Sometimes women can’t ‘have it all’.

I’ve just stumbled upon an old Facebook post of mine from five years ago. It describes exactly how I was feeling on the quest to ‘have it all’ as a full time working mum.

I feel like a hamster on a wheel..permanently broke, never enough time at work despite doing 50+hrs per wk, never enough time as a mother, permanent guilt and a house which stubbonly refuses to clean itself. Someone get me off the wheel!

Growing up, the message that women could do anything and be anything was everywhere. I was really eager to have a high flying career and I also knew that one day I wanted to have a fairytale romance, get married and have a family. That’s what I thought having it all meant. A pregnancy at eighteen put a halt to those fairytale ideas. However, I was still determined to have a successful career whilst raising my son. So I got a job in a big company and grafted.

At the time when I wrote that Facebook message, Zak was only just turning five and in his first, formative year in school. I was working 50+ hours Mon-Fri, travelling abroad with work at least one week of every month, regularly doing a three hour commute (one way) to London and was on call each weekend, all as a single parent. There’s no doubt that I loved my job, it was fulfilling and often exciting and glamorous. However, I did not enjoy using both breakfast club and after school club each day for Zak, just to make up the minimum hours necessary at work. It felt terrible always being the last one to pick him up, seeing his exhausted, pale little face hopefully watching out for me. I felt achingly guilty saying goodbye to go on yet another work trip. Every school holiday was a battle to either take time off work or to find suitable childcare arrangements.

Day after day passed by in an exhausted fuzz of long hours, strong coffee and extreme guilt. We barely had time for after school homework or reading practice before he would fall asleep with his face in his tea. Looking back on that time, it’s no wonder both he and I were constantly ill, stressed and anxious. Nobody can sustain that pace of life forever but at the time I told myself I was ‘having it all’.

Fast forward five years and I now work in a far less demanding, often slightly boring, job with no travel (or glamour) and part time, school hours. I feel extremely fortunate to work for a company that has allowed me to work flexibly as I know that not everyone is as lucky. I don’t necessarily enjoy the same job satisfaction anymore but I love the fact that Zak now doesnt have to use any childcare clubs, we can get up a bit later and enjoy breakfast together at home. I can leave work in time to collect him every day at the school gates and we have time and energy to do things together like going to the park or taking the dogs to the beach. There is time for homework as well as relaxation and we are no longer stressed and permanently sick. I can cook proper meals and keep the house chores done – none of which I used to do.

Whilst it’s true that I have had to pass up several excellent and exciting job opportunities as a result of my new working hours, it has been undeniably worth the sacrifice. It feels a bit taboo to say it but personally, I don’t think I can ‘have it all’. I may not be fulfilling my career potential right now but I just cannot keep that many balls in the air at once.

What do you think? Am I letting the side down by admitting it’s not possible or have you found a way to make it work? I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment.

Mummascribbles

Mudpie Fridays

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17 Comments

  1. Julia
    March 16, 2016 / 7:56 am

    Your commentary rings very true

  2. March 16, 2016 / 8:10 pm

    This is a great post. Geez – I’m in the process of feeling like that hamster. I’m constantly trying to grow my business, which I started to spend more time with the kids, which I am effectively doing less because I’m growing a business. Where is the tipping point?! I don’t believe that anyone, male or female, can have it all in the way that we might think. Yes, you can have a successful career and children, of course you can, but you can’t expect to do that without give and take and FLEXIBILITY most of all! H x

    • March 16, 2016 / 8:17 pm

      There just isn’t enough hours in the day but at least you are growing your own business and not lining the pockets of someone else. You are doing the hard work to directly benefit your kids! Go mama! Thanks for commenting Hun. If you enjoyed, I’d love it if you could share X

  3. March 16, 2016 / 10:31 pm

    I think women can have it all – mostly, but as mothers it is hard to as you have little people that are dependent on you. You don’t have the independence any more, you make sacrifices for your kids and on the most part you are happy to do so.

  4. March 17, 2016 / 12:10 pm

    i think it is so hard to have it all – have the perfect career, be there for the children all the time, have the perfect body, house, bla bla bla it is hard to juggle everything and there’s so many pressures on women. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made and that’s only because there are only a certain amount of hours in a day and days in a week. It doesn’t mean we are not good at everything. xx

  5. March 22, 2016 / 7:31 am

    Totally agree, it’s hard to get the balance right. I’ve just gone part time so I can have more times with the kids, but the 3 days I do work are long days so no idea what I’m going to do when they start school and I have to get them there and back! It’s a constant juggling act, I think we just have to accept that that’s not going to change! # TwinklyTuesday

  6. March 22, 2016 / 10:03 am

    It can be so hard to get that work/family balance right. I’m about to go back to work full time in a few months because we need the money and my employer won’t offer my part-time hours. While it will be great to have a paycheck again, I’m dreading having to leave my wee one in nursery all week. I’m just going to have to see how it all goes, but it’s going to be quite an adjustment. I’m not sure if it’s really possible to ‘have it all’ – something always has to give somewhere. #TwinklyTuesday

