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Navigating Childcare as a Freelancer

Navigating Childcare as a Freelancer

This is a much requested post AND one I’ve been promising to write for a long time, too. It baffles me in a way and saddens me somewhat too — because it speaks to a much deeper issue really doesn’t it?

Funnily enough, this post was supposed to go live last week (I post every other Wednesday) but guess what? Yep. Childcare issues. Then I went into a four-day solo parenting stint and this post was, naturally, pushed to the bottom of the pile.

And it got me thinking about a few things surrounding childcare; how expensive it is, sure; how HARD it is, yep; but, mostly, how completely unreliable it ultimately is when you’re the primary caregiver. Which, let’s face it, falls on the mother in a heterosexual partnership.

It’s why I decided to quit working over the summer when we first moved from London to Brighton. (Which makes me incredibly lucky, I know.)

To that end, in the depths of my very privileged despair I took to Instagram and posted this…

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It’s one of those days when you feel a bit like working is harder work than it’s worth, you know? I realised I’d stopped booking stuff into nursery days because I’m constantly in fear of #thecall & if I have a bad month (like the past few) I come home with pennies after I’ve paid my share of the bills….. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I know I sound ungrateful. I’m not. I’m so privileged to have the options I do, and the choices I’m able to make. But FML people….. motherhood and working? Yep, I’m losing that battle right now. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In closing, I felt the picture to best go with this caption was a recycled image of my feet with inexplicable petals thrown in. As you were ❤️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

A post shared by Lucy Lucraft (@lucylucraft) on

Unsurprisingly I’m not the only one who feels like this. It is, of course, a failing of the heteronormative, patriarchal society we live in that sees so many women dropping out of the workplace. It’s not always because they choose to be a ‘home-maker’ *cringes* but often because the cost of working is too high.

Yep, that’s right. It COSTS women to work. I never EVER thought that would be a consideration in my life, something I’d stay up worrying about or a choice I would have to make. Naive? Yeah, possibly. But realistically, when we are told our GCSE options will affect our future careers (and, by the way, what do you want to be when you grow up?) and shoved into a ‘careers advice’ session were you told about the glass ceiling you’d eventually hit?

Me neither. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing about my career so far. Nothing. But even so, I would’ve loved a little heads up that maternity pay is hard going, that freelance life is best started sooner rather than later and that NOPE, you probably won’t be able to work while the baby naps.

C’est la vie, amiright? So let’s quit bitching and moaning (actually, please NEVER quit that) and have a look at the main childcare options for working parents.

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Long mage with title text and three smaller images of the seaside

Nursery / Daycare

I intrinsically chose this option, not sure why. And I have to say, it’s been the best choice for Anaïs who is incredibly extroverted and loves being around people.

Anaïs started nursery aged five months (I think?) and when I look back, that’s kinda mad! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would do it again and we absolutely adored her first nursery, which was a tiny townhouse in west London run by the most incredible Spanish lady (it was a bilingual nursery) I just can’t believe she was there before she could even walk.

In Brighton, her first nursery didn’t work out (which was a real lesson in trusting your instincts) but the second one has been amazing. Anaïs loves it, we love them and overall it’s been overwhelmingly positive.

But there are downsides to nursery/daycare and here they are…..

Pros

  • Safe, great for children who love playing with others.
  • Often great activities; our nursery has a weekly artist, musician and they take trips to the local old people’s home too.
  • Good facilities; we visited one with an indoor soft play! Madness.
  • Probably makes transition to school easier, but who knows…
  • Great if you want to get chicken pox out of the way quicksmart. Ditto that hand, foot and mouth and all other gross-sounding illnesses 😉

Cons

  • Expensive. I pay £800 pcm for four ‘short days’ of 8-4pm.
  • All nurseries have different price inclusions, which if missed can add up.
  • ZERO leeway with illness, which spreads like wildfire. Kids be filthy 😉

Childminder

I’ve never used a childminder but know people who have. I looked into it in preparation for going back to work and met with a few childminders through the Childminder.org website.

