This is my current daydream. Giving it all up for a frolick in the hills.
Now I may have been watching too much Sound of Music. As Beaver’s film/musical education has progressed to Mary Poppins it’s fair to say that Julie Andrews is well and truly ingrained in my subconscious.
But doesn’t frolicking over the hills seem like a lovely way to spend your days? My lovely Australian friend is doing it. She’s given up the sirens for silence and left London for a self-sustained life in Australia (you can find her blog here, if you’re after some inspiration).
So, there are people brave enough.
Right now, our current pace of life means there is not enough frolicking in our world. There is lots of b*****king but I don’t think that’s quite the same thing.
Since Beaver started school, our home-work-life balance has taken a whole new hit. On my work days, my blood pressure starts to rise at about 6.46 AM and it comes down somewhere around 9.59 PM.
There are so many more variables involved. Getting out of the house is driven by precision. And Beaver’s mood. If she’s grumpy, I’m in trouble. And my 8 minute turnaround for drop-off means I’ll probably have to leave a screaming child at the school gates, with someone else’s parent.
Pick up is equally hairy. Once I’ve remembered where Beaver and Godivy actually are.
Last night, it was almost 8.30 PM by the time I’d picked the girls up from their various locations, bathed them, milked them and read to them.
Daddy Pig and I ate dinner at 9.30 PM. Because rather than have a fridge filled with ready-meals, I had decided on Sunday (when presumably I was existing in some parallel, relaxed universe) that THIS is the week I will cook a proper meal EVERY evening.
This decision has proved to be a) unrealistic b) a burden and c) plain stupid.
But the lack of said ready-meals means that if we want to eat, I do indeed have to cook. I have literally held myself to ransom with a wooden spoon. Last night, as I stood mixing raw meat with my bare hands, I wished the fridge was full of chicken kievs. Who wants to be chopping mint and coriander and making meatballs from scratch at 9.00 PM on a Tuesday evening? Not me. Lesson learned.
I’m beginning to think that something has got to give. And it’s not just the home cooking. Whilst this lifestyle is obviously sustainable (millions of us do it), it is not particularly fulfilling. Or balanced.
A working mum with two kids at nursery was just about doable. A working mum with one at nursery and one at school is a completely different matter. The logistics are exhausting and the mental labour involved is just bonkers.
I’m not alone. A recent US study found that working mums spend 29 hours a week thinking about and planning all the details of family life. If you work part-time, that’s probably more time than you actually spend at work. Crazy? Yes I think so too.
So what to do?
The answer is not simple and it’s not the same for everyone. It depends on why you work. And what systems you have in place to make it work.
But if the effort is beginning to outweigh the value it’s probably time to have a rethink.
And head for the hills.
Whatever your ‘hill’ may be.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE AS A WORKING MUM? OR HAVE YOU GIVEN IT UP?
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