The Mummy Juggle: ‘The non-stop juggling act of being a mother, holding down a job, running a home and generally being an all round superwoman!’
Returning to work after having Ettie was a huge hurdle I wasn’t expecting to climb. The impact of trying to juggle running a home, maintain focus at work and spend enough quality time with Ettie really knocked me off my feet and it was something I wasn’t expecting. I set up the Mummy Juggle series as I was interested in hearing from other Mums on how they deal with the daily struggle of working life in the hope that it will provide a place for Mums to share tips on how to make life a little easier.
I’m lucky in that my work is pretty flexible and I’ve been able to make small changes (such as working from home on a Tuesday) which mean I’ve slowly been able to create a workable work/life balance. However its still hard. In an all too familiar situation, this months guest writer Caroline realised that her original career in media wasn’t going to provide the flexibility she needed to raise a family and so she re-trained as a Career Coach and now works on a freelance basis, helping Mums achieve their career goals and navigate the job market – which is a pretty scary place for any Mum.
Caroline joins five other amazing mothers who have also contributed to this series and you can find links to their stories below, however before that please take time to read Caroline’s story, a story of guts, motivation and a steely determination to tackle the often skewed job market for working Mums head on.
Caroline | A Mum At Work
I currently work as a freelance Career Coach, specialising in helping Mums with their career goals and navigating the job market. I help lots of women in many different roles and if there’s one thing I’ve seen it’s that there’s no perfect set up. We’re all winging it in one way or another and trying to feel/stumble/survive our way through it all on most days. As a working Mum, my own journey has been pretty up and down. A few years ago, I quit my job in media because I could see what was happening to the women around me when they started a family. There was a sort of Mum black hole, where all these really amazing, talented women suddenly vanished after having kids. I wanted to future-proof myself against this so I retrained as a Career Coach and started working for an employer who offered long term security and promoted themselves as family-friendly.
In fairness, when I fell pregnant, they treated me really well. I took 12 months maternity and negotiated coming back 3 days a week, starting at 10am so I could do the nursery run. I felt very lucky and really optimistic about becoming a working parent.
Fast forward three months later, and well, I was a bit of a mess. I felt constantly tired, ill, emotional, guilty, anxious…the full shebang. My son, Charlie, wasn’t settling well at nursery and kept falling ill All. The. Time. He vacuumed up nursery bugs like a hungry Dyson and I was constantly having to take days off to look after him. It started impacting on my job and I found myself permanently playing catch up. We had no family nearby to help out and my husband worked 150 miles away. Life felt crap.
After three months, I was summoned to see HR about all my absences and was told that I needed to get my childcare sorted or be at risk of disciplinary action. It was an awful situation and we decided that our only option was to relocate to the South East to be closer to my husband’s work.
At first, I was a stay at home Mum, while we settled in (I really hate that phrase – it sounds like I barely left the house!) but I got itchy feet. I wanted to work plus we also needed the money. So I took the plunge and set up an online coaching and CV writing business which I juggled around looking after my son. It’s given me back some of the control I lacked in employment over my hours and taking time off. But it’s also increased my overall workload because I’m trying to manage a household, business and child all at the same time. There are days when I just want to run away and join the circus (or at least drive off to a place of work and only have to concentrate on one thing). But then, I know that I’d miss out on more of my home life. Swings and roundabouts.
I often feel like I’m not doing anything particularly well. Like if I’m having a great day as a Mum, doing lots of arts and crafts and fun things, it’s usually at the expense of my business and vice versa.
In times that I feel I’m not coping, I try and focus on making small adjustments and improvements. A bit of me-time. Saying no to a client. Asking my husband for help. Or even just having an online rant and getting a few little yellow fist bumps back. Every little helps. Another thing that helps is telling myself that life is a marathon not a sprint. I know I can have it all, just maybe not always at the same time.
Thank-you Caroline its so inspiring to hear your story and I am really happy you’ve managed to find a balance that works for you. I like your thinking in that we ‘can have it all, just not all the time‘ – perhaps that’s what ‘having it all’ in the 21st Century actually means. Mums have come a long way from having to stay at home and darn their husbands socks, but there is no question that there is still progress that needs to be made.
If you’d like to hear more from Caroline you can find her blog here at Mum at Work. You can also find her on Twitter @A_mum_At_Work and Instagram @A_mum_At_Work.
If you enjoyed this post and have a story to tell that you would like to see featured in this guest series, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be great to hear from you x