You CAN’T have it all :: Being a working mum

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that you can’t have everything in life. Despite what the brightly clad pages of magazines, shouting to female masses that “you can have it all” with their feminism wands a-waving, I’m beginning to realise that this is a myth, something we tell ourselves to make it easier to swallow the fact that one day we will wake up and have to choose one thing or another to a certain degree.

A fabulous career and awesome family life are totally achievable, they said. 5 steps to maintaining the balance, they wrote. Be a mum BOSS and have both, they bellowed.

Well, I’m calling bullshit.

I think at this point I would get to call myself a “mum boss” or “mumpreneur” if I chose to (which I don’t. No.) I pay my bills via blogging and social media promotion using tobyandroo, something I set up out of thin air and a damn good tech friend who designed a site for me and showed me which buttons to push to send my words live to the masses. Since then there has been a total rebrand, a lot of learning and a hell of a lot of growing social media platforms and hard work. I rarely talk about it because I often think it’s kind of wanky and I’ve never felt the need to write articles about “how I earn 6 figures blogging and how you can too!”

I’m also a mother of three, a home owner who is responsible for the day to day humdrum and a wife.

And I’m stressed to the max, struggling to maintain everything, dropping more balls than a juggler with buttered fingers.

A lifetime of watching Hollywood movies where the heroine has a mega successful career, hilariously struggles through the trials of having a family and might feel a tiny touch shit at the odd point, but it all comes right in the end and she can indeed have both and get it all right, has done me no good at all. It’s given me the illusion that, actually, you can have it all and that you will just be that funny mama who occasionally makes a mistake but everyone forgives because you’re epic and life is so happy. That’s not real

In reality, you can’t have everything. You can’t have every snuggle at bedtime and be in London working an event. You can’t help but shout and lose your temper when you can’t find the kids hats because, yet again, they have been moved by someone either trying to help or by a 2 year old with superb pick pocket abilities. You miss the smear test. You miss the parent/teacher appointment. You miss the work deadline because one of the kids is sick and you feel like you’ve let the client down. It all adds up and it stars to take a toll

That’s the reality of over doing it and stretching yourself so thin that everyone smiles and says “I don’t know how she does it” or “oh my goodness; you’re crackers to do so much”.

I think there is a balancing act that happens when you try to have a challenging career and run a family too. There is so much guilt to be managed, so many things to get in order that the slightest tip of the scales leaves you feeling totally shoddy. It’s one of those things that is really hard to explain and put into words without just sounding like an ungrateful cow, but it’s the truth. I’m tired of being asked “how do you do it?” because the truth is I don’t have a clue.

H x

(image is from the SeeSaw event with Netmums,)

8 Comments

  1. August 5, 2017 / 11:16 am

    I totally agree! Hubby and I go out to work, both kids are both school aged, housework, family life and trying to have a blogging hobby (addiction). I have many times looked at perfect IG photos and blog posts and thought how do they do it. It’s so nice to know it’s probably not all real.

  2. Having Quite a Lot, but not 'All'
    July 29, 2017 / 8:21 pm

    I don’t mean this to sounds like I’m disagreeing ( because I don’t – I agree that you can’t ‘have it all’) but I think I do a pretty good job of it, as far as you can. Both myself and my husband work 4 day weeks in senior manager jobs. We don’t earn mega bucks, but it is a lot by lots of peoples standards – around £50k each – we own a home. And we have 4 kids, under 6. It is possible to have a career and still be a hands on mum. So it is possible to strike a balance. 100% job and 100% family clearly don’t add up. At 60-40 (or whatever floats your boat) you can be happy with both.

    • Harriet July 30, 2017 / 7:38 pm

      I think that sounds amazing Anna – I wish I had found that balance 🙁
      I think my issue is that I want to do 100% of both 100% of the time – which is illogical, but I do think the media gives us the impression we SHOULD be able to do that with a smile… and I can’t.

  3. Carrie Marten
    July 28, 2017 / 6:07 pm

    Oh I know what you mean H! I feel like I am having an existential crisis right now. Why am I doing all that I do with my full time job and my family? Is it all really and truly benefiting our family? Is this what I and we should really be doing? And when people ask me how I do it all I say, “I don’t!”

  4. July 28, 2017 / 8:21 am

    Harriet I love you!! I couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said here. My only wish is that it could be easier for Mums and Dads to share work and home life. I think everyone would be happier if this could be simpler xxx

  5. Sarah
    July 27, 2017 / 4:20 pm

    I think ‘having it all’ is quite an outdated phrase. Nobody can have it all. Women (or mothers) should be able to have the same as men (or fathers). That’s a realistic aim, in my opinion. And it goes both ways; many men aren’t happy being the sole breadwinner and never seeing their kids, just as many women wouldn’t be happy giving up all hope of a career the day they get pregnant. In my experience there are plenty of parents, both mothers and fathers, that want to be able to balance a fulfilling and rewarding career with spending quality time with their family.

    Both my husband and I changed to part-time/compressed hours after my son was born. It’s not ideal; both of us have taken a bit of a hit career-wise and neither of us get to see every bath time or bedtime but it’s the best compromise we could find and it works well. The sooner we move away from the idea that becoming a parent is all about mothers taking on all the responsibility (whilst simultaneously sacrificing the best bits) while the father’s life carries on exactly the same, the better!

    • Harriet July 29, 2017 / 2:24 pm

      Thanks for your comment Sarah – I just wanted to clarify what I meant. This wasn’t meant as a pissing contest kind of post between the two genders, rather that WOMEN are taught that they SHOULD be able to do everything, run the home (without expecting help from their spouses or family – that is silly, geez, you gotta do it all yourself or you’re a terrible mother) AND have a high flying career which the break glass ceilings and what not. In comparision men are taught that they are a bread winner, the worker and it’s totally weird if they don’t want to work 90hrs a week because heaven forbid they miss their partner or kids.
      What I meant in this is that I feel (and I don’t think it’s remotely me looking at the social media comments and blog comments) that women have so much pressure on them to not make that compromise you and your partner have made and to be able to almost split themselves in two. It’s not realistic, in the same way it’s not realistic that men should work full time without it bothering them that they miss out on first steps, miss out on sports day – two things that absolutely broke my husband’s heart and resulted in him taking a huge pay cut to make sure that didn’t happen with our younger kids.
      I think what I’m trying – and rambling, sorry, chronic habit – to say is that women are no different to anyone else, there has to be a choice at times and you can’t be in two places at once. Somehow, somewhere, the ball gets dropped in one way or another. You aren’t going to have a high flying career where you are required to travel and work 90+hrs and still remain the head of the fambalam. It just isn’t going to work.

  6. July 27, 2017 / 2:04 pm

    After having a kid straight out of school, I tried to pretend I was just like every other normal teenager – I got into uni, went out on benders, had a Saturday job and even managed a placement away for a year (thanks to the wonderful childcare offered by my parents), but in the end, I only succeeded in making people think I didn’t have kids. Now, after trying to do it all again with a PhD, I’m left feeling completely frazzled! It doesn’t matter how many people tell you that ‘you can have it all’, I have to agree with your post… Once you’re a parent, you don’t fit into the same box as ‘non parents’ anymore 🙁

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