Well hello Sunday, you little minx! And what is so great about a Sunday I hear you ask (apart from the fact that it is practically the law to spend Sunday in your pyjamas, not quite asleep but not quite awake either…)?! Sundays are bliddy brilliant because it means we add another gorgeous Mummy to the #ThisMum catalogue of wonderful mummies! And boy are you going to LOVE this little treasure of a read! Welcome Helen, from the Welsh Mum Writing blog. I am over the moon that Helen has allowed us a fast pass in to her life to see what an average day in her life looks like!
A lot of Helen’s post resonated with me. I have attempted to work from home for part of the week and the office the rest of the week in a bid to keep nursery fees down and spend more time with Little Miss. I found the ‘working at home’ days incredibly stressful; this surprised me. I had totally romanticised it in my head though. I would sit during my maternity leave and visualise me sat at the dining table with my laptop, typing with one hand, nursing the baby (who, funnily enough, was always impeccably behaved, happy and mega-cute in these visualisations!) with the other, sipping an espresso (that was the only bit I got right – lots of caffeine needed) and talking to my colleagues in my ‘work voice’ via speaker phone. In my head I was totally going to rock the hell out of multi tasking. I was to be a multi tasking warrior. With a baby that would just ‘slot’ right in with my work. Oh dear. What a long way I had to fall. Oh my how wrong I was. I’m not too proud to admit that I just couldn’t make it work. On the days I would work from home I didn’t like the mum I was on those days and I didn’t like the business person I was on those days. Life was hectic, disorganised and chaos on those days. Utter chaos. It would take me three and a half hours to reply to an email because I would manage two words before I would need to get up and see to Little Miss. I wanted it to work so bad but very quickly i realised that my Little Miss deserved better than that and not being the Mum I wanted to be on those days made me feel very unhappy in myself. I was just way too over stretched. And she deserved better than that. She deserved to have someone to play with her round the clock. She deserved to have the undivided attention she needed. I was sad to admit that I just couldn’t make it work but we quickly realised we were going to need nursery full time. I admire Helen so much that she has been able to make it work for her -she sounds so organised too! Working the early mornings and evenings sounds like a really good idea.
Helen mentions meeting with a friend for a play date during the day and I think this is the first post in the series that a Mum has mentioned meeting with a friend and I know from personal experience how much brighter I felt when I met with a friend during my maternity leave. When I was at home with Little Miss during maternity leave there were times where I felt lonely, really lonely. We have one car in the family so my husband would take it to work and I would feel quite isolated at times. It was amazing how much brighter and better I felt when I met with a friend for a few hours though. It was good for both Little Miss and me. Socialising and having adults to talk to is so important as a mum. The days can be repetitive and lonely without that interaction with others.
Anyway – I have warbled on way too much – here’s the lovely Helen with her day in the life of #ThisMum post:
I’m a forty something first time in South Wales, trying to juggle home life and working. I blog about the stresses and funny side of parenting, along with things I’ve learned that help save me time and money. I occasionally rant. I DO NOT have this parenting thing down, but happy to share my muddle juggle.
A Day in Helen’s Life
It’s 5am and I’m awake. I’m almost always awake then. Small Boy is an early riser. I’ve been up at 5am for two years straight now. It’s now the norm and I’m even a little surprised when I tell people I’ve often started work by 5.30am and they look at me in horror.
I work full time for a large organisation on a flexible basis. My hours are compressed which means I work the majority of them over three days and work two shorter ones, with the shorter ones being at home and the time work split from early morning to early evening. This means I can work them around Small Boy and don’t need to pay for nursery two days a week.
I’m incredibly lucky. Working for a flexible employer means I’ve been able to change my hours and working pattern twice since returning to work last year. I have no burning desire to work full time, but with husband changing job and the uncertainty that always brings, along with needing to buy a bigger house now Small Boy is here, needs must.
The number of hours I work is calculated carefully as we don’t have any other regular childcare except for private nursery. The knife edge between making it worthwhile working X hours over the cost of Y days in nursery means I’m treading a careful line. I’m currently in a funk trying to figure out if I can afford to cut back my hours, but we are in the process of buying a new house and we need a new car so I might have to stay funky for a bit longer. Still, I don’t need to worry about putting food on the table; even though the cost of childcare means that luxuries like holidays require a good deal of planning and some of my best money saving skills.
Today is a home working day. It’s all a bit manic, and the flexibility rather than empowering feels pressurising somehow. Home working days are a bit more of a juggle. Office days are more straightforward, I get in to work early (around 7am, or do an hour or two at home and get in for 8am), and my husband takes Small Boy to nursery. I always do the afternoon pick up from nursery, normally around 4.30pm as it’s a long day for him otherwise.
