Women’s Work

back to workAs if it is not hard enough to come to terms with becoming a parent, mothers have the added stress of deciding whether or not to go back to work; or indeed, having to go back to work when they really, really don’t want to. The reality is that whatever you decide, don’t let yourself be eaten up with pointless and unnecessary guilt.

I always knew that I wanted to stay at home when I had children. Over the years working as a nanny and in creches, I witnessed the stress that mums heap on themselves, including the gut-wrenching scenes that ensued when they dropped their baby into the creche for the first time. ‘Not for me’, I thought. Then I set up my own creche.

I loved my little creche, and loved giving my all to create a homely atmosphere for the children who attended. Three years after opening my own business, I got pregnant with my first child. ‘No problem’ I hear you say. What better industry to be in when expecting a baby? Ready made child-care! Unfortunately, due to space restrictions, my creche could only take children from 18 months. I was lucky though, as I had two very helpful and willing Grannies to mind Caoimhe for me until she was old enough to attend the creche. Sorted! The only problem was that I absolutely did not want to go back to work. However, ‘Aisling Childcare’ needed to have Aisling at the helm. We also needed the money! So I made my plans to drop Caoimhe to either Granny and moved shifts around to make it work, and as D-day approached I became more and more leaden. ‘No, I do not want this. Why am I abandoning my child to mind other peoples childen?’

Guess what happened on my first day back? Nothing! Caoimhe was with my Mum, I went back to work and truth be told, I loved it! I picked Caoimhe up at the end of the day and she was absolutely fine too!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I had to go through the mill all over again when I became pregnant a second time, less than two years later. Caoimhe was settled in the creche but again I wanted to be at home! My husband was made redundant during this preganancy so keeping the creche open became essential. Luckily, I didn’t have to rush around this time as my husband could and did take care of Conan. When I became pregnant with my third child, I closed the creche – partly due to the recession, but also because I really did want to be at home, and Paul had a new job! At last I was living the dream, right? I woke up on that first morning at home swamped in panic, struggling with a massive identity crisis, and filled with self-doubt. It took me at least three months to come to terms with being the stay-at-home-mum I had always wanted to be. The grass always seems greener on the other side, eh?

Professional mothers are providing for their family but can often feel like they are abandoning their babies, and they run around like headless chickens constantly trying to be everything to everyone. Inevitably, they run themselves into the ground but feel unable to take sick leave as precious time-off has to be kept for when their children are sick! Professional mums have to get up extra early to do the often long commute to work, dressing to the nines every day when all they want is that extra few minutes in bed and to dress for comfort. They read articles on how the best thing for their child is to have someone constant to mind them, which they interpret as ‘you are being so selfish, just worrying about your precious career and fobbing your children off on someone else’.

Stay-at-home mums feel like they are doing the best for their child but can often feel resentful towards husbands and friends that get to continue in the workplace – people who get to be called by their first name as opposed to ‘Mam’ or ‘Conan’s Mum’. Professional mums get to wear nice clothes, go out for lunch, and have the opportunity to discuss the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Stay-at-homers can dress up too, but heels and pencil skirts are just not conducive to cleaning up spills or crawling around playing hide-and-seek. Stay-at-home mums tend to have working lunches every day, usually trying to keep the peace rather than chat about the latest news story!

So when I meet parents nowadays who choose to continue their career or choose to stay at home, or who have to work as staying at home is not an option, what advice would I give them? Trust your instincts! Whatever you decide to do will be the right choice for you and your family. Whatever decision you make, accept it and enjoy your life. An unhappy parent can inadvertently have a negative effect on their child. So no matter what you end up doing, whether you spend just a few hours or all day with your child, never mind the quantity, just enjoy the quality of that time!

This was supposed to be a post about choosing child-care but I lost the run of myself! Next post will be about that though, I promise. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for reading,

Aisling

I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.ย 

 

 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Louise (@TattooedMumsy)
    Apr 03, 2014 @ 19:15:20

    I love this post!! As you mentioned I was really struggling with the while going back to work thing in January but for me staying at home was just not an option financially right now. The first day came and went and now 3 months on it feels like I never left and we’ve always been in this routine. Sure I miss 4 days of the week with Luke but I get some time with him in the morning and 2 hours when I get home and then I have 3 days off. For now this is right for my family and hopefully in the future we might be in a position for me to stay at home with him or any future kiddies a bit more ๐Ÿ™‚ You are definitely right when you to trust your instinct ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply

    • BabySteps
      Apr 03, 2014 @ 19:29:06

      I know Louise, we are so hard on ourselves but we are all doing the absolute best that we can for our families!
      And as I mentioned even when I got to the ‘holy grai’l of staying home I was totally freaked out! Keep doing what you are doing sounds like you have a nice balance at the mo!
      Aisling

      Reply

  2. office mum
    Apr 03, 2014 @ 20:45:10

    I completely agree that we should follow our instincts, and we all need to be comfortable with our decisions and not spend too much time feeling guilty! There are mothers who have to work for financial reasons but also enjoy the work, there are mothers who love their careers and find a way to make it work without taking from family life more than necessary, and there are mothers who are at home who know it’s absolutely the right thing for them. Unfortunately I think there are also mother who would like to work but can’t because the choice is full-time or nothing (this is my bug-bear!) and there are also people who can’t afford childcare. But as long as we keep talking about it, it’ll get better!

    Reply

    • BabySteps
      Apr 04, 2014 @ 07:07:14

      I agree, flexibility in the workplace is such a no-no in most Irish companies. Which is crazy! Imagine how much better off we would be as a country if EVERY job in Ireland offered flexi-time?

      Reply

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