The conundrum that is the working Mama.
Lets track back to 2014 when my career was my life. I worked late, I worked hard, I was tired, stressed and elated all at the same time, but I was flying. I was trained and promoted several times over in the 13 years I had worked in the construction industry and I was proud to be a senior manager in my field of work. I had aspirations to climb to dizzy heights within the company I worked for and I was on course.
And then there was Freddie.
My little boy arrived on the 28th December 2014. And just like that, my outlook, my perspective and my ambitions changed. Freddie opened my eyes to the world. Being embroiled in a career is rewarding but it can be very closed minded. I had tunnel vision focusing on a goal and I didn’t stop to look at what was around me or in front of me. He brought me a true perspective on life, a perspective which I would never have arrived at had I not had children.
After vowing to only take 6 months out from my career, my maternity leave ended at month 13. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Returning to work was a mixture of emotions. I was happy to see my colleagues and a part of me was happy to have ‘career Tracey’ back but deep down inside I was desperately sad to be missing out on my Son. I returned to work on reduced hours and worked a 4 day week. The stress of putting a flexible working application in is nothing short of sweat inducing…..What if it’s declined? What will I do? Will I leave? Can I leave? Where will I go? Will I stay? What about Freddie? Can he do another day at nursery? Will he have a place? The whole process was laborious….but I was thrilled to be granted a 4 day week, thinking it would be the perfect balance for me.
How wrong was I??? Part of the deal was that I would have to fulfil a full time role within my 4 day week. Not ideal when you have a teething baby at home, a house to run and a husband to feed. I felt compelled to try and do everything, to fulfil my role at work and at home. I failed, massively. I wasn’t seeing enough of Freddie. I was constantly asking for favours from his nursery, from my mam and dad and from Neil in order to cover child care arrangements. The day which I wasn’t at work was more stressful than being at work; I was worrying about work when I should have been spending quality time with my little boy. I was constantly trying to compensate for the times that I wasn’t there…and by ‘there’ I mean at home and at work. I was letting both sides down and it was exhausting!
I broke down, into pieces. The feeling of letting down everyone in your life is horrendous and I couldn’t cope. My husband, Neil, told me to leave work, he told me to hand my notice in and walk away. But I couldn’t do it. I need balance in my life, and balance isn’t all or nothing, its fulfilling every part of your being and arriving at a content place.
And so the change began, I stepped back and tried to figure out what would make me happy. Baby Abode was one of the changes, starting this business has given me focus in my life on something I am passionate about. It has taken the edge off my current career and opened up my life to endless possibilities. And to be on this journey with Laura couldn’t be any better. We are just 2 friends, choosing nice things to sell to other lovely mamas….what could be better?! We love it.
The other change wasn’t so straight forward. I entered into a 3 month long negotiation with my employer in order to change my job role and reduce my days. It was emotionally exhausting but I got what I wanted in the end, a 3 day working week. I am no longer managing a team, I don’t have weekly and monthly deadlines to hit, I manage myself on project work and my role is officially classed as ‘Part Time’. No more working at home to hit deadlines or attempting to cover work for my day off. That ship has sailed.
I’m summary – I tried, I failed, I changed, I succeeded.
My journey has brought me to a content place in my life; it works for me, it works for my family and that is everything.
Mamas, just remember that everyone’s scales are tipped in different directions and everyone’s sense of balance is different. Do what works for you.