Working Mama

Yesterday morning as I was pottering around the house, cleaning up after the weekend and starting to create some sort of ‘order’ around the mess my son continually makes, I turned around to find our little cherub sitting in my office chair at my desk. When questioned what he was doing, he simply stated that he was ‘sitting at his desk, working’ like it was the most normal thing in the world.

The thing is, for him, it is the most normal thing in the world.

I started working again when he was four months old. All he can remember is that daddy goes to an office to work and that mummy works from the desk at home. In fact, whenever I drop him to kindy he always tells me that I need to go home to do my work.

History repeating itself

Having two working parents is something I really want for my children. Of course, it has to be the balance of work that I can still be there for my kids – hence my writing career. But it’s so important that my children see that both parents have an equal role in our household. Really, it’s history repeating itself.

My sister and I grew up with two working parents. My dad ran a business and my mum was a school teacher. My dad was, and still is, also heavily involved in community work. So, while there were times when we didn’t see our dad before we went to sleep, he was always there when we woke up. And our mum was always there after school for us. Being a teacher at the same school we attended meant she took us and brought us home each day. While being a teacher, of course meant the hours were fantastic for her young kids, we still understood that our mum was working. Often, she would have report cards and exercise books sprawled out on the dining table as she marked her kids’ work after dinner, while we sat aimlessly in front of the television winding down after a long day.

Hard work was something my parents always instilled in us. They taught us that we could have and be anything we wanted, but that the only way to get there was to put in the hours. We were taught from a young age that a mother’s career is just as important as a father’s. And I will forever be proud of the impact my mum had on thousands of children.

Also, let’s face it, I didn’t spend six years at university to not utilise my two degrees.

And according to all the reports, children who have working mothers actually do better in life. Winning!

The proof

According to a Harvard Business School study, daughters with working mothers are better educated, and sons with working mothers do more housework and grow up to share the childcare duties. To me, this makes sense.

My son sees mummy working on weekends when necessary. He sees daddy cooking dinner at least once a week. He sees both mummy and daddy cleaning up, and both mummy and daddy doing the kindy drop off and pick up. He sees, for the most part, an equal playing field. The fact that both mummy and daddy are in the kitchen is so ingrained in my son that he often pulls his chef outfit on and tells us that he’s making dinner. Excellent! I wonder when I can actually put him to work in the big kitchen?

I love that my son understands that mummy works. I love that he sees both of his parents contributing to his home life. I love that when mummy is working on weekends, he gets quality time with his daddy, which both of them completely relish. I love that when mummy goes away for work, my son feels complete control because he knows his daddy is there and that his daddy can handle absolutely anything kid-related.

I think it’s so important that my children see that I have a life outside of being their mummy. And while my kids will continue to be my whole world, it’s so important that they see there is still a little place for myself and my career there too.


Mama needs a break

I absolutely adore my son. He most definitely gives me a reason to get up in the morning and I can honestly say that my heart is fuller since he arrived on the scene. And when he’s at daycare or I’m away from him, my heart literally (ok, not literally, but very close to) breaks. I miss him. He is constantly on my mind. Is he sleeping ok? Is he eating? How awful I feel knowing that he may be crying and I can’t be there to comfort him. Sometimes when he’s sleeping, I miss him too much I can’t actually stand it. But all of that love, that unconditional love of a mother, doesn’t mean I don’t need a break. I’ll admit that I’m a better mum because of the time we spend apart. And I’m not ashamed to say it.

Here’s the thing. Parents are not bad people or parents because they hand their children over to others. While care may be necessary due to work commitments, it’s a-okay to find someone to look after your child or children while you take a little break. It could be something as simple as a coffee down the road without a little person whining or stealing the chocolate from the top of your cappuccino (which let’s face it, is the best part), or something a bit longer like a massage. Or shock horror, a whole day to yourself, to simply recharge.

I went back to work when my son was four months old. I work from home, so I had the luxury of working when he slept. But I still needed a day to sit at my desk and really knuckle down. I needed a block of more than 40 minutes. Thanks catnapping child! Enter our exceptional family.

Since my son was six months old, I have driven him to my in-laws one afternoon and he has been delivered back to me 24 hours later. When my in-laws aren’t available, my dad or my aunt steps in. The day is out of necessity. But that night, holy moly, that night is heaven on earth. Not only do my husband and I get a date night, but we also get a full night of undisturbed sleep. While on every other night, we sleep (read: I sleep) with the knowledge that we need to listen out for our son if he needs us, one night a week, we sleep deeply. And I wake up rejuvenated. I knock out eight, sometimes nine hours of solid work. And when my son comes home, I envelop him in a massive cuddle, and we play. And you know what? I have the energy to play. I have the energy to smile and laugh. I have the energy to cook for him. And the best part about it is that I don’t have to dig deep for that energy. It’s there because I’ve had a break.

I know this is a luxury that many parents don’t have. I thank my exceptional village each and every day. Hell, I’m thankful for them each and every hour of every day. I know there are parents out there with no family around. There are single mums and dads who are doing it on their own. There are parents out there who work such different hours to provide the best possible lives for their children that they see each other for merely an hour a day. I never ever take our situation for granted.

But to all those parents out there who have help available, whether it’s family, friends, childcare or a nanny, never be ashamed to accept it. Never feel guilty for giving your child over to other people. Never feel pressured into doing absolutely everything yourself. If you have people around you, view the situation like this: your child is loved. Those people can give your child even more love. They can provide laughter and playtime. They can provide comfort through the tears for you and your child. Children thrive on love. Let your family, your friends, your childcare teachers and your helpers shower them in love.

And let yourself take a break.