Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Is the grass greener over there? Or over there, maybe?

Combining a small baby with a pre-schooler and a business is definitely challenging. Probably 50-60% of the time, it works fine and we all somehow manage to keep on top of everything. But every now and then over the last month, I’ve yearned for a small(ish) lottery win so that I could take a couple of years off and be a SAHM.And then, every now and then I’ve yearned for a fancy dancy overpaid job, that I could go off to do during the day and then have proper weekends and evenings, where I get to actually take time out with my husband and children.

The trouble with being a WAHM (and a WAHD, of course) with one child at home most of the time, is that you lose your evenings and weekends. The vast majority of my work these days is undertaken in the evenings. Which works fine when Eleanor goes to bed at her proper bedtime (between 7 and 8), but is difficult when she decides to stay awake until 9 or 10.

And then there are the times when you’re working until 1am, then your elder daughter wakes with a nightmare at 1.30am, goes back to sleep at 2.30am, half an hour after which the baby wakes up for a feed, then your elder daughter wakes up at 5am and will not go back to sleep. At all. We all have this, of course, whether we’re SAHMs, WAHMs, or some other acronym! And it wipes you out whatever you have to do the next day, be it commuting to London, amusing toddlers or doing four different school runs. But surely it’s easier if you go out to work? Or don’t do any paid work? Surely? No? Oh well.

Today, I've had the day off and yesterday evening off and I’m feeling like I can face anything, even though Eleanor didn’t go to sleep until 9pm. My batteries are fully recharged and I’m ready to get back to my desk tomorrow evening, or maybe even this evening. But a few nights ago, I felt like I would never have any time to sleep, let alone sit in  a cafe chatting to a friend. And what I’ll feel like by Friday is anyone’s guess.

 

So, any tips from the other WAHMs out there? And for those SAHMs and career gals – is the grass greener over there, of does it look especially verdant here, to you?

17 comments:

  1. Never get enough work done as always more fun being with kids :)

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  2. Oh my goodness I think you must have it the hardest.At least with a commute ( if on the train) you can sleep. There is nothing worse than sleep deprevation, I only hope that the baby soon drops the night feeds so that you can at least get a full night's sleep. Lots of admiration from me!

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  3. You know what, I have no idea at all. I guess being a mum is just hard work which ever way you have to do it!!

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  4. I think being a WAHM might just be the hardest option! sorry. I work part-time out the house (18.5hrs) and it is bliss. Yes I took a £40K pay drop to go from my career job to a much more understated one but nearly 6 years later I am so glad I did. I can do without the Barbados holidays and tons of new clothes but I love the space of goign to work - out for lunch, off to the gym or aqua and still have 4.5 days at home with my babes. Mich x

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  5. It's definitely easier for me; I can handle work on no sleep, but I struggle at weekends if I'm woken several times in the night. I don't have the luxury of being able to just 'coast' at work, in fact quite the opposite, but I just find it uses a different part of my brain to being at home, so one side gets rested while I'm at work!

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  6. I struggle to find enough hours with just one child still at home and a part time job so I have great admiration for you! It's so much better being part time as I'm sooo not stressed any more (just desperate for more hours in a day to fit writing in as well!). I need my sleep or am just unbearable to be around.Good luck.

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  7. I am desperately struggling with sleep as I have just returned to full time work (this is the second week) and my youngest wakes at least twice any maybe three or four times during the night. It didn't feel any better when I was at home all the time, but at least I could choose not to face the world when I felt really terrible. I just keep telling myself that it will get better - as it will for you too!

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  8. I wouldn't be anything other than a WAHM (apart from filthy rich so I wouldn't have to work!) because I would hate to miss out on all the "Mum stuff", but it is exhausting because it can feel like two full-time jobs - all-day/all-night mothering and then squeezing work into those small slots when I'm not needed as Mummy...

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  9. Kat: I have to say, when my mother-in-law was visiting recently, I got lots of extra work done, but really missed my time with the girls. Morning cuddles with Rosemary and daytime chattering with Eleanor. They give a nice balance to the days, usually.

    Nova: I think I would love to commute now, though I never much enjoyed it when I used to do it. The chance to read a book in peace or tap away at the netbook uninterrupted, sound like heaven.

