Finding the right work/mum balance

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I never pictured myself as a stay-at-home mum. When I got pregnant, I assumed that I would go back to work after maternity leave, hopefully being able to negotiate a part-time contract for a period of time. My work were very positive about supporting working parents, so I hoped that this would be possible.

But once I started investigating options it became clear that my old job and our location just weren’t compatible with childcare. With a lengthy commute into or out of London, plus travel time either side, I used to arrive home at 7.15 each evening. Little did I know when I got pregnant that nurseries in our area tend to open at 8am and close at 6pm – I would have had to leave at 4.00 every day to even have a chance of making pickup. I then considered childminders who might accommodate a later pickup, but found that not a single childminder in our area had a space. To say nothing of the fact that I now realise that a 7pm pickup for a baby is far too late – they’re likely to be asleep by then!

Despite my work making all the right noises about supporting parents, the reality of my location and theirs made returning to work impossible. Once childcare fees and a railcard were paid for, I would have been out of pocket, and going part time, even if they had approved a request for that, would have meant being even more in the red as part time childcare costs more than full time, and there is no option for a ‘part-time’ travelcard. I just wasn’t prepared to miss out on my son’s childhood for the sake of keeping my CV up to date.

 

Being a Stay-at-Home Mum

So I made my peace with not returning to work. I would be a stay-at-home mum, and I’d be the best one there ever was. I would do painting, and water play, and sing songs – we would have an amazing time.

Except … after a few months I knew that I found this tough. I realised that I really missed the adult interaction, the daily chatter while making a coffee, even the alone time on the commute. Being a mum is a full-on, full-time job, and I found the relentlessness of it to be stifling.

But I still wanted to have time at home with my son while he was little. I wanted to be there to see all those firsts. To see him learn and explore. The more I thought about it, the more torn I was.

 

Tulips on desk with laptop

 

When opportunity knocks…

And then, out of nowhere, an opportunity came up for a role local to me. Part-time, just 2 days a week, and doing almost exactly what I was doing before but working from home. It sounded almost too good to be true. I applied, and all through the process I tried not to get too excited. I feel so lucky to have found a job that really works for me and our current situation. Ok, the work is perhaps not as exciting as my previous role, and overall the pay is slightly lower, but I love that it allows me to keep hold of something for me, while also getting to spend lots of time with Max. I love that we can have our days out together on a Monday or Tuesday, before we go our separate work/nursery ways on Wednesdays.

And despite my concerns about nurseries (sarcastic thanks to Steve Biddulph and your Raising Boys book!), Max is thriving there. He is a quiet boy, but he has settled into nursery really well, plays really nicely with the other children, and is such a lovely polite little boy. It’s teaching him social skills that I could never teach him at home, however many play dates I arranged.

I feel like we’ve really settled into a groove now and I’m so happy with the balance we have at the moment.

How do you find balancing work and motherhood? Whether you’re a working mum, or you stay at home to look after your children, I’d love to hear how you manage it all!

 

 

Two Tiny Hands

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
32 Comments
  • Elsie Pop
    September 6, 2016

    Getting the balance right is so important isn’t it? Max is super-social and clearly loves nursery. I’m so pleased it works out for both of you. xx

  • Rebecca Taylor
    September 6, 2016

    It sounds like the perfect balance Katy. It’s so fantastic that this opportunity came up and you have been able to strike a balance. X

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      September 6, 2016

      Thanks Becky, I think I’d have been ok with staying at home with Max, but this is the best of both worlds for me. I feel it’s a great balance for me, but appreciate it’s not for everyone.

  • Halina
    September 6, 2016

    As you’ve probably seen I’ve just given up work to become the SAHM. I went back to work after maternity because there was absolutely no way we could afford for me not to. But yes, the childcare costs were crippling, and we’ve now reached the point where even though we’re not better off financially by me not working, we’re going to be so much better off as a family in terms of happiness. I’m so glad you’ve found the perfect balance for you and your family as well! It’s sad that it’s so, so hard for mums to have a good balance 🙁

    http://www.viechoufleur.co.uk

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      September 8, 2016

      I’m so pleased you’ve worked out a good balance for you – it’s sad when finances make us feel we don’t have a choice. Wishing you the very best of luck in your decision – I know from reading your blog post that it sounds like absolutely the right thing for you xx

  • The Nesting Diaries
    September 6, 2016

    I’m in exactly the same boat as you were, we both work in London and each pay £7000 a year for a travelcard, so if I go back full time and pay for childcare, I’ll basically be working FT to be worse off than I am at home, and missing my boy! Hoping I can find something local or figure out a way to be selfemployed by May 2017!

