Feeling The Squeeze

This past week I have been feeling especially conflicted (grumpy) about the balance between home life and work life. My work life as a blogger/journalist/content creator/whatever is still very new, evolving and eats up all the time I can give to it.  On top of this muddle-juggle, we have had a double-digits birthday and impending holiday to get ready for (why does going away for a week seem to involve as much preparation as relocating to a different continent?). It has made me VERY irritable.

Off balance

I have been stressed, moany and resentful of the fact that I am still taking on the majority of the household admin. I can feel suffocated by the kid’s timetable. Now that I have found something that I would like to work on, I’d just like to crack on with it, please.

I’m finding it difficult to ring-fence my working time. I am constantly taking breaks to load the dishwasher, or the washing machine, to phone the doctors or hairdresser, to buy and wrap gifts or shop for food. Why oh why does my son never have any clean underpants and why is it just me who is responsible for the PANTS?!!

But as my grandmother says “if you start feeling sorry for yourself, you are in deep trouble”. So let’s talk solutions.

What is the right amount of selfish? Don't ask me exactly what I'm up to with this blog yet, I couldn't tell you. Working on it. But there is a lot that I would like to do. After some years as a full-time mum, it is great to have a creative project to work on. As we know, most dads don't suffer an existential crisis over work/life balance, so I don't feel lots of guilt about trying to make it happen. However, I'm awawre that I'm the one who has changed the game. I set the expectation that I'll do everything for the children and home, and it's only me who wants to change that. It's not fair to expect everyone to immediately fall in happily with this, plus, I don't want to ditch it all. I would really like to do both as well as I can, and not let anyone down.

Flexible or overcommitted?

My new work life is entirely flexible. I’m at liberty to work completely around the children. Great right? Talk about the grass is always greener because now I often grave the order of a 9 to 5 working day. In practice, does flexible working just mean trying to squeeze in two full-time jobs? How many of us work flexibly, and end up doing far more domestically than we would if we were restricted to conventional office hours?

Next step

So I am going to create some more formal ‘work’ time for myself during the week. For a start, I am going to go to a co-working space on Fridays. For a WHOLE DAY. Between Matt and our parents, someone else will collect the children from school. I’ve been toying with this idea for a while, but because it means an (albeit relatively small) financial investment, have been reluctant to commit. I’m not making any money yet, and I think that’s still a way off. But it is ok to invest in myself (it costs less than swimming lessons), and if it can take the pressure off us all, and mean less work at weekends, then I think it’s worth a shot.

I’m actually really looking forward to having an office to go to once a week and being able to string together some solid hours of work. I’ll write about it and let you know how it goes.

Feeling The Squeeze. When you are trying to parent, trying to work and feeling like you are doing an equally bad job of both. Here's my attempt at finding the balance.

What is the right amount of selfish?

Don’t ask me exactly what I’m up to with this blog yet, I couldn’t quite tell you. I’m working on it. But there is a lot that I would like to do.  After some years as a full-time mum, it is great to have a creative project to work on.  As we know, most dads don’t suffer existential crises over work/life balance, so I don’t feel guilty about trying to make it happen.

However, I’m the one who has changed the game. I set an expectation that I’ll do most things for the children and home, and it’s only me who wants that to change. It’s not fair to expect everyone to immediately fall in happily with this. Plus, I would really like to do both, just a bit differently. So better boundaries need to be set.

And about the kids (and Matt and my friends)

Social media can bleed into your every waking moment if you allow it to. So I am going to make a conscious effort to be more ‘in the room’ for the children. It’s another irony that when I wasn’t working, I worried about the example that set (you know, mums do work). So we talk about what I am doing and why, and the kids can (and should) take on extra responsibilities around organising themselves.

I still need to work more on setting realistic goals about what is achievable in the hours that I have.  I have written about the light bulb moment when I realised I couldn’t possibly do everything thing I’ve been trying to, have a read. Plus, the long Summer holidays are looming. So I need to work out how to navigate the break without becoming the grumpiest, shoutiest parent in the south of England.

I would really love to know how other working mums, dads, freelancers, home workers, bloggers and hobbyists manage to strike this balance. Let’s chat.

 

7 Comments

  • I think you’re right to set some boundaries and work hours. Then you won’t feel so bad.
    Ask for help and enjoy your co-working Friday, where have you picked? x

    • I’m going to go to Spaces in Reading near the station. It makes sense at the website guys are in there too, and it’s close to home, AND it is nice and has good coffee table books!!! Always grateful for your encouragement Caroline xxx

  • My darling girl,
    I truly feel your pain and your shoutiness!
    However my child (as in I only have one and he is now 16) is older and needs me less than yours still do.

    You are being pulled both ways. It is hard but you will find your new road.

    I have always worked full time and blogged (until last year) so tell me about it!

    Let the house get dusty it won’t kill anyone, but dont feel guilty either?
    let go of stuff too…

    Co working space sounds heavenly I too would jump at it, be sure to blog about that..
    take care i’m sending love
    Ash
    xx

    • Thanks, Ashely, I definitely will blog my verdict on co-working. Looking forward to heading off there for the first time this week. I may or may not find it helpful, but has to be worth a try….it’s such a long time since I had an office to go to! Thank you for popping by for a read and some kind words, always so great to see you. Helen

  • Preaching to the choir sister! As a mum ‘not in paid employment’ I feel I struggle just as much as working mums. Am STILL v.v. cross and resentful about a comment from a loved one (some months ago now) about having ‘only one thing to do’ (fridge was empty of food they liked). Sometimes I barely restrain myself from sending a rather irate reply to enquiries about whether I’ve done something for a loved one with ‘Well unfortunately the housekeeper, the cleaner, the laundry maid, the grocer/butcher/baker/candlestick maker, the personal shopper, the secretary, the accountant, the gardener, the chauffeur, the nanny and not to mention general skivvy didn’t turn up for work today, so no I haven’t done it!

    Think I have yet to come to terms with my changing role in life, some days I feel happy and fulfilled, other days I am sooo grumpy about the lack of personal time. Good luck in your quest to find that balance!

  • Hi Helen, speaking as a Mum with both a part time job and a (tiny) business, a few things that help me are –
    1) set timetable of what happens when throughout the week (including a day at home where I can choose to either work, or not depending mood & deadlines), rather than randomness
    2) answer emails when you choose to, not when they flash up – you be the boss of your phone not vice versa!
    3) really enjoying what you do
    4) knowing when to switch work off mentally for kids time (I’m scarily good at this!)
    5) being prepared to work after the kids go to bed if necessary
    Just being a bit Worzel Gummage with the hats you wear… some people find this easier than others! X

    • Hi Loz, work-life guru 🙂 you always seem to take your workload with amazingly good grace. I love all of your tips, especially about resisting the urge to respond immediately to all messages. It always generates further emails and then you never get on with anything. I do work in the evenings now, and sometimes before they get up too…which I find really productive. Thanks for visiting! Hx

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