Pros

  • Many childminders have a setup akin to a nursery, with several children and other childminders.
  • It’s normally cheaper than nursery.
  • Your little one might find it easier to build a stronger bond with a childminder, as opposed to having several different caregivers.
  • Normally, you have to drop off and pick up (as per nursery) but it’s a little more flexible with some childminders.

Cons

  • I found it a bit of a faff trying to find a childminder who ticked all the boxes; location, price etc etc
  • You need to be a little more vigilant and ensure you check your childminder meets legal criterias. Childcare.org gives guidelines.
  • I suppose that were a childminder to be ill, you might be a bit screwed although they do seem to work with others to negate this.

Family/Friends

This isn’t an option for lots of us so feel free to grumble and skip it. But even if it is an option, it mightn’t be the best one anyway. Helpful stuff, Luce….I know, I know!

Pros

  • It’s normally free!
  • Who could be more trustworthy than family? I guess that’s subjective….
  • You get lovely family time as a bonus. Again, I guess this depends on your family dynamics!

Cons

  • It’s potentially not as reliable
  • You’re at the mercy of someone who isn’t being paid….this can be awkward.
  • If you hate your family, it’s probably not your favourite day of the week.
  • You are unlikely to get full-time childcare with this option, although I do know folks who have.

Co-working creche

I looked into this option when I still lived in London as it felt like a really cool option. I was keen to get out of the flat and co-work and I wasn’t yet sure I was ready to leave Anaïs with a stranger full-time. So this seemed like a happy medium.

I visited a few, but quickly realised genuine co-working creche facilities are few and far between and, sadly, none that I saw did both well. It wasn’t right for me, but I know a couple of people who have found it a great option.

Pros

  • Your baby will be close by which is great if you’re nervous about leaving them.
  • It’s a great way to meet like-minded folk in the same, or a similar boat as you.

Cons

  • It can be a pricey option, although the places I viewed varied wildly so shop around.
  • If you hate the idea of co-working, it’s crap. But then, why would you choose this option….
  • You have to lug a baby, and all of your work gear into an office….which didn’t work for me with no car!

Working around naps

Nope. Just nope. The amount of people who still shame me when I tell them that, “No, I can’t write 1000 words for a national newspaper while my toddler plays with her toys.” is alarming.

It might work for you, and that’s great. But for me? It’s a hard no.

L x

Cloth Nappies: Everything you Need to Know to Get Started

Cloth Nappies: Everything you Need to Know to Get Started

I never thought I’d be writing about cloth nappies. Mummy blogger, moi? No, thank-you! But this is one area of my zero-waste journey I’ve found both challenging and satisfying in equal measures. 

When I first thought about reducing my waste I knew nappies were a non-negotiable that had to go. Disposable nappies are a huge blight on our planet, sitting on landfills around our country (and those we outsource our waste too…) for HUNDREDS of years. And switching to biodegradable nappies isn’t a great option as without oxygen and sun they won’t break down in the promised time either.

In six months of using disposables with Anaïs I easily added another 800 to the three billion last year. If that image doesn’t make you feel both horrified and a bit sicky (all those pooey nappies!) you are made of stronger stuff than I.

But it’s not enough for me to simply ditch disposables. As many of us as possible need to follow suit (if we can) so I’m hoping this post serves as a guide to getting started, and helps clarify any questions you have about using cloth nappies for your little one!

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My ultimate guide to getting started with cloth nappies. The pros and cons, what kit you need and a video tutorial! Read more #zerowaste tips at LucyLucraft.com

ESSENTIAL KIT

  • Nappy bin & two bin liners: to put old nappies in, the bags hold them so you can throw it all in the wash. 
  • 20-30 nappies: This is so dependent on you and your needs. 
  • Liners: To catch poo! These can be chucked. 
  • Boosters: These are to add absorbency.
  • Wet Bags: To hold old nappies when you are out and about. I have four, but you probably only need two.

THE BRANDS I USE

I tried a few but my two faves are: 

  • Little Lambs: These are really good value and offer a big variety of styles from basic cloth wraps to all in one. I love the fact they have poppers, as the velcro style fastenings tend to wear thin,
  • Bambino Mio: SUPER easy to use all-in-one styles in cute prints. These are amazing. 

