Working mum: Not having it all

I’m a phony-mum because I work

I feel like I’m a part time mum. A phony at all this ‘mum’ stuff.

The truth is, I see my daughter for a grand total of an hour and a half on a nursery day.

That’s half an hour before she leaves with daddy and an hour at night if I’m the one that picks her up.

For four days a week, we live like passing ships. Dealing with a hangry morning rush and a super-tired-no-nap witching hour.

That isn’t having it all. That isn’t even parenting. It’s more like shepherding a drunk person.

Working mum: Not having it all

Guilty nursery days

On nursery days, I don’t give her any food as she has all her meals there. I don’t know her every move. I don’t watch her play and my heart doesn’t grow three sizes like it does on our days off together. I learnt the reality of nursery a while ago.

To be honest? Some days, I’m so grateful for having that time but my god the price is high.

I’m selfish and self-indulgent… and feel completely and utterly guilty for wanting a bit of me time. For wanting to be back at work.

To drink warm tea, to use my brain and to only have to think about myself for the day. To not have to sing wind the bobbin up or to ask her if she needs a poo.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. But it’s just that – a job. In years to come, I know that I won’t be remembered for what I did at work. I’m flippin’ good at what I do, but I’m hardly saving lives. The worries of today won’t matter. But what will still matter is her.

No happy medium

I’ve kidded myself in the past that working four days is a happy medium for me. That I’ve got it all. But really? It’s my necessity. I have to work. Not just financially, but mentally too.

I don’t feel part time at work with 4 days, but I do feel like I’m stuck as a part timer at life.

There is no winning.

I need to work. To talk to adults, to get the gratification of earning my own money. To be able to spend it on nice things for us.

I’m utterly selfish like that.

But I also need to feel like I’m not a phony at this mum-malarkey.

That I spend enough time with her and I’m not fobbing her off at nursery for my own self-indulgent needs.

Time to play

When we’re off work, we’re always busy doing things. Getting the house tidy, going shopping and feeling the need to do ‘something. A weekend flies by without a lot of playing.

That, more than anything else upsets me.

We don’t buy her a lot of toys or games because to be honest, she’s not home enough to play with them.

Sure – some of that time is being outside, going to the park, exploring and having fun together.

But mostly? It’s because she’s at nursery, or we’re too busy.

Saying that I’m too busy to play breaks my heart.

Honestly, she doesn’t care much – she loves playing in her kitchen and with her baby doll, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s not enough.

That I’m not enough. That I’m only a part time mum and I’m not even improving our lives much in the process.

Would that always be the way if I didn’t work at all? Or if I found a job that gave us a much better quality of life, could I be that self-indulgent to go for it? To give up my parenting time and work full time?

I don’t know.

Comments 23

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  1. Between my part-time work and Booey going to her dad’s, I have one evening a week where I can properly spend time with my daughter and most of that time she is doing homework! We are trying to spend Saturday’s together (but with her wonderful social life that doesn’t always happen). I think as mother’s no matter what we do we will always be doubting ourselves and wondering if we have got things right. I think it is imprinted on our brains to constantly bash ourselves.

  2. Oh Kelly I really feel your pain. I worked in London when mine were small and I hardly saw them on the days I worked but on my days off I felt like a better mum because I’d been apart from them. Now I work from home and am always about so there isn’t the contrast in my days so every day is the same – am I a better mum to them now or when I worked – I’m not sure but I know that I gave them more of me on those non-work days than I do now! You’ve made me think actually and make a promise to myself to give them more of me like I used to! Oh it’s hard this mumming! #fortheloveofBLOG

  3. It’s tough, I know. I’m a full time working mom and I know exactly what you are talking about as I had the guilt when my kids were smaller. However now that they are bigger and have longer school days, it is better. But I still wish to work half days to fetch them from school and to spend quality time with them even if it is just for a few hours.#fortheloveofBLOG

  4. There really is no winning at all. When I worked I didn’t see the girls at all on a work day. They were in bed when I left and asleep when I got home. This meant that the day after a work day I would have the worst of them. Now I don’t work I can feel my brain getting slow and I miss working. I am getting grumpier and lazy. Now I feel like they have the worst of me. It is so hard to know what to do for the best.

