The Ups and Downs of a Working Mum
Mama Tribe Member Jade of Made by Jade
When you fall pregnant with your first child… you’re showered with messages of good luck, gifts galore and ‘helpful’ advice such as the old classic, ‘sleep as much as you can now, as you’ll never sleep again…’
People like to scare you with gory birth stories, they also tend to give you tips on how to survive the sleepless nights and sore milk boobs, but nobody ever tells you the real truth, the harsh truth and I think even if they did I would have shrugged it away and carried on in my blissfully happy pregnant reality.
Nobody tells you… how you will feel once your baby arrives, that as soon as they come into the world, your life and the person that you are changes forever. This is the part that I really struggled with. Of course I knew that becoming a mum would change my life, I was ready for a change and I welcomed it with open arms, but nothing could have prepared me for the fact that the person I was before my child was born, was gone.
The second Freddie came into the world… I became ‘Freddie’s mummy,’ I was no longer just Jade. My thoughts, feelings, wishes and desires came second behind the needs of the tiny human I’d produced. If I was hungry and Freddie wanted feeding, well I’d just have to starve. If I wanted to get out of the house but Freddie wanted to have a full on 5 hour screaming sesh, I’d have to stay home or go out anyway and be met with looks of horror from passers by.
Long relaxing baths, Towie marathons and lazy morning lie ins became a thing of the past, my whole life became about Freddie. The things I once enjoyed were put in a box in my mind and stored for safe keeping. Don’t get me wrong I loved being a mum but when Freddie turned 3 months and we seemed to be out of the depths of the newborn horror, I needed something for myself. I craved time, even if it was just 45 minutes whilst he napped, to do something that made me feel like me again. It didn’t have to be something like going to the pub or sunning myself in the garden with a magazine, I just needed something small to call my own.
That’s when I found papercutting. It started as a hobby, as something that I did when Fred napped. Time seemed to disappear along with my new mum worries whilst I sat and designed and before I knew it I’d honed my skill enough to start selling them. At first I only had a few orders a month so I could cope with working whilst Freddie napped, but it wasn’t long before the commissions started mounting up and I became a bit overwhelmed. People would comment on how lovely it was that I could work from home and also be a full time mum to Fred, but in reality it wasn’t as great as it looked from the outside.
The phrase ‘full time mum’ sums up exactly what it is… its a full time job. You don’t clock off at 5pm, you don’t get a lunch break and you can’t take a day off when you’re feeling a bit rubbish or can’t be bothered to turn up. Its 24/7 and adding a small business in the mix too just doubles the work load. I’d get mum guilt if I sat down to finish some work and Freddie wanted me to play cars with him and then I’d get work guilt if I sat and played with Freddie and neglected my business. I felt like I wasn’t fully concentrating on either properly because I didn’t have set times for anything, it was all a bit chaotic. I tried working once Freddie was in bed but that didn’t work either, I was too tired from juggling all the stuff all day long and my brain was completely frazzled.
When Fred was 16 months old… I finally admitted that he needed to go into nursery a couple of days a week. Of course I felt terrible and like I’d failed my child by being selfish wanting to start a business, but I also knew deep down that it would be good for him. He needed time away from me to socialise, learn and develop and I needed the ‘me time,’ that had become so important to me. I knew that I would be able to focus more on my business and really put some time and effort in to grow it into something that could one day give me a full time income.
I really struggled… with the dreaded mum guilt for a long time after he started, but once I could see that Freddie was settling in ok and was really starting to benefit from being around other children and adults, I relaxed and we both settled into our new routine. Fred now goes to nursery three days a week and the two days that he’s home with me I dedicate fully to him and make them as fun as possible. We’re finally in a place where I think (for now anyway) that we’ve got the balance right.
I know that being a working mum isn’t for everyone and some mums adore being at home everyday with their kids, but that just wasn’t me. For me to be happy and to give Freddie the best upbringing possible I need to work and I need to have something that makes me feel like I’m not just ‘Freddie’s mum.’ I don’t work for financial reasons, I’m lucky enough that my husband has a good income, I work to keep myself busy and to show Freddie that doing what you love and what makes you feel fulfilled is one of the most important things in life.
Of course I don’t have it all worked out… my house is usually a mess (which drives me crazy!) I tend to forget everything unless I write it down in numerous lists and I’ve pretty much forgotten what its like to have a social life, but as long as we’re all happy then that’s all that matters. I think the key is to be flexible and to adjust to the needs of your family when you can and owning a small business is great for that!
Till next time,