WHERE TO BUY

  • Facebook Marketplace: Find local groups simply by searching ‘nappies’ OR head straight to the marketplace to find them. I got a big stash of nappies this way and will sell any I don’t need anymore here too. 
  • The Nappy Lady: This is a fantastic website as TNL offers a diagnostic service where she takes all your requirements into consideration before offering her suggestions.

HOW TO USE CLOTH NAPPIES: A DUMMIES GUIDE 

I procrastinated about this post a LOT as it’s hard to explain in words how to use reusables. That’s not to say it’s hard, per se, it’s just….you need a visual! So I made one. I’m not a video creator so please be kind 🙂 

PROS

  • You’re saving the world! What could be a better pro than that? But seriously, making the switch to reusables means you’ll see a change in your waste REALLY quickly, which is incredibly satisfying. 
  • I’ve saved money, for sure, although you do have to be realistic about the initial financial outlay you have to make (around £150 I’d say).
  • I love how easy they are to use while being super eco. I put it off for such a long time and was especially worried about dealing with poo, but it’s fine especially as modern cloth nappies are so convenient.
  • NO gross bin smell. You know what I’m talking about, right? That momen minutes after you’ve dumped a disposable in the bin and the STENCH 

CONS

  • The initial kit is costly if you buy it all new, and a faff if you go the used route. Although I didn’t find it to be too painful I wanted to acknowledge not all of us have the time/money/energy to expend on the nappy search.
  • You can’t use standard nappy creams with your reusables however I’ve found PurePotions nappy salve to be fine. 
  • I still don’t love dealing with poo, especially as I never flush the liners away (I don’t flush anything except toilet-roll, poo and wee!) but it’s a necessary evil. I pop mine in the bin formerly known as ‘disposable-nappy-bin’ and it’s not so terrible anyway, honest 😉 

L x

Having a Baby Killed my Wanderlust

Having a Baby Killed my Wanderlust

It’s funny to look back on a few short years ago when I planned my year based on where I would travel to, how long for and when.

I’ve always been a travel addict, I guess because my first passport came before my first birthday and by 5 I’d already had a stint living abroad. But maybe not. Maybe it’s simply because I love sunshine on my face and sand in my toes, eating street food and pounding pavements without a schedule.

Who knows. But travel, and travelling, has always been my happy place. For me: “the journey is the destination” rings oh so true because I ADORE flying. When the plane’s wheels lift and woosh you’re above the clouds is like taking a HUGE breath of air.

Past tense. I adored flying. Travelling was my happy place.

Enter Anaïs Lucraft.

This little bean who makes my heart pop with love and is the ultimate, squidgy delight managed to kill all that joy in just over a year.

I despise travelling with her. I tolerate travelling without her. And that would be fine, I guess, except that I’m kind of, sorta a travel writer. Apparently.

Can I still be a travel writer if I sorta hate travelling? It’s not that don’t have the urge to visit anywhere new, although I feel super settled being at home in Brighton. Of course, I long for a break with my husband and yep, I’d happily hop on a plane or train to Europe. I think about my time in India with super fond memories and long to wander down Khao San Road eating street food again but honestly? I could take it or leave it.

I was chatting with a friend recently who used to be a flight attendant. And she admitted that after having kids she developed a fear of flying – I can relate to that too. Being above the clouds no longer gives me a sigh of relief, it makes me feel anxious. It makes me wish I were on the ground with my feet planted close to home. A 45-minute delay wouldn’t have entered my mind as an issue before Anaïs, but now it feels like the biggest waste of my time.

Everything I do has to be weighed up against time spent with my family. I have to ask myself: “Is this worth it? Is this better than hanging out with my baby?” Not much passes the test!

Yes, I could take her with me but honestly….have you ever navigated trains, planes and automobiles with a screaming toddler who won’t sit, stand or lie down? It’s not fun.

Trying to make travelling with kids less stressful is tricky. Because I don’t necessarily think it’s possible. But should I  try, even if that means I have a great time, just so I can say I did it? Who do I need to prove anything to?

Answers on a postcard please. And if you find my wanderlust, post that too.

