Yesterday morning I was laying in bed watching our video baby monitor, waiting to see if Starfish was stirring. It was 6.20am, and I had to get ready for work in about 15 minutes. I sat and watched, then slowly staggered out of bed. I got myself ready, and then I got Starfish out of his cot and set him up in his highchair with his bottle of milk. I prepared his
I got myself ready, and then I got Starfish out of his cot and set him up in his highchair with his bottle of milk.
I prepared his breakfast.
I got him sorted for the day as his babysitter came to watch him.
I drove to work and listened to a podcast about blogging, trying to glean as many tips and tricks as I could in the mindless waste of 1 hour I had to spend commuting to work. I tried to think about this blog, and all my hopes and dreams I have for it – the goals I’ve set to achieve over the coming weeks and months. I passionately and enthusiastically motivated myself (in my mind!), revving myself up to get ready for the things to come.
And then I was there, at work. I got out of the car, unlocked my classroom, and prepped myself for the day.
Turned the computer on.
Wrote the timetable for the day on the board.
Got the resources out of the storeroom for the day’s lessons.
And went to meet my class in lines.
I had my teaching hat on (metaphorically… Well, until lunch time when I was on duty), and nothing else could really enter my mind until I took my teaching hat off at the end of the day and I prepared for my trip home from work.
Why I think I have Split Personalities
As I was driving home from work, dazed, frazzled and just plain exhausted from a day of working with kids (to only come home to another child who was cranky from lack of sleep), it hit me. I feel as though I am suffering from having split personalities.
Two lives that are so diverse and separate from each other – both in mindset and distance! – that I am struggling to reconcile them.
For 5-ish days of the week, I am a mum.
My days are filled with pooey nappies, excess food (SO MUCH FOOD), countless renditions of the Wiggles or “Galumph went the Little Green Frog”, and stepping on random pieces of lego or wooden cars or little books.
We go to Playgroup, hang out with our Mother’s Group friends, and talk about babies and children. We go for walks to the park and play on the swings or the slide.
I am a mum blogger and I work from home. I spend my days talking to mums about #mumlife and talking all things baby. I talk with adults. I occasionally have a hot cup of tea when I want, and have a bit of say as to when I go to the toilet (although I usually have company…).
It is Starfish and I and our life.
And then there is my new work life.
For 2-ish days of the week (because I also need to plan), I am a teacher. I don’t have time to think about Starfish or the blog because I am working with 6-7 year-olds. They need assistance, they need support, they need help. My time is spent defusing situations, trying to teach content, marking work. It is spent planning lessons, collecting resources, and writing my program. There is less say on the hot tea and going to the toilet whenever I want. I spend my time sometimes with adults (although I am usually busy planning in my lunchtimes so I can leave at a good time), and mostly with children.
It can be really lonely.
Last night as I was sorting out our dinner, I felt a real tension between these two aspects – or ‘personalities’ – of my life. I am unable to fully participate in my mum life with my mum friends because there is time that I’m at work, or planning for work. I miss out on catch-ups or have to cancel playdates because I need time for preparation. I had to leave our mother’s group dinner early on Wednesday night because I needed sleep to get up early for work. I’m gradually feeling that I’m missing out on more opportunities to cement friendships with these other mothers.
But I also can’t fully participate in my work life either. I am unable to spend time with my colleagues after work because I’m coming home to my son. I am spending my lunchtimes planning and marking rather than socialising. I have missed a year of work, and so the social (and practical) climate of my work environment has changed; everything has kept moving on and I’ve tried to slide back into it.
It is a difficult, awkward tension that I feel like I’m battling with. As a full-time mother and part-time worker, it is tough.
Where to go from here?It is about managing your time wisely, and coming up with effective strategies to do that… Click To Tweet
I think there comes a point where I have to try and take responsibility for this tension. I could make more of an effort to socialise while at work. I could try and manage my time better when I’m not at work to catch-up with my mum friends. I could sacrifice an evening here or there to hang out with people.
But I also need to take care of myself.
I need to stop worrying about what everyone is doing or thinking, and do what is best for Starfish and I. Some weeks will require more planning and preparation for work. Other weeks will involve more playdates and coffee catch-ups. And some weeks I’ll need to sit at my computer and get my blog work done.
It is a balance. It is about managing my time wisely, and coming up with effective strategies to do that consistently.
And at the end of the day, I’ll probably never get it 100% right. Because, like with all things that happen with mum life, there are always ups and downs. There are unexpected circumstances that arise that will change things – like having a sick Starfish, or having an extra day of work, or having a friend who needs some extra time and attention. But as long as Starfish is my priority, I take care of myself, and
But as long as Starfish is my priority, I take care of myself, and I make an effort (on my part) to fix the tension between these different personalities, it’ll only be a matter of time before it works itself out.
Have you ever felt a tension between your work/life balance as a mum? How did you work through it?