Working mum of three

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

Relationship management

We are just emerging from several weeks of unswerving pressure. Rich has had two huge projects at work that have seen him rushing home for kids bedtimes then logging back on until the wee hours. In a record breaker, he pulled an all nighter, arrived home just when the boys woke up, spent a few hours with them, then went and did another full days work. My eyes sting just thinking about it.

I can’t really claim that I’ve been single parenting as my parents are such willing and available support. But short staffing at home has taken a strain on the family side of work life balance. We get through the daily grind, but the chores build up and the feeling of not coping hangs heavy like an overflowing inbox. At the end of a long day, 4yo often wants to talk about ‘what I did and what you did today’ and while this quiet, reflective time is so lovely, I have half an eye on the clock and I’m planning out which evening chores will have to wait.

Rich’s boss has recently had a baby, which we thought might change his attitude. Sadly he still sees long hours as a badge of honour. It fills me with fear for when our own baby arrives. I remember planning my days with the first two to the exact moment Rich was due back from work. Even a 10 minute delay would send me over the edge and sending expletive texts. I would sometimes take the baby to the bus stop in the rain to minimise the time without Rich. Being at home with kids is hard. So if we’re going to be a three child family (and we’re roughly 5 weeks away), then we’re going to have to set boundaries.

Half way through his second working weekend, Rich told colleagues that he would have to go home to do some ‘relationship management’. In trying to have an open conversation and make clear that family was important as work, he coined a phrase that was so disheartening I nearly sent him back to the office. As though all my efforts to be supportive had been completely missed and that our relationship was just another job on his to-do list. Was he going to tell me that my increased domestic responsibilities were ‘developmental’? Or that I was in line for a good appraisal? Humph.

It’s clear that our family unit will have to be flexible enough to cope with the demands of two parents working full time. Share the load. Ask for help. Take time out when we need. All of this is easier said than done – just ask my civil service colleagues who are constantly told to de-prioritise and ‘do more with less’. But what’s that saying that 80% effort is good enough? We should definitely apply that to chores. I should note here that Rich has repaid the domestic burden a million times over when I have been up against it at work. And that is the beauty of being a team.

We get through it because we want to look after each other. I think that’s probably the success of our relationship; we want the other to be happy. If not happy then; ok. We like looking after each other. The little things everyday, rather than the grand gestures. I saw an older man coming out of a petrol station recently with a Turkish Delight bar and a Twix. The idea that he knew exactly what treat would make his companion smile just filled me with happiness. And it’s nothing, no effort to remember something simple like that. That’s my kind of relationship management.

I didn’t get a bonus for all my domestic hard work, no pay rise, no afternoon off. But having my swollen ankles rubbed while we shouted at some reality tv nonsense was absolutely priceless. Love you Roo Roo x

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