L x

 

My Favourite Baby-Changing Bag

I never thought I’d be a ‘changing bag kind of gal. Similarly to my views on travelling with Anaïs I presumed I’d be super chilled out and wouldn’t need to worry about a specific bag with all its faff and status.

‘I don’t need a changing bag’

So from day one, I used my handbag or my Kanken backpack to lug Anaïs bits and bobs around. Which worked……briefly. I breastfed for 7 months so.didnt need much more than the changing mat I picked up at yummy-mummy heaven Jojo Maman Bebé, and our trusty Sophie La Girafe.

What an earth mama I am!’ I thought, smugly.

Pahahaha…what an idiot!

As soon as Anaïs started eating solids, stopped breastfeeding AND she grew sick of Sophie (pretty quickly btw) I needed so much more…..stuff.

I soldiered on like a smug douche for another six months until one day when I really lost it.

Having to pack and unpack a bag several times a day, never being able to find things when I needed them (despite the fact I’d packed meticulously) and still always losing my phone, wallet, and keys pushed me to my tether.

Earth mother be damned. I needed a jazzy changing bag.

‘Erm, I NEED a changing bag’

I’d seen lots of stylish looking bags online, and I knew I wanted something that didn’t irritate me. Yes, I am the mother of a small human but nope, I don’t need baby animals everywhere.  I also needed one bag to double as Anaïs changing bag and my own too.

Obviously, I took to Instagram immediately but, to be totally honest, everything I found was so expensive & didn’t tick all my boxes anyway.

I needed something hardy, lots of compartments as well as designated spaces for bottles and wet wipes. Not too tall an order, but super specific!

As Instagram and Google failed me I turned to my most visited space online – Amazon! You guys, I am obsessed with Amazon. For both vegan stuff and finding good zero waste alternatives it’s been totally invaluable. (ps this is not sponsored by Amazon……)

It also helps I get a teeny bit of commission when you buy anything from one of the Amazon associate links in this post too ❤ Read my full disclaimer here.

There were so many options, but I plumped for the Brightshow backpack which was £29.99. I LOVE it so much! In fact, I don’t usually do reviews but I’ve had so many requests on Instagram I thought I was being a little selfish keeping it to myself. Also…..if thousands of you go mad and buy it through my Amazon associate link I’ll potentially earn PENNIES!!!! I know, baller.

So here you go, an actual review. 

Pros

First off, I like the look of it. Simple, if not especially stylish I don’t feel like a yummy-mummy or a backpacking teenager. It’s also really comfy to wear as a backpack (for both me and my husband) and the shorter handles mean you can hold it jauntily (!) or do what I do and clip it to my buggy hook.

It has LOADS of compartments perfect for hiding snacks, wipes, dummies, my phone and wallet AND my keys too.

And when you open the bag up (which is Mary Poppins deep) it stays open. That was a really big deal for me because there’s nothing worse than having to root around when your baby is screaming and you also need to find your gin stash. JOKES. But it is annoying so I love that the wiring around the bag’s opening keeps it open.

The insulated bottle area fits three bottles (mine are Avent) and I love the fact they have there own little pocket. Makes life infinitely easier.

And oh, hallelujah to the wet wipe dispenser on the side of the bag to grab wipes on the go. Although I’ve now switched to reusable wipes, this is still an incredibly handy little feature.

Cons

The bag doesn’t come with a changing mat which is a downside if buying for a new mum with NO gear at all or if you are said new mum. I like having a separate changing mat so it wasn’t an issue for me but I can see how this might be a con.

The bag is hardy, for sure, but it’s not technically waterproof (although the lining makes it fairly waterproof) and the bottom isn’t wipe-clean (ha). Again, this isn’t a big issue for me but given how mucky soft play/kiddy club/the park is it would be a nice touch.

As I mentioned before, the bag is simple but it’s not particularly stylish and I’m almost positive it’s not ethical. That’s a downside for me, but on this occasion, I shopped with different values (aka, left my values at home so I could get the bag I wanted.)

I honestly love the backpack, and it’s one of the very few items I’ll keep for future babies!

