Having A Career Makes Me A Better Mother

I’m not going to beat about the bush with this – I think having a career makes me a better mother. Far better than I would ever be as a stay at home mum.

In an ideal world you might wish that you could stay at home and focus completely on your children but we don’t live in an ideal world – we live in a real one.

Real life means needing to pay the bills. A world where reading The Gruffalo for the thirtieth time before breakfast doesn’t quite cut it in the using ones intellect department. Where sometimes you would like to use the bathroom alone.

Ask any stay at home mother, or perhaps you know it yourself – the reality of it could drive you crazy.

And you know what? Actually, your children will not even thank you for it – they will simply take it for granted. Mummy is always there. Always available.

Nice for them but not necessary or even achievable in most cases.

Working is just a fact of life for most of us, whether you leave to go to the office, you work long shifts or you mompreneur it from home, so before you beat yourself up for having a focus away from the children have a think about this:

    1. You are setting a stirling example to your children. Life is bloody hard work. That’s the reality. Lead by example and show your children what a good work ethic looks like. Acknowledge your successes and your challenges. Show them you get up and go to work even when you don’t want to. Show them how to stick things out when you find them difficult. Live the work ethic you want them to have.
    2. Money. It makes the world go round no matter what people say. When your children are very young they will have no idea about how much expendable income you have but as soon as they hit school age you had better believe that they will. We are not living in the 1950s where imagination and a cardboard box will do the trick. Toys, gadgets, clothes, days out and holidays all really add up. And lets face it, if you are able to work yourself into a position where you can pay for all these things then life is a lot easier. Nice things are nice to have, work hard for them, treat your family and enjoy it. Don’t be ashamed of it.
    3. Quality time with your children. When I am at home full time I spend a large portion of it distracted by social media, my phone, the TV, the housework or hiding in the bathroom from all the incessant questioning that children do. The reality is that I do not switch off from the outside world to engage with my children in the way that they deserve because time together is taken for granted. However, when I am hard at work I see a lot less of them and so I schedule in time together that is meaningful and focused. For instance, one night a week I turn off all external communication channels and spend the evening baking with my son. We laugh, we work together, we talk through anything that’s on his mind and I focus on connecting with him because our time together is in short supply.
    4. Parents are people too. When your children are adults what do you want them to think about their own family life? Do you want them to believe that having a family is mutually exclusive and to do it well demands that they (or their partner) give up their own goals, work and ambitions like you did? Or do you want them to believe that they can have both but it comes with hard work and perseverance? Which example would you rather set? I know which one I prefer.
    5. Mum guilt is there whatever you do. It is not reserved for working mum’s only. Have a career or don’t – you will not feel any different in the levels of guilt. It’s just different things you feel guilty about. So if feeling guilty is a deciding factor, then try to push it aside, know that you are doing your best for your family and accept that this is how it is.

These are just a few thoughts I’ve had since going back after maternity leave. I hate to see so many mothers berating themselves for working when they have to or even worse, because they want to. Having a career isn’t the second best option to being a “full time mum” (hideous term).  Having the motivation, drive and even ambition to push on and keep making something of yourself does not make you a worse mother. In my opinion, for what its worth, it makes you a much better one.

Fi

x

 

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6 Comments

  1. January 12, 2017 / 6:36 am

    Thank you!!! First day back today and this post is on point reading!

  2. January 12, 2017 / 1:50 pm

    It’s posts like this which upset me as SAHM. I decided to be one because we are fortunate enough to be able to afford to. It doesn’t mean I don’t have ambition – I am just putting it on hold for a few years. And as for kids not thanking us for it, I hope to teach my daughter that having a family does mean sometimes we have to be selfless, and put others first. Likewise some people want to be SAHM but can’t and have to be selfless by going to work when they don’t want to, to put their family first (in a financial way). I think the constant debate about working v SAHM is also becoming a bit ‘boring’ much like the breast v bottle debate you recently wrote about. It can just make mums feel judged, and frankly a bit shit. I’m sure that wasn’t your intention and I’m glad working is good for you at the moment, but I wouldn’t assume being a working mum makes everyone a better mother. It made me anxious beyond belief and very unhappy. Everyone should just do what’s right for them – we are all different. x

  3. Julia
    January 13, 2017 / 3:02 pm

    I found this an interesting & thoughtful article, not at all boring but rather a realistic appraisal of the position many/ most women of this present genetic of mothers find themselves in.
    I was a stay at home mother of 6 ( Botn mid 70’s-mid 80’s) and our family certainly struggled financially to stay afloat … we did manage to achieve this, Just!)I
    I worked part time as & when needed, at anything I could find, & also did a lot of voluntary work taking kids with me when not at school. I also did my own industrial cooking & cleaning but the older ones were taught to help… they had everything they needed including love, attention ( I taught them all to read before school etc !) & had a hapoy childhood on the whole, I don’t regret being a stay at home Mum but if I had the childcare/ job opportunities of today’s mothers I think I would choose paid employment maybe 3 days a week & enjoy the break!

  4. January 13, 2017 / 10:10 pm

    Interesting post!

    I work full time while my partner is stay at home. I do sometimes think going to work helps you parent more positively. Being with kid/s all day is tiring and at the end of the day it can be too much, and I often see that with my partner. I on the other hand feel refreshed coming home and can focus on being patient with my crazy kid…. We’re both just as good as parents even if with different experience of it occasionally.

    And yes, mum guilt… everyone has it, no matter what you do! So might as well ignore it
    Wave to Mummy recently posted…What did we think of the Muddy Puddles ski clothing for kids?My Profile

  5. January 14, 2017 / 3:48 am

    I could have written this myself! I especially agree with number 3. Time together can be taken for granted. Like you, I am very conscious to make the time we have together count. I know I don’t do the same when I am home more often. I know that working makes me a better mum, but I also know that that isn’t the same for everyone. xx
    Lucy recently posted…My never-ending quest for work-life balanceMy Profile

  6. January 24, 2017 / 10:45 am

    I used to think the exact same. I was incredibly proud of being a working mother and everything that I achieved in my career. Then, last year, after realising that I was getting ill every single month, and that I barely had a relationship with my husband, and that I barely saw my child, and that our weekends were spent cleaning and shopping instead of together as a family, I started to realise that sometimes the other option can be good too. Everyone is unique, and I really feel that instead of coming down on a side of “Yes, THIS is the right way” or “NO, that is NOT the right way” everyone should appreciate that everyone else has different circumstances and lives.

    I gave up work in September and haven’t looked back. I’ve been poorly only twice since then. I have time to myself, time for my son, and time for my husband. I’m about 100% happier. Yes, I’d love it if I could have that whilst also showing my son that his mum has an awesome career too, and yes I know that we are incredibly lucky that we can afford to have me at home, but I’m still very happy. I wish I could’ve been this happy whilst working full time.

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