WAHM: Having it all or Doing it all?

For almost three years now I have been spending my weekdays rocking the ‘at home’ life. Whatever you prefer to call it…unemployed, stay at home Mum, in between jobs, ‘taking time off my career whilst the kids are little’, and dodging horrendous childcare costs etcetera etcetera.

Whilst the redundancy of my part time Mum-Scientist set up wasn’t exactly a ‘decision’, the not searching for an equivalent role immediately, for sure, was.

And thus, in a bid to not die of boredom amongst piles of laundry and washing up, between playgroups and play dates where the other Mums kept me sane, came about this little blog.

One thing lead to another and the blog turned into something else. Still a place to capture my (cue X factor background music) ‘journey’ from career woman to stay at home Mum, but it also became something I realised could earn me a few quid to clothe my kids (and in all honestly, myself, guilt free), bring about some pretty cool treats, and fund a family project or two, whatever they may be.

So now, I guess you could describe me as a ‘work at home Mum’. With one child in school, and a pre-schooler in the first, reduced hours stage of nursery (6 per week to be precise) I’m sort of working, in between the primary role of being Mum, and Sarah, because she’s still there too. The one, who likes to watch a bit of trash TV, go for brekkie, rent a good movie on a Friday night and occasionally get a bit pissed and go drunk dancing with the girls.

So how, exactly does one fit all this in?

To be honest, I’m not even sure. Publishing a post on my website every day (as I was before my bloggy break of summer) takes some commitment.  In fact the input vs output of blogging isn’t always as appealing as the idea of ‘free stuff’ one might imagine.

It’s fair to say, I have never worked harder, and for less money, thanks or direction.

I do sometimes wonder, if I am somewhat mad. If I were to draw a line in the sand and look for a part time position in my old sector, I would surely be better off in every sense of the word. I’d have a regular, decent salary regardless of how much (or little) I contributed on any given day. My children would legitimately be taken care of by decent providers and Mum perhaps would be collecting them and returning home a little more balanced than the version of her who currently races here and there with a dirty mug and bundle of clothes under each arm, phone in hand, stressing over the next meal and where we have to be next.

It’s not just laundry and cleaning that a work at home Mum may have to juggle with her workload. Birthdays, car maintenance, play dates, meal preparation, wholesome toddler groups, hospital appointments, life admin, swimming lessons, homework, reading, after school clubs, grocery shopping, purchasing stuff that’s broken, empty or needs replacing, waiting in for deliveries, going out to pick up parcels…the list is endless.  But that’s okay isn’t it, because, you’re, well, at home. And, by getting all the dull stuff done mid week, weekends can be kept sacred for the fun stuff – days out, kids parties, chill days, swimming, barbeques, hangovers, family get togethers, christenings, fun days, sleepovers and date nights, lunches out and long country walks as a family.

And then, when all is done and the kids are asleep…collapse in a heap? Nope…out comes the laptop and the words have to flow. The emails must be answered and the accounts must be updated. The technical hitches battled and conquered and the promotional work mastered. Because that, for the record, isn’t done whilst the kids are running around under my feet.

No-one of course is putting more pressure on getting this done, than me.  For like many work at home Mums, we come with a work ethic like no other. There is never really an ‘off’ switch, and any spare moment is a moment to build your empire, meet your commitments, and make stuff happen.

Of course, whilst concurrently whipping up a craft activity, bundling jigsaws back in boxes, and writing a shopping list on the go.

You’d be wrong to imagine my husband being some lazy so and so whose arse firmly sits on the sofa whilst I fetch him cans of Duff Beer. No, we’re made of the same stuff…but his drive and energy is spent on his high pressured (London office based) work. Often spilling into the evening, and if it doesn’t, he is hands on Dad helping with the children (who I am for the record, ready for a break from). We are a team, we just have very different roles. Whilst he cannot cook, he can clean the kitchen like Kim Woodburn. He is after all, for the most part, out at work, earning the living which keeps us in our status quo – allowing me to divulge in my new start up business, which is financially a nice to have,  but not a ‘roof over our head’ requirement.

So what is the driver? Why do we bother?

We are all made up of different stuff, of course. But for me the driver is being able to work flexibly around the crazy schedule that life throws at me, which in return allows me to be all versions of myself – Mum, Sarah, Director; In that order.

By working my socks off when it suits me, I can choose to be the familiar smile that greets my kids at the door of nursery or school, and more so than that, it’s allowed me to provide them with opportunities I just couldn’t have managed if I’d returned to work. It’s also saved us a small fortune in childcare, and allowed me to earn a small part time wage; one that I pick and choose the hours, uniform and location of. It doesn’t have the stress and structure of one my previous career would force, and it’s a darn site more appealing than standing in a pub or waitressing until way past my bedtime.

Being a work at home Mum isn’t for the faint hearted. It’s no easy option and it’s not always glam. It can be all consuming and exhausting whilst juggling the lives of small people in your life. BUT, it’s also a total privilege to be able to be around and witness firsthand the changing lives of our kids as they grow up before our very eyes.

And this isn’t any specific reference to bloggers…there are so many Mums, Dads…parents…working from home, hard at their business, whilst managing  ‘the juggle’. Accountants, small businesses, start ups, crafters, bakers, writers, illustrators, planners, consultants…the list is endless.

But in the words of a good friend, ‘If you can’t stop thinking about it, then don’t stop working for it’.

I’m prepared, for now to sacrifice a few evenings a week of rubbish telly, and skip a few morning breakfast dates to knuckle down, and who knows one day, when both kids are at school, I’ll be able to set more ‘normal’ hours for myself. We’ll see.

So is being a work at home Mum doing it all? Not necessarily, not all the time anyway. Is it having it all? Perhaps, that depends on what drives you as an individual. It is both all and none of these things. But for now, it’s where you can find me…on a bad day, ‘doing it all’, and on a great day, absolutely ‘having it all’.


This post originally featured on www.meetothermums.com

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