Yes that would be me, a full time working parent, guilty of switching the laptop on, taking a phone call, being slightly distracted by a deadline. Guilty as charged.
You can cook without guilt. Diet without guilt. Eat chocolate without guilt. Parent your children without guilt. But can you be a working parent without guilt?
Honestly, I believe the answer is NO. *Feels incredible sadness*
You know you are pushing the boundary when this is what happens …
What are you doing … ‘being like mummy’. Oh the guilt.
Many working parents feel guilt. I know I am not alone in this. For some reason this last week I have either heard others or been a part of a lot of conversations on the train and in the office about the struggle parents to very young children have. Does that mean it gets easier as they get older? These people are struggling to balance the demands of their jobs, the demands of their children, and finding time to do things purely for themselves. Was it so prevalent last week because many children finished for the summer holidays?
I call it Work Life Blend. Can the two blend? Can you manage both and be a success? Now that is the question. I believe you can however you need flexible working. Without this you are screwed. You also need to release the feeling of guilt when one takes priority over the other. The combined affect of feeling guilty because you are not meeting your commitments at work, feeling guilty because you are not giving enough time to your children, and feeling unhappy because you do not have time for yourself is crippling. Pass me a walking stick.
My feeling of guilt has recently escalated. So many friends, and blogging friends are taking a break for summer whilst they enjoy time with their children *green with envy*. I am a full-time working parent. I am the breadwinner. I will never be part-time. I will always be a full-time working mummy. Oh the guilt.
I enjoy my job. Really I do. It doesn’t stop the guilt.
To compensate for the fact that we both work full time, we placed Lil G in a private nursery at the age of 9-months. Such a big decision. It’s expensive. It comes with it’s own challenges but it really is worth it. It does make me sad sometimes, when I think about the time they get to spend watching our boy grow, witness his development, milestones, often seeing them before we do. Sometimes I literally get to spend an hour with him at either side of the day before hey presto it’s the weekend. Oh the guilt.
On a positive note, he benefits so much from his time there. As a nursery they do so much more than just classroom activities, they go swimming, take them out to parks, farms, local attractions, invite a dance tutor in, invite a puppet master in, visit the library van. It really is the best replacement for time spent with one of us. He has a lot of fun. That aside, the guilt still creeps in.
However with nursery comes a challenge which reaps of guilt. What happens when they are ill, excluded for 48-hours because of a bug? When Nanny & Grandad aren’t available or are on holiday. The change in routine has a negative effect on the military style schedule that all working parents seem to have down to a tee. Work commitments get cancelled, unplanned holiday is taken, you feel guilty to your colleagues as often they have to pick up the slack.
When you choose to combine motherhood and career in any way, shape or form, there will always be trade-offs, sacrifices and compromises. I have decided that will not be my relationship Lil G. In the past I have been guilty of multi-tasking on days off, a weeks holiday, fearing not to switch off emails, letting the phone ring to voice mail. Which ultimately means that I am not fully present. I have made a pinky promise to switch off when I am on mummy time. To be fully present. I will make my time with Lil G memorable. Whether that be a cuddle, holding hands, a craft activity, playing football, a trip out. It will be memorable. Work can wait (most of the time) … Eek I’m not doing very well at this already.
Are the trade-offs, sacrifices and compromises the same for men as they are women? I believe they are. I know that’s not the case for everyone. In Our Little Family they are. I particularly enjoyed reading this article, interesting how men and women are still viewed to be so different! What year is it again? http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/28/mothers-fathers-guilt-parenting-women-childcare. It seems that Germaine Greer has some pretty strong views on a couple of subjects.
I feel guilty because I am a full-time working parent. However I have the benefit of flexible working, therefore I shouldn’t feel as guilty. It could be worse. I recently wrote a post on my flexible working, maybe you would like to read it … Work Life Blend.
Happy George, happy Mummy, happy Daddy … Simple really.