Being a parent is hard. There are endless decisions to make. And I’d say 99% of decisions you make aren’t made without consideration of your offspring. Even down to buying a new coat… ‘But can I wipe the muddy boot prints off the bottom of this coat after they’ve inevitably fallen into a puddle and I have to carry them, their bags and their scooter back from the park?’
Last year I made a decision about a shift in my working life which was made more difficult with having my boys. I’d not considered anyone else in the thought process so found it very interesting when people decided to pass comment on my choices both directly and passively. Sorry what? Will we ever reach a stage where people just do them and find themselves unconcerned with everyone else’s business?
I spent a large portion of Leo’s school life being able to do every drop off and every pick up, whilst being able to maintain a steady career and for that I feel very very lucky. But I am aware that I have been in a real position of privilege for the couple of years he’s been at school. I’ve seen children walk in to the classroom from ‘breakfast club’ and at the end of the day they’re never there because they’re already on their way to the after school club. That’s because their parents work full time and have very little flexibility. I imagine many of you may find yourselves in a similar position to those parents.
It’s a tough job knowing you’re at work all day and they’re at school from 8 until 6. It feels like a long day for them and you worry about being judged. But here’s my take on it, for what it’s worth. You are doing an absolutely stellar job. You’re child is safe and happy. You are working your arse off, sometimes maybe to keep your head above water or because you don’t have a choice or sometimes it’s because you love your job. And just because you love your job doesn’t mean you don’t love your children. Sometimes as women I feel like we’re not ‘allowed’ to make sacrifices to further our careers without risk of being judged.
Just because you can’t do every drop off and pick up doesn’t make you less of a parent compared to one who can do it all, to one who never misses an assembly or a Mothers day breakfast at nursery (hard swallow). Making the decision to carry on in a job you enjoy and want to dedicate time to doesn’t make you a bad parent. Enjoying time to yourself away and being challenged by your peers instead of your children for a change doesn’t make you any less present. There’s room to love both your kids and your job.
I have exclusively worked from home for the last 6 years. Can you imagine that? How very lucky I have been to be in a position to make that choice. But at the back end of last year I chose to work differently. Working from home takes a massive toll on your wellbeing. It can be very isolating and lonely. It can be hard to find motivation when you only have your dog or Alexa to talk to. Some days I would find myself unable to form a sentence on the school run without bursting into a coughing fit because I simply hadn’t spoken all day.
When Rock My was sold last year I had the opportunity to join the team at their new head office and I was absolutely thrilled at the thought. People. In actual real life. To bounce ideas off, to chat to, to further my skills. The only crux… the office was two hours away from home. That’s not an easy commute for anyone.
What would that mean for the boys? Probably a night without me. Longer days at school for Leo (Tayo already did 8-6 at nursery three days a week). The chance to get dropped off and picked up from school by Daddy. A night playing Mario Kart with Daddy. Bed time with Daddy where he makes up the most amazing stories. A more chilled morning because Daddy is much less frantic than Mommy is about the school run.
What would it mean for me? A long drive. A night without the boys. Alone in a hotel. Hang on… Some time to myself? A whole night away from them, every week? A chance to rest up, recoup? Every week? What sort of selfish parent would allow themselves that ‘luxury’?
But the list kept on growing…
A chance to get myself out of a work rut. To have colleagues who I saw in real life. To be able to say ‘Hey can you look at this – Im not sure it’s quite right but I can’t put my finger on it’ instead of having to email that through to someone and wait days for a response if working days didn’t line up. A chance to watch others work. See what they do, how they manage their days, their time, absorb incredible work ethics and take those best practices into my own career and inevitably come out a stronger business owner at the end of each day. Maybe I’d gain some confidence back and expand my knowledge too.
The list of benefits for me (Selfish Sally) seemed to outweigh the list of negatives for the boys. So I went for it. I now work away one night every week. I don’t settle particularly well at night but that’s just how I am but I feel quite… liberated. I’m getting so much more stuck into my work. Productivity levels have gone through the roof and it’s so fascinating watching everyone thrive and feeling like I’m thriving too. And the boys? They barely notice I’m not there and love a quick FaceTime with me to tell me how late Daddy was to pick them up.
If you love working from home that’s great. If you enjoy being in your office from 9-5 every day then I’m so pleased you’re happy in your position. And that’s my point. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do as long as you’re making the right decision for you and your family. At the end of the day we’re all doing what we think is best and we’re the only ones that matter. I don’t need to be at a desk hundreds of miles away to work hard and do my job well. But I choose to be. For myself, to further my career, to help fulfil my 5 year plan, for my future.
Ultimately, I choose to do it for them.
We’re big believers in Mother Pukka’s Flex appeal campaign and a few weeks back she said
‘Every bit of me wants to be with you but equally doesn’t want to lose me in the process. I just want you to know that it was for something. I don’t want ‘it all’ but this is my something while you are my everything.’
They are and will forever be my everything. But I have plans. If I’m to be a successful business owner I need to challenge myself and take the steps that I think are necessary in order to grow my business. I want to give the boys all the things they deserve and to set myself up to be in a strong successful position when they eventually fly the nest and have their own lives. I very much live in ‘the now’ and make a priority of being that way but the future is never far from my thoughts. And by allowing myself that time away, that head space, they’re ultimately getting so much more of me in the process because I come back refreshed, invigorated and appreciate my self worth much more. I’ve spent years feeling like no one has seen the best of me and I can slowly start feeling my best creeping back in.
I want this post to remind you that if you’re in a position where you work long hours or are away from your children, through circumstance or choice, that you’re doing a great job. We’re all different, at different stages of parenting, living different circumstances and you should never feel judged by anyone for the choices you make. The enjoyment you take from your work, or simply finding your own space should never come into question. No one is better than you or should make you feel less than them. We should all be able to do what is right and what works for our families without fear of judgement.