I’m broke. Ok not broke but this freelancer lark may just break my mind if I struggle to be able to afford to meet my friends for a coffee every now and again. Worst part of freelancing? Wondering if and when the money will come in. Only one month in and I already miss being a trigger happy credit card swiper. It was so easy. Thoughtless. Effortless. Until the bill came in. But now? I can’t wait to see a triple figure bill. Will I even make triple figures in a month? Who knows. Thinking twice, and figuring out how much surplus cash I have for coffee splurges, if any, has been a big change for me. But oh I’m learning tricks! I have to really. The biggest, is how to avoid the supermarket.
Two words – Spring Clean. This will be a good way to find out if Papa Bear actually reads my ramblings here. Usually if I ask him, “oh did you catch my blog today?” I hear a mumbling of “Em Yeah, what was it about again?” To which I discover he did actually open the link, hooray, but only skimmed through the text picking up key elements so he could nod yes and be compliant in the good husband stakes. He was my second subscriber (Hi to my first *waves to Grandma Bear*) and a guinea pig to see what the email looked like when I hit publish. FYI – self promo moment – if you want those emails you can subscribe to the blog but who needs more repetitive strain from hitting the trash icon! If you want to read me, you’ll find me. Anyway, I’ve digressed a little… I did say Spring Clean didn’t I! Surely I’ve suitably pissed off Papa Bear now but let’s see if he reads more!
I think I’m classed as a millennial woman. A mid thirties, career minded woman with children in the mix who is trying to figure out how to have it all – if “have it all” really exists. I am the type of woman who has a partner, a mortgage and ideas in her head to climb all sorts of ladders. A woman whose ideas about herself, her life, her future, changed almost without her knowing but those ladders were still there. I was twenty one leaving college with a Bachelors Degree in the Arts. I jumped feet first into my career as a Librarian and continued with postgraduate studies in the evenings. I loved it. It was a plan, a path, an ideal I was working towards. And here I am twelve years later, abandoning that career I worked so hard for. It wasn’t always the plan to stay at home, but life has changed my options, and more importantly, my perspective.
Today I enrolled Little Miss in primary school for next September. Big school. And my heart skipped a beat. If I thought it was bad her starting Montessori, then I’m going to be a mess when she joins the líne with her little friends. Her school uniform perfectly straight and ironed in those first few weeks, socks pulled up to the knee, shoes polished and oversized bag on her back. A right of passage. Growing up.
Little Bean is an animal, a hungry animal. I started weaning her just before six months because, dear god, I couldn’t handle the stares and shouts at whatever was on my plate anymore. No matter what I was eating, she wanted. When Little Miss was a baby I was an un-adventurous, time poor Momma Bear whose commute meant there were very little home cooked dinners for her. It didn’t kill her! She ate and ate and happily moved on to our dinners when life settled down. Little Bean’ s appetite has outweighed her sisters from the very beginning. She’s an animal… did I say that already?
I almost called this The Isolation of Motherhood as I’m in the thick of being a Stay at Home Mum on maternity leave but I’ve gotten to know so many Stay at Home Dads the last year through blogging and friends, so I’m being politically correct with my title. I wrote a post last year about the loneliness of parenthood which was about how your relationship can change when kids come along. I didn’t think I’d write about how lonely being a Stay at Home parent would be because I’ve read so much about it, I swore I wouldn’t let the isolation get to me. But it does. And I do wonder if dads feel the same.
Don’t hate me but yes I’m already thinking about Summer Holidays. For the first time in my life, I have already booked a family holiday for the Summer. No, we’re not going to Spain or Disneyland, although they were options that soared out of our price range even with the sales. Instead we’re taking the kids on their very first family holiday to a self catering house on a rural organic farm in Wexford. The beach, the quiet, the sunsets, the reminder of the magic of family holidays when I was a kid. I genuinely can’t wait for this staycation.
The root of work life balance is supposed to be happiness. Where are you happier? How can you be happier juggling two separate scenarios- work life and home life but for many, the root travels deeper on a very basic and monetary plane – money. Is it there? How can you get it? And how can you spend less of it? When making decisions about how you are able to balance a career and a family, the basis of it all often comes down to how you will survive – on one income, on two, on cut salaries or by getting creative. Finding your worth and appreciating what you are worth to your employer is the first step to earning a wage you deserve. But are you brave enough to chase your worth? A question I constantly ask myself.
With the new year just days away, I can’t help but start to consider the ideal that is “work life balance” as a parent. There is no doubt that it is not easy being a parent and working a full time job. Being constantly pulled in each and every direction becomes tiresome and we end up constantly questioning why there aren’t more hours in the day, because damn we need them! The thoughts of returning to work have played on my mind since Little Bean was born and I’m wondering is there an answer to the perfect work life balance.
November was a tough month, which is one of the reasons I’ve been somewhat quiet around here lately. Little Miss started us off with a whopper of a chest infection, followed by the flu which we’re all slowly getting over, Little Bean included, and finally she finished this bout of sickness with a vomiting bug. In all, A missed quite a bit of Preschool and desperately wanted to stay at home with Momma Bear, snuggled up in her PJs no matter the time of day. All of which is totally understandable but it’s made the days she has been able to go to Montessori somewhat difficult. Separation Anxiety has hit. Hit hard. There have been plenty of tears. Hers and mine.