I haven’t blogged about this, despite Cherie-gate etc etc etc. But this morning I’m grumpy, so I thought I’d let lose and have some fun with it.
Can Mums Have It All?
This is the big question loads of people spend hours, days and months talking about. Why on earth are they talking about something so ridiculous and wasting so much time on it I don’t know, but I’m now going to add my twopennyworth.
NO Mums can’t have it all.
Because NO ONE can ‘HAVE IT ALL’
There is a price/cost for everything we deem ‘good’.
There is always a trade-off.
Anyone who encourages Mums to work full time without explaining the downsides so that they can prepare for them is irresponsible.
The same goes for anyone who doesn’t explain to stay at home or work from home Mums that it’s not going to be the perfect picture of heaven that you imagined.
None of the options are ‘better’ than the others.
If you work full-time, you won’t see your kids as much as you would if you were staying at home and the guilt is tough, along with juggling holidays and sickness and it can affect some parts of your relationship with them (e.g. sharing them with the nanny can be hard).
If you are a stay at home mum, you won’t have the same amount of money as you would have done working full time (unless child-care costs more than you would earn!), and it can be harder on your self-esteem and sense of independence.
If you decide to work from home on your own business, you will likely pay for the freedom to do school pick ups by never getting a lunch break or go to the gym and look back on reliable wage packets with wistfulness.
You can’t work full-time, do all the housework and chores, and not end up knackered if you don’t get some help.
If you ask the grand-parents to help, they will likely expect a say in your life and become too involved; but it’s cheaper than paying for it.
Even being married to a footballer won’t give you it all; they will either have big ears, a funny voice, or be sh*gging everyone else.
Try being married to a high powered banker instead; bet they have a downside too, probably that they are over-controlling and you can’t tell friends what your husband does.
Be high powered yourself, but you’ll need to be really good at interviewing and managing cleaners and nannies; not as easy as it sounds.
Eat everything you want, and you’ll become huge and be really unhealthy.
Drink alcohol constantly and wreck your liver and likely get a very red nose.
You won’t earn as much money stacking shelves as being an accountant or doctor.
But, ironically, the better paid you are, the longer hours you will probably work.
Not even the kids can actually be perfect (even if you love them unconditionally); No one has perfectly behaved, beautiful, clever, athletic, artistic, musical kids who excel at everything.
We leave our home towns for the best jobs, but then have no family support.
So we turn to twitter for an online community and get addicted!
The big question is;
Which prices are you willing and happy to pay?
The good news is:
You CAN Have what is most important to you.
So decide what your top 3 priorities are so that:
1) You can make sure that you can at least get them
2) You can be contented with what you have.
I love the freedom of being able to work from home and need to work for my sanity. But I’m constantly having to improve my time mgmt to deal with the demands from so many different directions, and I could have earn’t loads more if I’d stayed as a computer programmer, rather than going all tree hugging. We’ve got a great house we can afford, but the price for the affordability is a postage stamp garden. I have the lovely Nanny Bets helping me out with childcare, but she is 74, so she is often unreliable, so I’m now going to split it between her and a more expensive nursery. Then I’ll have reliable childcare, but also the worry about paying for it. I don’t have parents sticking their nose in my life and causing havoc, but I also don’t have someone to call on the best/worst days. There are lots of compromises in my life, as in everyones.
And ignore all that rubbish about ‘Mums having it all’. They don’t.
They either have worked out what is most important to them and focussed on that, whilst ignoring the rest. Or they are struggling to ‘have it all’ and hiding all the emotional/mental fall out behind a mask of valium/wine.
oooh grump over; that feels better!
What is most important to you, what did you give up for it? Are you happy with the balance right now, or is it not working for you?
p.s. reading these posts from the Bearded Iris (very funny) and Claire Macnaughton, both on In the powder room were some of the inspiration to get writing about this at last!
20 thoughts on “Can Mums Have It All”
Thank you for sharing this. I needed to hear something like this today as I’ve just written my own post about feeling so rubbish because I can’t manage it all and I HATE doing anything in half measures. My link is below for anyone who might be able to relate to the ‘I can’t do it all’ mentality
I think the priorities idea is a good one.
@violets Thanks for adding ur link lovely – it’s sadly so frequent that Mums feel like you do regularly (as I do sometimes).
Hey lovely – great post full of passion. What is it all? For me this is the question. You can have it all if you don’t know what it all is. I want to work from home, be self employed, be there for my kids, have the flexibility to attend school events but also work in a career that I am passionate about and brings in the dollar. I want this life for myself and look at how can I deliver it – putting resources and systems in place where necessary. I strive for it constantly – it doesn’t always work but I never give up.
See this post: http://www.inthepowderroom.com/read/home-time/2012-04-the-secret.html
@clare keep up trying lovely – I don’t doubt that you can do it, but remember to take care of yourself in the meantime and don’t rush ;o) Soooo looking forward to that bottle of wine in the #Shire in the summer!
