleven hour days and the nanny just shopped when they needed something.
For working Mums to work at their best, there is nothing more important than knowing they have childcare they trust and believe in. I was only there at weekends for my first two children, but they don’t love me any less than my later four and have no strange social hang ups from my absence. I may have felt I missed out, but I knew they were happy.
Be realistic at work
Placing too much pressure on your self is the worst stress. In work, decide what is possible to achieve, what needs to be done and when you need to leave. Objectives that you can’t deliver against will leave you stressed when you get home and on the wrong footing for the family.
Make sure what you do is manageable and enjoyable, for your family's sake. In a large organisation I was always the mug, happy to take on more to further my career. I can now see I took that burden home with me, which meant my quality family time was marred by worries of work.
In our own family business I have learned, with age and wisdom, to park work and enjoy family time. It is something I have had to teach myself to do, but I know that my family deserve it and appreciate it. I still feel I work too much, but I enjoy what I do and now have more flexibility to work around the children, and this was a huge part of our decision to change career and take on Coombe Mill as a family business. Now the children are growing up, they can also see that helping me and their Dad frees up everyone’s time and earns them pocket money too.
Kids want your time more than presents
Be careful as a working Mum of falling into the trap of gifting to forgive not being there. Easy to say, but much harder to avoid, I have done it myself. But actually what children want is your undivided attention when you are with them and to do things together. Whether it is a walk in the woods, building a camp fire together, indoor crafts or baking it really doesn’t matter, the focus on them does. You have less time with them as a working Mum - make that time count with fun activities you all enjoy.
Make time for you!
We are all human and we all need a break.
I love my kids, my husband and I am passionate about my business, but I can still selfishly take time out to do the things I enjoy! I love sport and if nothing else will squeeze in a half hour run or cycle most days. A meal out with Daddy alone gives us both a chance to unwind and discuss our children, plan and talk business in peace and the odd girls' trip is also a must for me. I am infact off tomorrow for a Spa day and night with friends. Time out gives me a chance to appreciate what I have, and makes me a better mother and more committed to our family business.
You can have it all!
I am now convinced that "having it all" is a state of mind; you can have it all as long as your expectations allow it! Be realistic about what is achievable at home and at work, accept that there are compromises to make and do the ones that sit best with you and your family. Recognise what is right in your life, praise your self for all you achieve and be positive about the compromises you choose to make.
This is my recipe for being content as a working Mum and ensuring a happy family life balance.
I am sharng this post with Ness at Always Be a Friend where she invites you to share real life stories.