  5. I can totally relate. I also only see my daughter for a few hours on nursery days and sometimes feel like paying someone else to watch her most of the time is taking the lazy way out. But, like you, I also need to work – for the money and also for myself. The truth is that I’d go mad as a SAHM – but that doesn’t mean I always feel good about going to work. #fortheloveofBLOG

  6. Oh that feeling sucks and there is nothing I can say that will really help. I’m lucky with the time I get to spend with L. He’s in nursery 2 1/2 days a week. But stuff still needs doing at home, I just try to do it with him if I can. He still spends plenty of time on his own though. You’ll find your spot where the balance seems ok. #fortheloveofBLOG

  7. You are NOT selfish. In fact you are helping your daughter form independent skills which is far from selfish. I find that being a better ‘me’ comes from having other aspects to my life such as working outside the home. This all adds to being better to my girls as a Mam x we are too hard on ourselves!! #fortheloveofblog

  8. I’m sure many others feel the same as you, it snot about being selfish its about what’s about doing the best for your family at the time #fortheloveofBlog

  9. I’m a stay at home mum (only relevant for what I’m about to say because it will upset some people – I have worked full time with kids and part time with kids – and my personal belief is the mums working do extra like dervish to make sure their kid doesn’t miss out, and they beat themselves up more than anyone else). I don’t like that you repeatedly say ‘I’m selfish and self-indulgent’. You are working. If you were a man are you the breadwinner, looking after your family or are you selfish? So let’s scrap that vocab please. Your reasons are your reasons, either to provide financial support or personal satisfaction. Secondly, through out history, there was no stay at home mum. You looked after all the kids in the village or you were rich enough to have a nurse/nanny or you ditched your own kids to work looking after someone else’s. It was after WWII when they needed to get the women out of the jobs to give them to the returned service men that the ‘stay at home’ mum was marketed as a great thing. So don’t fall for the advertising, it’s often just to make you feel bad. You just need to make that time when you are together count. Get off the phone, play the game – whatever. As she gets older, track down the museum nights and spotlight prowls, go to the observatory and all those fun excursions you can do, after hours. If you have to work, or if you like working, just make it work for you. Enjoy it. I understand the guilt, that’s what society throws at us – men don’t get judged and quizzed when they go back to work. It’s expected. Keep your eye out for a job with less hours if that’s what you really want. #FortheloveofBLOG

  10. Aww Kelly you are in no way selfish at all.I work 3 days a week. I love my two days with Amelia before the weekend where it is just the two of us, but then sometimes i am really happy to go to work and have something that is just for me. It’s so bloody hard feeling like you don’t get much time with them but i can bet you Georgia is so happy. I always say it is never them that would not even notice, it is more us that worry about things. They have the best of both worlds, adventures with their family and then their own little adventures when we aren’t around. When i first went back to work it was so weird to me thinking that she was having adventures without me. It took me a long time to get used to that. I hope things become clearer for you, you will know what to do when the time is right. This mum work is bloody hard work! #fortheloveofBLOG

  11. This is a really honest post- thank you for sharing how you feel- many mums will relate to it I am sure. There probably is no ‘winning’ formula- we are all just trying to work this thing out as best we can in our various circumstances. Good on you for being brave and sharing. #fortheloveofBLOG

  12. You’re not selfish at all. You are doing what you have to do! Some children don’t even have their Mum or Dad at home with them for one day a week. Don’t beat yourself up over it, just make the most of the time you do have. It’s hard. Mum guilt is a bitch! #fortheloveofblog

  13. It’s immeasurably tough isn’t it? I felt like that even working 3 days. It was the same for us, all 3 meals at nursery, passing ships in the night. Now I’m at home, and we’re massively financially impacted so I feel awful about that. I don’t know, I don’t think we can ever truly have it all. BUT you’re not a phony by any stretch. You’re doing what you can, and to me the love is clear and abundant. She doesn’t need toys, just that love. xxx #fortheloveofBLOG

  14. It’s so hard isn’t it? I don’t see my son at all when I work, he’s rarely awake when I leave and he’s fast asleep when I return home. I’m jealous you get that time, even if it is rushed and not the best time of the day! I am looking into changing jobs in the future so I can have something that works around family time and doesn’t give me the guilt and FOMO! #fortheloveofBLOG

  15. I feel like this too and only work two full days a week. I spent my morning hour shouting at my boys to get ready and my last hour putting them to bed. It’s not nice but I appreciate our other times together more #forloveofblog

  16. There is no perfect scenario unfortunately! I worked full time and hated it, I worked 4 days but was basically fitting my full time job into 4 days so it was super stressful. I gave that up and worked 2.5 days (term-time only) that was actually the closest I’ve got to perfect! That was only maternity cover though so now I’m working 3 days as well as writing my blog and my Avon business and I’m not winning at anything…particularly not parenting! Could we perhaps sort out another 3 days in every week…I reckon that might help a bit!! #fortheloveofblog

  17. Its like you are looking into my soul! Not easy, isn’t it? I gave my big career job because I Never got to see my daughter. Now, Im find myself missing being my job. you just can’t win

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