I don’t work a full 5-day week. My former child-free self would have thought that this was a pretty sweet deal. Yet when I swan out of the office a day earlier than everyone else, or post a smug #thursdayismyfriday picture on Instagram, I’m not doing justice to the reality of the situation. That day off is absolutely vital to the running of my life and my household. It’s my time to do the hoovering, smash through the washing pile, do some blog admin, do the weekly food shop or visit the doctor. It’s my busiest day of the whole week. And it’s certainly not a glamorous day of spa visits, clothes shopping and lazy lunches with yummy mummies (if only!)
This got me thinking about how different working life is when you’re a mum and so I reached out to some of my InstaMum pals to see if there’s anything they would like to tell their child-free colleagues. Here’s what they said (with a bit of embellishment from me!):
Sleep – We’re seriously surviving on the bare minimum at all times, so when you complain about feeling tired, you really have no idea (Claire Greville & Social Mums). We were up at 3. And 4. And 5. And it’s not because we went OUT (Claire Sparksman). Actually, you can assume it’s almost never because we went OUT.
Days off – Child-free people think their lives are super busy and they don’t have time to do the things they want to do (Halia Rose). We get it; we used to be you. But you seriously have no idea. Our days off are not spent catching up with friends over Instagrammable lattes, but being used as human punchbags for tiny people with no boundaries. Our days off are the busiest of the whole week.
Leisure time – No, we haven’t read any good books lately (Frankie and the Lamb), or watched any films, or know what a Kardashian is. And no, we didn’t go OUT. We went to the park, the supermarket, and back to the park. But we didn’t go OUT (Claire Sparksman).
Maternity leave – Mat leave is Not. A. Holiday (Mums Office). Unless by holiday, you mean an 18-30 type affair that you booked through The Sun because it was only a pound and you had no idea what you were letting yourself in for, where you stumble around day and night not knowing where you are or what your name is, occasionally getting puked on, and comforting someone who is crying inconsolably without being able to tell you why.
Career – Just because we leave work earlier than you, and work fewer hours, doesn’t mean that we’re less devoted to my career… and by the way, it also means we get paid less! (Amanda – Books & Pieces)
Socialising – Impromptu plans are not an option! We still want to go for drinks, but it needs planning (Lucy Fives). And, to be honest, even if we have the childcare, most of the time we actually just want to go home and see our children before bed because we miss them when we’re at work (plus we’re old and tired and would probably fall over after one drink anyway).
Flexible working – Not a perk, but a necessity. Life with kids is unpredictable. They get sick sometimes (Mummy Links App), or their after-school clubs get cancelled, or they sleep really badly for a few nights in a row for no real reason, and our whole carefully orchestrated system comes crashing down.
Leaving work on time – We run out of the door as soon as our hours are up because we have to. Plus, our work isn’t finished when we leave the office. We have children to collect, snacks to administer, dinner to make, and bath and bedtime to navigate, all the while keeping an eye on emails (Gill Crew) in case anyone thinks we’re slackers because we finished work when we were supposed to. (And, by the way, you’re allowed to leave on time too… just sayin’)
So, fellow working mamas, is there anything you would add to this list?
PS, If you would like to see the original thread on the above, it’s over on Instagram here.