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      September 8, 2016

      It’s such a tough situation, when you both work in London and commute it. I really hope something local comes up for you – I would suggest telling absolutely everyone you know you’re looking so that the feelers are out there. I found my role through word of mouth, so it can definitely work! Best of luck.

  • Laura @dearbearandbeany
    September 6, 2016

    How lucky was that! I am so pleased that you have been able to find something that works for you and Max. I think having the right balance makes you a better mum. That balance will be different for everyone. I have been riding out this last year, until Alice starts school and it’s been difficult for me as I need something for me (how my blog was born). I am still trying to decide what to do now Alice starts this week. I just need something that will work around everything!! x

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      September 8, 2016

      Thanks Laura – I’m still amazed now that it came up. And I totally agree that having something for me makes me a much better mum – I realise that’s not the case for everyone, but it definitely is for me. Best of luck with the search for the perfect opportunity – I’d imagine with all the skills from blogging that there will be something perfect out there.

  • justsayingmum
    September 7, 2016

    Oh I’m so glad you found the balance. It feels so good doesn’t it? I gave up my career a few years back and have turned to piano teaching – obviously less money but it’s a balance that allows my family to be so much happier. Nanny and travel costs are extortionate! #FamilyFun

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      September 8, 2016

      Oh, I bet piano teaching is lovely – singing teaching was going to be my backup if this one didn’t work out. Still might do it in the future!

  • Sarahbel
    September 7, 2016

    I’m in exactly the position you were in and my maternity ends in November so need to make some decisions. Commute to London/ridic childcare costs/Steve Biddulph induced guilt. I’m erring more and more to go freelance a couple of days a week but it’s such a leap….EEEEK. Sounds like you’ve found the perfect balance xx

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      September 8, 2016

      Honestly, I blame Steve Biddulph for a hell of a lot of mum guilt! I wish I’d never read that book! I really recommend going freelance – I love the ability to work the hours I want and fit them around Max. It’s a big leap of faith, but I think it’s been worth it!

  • Karen Belton
    September 7, 2016

    Thats brilliant that you found a job closer to home. I am fully fledged stay at home mum and sometimes I miss work a little but i think that its not going to be forever, one day he’ll go to school and then I can have my time back. It’s working I am happy! Thanks for linking up to #FamilyFun. Hope you can come back next week!

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      September 8, 2016

      If you’re happy then that sounds like the perfect solution – I think it’s natural to miss work a little bit, it’s such a huge part of your life pre-children! Thanks for hosting, so pleased I could join you for the first week! Will do my best for next time too

  • Suchitra
    September 7, 2016

    Oh what a perfect arrangement. I want to do something like what you do – teach part time but mostly be with the kids and really be there. I am a reluctant sahm but trying to make the most of it. So happy for you!

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      September 8, 2016

      I really hope you find something that fits what you want – teaching seems to be one of the few careers that does accommodate part-time workers (although that does seem to be changing more in recent years I feel). But I completely understand trying to make the most of it too – that’s exactly what I was doing, and I don’t think it would have been the end of the world if something hadn’t come up.

  • Sarah Stockley
    September 8, 2016

    I was very lucky that after I had Keira (10 years ago) my work allowed me to return part-time two days a week. I t worked well as my Mum had those days off and helped with the children. Unfortunately I got made redundant two months ago. I am currently looking for part-time work again, lots coming up but look you too far away from home. I’m hoping to find a work from home job if poss. Sarah #SharingTheBlogLove

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      September 8, 2016

      So sorry to hear about your redundancy Sarah. I really hope something comes up for you, it does seem like lots of organisations are more willing to consider homeworkers these days, so I hope that you find the perfect thing soon.

