Slow down, life. I’m stepping off.
Next time someone asks you how it feels to be a working mum, share this incredible post from mum of three, Sarah Buckley Friedberg.
In 15 very RELATABLE paragraphs, she details every exhausting pressure, rule and expectation of working mums in 2019.
Society to working moms: -Go back to work 6-8 weeks after having the baby. The baby that you spent 9-10 months growing…
Dare you to find at least four things (probably way more) that mirror your own life in some way.
Sarah’s American, which means thanks to their incredibly out-dated policies she only got six to eight weeks of maternity leave for each of her babies. And while we can thank our lucky stars that here in Australia this is NOT the case, all the other pressures she faces are depressingly familiar.
“I’m leaning out”
“I am leaning out,” she writes with a heartbreaking sense of defeat. It’s a reference to Lean In, the wildly successful book by Sheryl Sandberg (working mum and CFO of Facebook) who encouraged us all to put our best foot forward when it comes to careers, even while raising a family.
Yet even the most inspirational read can feel like just another ‘thing’ you ‘should’ be doing/understanding/practising when life is far too busy for anyone’s good.
Why? Because venting our concerns about the bucket of overwhelm that is most of our lives, is actually not enough anymore. As compelling and validating as it feels when someone like Sarah expresses your own experiences so eloquently, today’s working mums need more than just words. We need solutions.
I’ve spent the past five and a half years as a working mum and although I was lucky enough to have had two full years of maternity leave (one for each child), the life juggle is not only real, it’s relentless. Yet here’s what I have observed so far: the most productive and successful changes a working mum can make to her overwhelming life, is very often a simple change in her.
Wait! Hear me out. I am not prescribing yet another thing for the list, I’m really not. What I mean is that sometimes it’s the thing you let go of that has the most liberating and positive effect on your family.
- Smug blogger questions wisdom of working mums
- Employ a part-time mum and get the best employer ever
- Nooo! 13 random thoughts all working mums have when the alarm goes off
Need some proof?
Recently a friend of mine, who has two children under five, took a job that was four days a week instead of the five days she’d been working. The change in her has been remarkable.
Not only does she feel less tired, but she is also more conscious of how much she needs to actually care for herself, in order to help her family when and how they need her.
Of course this one day a week is rarely a slow or indulgent day. She uses it to cook a couple of meals for the freezer, catch up on housework and take care of any appointments. It’s also meant a tiny step backwards, financially. But, she says all of this is easier to accept because of how much better she feels for having a day to “rescue” the bits of life that have always fallen on her shoulders.
What does support look like to you?
Not everyone can do this with their job, of course. But the tiny bit of space she’s created in her life can be created in other ways.
For example, another friend of mine has always worked full time while raising her two kids – a juggle right there. She invests in a regular babysitter, a girl down the road, who can be on hand for any extra stuff that comes up during the week. Just knowing that the babysitter is there has given her a peace of mind that she describes as priceless.
While another friend has taken up yoga twice a week at night. It’s a juggle to get there, it’s not always easy but by the end of the week she has given time back to herself and that has a ripple effect that cannot be ignored.
Making a list and only checking it once
And in an even more simple change – another friend swears by a list in the notes section of her phone to which she adds anything that needs some action throughout the week. You know, those things that hover around your head at 3am? Instead of worrying about them, she chucks it on the list and at the same time every week (Wednesday 8pm) she makes a cup of tea and tackles each one.
She says she’s reduced her stress just by allocating a specific time and day to the tasks. “I just think that’s okay, I can get to that on Wednesday night” and off she goes.
We need more justice and equality when it comes to managing family life. Nobody can argue otherwise. But don’t overlook the (comparatively) simple act of turning inwards and the big difference that can have on our current reality.
Because sometimes it’s finding the change that works for you (big or small), that can have the most authentic and lasting impact.