I don’t think anyone really “has it all”. Those that say they do will often admit to an area of their life they’re less than satisfied with at some point. It’s another case of the grass being greener I think. I agree that you need to appreciate what you have and make the most of that, rather than worrying about what you don’t have and how you can achieve the “all” status. I love my job, love the village I live in, love my husband and (of course) love my child. I work from an office in the morning and get to spend my afternoons with my toddler, before working from home weekends and evenings. But I’m tired a lot of the time and constantly strive for more. I don’t think it’s possible to have it all. Ever. Because no matter how much of the “all” you have, there’ll always be someone else with more. End of. And for that reason, I’m content for now to accept the tiredness and enjoy the things I do have without worrying about what’s missing. Great post – didn’t mean to write such a long comment but you got me thinking! x
Your job was right in the forefront of my mind @molly – the early starts in return for being on radio is a massive trade off. The only tip I can give you is to get more support so that you can delegate some of the stuff you are doing like the cleaning etc. I know it will cost money, but it might be worth the price to not be so knackered. However, you are totally one of my heroines rocking that radio – well done lovely!
I work part time for a company who, so far, have proved extremely understanding and flexible. In return, I work my butt off during the three days I’m in. I can swap days or work extra ones to cope with childcare issues/boost the bank balance. Sounds perfect? Except that every day, I wonder how long it will last. Will they realise that they can employ a full timer – probably just as good for not much more than my 3 day salary? Will they notice that on some days when I’ve been up with the kids my intelligence disappears? Without my salary, we won’t be able to move from our London house with a – literally – postage stamp sized kitchen. And you still get guilt – for kids when at work and work when at home! Nevertheless, I’ll enjoy it for as long as I can, and hope that the rest of the business community will one day embrace part time people doing senior roles.
Funnily enough @jo my husband’s contract is 4 days a week – so they are more up for part-timers than you might think! It enables a company to have a more experienced person less of the time who will make more difference long term. Remember that when you feel guilty! (And write a list of why you are fab, your skills, your strengths, your qualifications & experiences to prove it to yourself!).
I think the hardest part is figuring out what you do want. And sometimes you only know what that is once you’ve lost it. Recognising when you’re happy without constantly thinking ‘there must be more or better’ is another challenge. I definitely fall into this trap. good post
I think that what I do @talkaboutyork is to think about what I would say at the end of my life – it’s not as depressing as it sounds! But it kind of gives perspective to me as to what’s really important to me or not.
When all is going well I have managed to juggle everything that I want, it’s when the crises crop up that my arrangements cannot cope and I feel as though I am drowning. An understanding boss for 13 years helped, if I’d had an understanding husband as well life would have been pretty brilliant I think, even with the extra complications involved with rearing two special needs kids. After being out of work for 3 1/2 years I am back again working part time from home, loving it, and I’m not ashamed to say that the first thing I did was ring up the lady who used to clean for me and ask her to come back…
Lol @lookingforbluesky that was sooooo on my list when hubby got a contracting job too! I can’t even manage to work part-time, look after the kids and clean – but I do have an excuse called ‘the dog that moults a mountain of hair a day’!
When I first became a mum, I did a job share and it worked fabulously. I maintained my career but also spent time at home with my young daughter but it became more difficult as I had more children. The lack of good and affordable childcare pressured me to give up totaly and become a SAHM. Looking back I have no regrets spending time at home with my young children and sharing their lives; it was a great time even though their special needs were becoming more obvious. I think there was a price to pay though as I found it near impossible to return back to my old career; it was as if employers looked down on me as a mother so I can see why women feel pressured to return to work.
Saying that though I used my motherhood to try new things and I have since got a degree and done a lot of voluntary work which has led me to some work in adult education. Its not secure work but it fits in with my family who are my priority and I really love what I do, even though the pay is poor.
I think the key is to do whats right for you and your family and ignore the ridiculous pressure from celebriities that say we can have it all. Deb
Thats a great story @Deb to encourage us to embrace the changes that sometimes feel ‘forced’ upon us. I’m glad Ive changed career too – it’s interesting to have had different things in life. I just have to make sure that with my work I focus on what is most important to me and not what I ‘should’ do ;o)
it is so stressful and you cannot have it all. i work full time/main breadwinner so i have the guilt of not being there for my daughter. she has a fantastic relationship with her dad which i may at times be a teeny wee bit jealous of. At work i’m constantly thinking about home, what’s for dinner, what do we have planned, is her nursery stuff ready, did i pay the bills etc etc and when i’m with her i’m thinking shit i left work too early have they noticed (even though i work 9 – 10 hour days)??? I’ve survived 3 redundancies these last 6 months so am too scared to rock the boat as I still have bills to pay. Unfortunately I feel stuck. I’m tired all the time, don’t nourish myself well enough and am stressed about everything to the point where it has affected my relationship too.
Oh that is tough @Maria, especially as I think it’s trickier for us to work as our hormones are expecting us to be closer to the kids. Of course you are jealous – but look at the Dads around you with great relationships with their kids. Embrace it and do that really annoying ‘Dad is the fun one’ except for you it would be ‘Mum is the fun one’.
You can’t do it all lovely – you need to delegate the house stuff to hubby (write it all up if he doesn’t remember automatically – it’ll take a while but it is possible).
This is not working for you – can you get some extra support? Do you have a cleaner? What can you dump/delegate/delay (see my post on that)? I’d love to help you a bit more – what can I do to help? I hate to hear of a Mum not enjoying life :o(
Trying to have it all is tiring, and what’s worked for me is being part-time.
Now redundancy has upset the apple cart and given me a new challenge to think about.
Great post btw
redundancy can be a huge release and creator of a change in direction @Liska – looking forward to hear what you decide. Check out my redundancy posts, but I do need to write some more, so let me know if you have any specific problems xx