Written by Sian McGrowder
Image by @itszeinabou
I’ll be real with you, being a mum and working full time was not part of my original plan. I always fancied myself as a stay-at-home mum with a side hustle. I don’t doubt that will be my story one day but for now, the cost of living is only getting higher and the lifestyle is expensive hun!
Being a working mum is a constant juggle and sometimes we will drop the ball because we are human. However, there are a few things that I’ve learned in the past year or so that have really helped me out, that I will share in this article; but my main piece of advice is the phrase ‘I cannot come and die’. With that said let’s get into it.
This sounds obvious but you’d be surprised at just how many of us try to complete all tasks and end up; a) not completing any of them and b) burning ourselves out. Being a mum and working full time means people constantly wanting things from you. At work, I always make a to-do list and ensure I complete the most important task each day. If you have young children, you will know just how unpredictable they are. It’s important to communicate this and manage the expectations of your boss. I’m an efficient employee but I also make sure that work is aware that I am a mother first. Prioritizing the most important tasks ensures that not everything turns to crap in the event of the inevitable emergencies that accompany motherhood.
You don’t ask you don’t get
Take advantage of what is available to you. Most workplaces, especially since covid now have flexible working policies. It’s up to you to put a case together on why you need it and how you will make it work in such a way that business needs are still being met. If you are able to demonstrate this it’s very hard for them to decline it, especially before giving you a trial period.
I currently compress my hours by working 5 days in 4; this works for me as it allows me to have one day a week with my son and saves me a bit on childcare. I also work most days from home which allows me to do the nursery run and make up my hours where I need to. Remember, your HR department will not necessarily flaunt these policies to you and you may have to go digging for them yourself to see exactly what you’re entitled to.
When I returned to work from maternity leave, at first I would try my utmost best to not let anything mum-related creep into my working day. It was like I was trying to prove that motherhood hadn’t changed how I performed or who I was. But the truth is, it will change the way in which you work. I’m not saying that you should be unprofessional in any way but what you should be is true to yourself. Be transparent; if you’ve just dropped your kid to nursery and they’ve had a meltdown all before starting your working day and you need a minute – say that. Remember, being a working mum does not mean that you are bringing any less to the table than the next person.
Technology is your friend
I honestly have no idea what I would do without amazon prime. It’s a blessing and curse as it absolutely takes all of my money but when time is not of the essence it’s a saving grace. Set up subscriptions for things you know you can’t afford to run out of. Do grocery shopping online. As nice as it is going to the shop and picking everything out, it’s far from efficient and we as working mums do not have the time. Use your calendar and reminders on your phone; speaking from experience here, you will not remember every deadline, doctor’s appointment, or kids parties. The calendar goes for work also; make it super clear for those you work with when you are and are not available. Just in case I haven’t stated the obvious enough already, here it goes again; overtime is not your friend when you’re a mum – girl, please finish work on time.
Another tip is to not reinvent the wheel, and do what you know works because we do not have the time to be experimenting with what doesn’t. I learned this the hard way; cooking my toddler different meals every other day; him wasting it and then having to find him an alternative (the last thing you want to be doing after work). If you know there are a couple meals that always go down a treat; then stick to them – it just makes sense.
You cannot do everything yourself or unlike me maybe you can; either way it isn’t advisable and I wouldn’t recommend it. Outsource where you can; get a cleaner if you need one, ask for help where you are able to and my personal favorite; implement tidy-up time from day one with your toddler (it can sometimes take longer to start with but as they grow up you will have formed a good habit that will work in your favour). Depending on the type of role you do at work; delegate the less important tasks where possible and focus on delivering the big-ticket items.
The internet is not real life
This last bit of advice is for anyone really. What you see on the internet is exactly that and nothing more, so take it with a pinch of salt. Yes, there are some people that are naturally more organized than others; but as a mum that is working full time, I’m here to tell you to let go of the image you have in your head. The realest huns will tell you that sometimes your house will be messy, sometimes the kids get oven food, and sometimes you’ll forget what on earth your boss just asked you. Motherhood and working full time is a constant juggle but for every day you drop the ball, there will be another day where you absolutely smash it out the park!