When we become parents, life becomes less about us and all about the little people in our lives.
I wanted to maintain a career, look after my babies, see to my husband’s business paperwork, keep in touch with friends, exercise, remember birthdays, cook, clean and wash the never ending pile of clothes. I returned to work when both Hudson and Scarlett were around 6 months old and have worked 4 days a week. Was I stressed? Yes. But isn’t everyone?
What I didn’t realise was that I had put myself last for so long that it was really getting to me. I never had a spare second and my one day off was spent at swimming lessons and then running around organising everything so life still runs smooth on the weekends and days that I work. I felt I was doing a lot of things but nothing was right.
My kids are happy but the older they get the more difficult it is to rush them all the time. It’s so hard to be out the door for a childcare drop off at 7am so I can get to work by 8am. When they were babies I just bundled them into the car, sometimes they were still sleeping. These days they want to choose their clothes, talk about what we are doing, watch the end of their show, take their time and simply be kids. There is completely nothing wrong with this, a part from the fact that I was constantly running late for work. I also wanted to be able to pick them up earlier from childcare some days, they are there from 7am to 5pm. That’s a long day for anyone, but it’s especially long when you are only 5 and 3 years old.
2018 rolled around and I realised I was anxious, tired and always short tempered. I had so much going on that I felt unable to focus on any specific task. In short, I think I was simply exhausted. I knew something had to change. I desperately wanted to set an example and show my children that women can do anything, but what sort of example am I setting if I am always grumpy and tired?
Now…..before all the comments start about why doesn’t my husband help more. I need to address this. He works, hard. He is a bricklayer and often works 6 days a week. He runs his own business and is a wonderful father, but he can’t do childcare pick ups or drop offs and has less time than me to cook and clean. When he can, he does help, but in reality most of the housework falls on me.
I started to apply for other jobs closer to home, but part time jobs are hard to come by and I realised this was going to take a while. Plus, finding time for job applications became just another task to add to my already full list of things to do.
Earlier this month I asked my boss if I could drop some hours. I felt like it was going to be an automatic no, but to my surprise it wasn’t. The organisation was actually quite supportive. There was a small part of me that felt like a failure, like I was admitting defeat but I had to do it. To be honest, looking back, I have always struggled with the hours, 4 days is hard. Especially on really busy weeks or if the kids are sick.
As for money, we just have to make it work. All the money in the world isn’t worth missing out on life because you are too anxious and stressed to enjoy anything.
I have also taken a few weeks of my long service leave to organise myself. Clean out my cupboards, sort out the kids clothes and get to all of the appointments that I always put off. It feels good to admit to myself that I am not superwoman and I can’t do everything.
As mothers we are strong, resilient and often the glue that holds everything together. We do the work that goes unnoticed but it keeps life moving. It’s hard to be the glue if we are falling apart ourselves. What I have done may not be for everyone, but for me, right now this is the right choice.
Take some time, set your limits, it’s worth it for you, your sanity and your family.