Create a New Family-Life-Work Paradigm
Foreword – Kathryn will be running a workshop at Cuckooz Nest that will breaking down the insanity of the juggling parent with the aim to create a new workable family-life-work structure. Have an opinion on this? Please come along and add your input to help create a new way of living.
Let’s start with what the old/passing paradigm is. In a nutshell, once the child is born mum is a stay-at-home mum until at least mid-teens. This leaves mum-at-home hours alone with little to no personal income. This can lead to feeling of unworthiness, lack of identity and low-level depression. Dad works full-time and his career grows.
An alternative to this is to choose to go back to your work full or lengthier part-time (4 days a week), long hours cramming 5 days into 4, paying for childcare and still missing important time with your children. Or a low-paid part-time job that fits around the child’s hours.
It’s a clear cut decisions, not a choice. You either return to work to keep a certain lifestyle and pay childcare or pay someone else to look after your child.
Unless you’re fortunate enough to live near a retired and active grandparent you must rely on similar over-burdened friends with kids of similar ages and schedules. It unsurprising why so many mothers choose the latter or take redundancy pay.
These are bleak and cliché routes to take but they’re cliché because they’re so common.
Over the last 5 years there has been a significant increase in mothers taking on freelance and home-skilled work for decent money and flexible hours instead of returning to traditional jobs. We live in amazing times that offer us the capabilities to do this.
However there are still the expectations to be the perfect working-mother. This expectation comes from a combination of our own perspectives of what we think that should look like and what we read/see/hear from our local and virtual support networks. We are still, if not more, overwhelmed, stressed and surrounded by mess than ever before.
Before we had guidelines and hours we tried to stick to, that would at least help anchor family routine. Now you need to be a project manager, manager and negotiator on top of getting it all achieved. To add to the exhaustion and stress there is also such a thing as ‘decision fatigue’. Exhaustion from having to make constant decisions. (A constant work-out for the brain with no rest).
We all aspire to have a clean house and clothes for your little cherub to roll around on the floor. Do exercise at least once a week that nurtures your mind as well as your body. Ensure the whole family is healthy, all whilst enjoying the fresh mental challenges that work provides.
But despite even the best efforts of the most efficient multi-tasking parent, the reality is that something, (usually a lot of things) always gives. And it’s usually your own time, time to clean, time to exercise, time to just rest. (Personally it’s most often my mental sanity, health and sleep, solved by red wine and shouting it out. It’s all about ‘release-now therapy’ in our household.)
Being able to be flexible means that we, central control, can work around the clock to suit family schedules (meal-times, washing, shopping) but that means that ‘our time’ gets relegated to the late hours, and then there’s no time for down-time in any form. I’m currently writing this on a late Sunday afternoon at my hot-desking space, sitting next to several other fellow mummies.
I must stress that my partner is brilliant, supportive and accommodating on long as I tell him what I need, but this adds another level or organisation.
A stressed mum means stressful household, which results in stressed personal relationships. It’s so obvious and so very many are affected so why have we not come up with better solutions yet that don’t mean we have to compromise income, friendships, space to think. The little people coming into this world will be running government, making policies and handling your pension one of these days. It’s crucial we support the foundations that create them.
Please join me at CuckoozNest on Tues 24th April, 6.30-7.30pm, to help me unravel the mysteries and rebuild a better, more balanced family-life-work. We’ll be discussing life hacks, advice that actually works, and digital apps and actions that could support your family structure to be more manageable.
If anything come for the wine and clean surfaces. You’ll be in great company. Open to all carers of little people: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/myevent?eid=45029756213
About the author: Kathryn McMann is mum to a non-sleeping two-year-old, a digital marketer and communications consultant at Kathryn McMann Consultancy, and in her semi-awake hours, The Modern Mummy on YouTube.