8 differences between working mums & their child-free colleagues

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.

15 thoughts on “8 differences between working mums & their child-free colleagues”

  1. I work part time, and I look forward to my working days so much! It’s not that I don’t work hard at work, but it’s far less physically and mentally exhausting than a day looking after my children. I think pre-kids, you just don’t appreciate how unrelenting it is – no coffee breaks, no toilet breaks, no time to switch off at all. By the time bedtime rolls around I’m on my knees! I also never quite realised that it’s not just newborns that don’t sleep – most of them still aren’t sleeping by the time the end of maternity leave rolls around, and most parents out there are functioning on very little sleep.


  2. I don’t work in an office anymore, I work for myself but the reason I don’t work in the office anymore is for pretty much all of these reasons! People used to be funny with me when I left on time despite the fact I had a child from childcare and the ‘days off’ were probably more exhausting that the days in the office!


    1. I know! I got one of those Facebook memories from a few years ago where I placed my son in the crèche for literally 2 hours to get some work done and we both cried the whole time! Now he skips off happily to school and I drive off very happily to work!!


  3. Ah this is so very true! Our pre-children selves had no idea how much free time and opportunity to sleep we really had!! Off to see the Instagram post now…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh I can so relate to this… I don’t work a Friday either well not for a corporate anyway. Although it is my favourite day of the week I had to fight hard for it initially. I also basically work 5 days in 4 to make sure I keep it. But at least I am feeling I am achieving some sort of work life balance!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I went back to work in between having my two girls, this was exactly my life. I could feel the eye rolls as I left the office to go and pick my daughter up, even though I had stayed 30 minutes later than I should to get something done and would now be late for her!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I work 3 days. It’s a juggle for all these reasons but I love my job. It’s so hard when they are ill though. I always feel bad running out the door at the end of the day but it’s essential to get the kids from nursery and after school club.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ooh how I love this! My very first blog was ‘Beat the clock’! How I have the audacity to work a half day from home on a Friday – we’ll it’s frankly just lazy according to one particular monstrous (single, no kids) woman I work with who on a conference call at 1230 Friday said … “you can get back to Jeremy Kyle now!” Argh!! Love hearing about fellow working mums – great blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. First time on your blog and I just stumbled upon that and thought that was brilliant ! I love it when child-free colleagues complain about catching a 7am train to go to a meeting because it means they have to get up at 5.30. Getting up at 5.30 after a full night sleep seems like a pretty good deal to me ! I work full-time and would sometimes love to go part-time but then I notice all my part-time friends end up running around doing chores on their “free” day so I feel it is easier to be in work. Lots of admiration for you !


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