This weekend I attended the marvellous Blogfest, organised by Mumsnet, and indulged myself in all things blogging (for a whole day, with food, caffeine, David Baddiel and wine). Aside from sitting on my favourite Mexican beach, it doesn’t get better than this (sorry husband, children, clients etc) – did I mention David Baddiel?
Whilst there, I attended a debate hosted by a distinguished (Margaret Atwood FFS!) and glamorous panel of women who discussed whether having children stifles creativity. Inevitably the debate turned to the issue of working parents / stay at home parents and whether we can truly ever “have it all.”
As a mum of two juggling a freelance career, I can safely say “no.” It seems to me that you lug about giant suitcases packed full of guilt and worry whether you stay at home (is my career suffering, will I ever be able to get back into the workplace, why am I now expected to volunteer for the PTA and every parent helper duty required?) or if you work (my kid hates nursery, I am always on my phone, am I even doing a good job at either?). In the end, there was no real conclusion to the debate, but it made me think about the well-used ‘work-life balance’ phrase, and wonder if anyone actually has it?
Here are my top 10 signs you haven’t achieved a work-life balance yet:
- In order to take an important conference call you put your children in the garden, and when they complain feed them snacks through the cat flap whilst retaining your professional voice.
- You attend a new business meeting with doodles scrawled across your notepad and produce a plastic Peppa Pig instead of a pen after 5 minutes of rummaging around the change bag which is masquerading today as a handbag.
- Your meeting attire is not quite what it used to be, due to the fact the entire outfit, hair and make up was put together in 5 minutes after dressing and feeding two other people first and dodging Weetabix wielding toddlers.
- You can send press releases and tweets whilst simultaneously cooking scrambled eggs and reading the latest Biff and Kipper homework.
- Your children’s games now involve a laptop and phone whilst they ignore you and snap “in a minute mummy.”
- During your working day, you also manage to do a weekly online shop, wash uniforms, plan dinner, read through five different letters from school and still get more done than you would have pre-children when you worked in an office.
- Upon hearing a ‘ding’ you’re unsure as to whether it’s the oven, your phone, email, alarm clock or toy.
- The childcare logistics involved in attending a 9.00am meeting reduces you to tears.
- You wake up in the night to check and send emails (and then use scheduler for 8am so no-one thinks you’re a total weirdo).
- Alongside invoices and meeting notes, your intray also features printed instructions on how to make an elf costume, a Minecraft cake, and five sets of raffle tickets for the school fair.
Whatever your situation, one thing is for sure – parenting is hard. We need to lose those suitcases and give ourselves a break. We’re all doing the best we can, and that’s good enough for me (although a few more days out at blog conferences wouldn’t go amiss)…