    • March 22, 2016 / 10:08 am

      Good luck, you can only do your best and take one day at a time xx

  7. March 22, 2016 / 11:04 pm

    Well, I’m a stay at home dad and I killed off my former career because I don’t believe you can have it regardless of whether you’re male or female. Something has to give or lesee you will run yourself and your family into the ground. #twinklytuesday

  8. March 26, 2016 / 9:18 am

    Such a great post and I am so glad that you have found a job that works for you. I have no idea how you did all of that, I work 37.5 hours a week and struggle with that! I’m really really hoping that after I have baby number two I won’t have to go back to work full time and that I’ll be able to do school runs etc. Fingers crossed! Also, I don’t think you should ever feel that you’ve shown that you can’t have it all, 50 hours a week is ridiculous and no parent should feel bad for not being able to do that and be a mum. Enjoy your little one while she is still little. There’s lots of time in the future to work your butt of again if you so want to! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    • admin
      March 26, 2016 / 1:26 pm

      Thanks so much. We are all constantly multi tasking no matter how many hours we do aren’t we! I’m sure you will work out a balance that suits you and your family, good luck with it all x

  9. March 29, 2016 / 9:10 pm

    My hat is off to both past-you and present-you, both for all the hard work you did and the way you have things sorted now. It sounds like while you can’t have it all, you’ve arranged things so you still have a lot. 🙂 Most of my plans have disappeared down the back of the cotbed.

    • admin
      March 29, 2016 / 9:11 pm

      I think we all feel like that at times! Thanks for visiting my blog x

  10. April 12, 2016 / 8:00 pm

    Ive been giving this a lot of consideration myself recently. Although i don’t have a long commute and I don’t need to travel I do work 50 hours a week in 4 days. with nursery its never been a problem but as school is now fast approaching and I am just about to start my second lot of maternity leave I am now considering how we will manage homework and lessons and three long days a week. It sound like you have it figured out in a way that works for both of you with is fantastic, I think ours will be a little bit of journey to get to the same destination. Thank you for joining us at #BloggerClubUK hope to see you again next week x
    Mudpie Fridays recently posted…Standen House – National TrustMy Profile

  11. April 13, 2016 / 8:05 pm

    It’s bloody hard work, I’m a solo mum to my two boys, and have them both 24/7 as they don’t have their fathers in their lives. ( my eldest son’s father died & the other one just stopped seeing them) so I have done it entirely alone. I found having a career and constantly pleasing my bosses to climb the ladder As well as the commute so stressful, I didn’t realise it at the time until I look back now, I almost had a breakdown with it all & during my divorce, was fighting my ex and my in laws to keep a roof over my kids heads. ( they were trying to repossess my house because my ex husband owed them money)
    I moved house and jobs in the end and struggled with childcare so much, no childminder could collect from the village school and I had to sneak out of work on pretend appointments each day to rush & collect them & take them across town to a childminder.
    Eventually I started my own business when they were 5&9 and I was busier than ever but somehow made it all work, then moved my business from a town centre office to home when they were 9&13 at a time when I felt it was needed, and my boys both said they liked me at home when they were at home, I didn’t realise how important this all was being a latchkey kid myself it seemed normal to me that your parents worked and you looked after yourself as a youngster, it made me the strong independent woman I am now and has certainly shaped my boys to be independent too, that said I’m glad I changed things when I did, it worked out for us and saved me a fortune in childcare! But iv really enjoyed being at home for them, I have no regrets over decisions I have made, I needed to work hard to provide them with the security they have now and it obviously wasn’t coming from their other parent. Can you have it all? I guess it depends what your all is? I feel I have it all, I have two great independent & ambitious children, I have a clean house ( and clean it myself) & a successful business that provided me with security for my children & has allowed me the time to now follow other passions without the worry of money. I don’t warn as much now iv sold up but iv also learnt that stuff isn’t important a brand new BMW is indulgent & I don’t even have a car now. I have my family, my time and a world to explore so yes right now I feel I do have it all. If you asked me that when my kids were small my answer would have been, I’m skint, divorcing, miserable and fed up of long hours & commuting and there has to be more to life than This, so got rid of the husband, felt happier, had more money, changed everything & had happier children as they had a happy mum. If you want a better or a different life I’m afraid there is no easy answer you have to go and make it happen!
    Flying solo recently posted…Learning To Drive Is An Expensive DOO!My Profile

    • April 13, 2016 / 8:51 pm

      Wow thanks for sharing your story – it sounds like you have overcome a lot in order to get to the happy place you are in now. I’m glad to hear that you feel you have achieved a happy balance – it gives me hope that it can be done! x

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