I’ve been a working mum since Toby was about 7 months old. I handed my notice in at my full time job and began taking on freelance blogging, copywriting and social media management work. I only really dipped my toe in gently at first, then I started working regularly with the gorgeous Social Sparkle team and now with a 2 year old and a 6 month old, I have my new business Apples & Pips too. Being a working mum comes it’s challenges whether you work in or out of the home, full or part time, so I’ve been getting some tips from The Working Parents’ Guide to Raising Happy and Confident Children, to see how to achieve an elusive balance as a working mum.
Toby is actually in childcare for near enough 3 1/2 days out of 5, with nursery Mondays and Wednesdays then an overnight stay with my parents from Thursday lunch time until Friday tea time. This help is absolutely invaluable to me because I could not give both Toby and my work the attention they separately need, whilst he’s at home. Martha is with me full time still, but as she starts to wean and therefore go longer between breastfeeds, I’m trying to find a solution for just a few hours a week for her too come the new year.
It’s hard, there’s a lot of guilt involved in leaving your kids with other people and feeling like you’re not raising them yourself, but I genuinely think that working has helped to keep me sane and childcare has given Toby essential social skills as well as providing him with stimulation and additional education to what he gets at home. Win/win!
Trying to juggle work, parenting, housework, time for Phil, time for myself, eating, sleeping, it’s so tiring! One result of this is that I often find myself snapping at Toby, almost expecting too much of him and forgetting that he’s still so young. I consulted The Working Parents’ Guide to Raising Happy and Confident Children to see what they suggest and this resonated with me:
(When your child is arguing with you)
“Although we may be tempted to either negotiate with them or assert our authority in order to resolve the conflict, we can avoid becoming caught up in a ‘battle of wills'”
This is an issue we’re having with Toby lately and it’s exhausting, so I’ve been trying the ‘Limited Choices’ tool, which instead of snapping at Toby or letting him get his own way all the time, is to say things like “Would you like to go to bed now or in 5 minutes?”. This way, he still does the thing I need him to do, but he’s been given a small element of control over it.
I love the concept of limited choices also because at his age, Toby finds too much choice overwhelming so this works well for helping him start to develop decision making skills on a smaller scale than saying “Would you like to do X,Y or Z?”, which he struggles with.
I actually think that the following quote is one of the most valuable in the whole book, tying our work lives into our parenting:
“In the corporate world, we recognise that there are different styles and approaches when it comes to leadership. Well, this is equally true of parenting. We can start breaking out of negative patterns of behaviour by identifying our individual style of parenting and understanding the strengths and weaknesses associated with that approach.”
Although much of the book is in reference to parents who work outside of the home, there are really general tips and pieces of advice that can help all parents. I did think that there would be maybe a little more about balancing work and home life, but realistically if we can easier overcome the most common difficulties that we have with our toddlers then the work/life balance should theoretically improve as a result.
What is your top tip for balancing your roles as a worker and a parent?