So at 5am the laptop is open and I’m logging in at the dining table. I used to have a home office but it’s currently full of packing boxes as we are waiting to move into a new house (if solicitors can get a chuffing move on). I’ve already had a snuggle with Small Boy in bed, as he was up earlier than usual, while his Dad has a shower. This is how days normally begin. Dad showers and has Small Boy, then I shower and get dressed and then start work – either at home, or in the office.
Small Boy is eating his usual wake up snack – a wafer biscuit and a cup of milk. He takes after me and doesn’t like his proper breakfast straight away. He’s explaining something very important to his Dad while I check emails, book some meetings and review a paper that I’d drafted for a meeting when I was slightly less rested. As Small Boy is still up and about and in the background, the early morning tends to be the preserve of admin tasks. I’ve already had a minor melt down over how we will cope when Small Boy drops his afternoon nap and how we’ll manage to do the school runs – although that’s another three years away.
Dad leaves for work at 7.30am so I’m logged off again and it’s just me and Small Boy. We eat breakfast together, then he dresses and we potter about the house, draw on the chalk board or do some puzzles.
Today one of my ante-natal class friends is coming over for a playdate. She’ll be over mid-morning after she’s been to a playgroup. I used to go to them too but it’s practically impossible now (although I’ve set myself a task of finding one on my home working days, something local which I can squeeze in during an hour I’m not working).
I’m looking forward to seeing the as I haven’t made the most of my home working days lately. I tend to be off the clock from about 10am – 3pm on Mondays, depending on Small Boy’s naps. Usually we try and get out and go to the farm or soft play or just head into town and walk about the shops. I’ve worked in excess of my contracted hours the past few Monday’s. Others missed deadlines and I ended up trying to get things done when I wasn’t meant to be working. I wouldn’t have if I only worked in the office though.
By 11am our friends come over and a couple of hours are spent catching up on life. I love watching the kids at play and I tell myself that I need to make more effort to get out and do stuff with Small Boy and learn to say no to the day job more. I make cheesy breakfast egg cups and lay out a living room picnic with the savoury goodies, along with blueberries and soft cheese sandwiches.
They leave around 12.30 and Small Boy is ready for his nap. He curls up in his cot and I tip toe back to my laptop, making a detour to the kitchen to throw some stuff into the slow cooker for tea.
Small Boy loves his daytime sleep (if only he loved the night as well!) so he’ll sleep for around two hours. Lately he’s been poorly and going through a growth spurt so he sometimes goes to three hours!
This is when work proper starts. I’m highly caffeinated by now and my brain is working properly. I only need to do a few hours and I try and do them in the evening but it seems like a don’t waste of nap time to postpone it. Fortunately, I don’t have any meetings to dial into today – on Fridays I can have two hours back to back with my mobile phone burning my ear off.
Before I know it it’s 3pm and small Boy is awake. He’s been sleeping longer recently as he’s had a spate of illnesses. I have been able to use the time to conquer a spreadsheet and set up a Trello board though. I’ve managed several cups of hot tea which is a win.
He’s a bit dopey when he’s woken up so we have a couple of hours of just chilling with books and watching CBeebies. He’s in a good mood as he enjoyed playing with his girlfriend earlier. He has a snack and some milk while I wonder how long it would take for my blog to make enough money that I can reduce my hours. The funk begins to descend but I brush it aside as it’s now incredibly important that we do a Peppa Pig jigsaw.
By 6pm, Dad his home and I serve up tea from the slow cooker. Small Boy is currently refusing to sit in a high chair or on a booster but can’t reach the dining table, so we sit on the floor around a low table – Japanese style – and tell each other how yummy it is.
Dad does the bath while I clear up and quickly check my work phone to see how many emails I need to action – forewarned is forearmed. Thankfully there’s not much so I quickly reply to the essentials.
CBeebies is finishing and despite his protests, Small Boy is wiped out. I take him up to his room at 7.30 pm and we sit in the chair and I sing him a song. He has a selection of night time lullabies – some of them are old standards which he loves (yep, no kids songs for him), while others are ones I’ve made up. Tonight it’s his favourite – “Your Belong to Me” – the Patsy Cline arrangement. He’s beginning to wind down now so I put him in his cot bed, with his trusted rabbit blanky and he rolls on to his side.
I tip toe down the stairs and collapse on the sofa. My husband has a cup of tea ready for me. I take half an hour to write this blog post and Dad has a shower to wash the day away. By 9pm we are in bed ourselves – after all we’ll both be “on” again by 5am.
What a fabulous #ThisMum post! I can’t thank Helen enough for being involved and sharing her life with us; it’s a cracking read! Before you move a muscle, make sure you give Helen’s fabulous blog a visit – you can find it here
You can also keep up to date with Helen’s life by following her on her various social media accounts – you can find the links below!
Coming up on Tuesday we add another fabulous mamma to the #ThisMum series! I am so excited to share with you a day in the life of the lovely Kate Radcliffe all the way from New Zealand. This is another fantastic post you are going to love, Kate’s family dynamic is different to any of the Mums featured on the series so far – you don’t want to miss it!