As a mum I should know that each decision we make for our kids comes with a guilt factor, there will always be someone who has an opinion on what you choose to do as the primary carer for your child and sometimes what you choose to do can make you feel incredibly guilty and question whether you’ve done the right thing.
Recently, I’ve been questioning myself and the fact that I pretty much work full time and as a result Addison attends pre-school / child care (with grandparents) 5 days a week.
She leaves the house with my husband at around 7:30am in the morning and by the time one of us picks her up from pre-school and gets home it’s about 5:30pm ish. To me this is seeming more and more like an awfully long day for a three year old.
The stay at home mum -v- working mum debate
It wasn’t always like that. When Addison was born in 2008 I crazily launched my own business that went onto be very successful and very quickly. This was great as I got to be at home with her and do all the things I loved and it felt like nothing changed. However, work got busier and busier and not only was it impractical to have a small screaming baby in the house whilst trying to prospect to new clients I also felt that Addison needed the stimulation and friendship of other children. So she embarked on two days a week nursery care.
She loved it and I can see socially how being around other children and in a structured learning / play environment has helped bring her on developmentally. She loves to socialise and I think it’s incredibly cute that at 3 years old we can have a conversation together about our day and what she’s done at school.
Two days went to three days and then to four days and now every day Monday to Friday she is either at pre-school or with a grandparent. Realistically though, I don’t think I have a choice. I work part time just 22 hours a week and bring home just enough to cover her nursery fees. My husband has a good job earning around £35k, but his salary wouldn’t “comfortably” cover our mortgage / bills and incidentals and nursery if he was the only one working.
So this makes me think that we need one of us on a salary of around £40k for me to be a stay at home mum.
As the business got busier and busier I ended up spending even less quality time with family. I would often work from first thing in the morning through till 11 or 12 o’clock at night and be exhausted and grumpy at the weekends. When I did take a day off to be with Addison I would have endless client calls interrupting our quality time and I would end up working despite my clients knowing I was on holiday. I even remember going on a family holiday to France and having to take my entire mobile office with me just so that my clients could get hold of me. Something had to give. Eventually I decided to sell my business and return to work for someone else – a huge step for me.
So the job I accepted is just 22 hours a week and I get every Friday off, but still Addison is at pre-school or grandparents 5 days a week. All of a sudden it’s hit me that I am missing my little girl. I am missing her funny ways, the things she does, the way she gives me the biggest hugs in the world and tells me we’re best friends. I feel guilty for packing her off every day and picking her up in the evening when she’s clearly tired and pretty zonked out from all the activities. I don’t know what’s caused this trigger – part of me thinks I feel guilty because when I see pictures of other mums doing fun things with their kids on a daily basis such as doing craft activities, going on walks, off to the park etc that I think these are all the things I should be doing with Addison. Maybe it’s because I know she will be starting school next year and at that point I have no choice about when I spend time with her as she will be in school all the time. Right now it feels like I have a choice and that I’ve chosen work and a career over my daughter.
So other mums, is it true that you just can’t win whether you choose to be a stay at home or work at home mum? Whatever you do, do you feel that there’s going to be someone to tell you the ‘other way’ is better. Are you lucky enough to be able to spend every day with your little one and do you love every minute or would you love to go out to work and have a few hours off to be “yourself” with other adults?
Are you one of thousands of working mums across the UK with kids, if so I’d love to know how you juggle this dilemma. Share your comments and thoughts with me below or on twitter….