Making Work, Work
I’ve just bought a car.
This might not seem like a big deal but it kind of is.
I’ve been a single mum for the past six years and am the only person financially responsible for my two littlies. To say that money has been tight is an understatement. Paying for literally everything on my own hasn’t been easy, but I made the decision to set up my own company last year and now actually being able to buy myself a car is a huge milestone.
As a mum, and a single mum at that, the world is not geared up to help us go to work. We’re expected to work like we’re not parents and parent-like we don’t work, maintain a social life, run a family home and try not to lose our collective shit.
When I needed to put both children in nursery so I could work, it cost me more every month to pay for their care than I earned. I was in debt at the end of every month just for trying to hold on to some form of career.
How are you actually meant to grow a business or maintain any sort of career when also trying to grow tiny humans?!
At times this juggle seemed actually impossible.
Like snotty crying on the floor surrounded by bills impossible. Or having deadlines, a house that looks like an actual bin, children’s parties that I couldn’t afford to buy presents or party clothes for, doctor’s appointments, a broken car and being late again because of the school run/dog going mad/any other number of things out of my control.
But it does get easier. (No really, it actually does!!)
For those of you in the depths of it, here are my top tips to make it work:
Be realistic. No one will benefit from your running yourself into the ground. At one point I worked three different jobs, as well as freelancing, and stretched myself to a point where everyone suffered. The kids didn’t even vaguely get the best of me, I had major burn out from working literally every hour I could and I couldn’t focus on my work. I spent most of my time with the kids working while hissing at them to ssh when on calls. Sometimes you just have to say no. And that’s ok.
Share the Love
Don’t be proud. Ask for help wherever you can get it. It took me a really long time to feel like I could call in favours with people who were actually more than happy to help with things like school holidays. It made a massive difference. Trade favours with other friends that have children so you can take turns. Take advantage of after school clubs. I got over the worry about what people would think and employed a cleaner to come once a fortnight. Spending that £20 every two weeks makes a HUGE difference to me. Make your life easier however you can!
I now run my own business and mostly work from home but I still need to give myself a break. A quick stroll outside, a bath or even a scroll on Daily Mail makes me feel like I’m still in the real world. Having a bath with the kids is still my favourite way to be calm and reconnect with them while having a bit of a treat. Book yourself a holiday or some bits to look forward to if you can…The Sun Holidays were, and still are an absolute Godsend if you’re on a budget with littlies. Check out the codes online and bag yourself a bargain.
No, your boss or clients can’t have you on the phone or on email 24/7. Your time with your children or downtime is your time. Don’t people please and be clear with yourself and others about what hours you are available? It’s ok to order pizza when you’re knackered, say no to extra work and not sign up to help the PTA. You can’t do everything!
Be Kind to Yourself
Yes, you shouted at the kids, no you haven’t done the washing and the dog hasn’t had a proper walk today. That’s ok. The kids and dog still love you and the washing can wait. The dreaded Mum Guilt gets us all and we all feel like we’re failing at one point or another, (most days for me!!) but be kind to yourself. At least you’re trying! And I’ll let you in on a secret…we’re all winging it! Most of us feel like we’re failing but the more we talk about it, the easier it gets.
I made the bold decision to set up a company last year and it was the best decision I made. Working for myself is a lot easier than working for someone else and I can now fit in things like school assemblies around my working day. It does mean working into the early hours sometimes to counteract time off but at least I’m doing it for me and seeing the bigger picture. If you’re employed don’t be scared to talk to your company about flexible working. You’ve got nothing to lose by asking!
Write it Down
Lists. Make loads of lists. Stick them everywhere. Take photos of them. Have them on your phone. Whatever works for you. You’ll thank me later.
Balancing work and motherhood is ridiculously hard but there is always a way to make it work for you if you want to work, it might not be easy but if you put your mind to it you can do anything. Running a business isn’t for everyone, nor is working full time, part-time or being self-employed. The most important thing to bear in mind is that you have a choice. It may not feel like it sometimes but there will always be one there. Make the right ones for you and your family, not anyone else.