Let me know if you have a changing bag you’ve really loved (or want to know more) in the comments 🙂

L x

How I Got My Baby to Sleep Through the Night

I’m pretty sure this is one of those topics that strikes fear into the heart of those who discuss it. As soon as you announce your pregnancy until the sweet release of death you’ll be asked how your kids sleep. 

When they are tiny, it’s how often and for how long. When they start toddling it’ll be the ‘do they sleep through the night?’ one and, I imagine, when they hit those smelly teenage years everyone will wanna know if they’re: ‘still asleep?’ 

Why are we SO freaking obsessed with how other people’s kids sleep? I find it annoying now, and mine actually does sleep through the night. 

I hesitated to write this because I don’t think there’s a one size fits all method that works for all babies. If there was, we would’ve been given the manual at the birth along with a creep Bounty photoshoot and the red book. Sorry to my non-UK readers, that’s an annoying in-joke. 

But then I remembered those sleep-deprived days when I searched for the ‘answer’ and blamed my shit parenting for why Anaïs woke up every few hours. I listened to those who insisted one thing or another and wondered if I’d ever sleep again. I even started to think I never would and that my life was simply going to be a series of awake moments punctuated by snippets of sleep and grumpiness. 

The first helpful thing I did was get myself a serious coffee habit. I didn’t really drink coffee before Anaïs and hadn’t had caffeine throughout pregnancy really so the hit was aggressive and welcomed.  That aside, I also read voraciously….from ‘proper’ books professing they had the answer to YouTube videos of mama vloggers right through to endless blog posts. I tried things, I failed, I cried, she cried and none of us slept.

But then something happened….I stopped listening to everyone else and tuned into my own intuition. THE END. 

Jokes. Obvs that’s not the end of the story because that would be MIND-BLOWINGLY IRRITATING OF ME. But genuinely, listening to my own intuition as a parent is probably my only hard and fast ‘rule’ and honestly, the quicker you start listening to yours, the better. 

It certainly makes for some interesting kitchen ‘chats’ with yourself while making another coffee. 

The background

I’ll start with how we were pre Anaïs sleeping through the night so you can get a bit of context, but PLEASE lord don’t compare yourselves because every child is different and don’t start despairing if yours sleeps ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than mine did. 

I breastfed Anaïs from birth until about seven months with some formula top-ups so Oli could take night feeds on occasion, and because I was never able to pump enough breastmilk for a bottle. 

She actually slept ‘through the night’ fairly quickly…..about a month in, but obviously that was just to fox me and she then didn’t do it again until she was 10 months old. But anyway, we co-slept so I didn’t wake up every time she needed milk as she just latched herself on and fell asleep feeding most nights…….so I never really knew how many times she was waking up in the night, and, to be honest, I wasn’t fussed. 

In those early days, I firmly felt that co-sleeping and feeding on demand was best for us both. Easy to say as I was getting plenty of sleep, but I’d probably do the same again.

The real bugger came when we kicked her out of our room at seven months, when I stopped breastfeeding. She started waking every few hours, to which we’d go in with a bottle, she’d fall straight back to sleep and the cycle would begin again. Some weeks it would be once a night, often much more than that. 

I was SO confused and desperate I was ready to sell her for scrap. 

I am obviously joking, she is the best thing in the universe and I’d claw the eyes off anyone who said different. 

On the edge

So, with shaking, overcaffeinated hands and quivering lips we signed up for a sleep class at our local children’s centre. 

‘What are you doing, how much does she eat, when does she go to bed, what’s her ROUTINE?’ were all asked and I felt like lying because, erm, NO ROUTINE. ‘Ah…..that’s the issue. You need a routine and you need to break her sleep association.’ 

HOLY CRAP, what have I done? I’ve traumatised her with milk so she can’t sleep? 

We left, felt hopeful we knew exactly what we’d been doing wrong (everything and what we need to change (everything)

Only guess what? It stayed the same. Probably for another two months. Until I’d had enough and decided WE ARE SLEEP TRAINING THIS TYRANT.

Sleep training

I remember hearing about the dreaded ‘sleep training’ and ‘cry it out’ when I was pregnant and thinking how mean it sounded. But to be honest, I think it’s just very misunderstoof (ahem, protests too much?!) 

