When I thought about returning to work after having my first daughter, going part time was really the only option. The cost of childcare didn’t allow me to go back to work full time, and as much as I liked the idea of being a stay-at-home mum, my husband’s wage alone wasn’t enough to keep us afloat financially.
Becoming a part-timer was the best option for me and the perfect way to combine career and family. But as every part-timer knows, dividing your week between work and home can have its benefits and drawbacks.
Here are 10 things I’ve learnt since becoming a part-time working mum…
1. I’m permanently knackered
Rewind to life before kids and I remember thinking that working full time was exhausting. Then I spent a year’s maternity leave at home with my baby and I thought that was exhausting. But neither of those are as knackering as combining working and parenting.
From the moment I wake up (or get woken up), to the moment I go to bed, it feels like I’m working. It doesn’t help that I often get a rude awakening in the middle of the night too.
2. I love getting dressed up for work
I don’t have to wear a power suit to work, but it’s nice to put on some make-up and wear something that doesn’t have snot or baby sick down it. I can wear my hair down without the fear that my one-year-old will pull it, and I can wear a dress, safe in the knowledge that I won’t have to whip out a boob to feed her.
Plus, I can leave the changing bag at home and opt for my more grown-up work bag. It’s a great feeling to travel light.
3. I feel like I’m spreading myself too thinly
Now that I’m back at work, the days and weeks go by ridiculously quickly. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. The rubbish bins are overflowing, the washing basket is overflowing, and I can’t remember the last time I hoovered.
Sometimes I can’t help feeling like I’m drowning and that I’m failing – failing as a mum, failing at being a homemaker, and failing in my job at work.
4. Mum guilt is real
On my working days I feel guilty for having to drop my little one at nursery and rush off because I have a 9am meeting to get to. Then on my days at home, I feel like I’m leaving my colleagues in the lurch while I take my daughter to a baby group or to the park.
Having to call my boss and tell her I can’t work today because my daughter is poorly also sucks. It’s a constant juggling act. I can’t win.
5. It feels good to use my brain
Having spent a year watching cBeebies, reading nursery rhymes and doing silly voices for my daughter’s teddies, my brain has turned to mush. Since being back at work, I’m liking being able to use my brain again. It’s nice to know what I’m doing rather than winging it, like I do in my job as a mum.
6. I do more work in less time
When I submitted my request to go part time, my boss was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do my role sufficiently. Well, I proved her wrong! I now seem to be cramming a full working week into fewer hours – and I’m getting paid a tiny proportion of my old salary too!
7. I feel my colleagues begrudge my reduced working hours
I work my socks off and meet all my deadlines, and yet I still feel people think I’m not pulling my weight and look down on me because I work part time. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but for the record, it’s not a day off! I’m just doing my other job as a mum.
8. My entire salary seems to go on childcare
The cost of childcare is ludicrous! It’s so depressing to see my monthly salary be eaten up by nursery fees. It was great when my eldest daughter finished nursery and started school – I actually had some money left in my account at the end of the month.
Now my youngest has started nursery, I’m back to kissing goodbye to a huge chunk of my hard-earned dosh every month. Not that I’m wishing the time away, but I can’t wait until she starts school too and my money is my own again.
9. I feel like I’m constantly missing out
It’s typical that the day I’m not working is the day something unmissable or exciting happens at work – like a big meeting with important people, or a team lunch.
Similarly, I often miss out on a coffee morning with the school mums because they tend to get together on one of my working days.
I hate getting FOMO but it’s too much of a headache to try and reorganise my schedule so I can do both. As much as I hate it, I just have to accept that there’ll be stuff I miss out on.
10. I have the best of both worlds
Working part-time means no two days are the same. One day I’m in the office, going to meetings or speaking to customers; the next, I’m making a doll’s house out of a cereal box and a loo roll, or crawling around on all-fours, pretending to be a doggy.
I may be knackered, but I’m never bored!
Yes, there are days when it all feels a bit much, but I know deep down that I have the best of both worlds. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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