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.
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!