Working mum of three

Figuring it out as we go along. Blogging is cheaper than therapy.

Work life balance

Sitting on the train again, wondering about balance and getting it right. Regular trips to London are a feature of the remote working deal and allow for some much needed thinking time. Another hard week at work has kept me late for childcare duties and has forced work preoccupation to eat into family time.

One evening this week, listening to Rich negotiate the kids into the bath from my study, there was a little knock at the door. 4yo comes in quietly and says ‘come on Rhi, it’s nearly time to stop working’ ‘ok’ I say abruptly, ‘the quicker you leave me, the quicker I will finish.’ ‘Well, maybe I’ll just wait here for you, and if you need to take a call, I’ll be really quiet’. The kid sure knows how to hit my spots. Finally with the work done, I rush up to settle him into bed. I have to bury my face into a cuddle so he doesn’t see my tears. ‘Why is your nose all red?’ he says ‘maybe you’re not very well’.

The kids are in the habit now of knocking the door when they get back from school at around 4. It’s been a welcome break and is my first face to face contact since the school run. I take 10 mins to make a cuppa and hear about their day, something I otherwise miss out on as they quickly forget the details and respond ‘nothing, I can’t remember’.

But a few times it has been a disaster. If I’m on the phone or in the middle of something, it’s obviously not convenient for me to pop out and say hi. Sadly the boys don’t understand my work responsibilities and insist on sitting outside my door screaming (not the ideal soundtrack to a teleconference). There was a particularly bad one the other day, where 4yo lay down outside my door whining while I was on the phone to my boss (and luckily, friend). I stormed upstairs and told him I wouldn’t be allowed to work here anymore and would have to go to London all the time. Cue: horrified, tear stained little face and guilt ridden mammy.

This month’s trip to London has been a success, work achieved, meetings had. It’s good to sit in the same office as my team and share jokes with them. I realised this time that it isn’t the visit to London that feels hectic, it’s the bloody job. The constant, relentless pressure. The endless and ridiculous demands. Since starting the job, I’ve been working at the limits of my capacity, energy and abilities. But there is always something else. I spent the two days in a strange time limbo, not enough time to do all the work, too much away time from the family.

As I walk out if the station into the arms of my mum who is giving me a lift home, I realise that I forgot to take a picture of the train for the boys. And I forgot about the treat I promised them.

The next morning, the kids wash away all my feelings of neglect with massive cuddles and snuggles in front of cartoons. Life feels manageable again, enjoyable even. And they didn’t even ask about their treat.

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The great snow of 2013

I’m sitting at the kitchen table watching the snow dump down for the fourth time in as many days. The TV is in charge of 4yo and my dad is battling the wild weather to fetch 2yo from nursery. I have never before been so affected by snow. And we used to live in New York! Both kids schools have been closed – which is unheard of.

The disruption to work is dreadful. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand why the schools are closed, I support the staff, and frankly, snow is so rare in Swansea that it is not worth getting upset over. But it’s another of those things that you forget to take into account when being a working parent. I hate to feel like I am letting people down. I hate having to call my boss and explain that I will need to look after my kids for a few hours. I want to keep the two things separate, for my boss to see me as a competent worker and my kids to see me as mum. I like boundaries. For me, the overlaps are the worst: leaving work for a pre-natal appointment, missing bedtime for a work thing. There was a magic moment a few years back, playing with my little boy, we couldn’t find the mum lego character, his response was ‘oh well, she’s probably at an important meeting’. Utter heart break. On reflection, it’s a beautiful indication that we are getting our messages right – my feminist friends were thrilled as I regaled the story. I realised then that you can’t separate it all. Kids are darn perceptive and work colleagues need to know your pressures so they can be supportive.

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Perfect day

We have just enjoyed the perfect day with the kids. Everyone woke up on the right side, no major illnesses to report (snotty noses not included), no chores that couldn’t wait, and the weather was glorious. So we wrapped up in our winter warms and off we headed to the beach. 4yo delights in running from the waves while 2yo desperately tries to keep up and invariably ends up face planting in the shallows. Today it was wellies filled with water, but he was still loving it. A quick kick about and building damn in the streams built enough appetite for some hot chips overlooking the view. Gorgeous.

To top it off, Rich and I had a night off for a trip to the movies (thanks folks!). I wasn’t a big LesMis fan but baby three is clearly going to be a revolutionary. Rich got his first feel of our summersaulting bean. It was brilliant.

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