I am Toby’s Mummy. I am Phil’s wife. I am a reasonably good baker, a terrible painter, a wannabe gardener, a former goth and an enthusiastic blogger. I’m all these things and more, yet I’m one person. I’m Hannah. In life we play multiple roles and are different things to different people so what makes me, me?
The older I’ve become, the more titles and labels I’ve had added to who I am, to what defines me. As I’ve made transitions from student to waitress, travel agent to care worker, girlfriend to fiancee to wife and Mummy, my feelings towards who ‘Hannah’ is have changed and priorities have shifted.
Before I met Phil I was living in my own house with a couple of friends as lodgers to help me pay the mortgage but still working 70+ hours a week to make ends meet. I was single, so living like that didn’t have any impact on anything, or so I thought. When Phil and I got together, things moved pretty quickly and I soon realised that the work/life balance I had was far from balanced, in fact it was detrimental to my physical and mental health and simply was not sustainable. It took a while for me to change my mindset, but slowly I rearranged my priorities and when the company I worked for was making redundancies, I took voluntary redundancy because I had been far from happy there for too long. In my new job as a Work-Related Learning Trainer in a special needs school I felt like I was making a positive difference to the lives of the students I worked with, but then in 2013 we moved to our lovely country cottage and had a one and a half hour commute each way to get to work, which was absolutely fine until I was heavily pregnant and exhausted!
Toby is now 6 months old and I’m on maternity leave with my pay finishing in March so naturally, thoughts turned to how I would manage to go back to work with such a long commute and a baby. We could find childcare near our home so as not to drag Toby around in the car for so long… But do you know any nurseries or childminders who’ll work 6am to 6pm? Which then leads to the very simple fact that I cannot be away from him for that long, every day, I just can’t. I’ve always dreamed of becoming a Mummy so now that I am one, I don’t want someone else living the dream for me whilst I commute for 3 hours a day and work for another 8, earning quite frankly pittance even before petrol and childcare costs are paid.
Phil and I are quite traditional and we’ve both always shared the same ideal in that when children came along, I’d look after them and he would work and earn the money. We purposefully didn’t buy a massive house in order that we could survive on one wage, although as I’ve also been working full time we have been able to afford luxuries and put some savings aside. With the end of my maternity pay looming, I started to panic (as I do) about money but I didn’t need to. I have married a really hard worker and Phil is proud to be providing for our family, as I am proud of him for doing so. With that in mind, some of you may have seen this picture pop up on my Instagram feed the other day:
Yep, I handed my notice in at work! It felt great making that big step and knowing that I can devote my time to raising Toby, with some housework and blogging thrown in for good measure! Being me, I’m not very good at not working though, so the very same evening I registered myself as a sole trader with HMRC in order to advertise myself as a freelance writer *Excited squeal* I love writing, it’s always been a huge passion of mine but it became buried under the jobs I’d been doing. Blogging has reignited the spark and because I’ve always been adamant that I don’t want to monetise my blog, I’m going to (hopefully) copywrite for other people. What I love about this is that I can take on as much or as little work as I can fit around being Toby’s Mummy, Phil’s wife and just plain old me! It feels like a really positive step and one that will help to make sure that I keep my brain active as well as enabling me to stay at home and look after Toby. I’m very lucky to be in this position and am so grateful to my wonderful husband for his support.
So, wife, Mummy, blogger, freelance writer… What about Hannah? Well I’ve joined a local gym and have set up a training programme as well as signing up to classes such as Body Balance which will not only tone me up, but also re-focus my mind just on me for an hour. As silly as it may sound, even just showering and putting make up on each and every day no matter what else is going on, makes me feel like myself so I always make sure it happens. Phil and I are also very much of the mindset that we need to nurture our marriage at all times so whether it be a meal out, an evening in with a movie or finally going rock climbing again, we find ourselves by spending time together as a couple alongside family times.
I asked what other bloggers do to keep on top of it all and remain ‘them’, here are some of their answers:
Gemma from Sunshine on a Cloudy Day says that alone time is critical, whether you work or not alongside parenting. Similarly, Sarah from The Knott Bump and Us thinks it’s important to have time off to do the things that YOU want to do.
Leslie from Messy Stains and Growing Pains finds it good to have friends with similar interests as well as children of the same age as her son so that the children can play and the adults can chat.
Kate from Family Fever works from home and her son goes to nursery for 2 mornings a week so that she can get work done in order to focus on being Mum when the children are home, then at the weekend her husband takes the children out and Kate has some ‘me’ time
Emma from The Mini Mes and Me and Rachel from The Little Pip swear by their diaries and organisers to keep them on track, whilst Sam from Family Heights, Emma from Bubba Blue and Me and Andrea from BloggerMumma use their children’s nap and bedtimes to keep on top of things and have time to themselves.
Rosie from Mummy and Boo gets up at 5:30 several mornings a week in order to work before Boo wakes up – hardcore!
And finally, I leave you with possibly my favourite reply when I asked how everyone juggles their roles and still manages to be themselves too:
Kerrie from Wife, Mum, Student Bum simply says “You just have to work like a badass” Which I love!