The alarm sounds but I’m already awake. My 3 year old has somehow, in the still of the night, navigated his way into my bed and is now sprawled across me. I have become a master at silently slithering out from underneath a sleeping infant. My husband has already left for work, a swift departure at sunrise. My pressing priority is to feed my caffeine addiction. If I had the option to be hooked up intravenously to a caffeine drip I would take it.

I utilise the quiet time to check emails and review my schedule for the day. It is manic, the same as yesterday and tomorrow. Fortunately I love my job. If I didn’t, I would be questioning my decisions, the impact these have on my family and thinking just what is the point to this chaos?

My mind reverts back to coffee. I take another sip and I start to feel as though I’ve got this. I’m ready for my 6 year old, who appears zombie-like and demanding breakfast. She is closely followed by her brother, who is now awake and declaring he is SpiderMan. He moves slowly on his tummy down the hallway, copying the movements of his web-spinning hero. It is funny and it is cute but there is no time to play. I must make time tonight. I will. My daughter emerges with a brush requesting a hairstyle like Elsa from Frozen. She ends up with a ponytail and I am quick to inform her that her School Principal has advised that all girls must wear ponytails. I tell myself it is okay to tell a lie, if only white. We’ll conquer elaborate Frozen styles on the weekend. We will.

We have a small window to pull together in the morning each playing a part. It is tight and carried out to military precision until I’m faced with a decoy. It’s inevitable with children. I today spent 15 minutes trying to explain to my 3 year old why he can’t have a packet of Twisties for breakfast. As tempting as it was to feed him the Twisties in the first minute of the conversation and save myself another 14 minutes by doing so, I held firm. Can’t guarantee the same result next time. In the morning I am not unlike a Drill Sergeant, “eat your Weet-Bix”, “put your uniform on”, “clean your teeth”, “comb your hair”, “pick up your bag” – Lets go!

My small army is marched into the car and deployed at childcare and school. The satisfaction I feel when I enter the school grounds before the bell sirens is significant. I’ve succeeded. My mind turns to what it would be like to be a stay-at-home Mum. Surely it can’t be as chaotic? Do they ever forget their child’s Show & Tell or leave dirty breakfast dishes in the sink? I’m guessing not. I want a cleaner. No I deserve a cleaner. I just can’t manage. Maybe I should work less. Maybe I should have another baby and stay home. I then imagine myself contently pushing the new perfectly behaved newborn in the pusher as the two eldest happily scoot ahead on route to their destinations. We’re all smiling, the sun is shining, no evidence of stress in this figment of my imagination. My daughter even has a Frozen hairstyle. There would be time to exercise and catch up with friends. Reality check! No, I love what I do and I do love working. I also still have a 3 year old that I often prise off my leg before sending off to care. I can’t have another baby. In some respects I still feel like I have one.

Drop off completed and my attention immediately turns to work. Mother hat off, business hat on. The short journey into the city provides me with a moment of rare solitude or the opportunity to finish my make-up. I thoroughly enjoy this quiet “me” time before the phone calls begin. Funny how you take these moments for granted pre-children. Phone calls lead into a string of interviews and meetings that are consecutively scheduled, as I am today also responsible for pick up. My time may have decreased since having children but my productivity has increased tenfold. No part of the working day is wasted. I prioritise, work smarter and forgo long lunches to wrap things up and get back to my family.

My work provides me with a sense of achievement, fulfilment, purpose, worth and self-satisfaction. My unwavering passion confirms why I do what I do and why I have chosen to do this now. Like others I could have easily put my career on hold but personally, I’m glad I haven’t.

“My bag is an embarrassing mess and I pull out some of its’ contents; my laptop, reading glasses, baby wipes, diary, colouring pencils, loom bands and a SpiderMan figurine.

My phone rings and I reach into my workbag to retrieve it. My bag is an embarrassing mess and I pull out some of its’ contents; my laptop, reading glasses, baby wipes, diary, colouring pencils, loom bands and a SpiderMan figurine. I find myself smiling. The contents reveal my identity; I am a working mum and for me, it works.

I arrive and pick up the children. I’m immediately conscious of being present. Yes we can go to the park. Yes I can be Cat Woman. Yes you can have an ice cream but not before you eat your dinner. Business hat off, mother hat on.

I kiss the children good night before opening my laptop.

I promise my husband I will only do a little bit of work tonight.

Author

Rachel Perkins is the Founder of JustMums Recruitment, a recruitment agency specialising in connecting working mums and mums returning to work jobs, with a focus on full and part-time, family friendly and flexible employment. She is an experienced Recruiter, qualified Social Worker and busy mother of two young children.

181 Comments

  1. This could be me and any number of my freinds. I am a stay at home mum, have two young kids, am always flat out. Dont tell anyone…but this morning I left the house at 8.30am for the mad dash to Kinder, and our breakfast bowls didnt even leave the table AND I failed [yet again] to brush the kids hair. Youve got one up on me sister! Great article!

  2. Such a great article. And I will add this – my mum worked and studied my entire childhood- and I always admired her for it . She never made me feel like I missed out on anything because she worked and bettered herself. Infact I think it made me a better person for it – more driven and set high goals for myself .. if my mum had it all and I felt loved and safe – then surely my kids can have the same. SO be proud that when your daughter and son succeed in life themselves (and they will) because they learnt from the best. Organised, clever, honest and a great human being to boot x

    • Me too Claire. My Mum was a night duty mental health nurse. She ways amazing, always took the time to help us (there’s 3 of us) and involve us in our church and school community even when she was probably struggling to keep her eyes open. I’m pretty sure she survived on less then 5 hours sleep a day 🙂

  3. Great article! Life is such a juggle…but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

  4. What a great article, congratulations to all the working (and non-working) mums, you are all an inspiration to your kids.

  5. Jo Williams Reply

    what a fantastic article. so well written. its just amazing to think how much mums can fit into a day with the different hats on. so many mums can relate to this amazing article. ….

  6. I laugh about the bit where stay at home mums don’t have this rush – and that if you had a baby you could stay at home. Hahaha. I am a stay at home mum with a 5 yr old boy, a three year old girl AND A BABY! The morning is the same but add in nappy explosions, milky vomits all over everyone’s clothes just as you’re about to leave the house, and the fact that the baby in question doesn’t like the car and screamed every time he had to go in it to take his siblings somewhere for weeks!

    • real world Reply

      Yes, because the babies of working mums never vomit, or scream when going in the car, or do nappy explosions???

  7. LOVE LOVE LOVE! I remember the days I got home from work & sat on the couch for an hour to ‘recover’. BAHAAAA what was I doing with my time? Now it’s, homework, play, put a load of washing in the machine, make dinner, bath, relax time for kids whilst I make next day lunches, hang washing on line, teeth, story & bed. YAY I get to have some me time at 8.30pm!

    THEN there’s the re-scheduling so you can make that ALL IMPORTANT student of the week presentation on parade, volunteer for the tuck shop (because you think it’s a ‘good idea’ that your children understand being part of a community) and search the house for moths for the newly claimed gecko pet. Parenting is nothing less then interesting

  8. Shu-Ching Chang Reply

    Found it By Sonia. It is not easy to be a working mum.

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