This blog post was written whilst my daughter had her afternoon nap. Typical!
I often get asked how I do what I do, cause god, it must be hard unschooling with 4 kids. I’m pretty sure my husband doesn’t get asked that so much, infact I wrote about how I do what I do last year. (It’s a short blog post, worth reading, but if you don’t want to read it then it basically says I don’t do it all, my husband and I share our family, work and personal life equally. Easier said than done and it has taken us a while.)
The Eternal Struggle of Mothers
But the question still remains that people genuinely ask me how I do what I do. Mostly these are other mothers trying to juggle their own working, career or businesses.
And they struggle. As do I.
Sometimes people think that everything in my life is hunky dory. It isn’t.
I post happy pictures of good moments on my Instagram account because it helps me keep focused and positive. There are plenty of crappy moments in between.
My days are chaotic. And often I just want to pack things in. I feel the pressure of always trying to do so much. Yet, at the same time I feel lucky as my husband and I have truly worked to being equal in all the things we do.
I do think one of the biggest struggles us women have is that society tells us we are equal, but really we are mostly not.
They tell us we can have it all! But actually ‘having it all’ can be pretty shitty and stressful. And of course ‘having it all’ isn’t really having it all, because if both parents are at work then the kids are not at home with the parents. How is that having it all? I’m really not sure anymore what ‘having it all’ means…and can’t be bothered trying to define what it is.
The truth is mothers feel this eternal guilt and inadequacy. They should be working. They should be learning something that they can apply in some career. They should be nurturing and looking after the kids. They should keep the house in order. They should also be super fit and healthy. And we do try to do it all, but often it becomes too much. The stress, oh the stress.
Yet, at the same time, we feel bad for shouting out for help, because we can have and do it all! People tell us to be grateful for what we have, so we feel bad for complaining or ask for something different.
We can work full time and have a kid in full time nursery – society will tell us that all that is ok. That life is hunky dory. It’s still tough. Being away from your kids. Dealing with them and work when they are not well. The early morning and evening rush to drop/pick them up. The cries and screams that we are emotionally tortured with. Etc, etc.
But society tells us this is ok, this is an example of having it all. We should be happy. It’s all good. We shouldn’t complain.
And perhaps for some it is good. But for many others it isn’t. It wasn’t great for me emotionally. I wondered why I was trying so hard and paying so much money on childcare just so I could work (and not really be much better off financially after childcare costs).
I struggled to see the point and over the years I’ve had a go at trying so many things to raise my kids whilst being a ‘modern working mother’.
7 Tips To Survive As A Modern Working Mother
I was chatting to someone about all of this recently. A mother who was stressing about life and coping with all the responsibilities and I came up with the following 7 ideas to try to help her find a better balance.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for support from your employer, speak to other parents in your team/company, see if there is some kind of way to rally support. We shouldn’t have to feel bad about asking for flexibility. We should be able to feel confident about suggesting solutions to ease the pressure – e.g. working from home at times (doesn’t need to be all the time). The more of us that openly ask for support then the more it becomes the norm. It would be nice to see fathers make the same requests.
- Think of how you can combine things with kids – I often do exercises when I take my kids to the park, for example. Or if I’m in the mood for being lazy then I’ll listen to a podcast. I personally can’t bear not being efficient! It means I have more time to myself at other times. Kids love helping out, find ways to do stuff together or combine activities. Kids should learn to understand that life is not just about them, it’s good for them if their parents can do things that make them feel better.
- Let things slack – Does it matter if some things in your life don’t happen? Does it matter to you or someone else? Are you doing things to keep other people happy and not yourself? How important is that thing? What if you decided not to do that thing?
- Ask your family for help – your partner first, then others. People are not mind readers. And mothers shouldn’t feel guilty for asking for help. I know it makes such a difference to us when anyone can take our kids out of the house for a couple of hours, often it feels like heaven. Is there someone who can do that for you? Can you arrange swaps with a friend? Can your parents help out? Can you ask your partner to up his contributions?
- Request people to offer understanding and help – this can be a bit of a game changer. Make it clear to people that you would always value support doing x, y or z. It doesn’t need to be all the time, sometimes life gets tedious. Wouldn’t it be nice if your partner just offered to do stuff? Taking out the bin, cooking dinner, taking the kids out, doing the bed time routine, whatever. It’s so much nicer when something is offered. Make it clear to the right people that you would always appreciate offers, and of course, find ways to make their life less tedious too!
- Find some time for a sneaky nap – this one is not to be underestimated. Have a lie in. Take turns with your partner. Have a sneaky nap whilst the kids watch a movie, anything. Find a way to recharge. Sleep is awesome.
- Encourage fathers to make the same requests – it has taken some time for my husband to become accustomed to being immersed in the day to day up bringing of our kids. It’s still intense and stressful, but it’s a different kind stress and we feel good about it. The more we talk about this, as a society, and make small changes towards real balance then the more feasible it is to actually make wider changes. Fathers shouldn’t see this as something women need to push, we should both be in this together.
I feel fortunate to be running my own business and ultimately being able to make all my decisions. Some are easier than others. But I guess I’m increasingly becoming an employer of some sort too, so I do think of how all this stuff applies to how I run my business. I’m not quite big enough to worry too much about that yet.
I would love to hear stories from other mothers and fathers. How are you all coping?