    The Mad House: Yes, I think we all struggle at times, rewarding though it is. There are benefits and drawbacks to all the different choices/ways of doing things, really!

    Michelle: Sounds like you've found a great balance for you, and there is a lot about it that sounds appealing. I think the biggest thing for me, would be the ability to leave work at the office and not think about it outside of working hours. I know some people do manage to make that distinction, even when working from home, but I don't think I've ever done so.

    MTJAM: That's intersting that you talk about using a different part of your brain at work. That's what I generally like about our work-life situation, the opportunity to use the brain in different ways throughout the day. But I think it does sound like it would be easier away from home.

    Diney: Part-time does sound good and I know quite a few parents who have gone back part-time and find it really works for them. But then there are others who find they are having problems giving enough to each side of them - needing more time to fit the work in and more time to fit the children in and so on.

    Hearth Mother: Oh, I really feel for you. That must be so difficult to cope with interrupted sleep when working full-time. At least, when working from home, you have the opportunity to take an hour nap if necessary (something I had to do twice last week and Chris had to do once), to recharge your batteries. I hope it gets better for you soon!

    Kirsten: That's exactly how it feels, yes. Two full-time jobs. Sometimes two and a half, if you count housework, too, though I try my best to ignore that! I do know that it was a lot easier from when Rosemary was around 18 months, so am looking forward with great anticipation to things becoming much easier some time next year.

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  10. I work at night away from home whilst they're all asleep, but the only problem is, is that i get up at 7am then i look after the kids all day, i try and squeeze a sleep in but if i don't i'm awake until 4:30am. My shifts are 8pm till 4am so it is one hell of a day. Then i'm up at 8:30am so i only get 4hours sleep. I wish i could work from home so i didn't have to drive to work. Thank god i start my mat leave soon xxx

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  11. Amy: That must be especially difficult at the moment, when you'll be extra tired, anyway. I have a friend who's recently started doing a couple of night shifts a week, and she gets two hours sleep in the day after one. But night work is ideal for parents in lots of ways. Chris' mum is a nurse and works nights and did from when her children were at school. I don't think I could do it, myself. I can't get much further than midnight and the few times I've had to pull all-nighters for work (or uni), it's completely wiped me out. Yay that you get to start mat leave, soon!

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  12. I think the first year with two is just hard, especially with the lack of sleep. I recall being a zombie until my son was about 12 months old. I work outside the home (can't fall asleep while commuting, driving on the freeway!), and it does have the benefit of giving me some evening time after the kids go to bed, but that time is often for laundry, bills, and often work email catch up too. And of course i don;t get to spend as much time with my kids as you do.
    Hang in, it gets easier (or maybe we just get used to the sleep deprivation - tired is the new black!)

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  13. I have done it all and think that having children is jut hard work. There's no way to get around it. The baby bit is especially challenging though.

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  14. Geekymummy: I've been reading back over posts from when Rosemary was this age and I was finding it equally challenging then, and know for a fact that it got better. I was there. So am feeling more positive. If course, the fact that I don't have too much work on this week and have had lots of quality time with my girls helps a great deal. But, I think there's a reason why maternity leave is a right (and should be a right in more countries and for longer, of course!). Just wish there were a better maternity leave payment system for the self-employed. £100 a week comes nowhere near my normal contribution to the household income!

    Susanna: I guess it is hard work, yes. And, I think the baby bit is especially challenging - see above to Geekymummy - which is why they invented maternity leave. Just wish I could get me some of that!

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  15. I think the grass is and will always be greener over the other side! Whether at home, working or combining a bit of both (I've done all 3) it is bloody hard work - but they are all absolutely worth it! x

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  16. I've just blogged about the same thing (as you know)and hats off to you - combining motherhood in the days with working in the evenings is quite a feat. I'm impressed.

    All I'm good for these days after 7.30pm is eating, reading and TV watching. Although, I seem to rise to the occasion if 'Girlie night in' is mentioned. Then, I can stay up till midnight, no problem, and still have bags of energy. Somehow can't manage to work much past 5pm though. Strange...

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