Working mum of three

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

Work life balance

on February 27, 2013

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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