We’ve never left Anaïs to cry for endless amounts of time until she slept from exhaustion……..and nor would we. But we did employ some sleep training and structure. Do you know how long it took to work? TWO DAYS. How did I find this method? A combination of gut, intuition and advice from people I trusted.

 

We implemented a routine

Boy did I resist this! i never wanted to be in a situation where I had to say ‘Ooooh 2 pm? Can’t meet because Anaïs naps then’ but guess what? I REALLY LIKE IT WHEN SHE NAPS. I don’t really like anyone, or anything as much as getting a full night sleep so I sucked it up and implemented a pretty strict routine.


ANAÏS ROUTINE

Anaïs wakes up around 6.30am and plays for a bit. She has some breakfast with me/Oli and has water too. CBeebies saves my life at this time because I am NOT a morning person.

She starts getting tired about 8.30/9 so goes straight down for a nap. Blinds closed, same elephant teddy.

11-2 = playtime/lunch. 

2-4 = nap following the same rules as before.

4-6 = playtime

5.30 = tea…..and me getting giddy for imminent freedom! 

6-6.30 = bath/bedtime routine, which consists of a little baby massage, blinds down and her elephant teddy. 


This might not look the same for you and as we’ve done it for so long now it’s easy for me to spot her cues and vice versa. But at first, we were really regimented because it made our life a lot easier if we both followed the exact same rules.

It takes the guesswork out of it, you know? I know when she’s getting sleepy now but at the start, I could just go by the clock. 9am? Nap time. And even if she didn’t seem tired, she would always sleep.

We broke a ‘sleep association’

When Anaïs was waking up every few hours we would automatically give her a bottle. Which, to be quite honest, she really didn’t need! We looked at the guidelines on the back of the formula tin and she was drinking twice the recommended amount so I knew that had to stop. 

We didn’t do anything fancy with the milk, although I read about people watering it down, because the next step we followed meant we cut out those extra bottles……

‘Cry it out’

I’m not gonna go into the usual here and justify why cry it out is super misunderstood because it’s really a gut decision to do it, so there’s no point trying to explain the pros and cons. 

What I will say is this. This phase lasted two days, and we implemented the ‘5 minute cry’ after which we went in, gave her a cuddle and popped her back down.  Then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes…….but she never went past 7 minutes and that was only on day one anyway. 

After day three, she cried for about 3 minutes before falling asleep and by the end of day four she went to sleep with no complaining at all.

There has been a couple of times she’s cried in the night when we’ve known it’s a ‘different cry’ and gone in straight away and we were right both times; once she got her head stuck under the Sleepyhead stuffing (I know, I am such a div for leaving it in the cot) and another she was teething really badly, so needed some Calpol. 

But I can hand on heart say that now, when we pop her down for a nap and at bedtime she goes down happily and with no tears at all. And the best bit is that she sleeps solidly for twelve hours.

HALLELUJAH! 

So there you have it. Everything we did to get our little creep to sleep like a legend. Was it a bit tough? Hmmmm once I’d decided to pick and choose the advice that made sense to me, leaving the bits that didn’t aside, nope, not really. I can’t speak for anyone else but when we left Anaïs to cry for two minutes, we knew she wasn’t hungry or in any imminent danger (you actually do get to know those cries eventually!) so it didn’t stress me out too much. 

Would I do it again? Erm, hells yeah.

Sending the most energetic, and soothing vibes to your babies and to you. 

L x

 If you're a new mum to a little baby you might be going mad from all the sleepless nights. This is how I got my baby to sleep through the night (in two short, painless nights!)

If you’re a new mum to a little baby you might be going mad from all the sleepless nights. This is how I got my baby to sleep through the night (in two short, painless nights!)

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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.

Choosing childcare

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.

Admitting ‘DEFEAT’

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

  1. Shorter blog posts if needs be, perhaps a typo or two and images that haven’t been shot specifically for it.
  2. Imperfect podcast edits because: ‘Hey you, this is FREE content’
  3. Not getting back to every comment across social media.
  4. Never having inbox zero and not giving too many f@cks about it.

Are you a working mama? How are you finding it?

L x