As a mum can we really have it all?September 7, 2016
Before I became a mum I used to say to my friends “being a mum won't change me, I will still be the same, I will even still be on nights out like this sitting on the roof of a carpark in Peckham drinking a £10 cocktail and pretending to myself I can still pass for 25.” I was certain that I could have it all – the perfect family, an active social life, a great career, a gym honed body and a well kept house and that nothing would give.
Fast forward a year and everything was very different. If I am honest the thing that you care about the least gives first and to me that is housework. I wouldn't say I am lazy around the house, more that there are a million other things I would like to be spending my time on. I am certain during my first maternity leave I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher 5 times in a day, bear in mind it was only me and a 6 month year old in the house so I have no idea how this was possible but it happened. This was a tipping point for me and I went on a silent protest against the dishwasher for a few days, no one noticed and I begrudgingly went back to loading it and unloading it again (first world problems I know). In fact, for me returning to work was just a brilliant excuse not to have to do any more bloody housework. It was easy to explain away a cleaner when you were busy working, less so when you are in the house all day just busy making mess. The unfortunate thing for my fiance and children is the cleaner only comes once a week, in a perfect world she would be here every day and she might also do washing and at a push wash the girls hair (this is hell on earth so if I could outsource it I could).
So my house no longer resembled a show home but in reality I don't really care that much about this, we have quite a few drawers so a quick 30 minute blitz and it appears that we have it together in this department. I didn't have any sleepless nights that I hadn't dusted the shelves or polished the silver (or even got some silver)
In my work and the coaching community we love talking about “work-life balance”, I would say the majority of my clients say they want a work-life balance. Now, as with anything, the definition of a work-life balance is different depending on who you are and where you are standing. I have realised that my expectations of what it means to me have completely shifted – it used to mean being able to keep it together at work so I can afford to have a good social life, go on lots of holidays and keep a roof over my head. Now it means – spending a lot of time with little people who love to talk about poo in loud voices and cocks (she needs to learn to pronounce “l”) and scheduling my nights out and exercise with military precision.
The thing for me that has given is my social life, I still see my friends but the frequency has gone down as my priorities have changed and my values have shifted. I now value the time that I spend with my family above everything else and this does mean sacrifices have to be made. We don't have infinite amounts of time on our hands unfortunately so we need to think about what is really important to us and then spend our time accordingly. In coaching we spend time looking at your values so you can start thinking about how you will prioritise your time in a way that will make you feel fulfilled and happy.