  • Tammymum
    September 8, 2016

    Oh I love reading posts like this. For very similar reasons it has not been possible for me to return to work after 2 years back to back mat leave. I can find the constant role of mum day in day hard at times and miss that adult working environment. I think like you if I could have two days working from home or at least close by it would be ideal. The other half and I are looking to start up a venture between us that will allow for flexible working around the kids that also gives me some time away from nappies and tantrums. That’s the plan anyway. I’m so pleased to hear you have a situation that is working well for you all! Thanks so much for linking up at #familyfun. I really hope you can come back next week xx

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      September 8, 2016

      Thanks for hosting and commenting. The setup with your partner sounds ideal, I really hope it works out for you guys.I hesitated to post this one as I thought it came across as a bit smug, but it’s been so interesting to hear everyone’s different stories in the comments!

  • White Camellias
    September 8, 2016

    I’m so glad it’s all working out for you. I also read ‘Raising Boys’ when i had my son and was reluctant to send him to nursery but just like you I found he thrived and really enjoyed being with the other children. x #familyfun

  • kristin mccarthy
    September 8, 2016

    I have worked full time, part time and stayed home and they all truly have their pros and cons. I do love being home though…I think it is cause I have a million kids now (4) and I am home with the last two who happen to be twins so it is extra special! #SharingTheBlogLove

  • Natalie @memeandharri
    September 9, 2016

    I work 12 hours in quite a boring easy job but for me at the moment while my girls are young it works. There is no stress not much responsibility and I get to do the school runs. It also gives me 12 hours of adult time which is nice!!! #familyfun

  • Susie Hawes
    September 9, 2016

    This is great you’ve found a balance. I went back to work PT for 4 months but was unhappy at work and missed my daughter (who was constantly ill from nursery germs) so much, that I left and decided to be a SAHM. So far it’s been ok but I’m starting to get a bit bored and wonder if I should find maybe 2 days a week, more flexible work, so that I can be with her if she’s unwell. But, on the whole, we have fun and I am enjoying it. I used to work in PR and journalism so have just started blogging to learn new skills with the hope that maybe one day I could work freelance – but it’s all so daunting and I don’t know where to start! I’m pleased for you though, it sounds the ideal solution.

  • Tooting Mama
    September 19, 2016

    I did have workalike balance when I jobbed shared for almost three years. But new boss new regime, and the pressure started to move to full-time…was not ready for that, kids still to young, and when they start school – they need you more! Glad I got the chance to escape to Paris and be a full time mum / blogger (wannabe!). But that has different challenges!

    If you can strike the balance – great and enjoy the groove! Glad it’s working out.

  • Julie S.
    September 19, 2016

    That’s so amazing that you were able to find exactly the right job that fits your needs. I struggle with this. My commute is horrible too and I get home at 7pm. So my kid doesn’t go to bed till super late but oh well what you gonna do. Daycares didn’t work for me either so we ended up deciding to hire a nanny so we could have flexibility in our lateness.
    #KCACOLS

  • Diapers at Dawn
    September 21, 2016

    I work four days a week, I really want to be a SAHM but unfortunately for now finances don’t allow for this. I was lucky that my employer was fine with me coming back four days a week and leave at 4:15pm, especially as my day off is a Wednesday, but I don’t think I can do this with two little ones. So when we decide to have baby no. 2 I’ll be moving closer to home, hopefully I’ll be lucky and be in the same situation where I can work from home and look after the kiddies. Here’s hoping 🙂 x #KCACOLS

  • Kayleigh Woodland
    September 22, 2016

    Now Evie is at school I find working from home is the perfect balance for my family. I get time to dedicate to working and to my family! And it means if/when I decide to have more children, I’ll already be established with what I do! #kcacols

  • rainbowsR2beautiful
    September 22, 2016

    Everyone is different and time changes things too, gotta go with what works for you when it does. Xxx #KCACOLS

  • Suburban Mum
    September 27, 2016

    So glad to hear that it seems to be working well for you.

    I work 4 days a week with one day from home which is a good balance for me as it means I still get to do the school run twice a week. It is definitely all about balance which it sounds like you have!

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on Sunday x

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