Roll Up Roll Up, maternity leave is over and you’re about to enter the circus with your non-stop juggling act of being a mother and holding down a job, also known as ‘The Mummy Juggle’!
A few weeks ago I shared a post explaining how I was finding it difficult adjusting to working almost full time and trying to fit everything in. The article was really well received and I had feedback from lots of other mums who were either feeling the same way or who had been there in the past and understood what I was going though.
Delving into things a bit further, I discovered a study undertaken by Welches – the Juice people, who reported that on average a working mums starts her day at 6.23 a.m, and finishes her ‘home’ work at around 8.31pm, with only 1 hour and 7 minutes of time to themselves Every. Single. Day. That’s 14 hours of work before we’ve even sat down to think about all of the other things that go along with being a woman – outfit choices for the week, scheduling hairdresser appointments – having a chat with friends over the phone. If you couple that with the fact that most of us aren’t even getting a full nights sleep, its no wonder we find the work life balance a bit difficult!
Whilst some mums return to work because they enjoy it and want to gain a little independence after having a baby, for others, financially they are left with no choice and have to return to work to pay the mortgage. Whatever the reason, being a working mum is hard and every mum has their own story to tell. I want this blog to be a supportive network for mums in all situations be that full time, part time, freelance or working from home. With that in mind I’ve decided to run a monthly feature called the ‘Mummy Juggle’. In this feature I’ll be inviting Mums to share their stories on working life, how they are coping (or not), what compromises they have to make and do they have any advice for other mums who may be in a similar situation.
Kicking off the series is this guest post from the lovely Paola who blogs over on The Elephant Mum. Paola is an ex pat Italian Mum living in Finland who says the Finnish policies on work-life balance help immensely with the juggling act that comes with being a working parent.
Over to Paola…..
How does it feel to be an expat working mom
My friends ask me how I do it to do it all. I wish I had a strategy to share, but truth is I play by the ear, I have great support around me, and if I get sick for two days my house of cards falls.
Here I am, a full-time working mom and an Italian expat living in Finland. The day has not enough hours, as every working parent knows. My day starts early and I’m usually by my work desk at 7.30 am. Awfully early for an IT job, I know, but this allows me to be home by 4.30 pm, not bad is it? The time I spend at work is hectic. I am employed in a fast-growing company and I follow several projects. That’s the atmosphere I thrive in. It leaves, however, little headspace and sometime when it’s time to go home I feel I cannot get through the day. My husband has a full-time job as CMO in a startup, but he’s now taking a one year parental leave to care for our newest addition to the family, our son E, who came through international adoption from India. Before E would come home I was the designated driver from daycare to home for our four year old daughter R. In these months, I get to walk home to a dinner in the making and I can spend a hour playing with my kids. It’s intense but really nice.
I am very grateful from the support I get from my workplace, Finnish policies, and my partner. My company promotes work-life balance and parental leave is seen as an employee’s right. My supervisor (a man) spent the past year working part-time to alternate with his wife to care for their toddler at home. When your team lead does it, it sets the bar. Finland is great to live in when you have kids. I could go on for hours sharing all the top notch services we get for cheap or no fees. Then there’s my lovely husband (I can adulate him because he never reads my blog 😉 ). He is taking most of the time off we planned for our son and changed his plans to allow me to go back to my job a little earlier than expected. He knows how I love working and how much it fills my day and my expectations.
One thing I’m missing as an expat mum is the support of family living close-by. Sometime we summon a pair of grandparents from Italy for few weeks if we have work trips coming on or similar, but it’s not the same as being able to ask for a hand when you need it right away. We can never take a break from parenting. The language barrier also makes things harder usually, both at work, as I feel I have limited career options, and in our social life, as it can compromise starting relationships with parents of other kids who are not comfortable speaking English.
I like being a working mom and I’m proud to be an expat parent. I believe our sacrifices as parents are creating better opportunities for our children. I have missed working during every maternity leave, even though I appreciated greatly the opportunity to spend exclusive time with my children. Work is part of how I live up to my identity and, after all, I think it makes me the best mother I can be.
Thank-you Paola a really empowering story and I think we can all learn a little from the Finnish ethos on work life balance.
If you have a story to tell and would like to take part in this guest series, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be great to hear from you x