The stress of juggling child raising responsibilities with the demand of career takes a toll on many parents' private and professional lives. Often, there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in a day to get everything done and meet everyone's needs.
I stayed at home with the twins until childcare placements became available when they turned 9 months young. The first year of being back at work was heart & mind wrenching, the sheer exhaustion coupled with constant illnesses seemed never ending, household chores and sleep deprivation during the teething months were soul crushing and being away from them on business trips meant they were on my mind constantly.
40 months on, I am still a working parent and hasn't my life changed?!
#1 My wardrobe consists of working clothes and mummy clothes.
Gone are the years when I would have a different outfit for every party and my shoe collection was swoon worthy (so my friends tell me)!
#2 My freezer contains at least 6 home-made meals.
Gone are the years when my freezer was almost empty except for ice-cream and vodka!
#3 My beauty routine involves face wash and moisturising sunscreen purchased from the supermarket.
Gone are the years when it involved a suite of products from a small handful of exclusive brands.
#4 My days are broken up into work mode and mummy mode.
Gone are the years when it was filled with spontaneity once work was over.
#5 My weekends are a series of activities that creates family memories and preparing for the week ahead.
Gone are the years when it was all about me and the husband.
Together with my husband, here are the 5 things we have given up to reach a work-life balance that compliments our family:
1. Forgoing our pride in asking for help
Even in today's world, it takes a village to raise a child. Asking for help requires humility and I think this is especially true for single parents. For us, we trade favours with other parents and seek assistance from the older children who live across the road from time to time so that ... we can catch a break!
2. Forgoing the belief that we need to split our time equally
Achieving a balance between work and children doesn't necessarily mean that the time is split evenly. We understand that there will be times when our family will need more attention and times when a career demands more energy. We don't try to divide the time equally and fairly. Instead, we remain flexible and evaluate and determine where we should devote our time and energy towards on a regular basis.
3. The idea that we have to neglect ourselves
There's a reason why airlines say that in the event of an emergency you should put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting anyone else. If we don't take care of ourselves, we don't have anything left to give. This is an area I have always struggled with the most. The fact is, those times when I feel that I cannot possibly spare a minute for myself or resent the husband for having time to his hobby, are likely the times that I need "me" time the most. Resenting my spouse for having his personal time does more damage than good for our marriage. Therefore, we have a plan for weekly "me" time. He has a hobby that takes him away from us a few hours on a weekend while I look after the children. When he returns home, he looks after the children for a few hours by taking them out for a play in the outdoors while I have "me" time at home (where I lay down on the bed to read a book, catch up on a tv series, have a shower without an audience or cook in the kitchen, uninterrupted).
4. The desire to always make our children happy
We don't live and breathe to make our kids happy. Like all our friends with children, we strive to raise responsible children who will grow up to be resilient and responsible adults. We willingly ask our children to help out around the home, assigning them with chores and responsibilities. Establishing clear boundaries and following through immediately. Crucially, allowing them to experience disappointment.
5. The guilt experienced with working
Many parents would rather not work full-time, but for many families it just isn't an option for one parent to stay at home and working part-time just isn't financially viable for many families. We have long abandoned this guilt because the fact is this, I am a better mother to my children for working. I focus on the quality time (3 continuous full days) that I do have with them and celebrate every milestone.