Life as a working mum

By Clare Longley - October 10, 2017

6am and the alarm goes off. I groggily reach for my phone and press snooze hoping to catch another 10 minutes before I have to get up. I feel myself drifting off then a yell from across the hall rouses me from my slumber.

I sleepily stumble into Ethan's room, scoop him up for a cuddle and take him back to our room. We snuggle together for a few minutes then I pop CBeebies on the tv - for once I'm glad Tom has won the argument for a tv in the bedroom. Ethan is engrossed by Baby Jake while I slip downstairs, place a crumpet in the toaster and fill up his cup with milk.

Glancing at the clock I see we have an hour to get ready before we have to leave at 7:15am.

I'm wide awake now and armed with his beloved crumpet and milk I make my way back upstairs where Ethan has not moved from the comfort of our bed and Tom is pressing snooze on his alarm.

The shower goes on, I grab a towel and quickly hop in getting washed in record time. I'm brushing my teeth as I hear Tom get up and he sticks his head in to the bathroom to say Ethan is still happily watching tv and he's heading downstairs to have breakfast.

I quickly slap on some makeup, tie my hair up in a pony and pull on a frock while at the same time trying to stop a hyper toddler from climbing over me. All I want to do dear boy is to sit and play but instead I'm distracting you with things allowing me time to finish getting ready.

Again I glance at the clock and it's 6:50am. Time to get Ethan ready for nursery. I change his nappy, pull on some clothes and bring him downstairs with me. Teletubbies is now on so he will sometimes sit and watch but more often than not realises I'm not in the room and comes in to the kitchen to find me. I'm pouring out some cereal, making sure I've got my lunch and that he has spare clothes in his nursery bag.

Tom makes his way downstairs, he gets Ethan's shoes and coat and puts them on while I quickly eat my bowl of Weetabix. There is a last minute glance around as the clock reaches 7:15am it's time for a quick cuddle before Tom takes him to nursery and I head to work.

As I'm sat in traffic I'm wondering did drop off going ok, was Ethan upset and hoping he has a nice day. Just before 8am I pull into work and make my way across the car park to my office. I switch my computer on, check emails, write out my to do list, respond to a few texts from my mama crew and now it's time to be Clare and not mum for the next 8 hours.

Mid morning I reach into my bag for a snack and my hand brushes over Ethan's toy aeroplane. My mind wanders to him and wondering how his day is going. All I want is to be with him but instead I torment my colleagues with tales of his recent escapades. I hope you're having a lovely time at nursery baby boy.

As the day progresses I glance at the clock wishing away the time until 4:30pm when I can leave and pick up my little man. My eyes linger on the photo of Ethan at nursery that is pinned to the bottom of my monitor. Are you happy baby boy? I hope you aren't missing us too much.

Eventually it's 4:30pm and I'm out the door. 20 minutes later I pull up at nursery and I can't get to Ethan quick enough. He notices me the minute I walk in and runs across the room to me, arms outstretched with the biggest smile on his face. His keyworker tells me all about how great his day has been then it's time for goodbyes (until tomorrow) and we make our way home.

By the time we've battled through rush hour traffic it's 5:20pm when I pull up outside. Tom isn't back yet so we make our way indoors, discard the coats and shoes before flopping on the sofa for a bit. I start thinking about dinner but then wonder should I leave it to later and play with Ethan instead. I realise I'm starving so decide to start prepping the food while he sits next to me and has a snack.

Juggling a toddler who has missed his mama all day while trying to cook dinner is hard but now he's getting older he's happy to try and help me in the kitchen whether he's pinching peppers off the chopping board or raiding the cupboard for a mixing bowl and whisk.

6pm and Tom walks in. Suddenly Mama is forgotten in favour of Daddy but that distraction gives me time to plate up dinner. We sit on the sofa to eat as Ethan had his tea at nursery. He pinches the odd thing off our plate but is more interested in watching the latest antics of Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy.

As 7pm approaches Tom takes Ethan upstairs to run his bath. I fill up his milk cup and load the dishwasher. I hear splashing and giggles coming from above then make my way up to see what chaos awaits me.

Tom gets Ethan dried and into his pyjamas. I have some night night cuddles then I leave them too it and make my way downstairs picking up scattered bits of clothing and toys as I go. I quickly finish tidying up and as I sink into that corner bit of the sofa that is the comfiest part Tom walks in to the lounge. He flops onto the sofa too and we finally have a chance to chat about our day.

Sometimes I catch up on Neighbours (my guilty pleasure), other times we watch a bit of TV together. Tonight I'm doing some blog work while Tom is engrossed in the latest political story on the news.

In no time at all it's 9:30pm and both of us are yawning. Time to head up to bed before the day starts all over again or Ethan decides to waken for a midnight party...

I've been back at work for 9 months now which is almost as long as I was off on maternity leave for and to be honest the time has flown in much quicker than mat leave ever did.

It's tough and I guess the one phrase that sums it all up is mum guilt. I feel guilty leaving Ethan at nursery in the care of strangers, I feel guilty at the office when I'm leaving earlier than everyone else and only working a 4 day week (even though I often feel like I'm cramming 5 days work in to 4 days), I feel guilty when I have to work away and don't see my boys for a few days, I feel guilty when I've to take time off when Ethan is poorly. No matter what I do I always feel guilty.

Being a working mum is hard, it's a constant juggling act and if I'm not organised I know all those plates will come crashing down. I always wonder am I doing the right thing for Ethan being back at work but in my heart of hearts I know I am. By working we can afford a few luxuries, trips back to Ireland to visit my family and to live in a nice house. Ethan gets to mix with different children and adults, have experiences that I would never think of giving him at home (hello messy play) and as a result has become such a confident and well rounded little boy.

Part of me wishes we could spend more time together as these years are too precious and fleeting but I've now realised that instead of focusing on what we don't have I look at what we do have. My Fridays off are so special to me and every six weeks Tom is off on school holidays where he gets lots of bonus time with his boy.

I think no matter what we do we always feel guilty but at least we know we are doing our best.


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