How I juggle work and motherhood
First off, let's review the title and agree it's HEINOUS. The juggle is real for us all and I am NO different so the implication that anyone would get value from learning how I do it is arrogant at best.
However, I wanted to talk about it because it's my blog. And I kinda write whatever the fudge I want to here ;)
A bit of background: prior to having Anaïs I was a travel reporter at the Express, then a freelance journalist. I presumed I'd just slip back into that when she was born, expecting I'd need 'a few months off' and that I'd 'work whilst she napped.'
OBVIOUSLY, I AM A HUGE IDIOT.
Because that didn't happen at all. In fact, I took a whole year off 'work' choosing to pursue creative projects like starting the podcast and growing my Instagram. At the end of maternity leave (January 9th this year.......yep, that date is etched in memory forevermore) I was DREADING going back to work properly.
I never imagined I'd have felt like that last year but you know what it's like - you make your dream job a real job and it suddenly loses its appeal. But it wasn't so much the fact I didn't love my job (I still adore journalism, even if I have a LOT less time to do it!), it's the fact every hour I choose to work is a big old compromise.
But I guess I'm doing it. Badly, perhaps, but it's happening. Here's how.
Knowing my limits
Starting a podcast when she was a few weeks old and breastfeeding was easy. All she did was sleep and she barely made a peep. But past five or six months? NO CHANCE. Although ever since we started a super strict routine (honestly the best thing I've ever done, despite my obsession with never having a routine) she naps twice a day for about two hours each time. So, in a sense, I could work around her naps.
Except I don't want to. Because if she's ill, or a bit fussy or teething or growing or....god forbid, decides to drop her sacred naps (that's happening as I write this by the way!) then I'm up shit creek without a paddle. And I HATE feeling resentful of her. I hate that feeling of: 'Why can't you just SLEEP so I can get on with work' because it makes me feel super stressy. Some people cope with the changing schedule of a baby and manage to work around them with aplomb, and I applaud those people. But for me, it just doesn't work.
Which is why I opted for nursery. Anaïs has been going since she was about six months old. Just a couple of days a week, which we were able to flex up when I officially went back to work. I loved her nursery so much, and they adored Anaïs showering her with affection as if she were one of their own. She really flourished there too, gaining confidence and learning things daily.
But since March I've been looking after Anaïs full time, and despite thinking I'd hate it -- I've honestly loved it. Because here are the downsides to nursery -- sickness all the damn time. Mucky clothes, always. Getting up early to take drop them off, and knocking off work early to pick them up.
And OMG expensive. So expensive.
Multi-Tasking with caution
This isn't always possible, but when I can I try to multi-task a little bit. Mostly in the form of using the audio function in my notes app to record a stream of rambles I later turn into a blog post. iPhone and Android users should all have this functionality, but (allegedly) Android users have it best as Google transcribe the rambles more accurately.
It's not perfect, but it makes a huge difference to me. I upload the gobbledeegook, then it needs a quick edit and the usual bloggy jazz and et voila!
I also try to batch tasks as much as poss. Taking pictures whenever I can, editing them in one go at another time and drafting captions at the same time too.
This is probably the best lesson I've learned in this whole motherhood malarkey. Because whilst I honestly there is no such thing as defeat, or failure (we are all doing bloody amazingly!), I do think there's a beautiful grace in accepting shit won't always get done.
And being okay with that will set you free. The old adage 'Done is better than perfect' walks with me when I worry I'm not good enough or it's not good enough. I prioritise things that need 100% accuracy and 'perfection' and let go of the rest. What that looks like is
- Shorter blog posts if needs be, perhaps a typo or two and images that haven't been shot specifically for it.
- Imperfect podcast edits because: 'Hey you, this is FREE content'
- Not getting back to every comment across social media.
- Never having inbox zero and not giving too many f@cks about it.
Are you a working mama? How are you finding it?