Tag Archives: balancingtime

Settling but still searching for that balance

As any previous readers of this blog will know the last 6 months have been a pretty busy time for Ellie and I. Right now, for the first time in quite some time, I’m not planning, doing or recovering from a huge life change. I know that sounds a little melodramatic (and I’m never melodramatic…well not too often) but in the last 6 months: Ellie started school, we moved in with my boyfriend and his son in a totally new area, Ellie changed school, I published my book and finally, a few weeks ago we moved house again into our new family home. You get the point?

Well finally, after all of that, (my fingers are firmly crossed as I say this,) it looks like life might just be settling down and we are settling in.

Ellie has been invited to a number of birthday parties from friends at her new school and crucially, was desperate to go to them. She was also ridiculously excited when we wrote the invites for her birthday party and handed them out in the playground herself (at her insistence). She’s now had several play dates outside of school and is looking forward to going to one on her own later this week.

For my part, I now know the names of a number of the other mums from school and have their mobile numbers. We are in the process of organising a night out and a pamper night is forthcoming! I’ve met several of the neighbours at our new house and actually know their names … oh yes I do.

I am no longer anxious about how to drive to the places I need to get to in the area. Okay okay so I know it sounds sad, but no longer needing my sat nav for every single journey has to count as an indicator that we’re settling doesn’t it?

We also had parents evening this week and there’s no doubting the fact that Ellie has settled at school. I felt immensely proud as I was told that she was doing really well in all areas, learning well and being kind to others. They also mentioned she was very tidy minded so that’s noted! The fact that Ellie joined the school slightly later than everyone else is now clearly insignificant.

So it’s fair to say that by and large everything’s going pretty well which is why I can’t help feeling utterly frustrated that once again I’ve found myself struggling to get the balance right…that is the utopia of being as great a mum as I can be whilst also satisfying the desire/need to work and to deliver in my work. I’ve had tears (mine not Ellie’s), I’ve felt down and I’ve felt like a bad mum.

I’ve had a couple of occasions where I’ve needed to literally beg and borrow family and friends to look after Ellie, I’ve had a lot of nights where I’ve been tired and bad tempered and there have been several things at the school which I’ve been unable to do.

On the other side I’ve got a number of key things to get done for work and quite frankly, not enough time…I simply can’t work late in the office because I have to come home for Ellie but I do want to achieve. I’ve been really fortunate in that I’ve been able to work from home regularly for a few months now, but that isn’t something I can do for much longer.

If I’m honest though, what I think makes this all particularly frustrating is that, rightly or wrongly, I really do feel that I should just be able to deal with this, get over it and well…get the hell on with it! My inner voice is loud in its annoyance with me, not least because as I’ve already said life is actually settling nicely at the moment, but also telling me to quite frankly give it up because this is real life…millions of other working parents manage it and quite frankly you can’t have it all.

Well I’m sorry…but when it comes to this I want it all. That is when ‘all’ is working and also being able to be Ellie’s mum in an active, every day part of her life way. Surely this isn’t too much to ask?

So come on guys help me out here…I’m dying to know what you think. Is it possible to balance it right? Have you managed it and if so, can you share your secret? Also of course, I’d love to know that I’m not the only one who feels this frustration. 

Starting school….a working mum’s crisis?!

So here it is, my first ever blog and to be honest, the topic chose itself….Ellie has started school and I am already wondering quite how I’m going to balance everything.
I remember the moment just few days ago when I’d finally finished sticking and ironing on name labels for Ellie’s school clothes, shoes and bags – I felt pure relief that the final thing on the preparing for schoolchecklist was done. In the end this final task was actually fairly simple….ok so the first label is more melted on than ironed on, but it’s hardly noticeable. It does of course remain to be seen if the labels stay on and if they prevent things getting lost. I’ve heard several times now that Ellie is unlikely to still have all of her things by the end of the first term and quite likely to have other children’s things. This mysterious phenomenon apparently includes bags and shoes – oh joy!

Anyway, there’s no denying the fact that once the relief passed I felt a mixture of excitement about Ellie starting school, shock that she really is school age now and if I’m honest…. terror at the growing feeling that balancing working full time with being mum to a schoolchild is going to be harder (yes harder!) than it’s been as mum to a pre-schooler. 

The tone was set when I went for the new parents welcome evening at the school and it quickly became clear that I needed to find a way, alongside working, to fit a home visit from the teacher and TA, visit to school with Ellie to try on uniform and three separate short school settling in sessions into a three week period at the start of the summer. All of this came with well under three weeks’ notice. (It’s worth remembering that it’s 9.00 to 3.15….you can’t just pop in on your way to or from work.)

Next, I had a conversation with a teacher who explained they do occasionally do things ‘off the cuff’ so parents might get late notice of things going on. I did of course politely point out that there’s every chance I won’t be able to join ‘the off the cuff brigade’. I was reassured that it was fine but somehow I didn’t feel any better.

Then there is sharing morning, the weekly event where parents go into the classroom at the start of the school day and spend time looking at their child’s work. Just to clarify – this happens once a week, every week. I’ve already roped the childminder and grandparents into this, but even so – I can’t help but feel that I’m not there for my little girl because I won’t be able to go every week or even every other week.

So here’s the thing, I do want to be involved with Ellie’s education, I do want to get to know the school, I’m lucky in that my work are really flexible, but there is no doubt that being a working mum to a school child feels like a whole new era of challenge.

As I finish this first blog entry it’s the end of Ellie’s third day at school (well half day, since she’s mornings only for the first month) and she’s fortunately settling in just fine. With a pinch of luck, a great child minder and the necessity of getting on with it, we seem to have come fairly unscathed through the first few days. I was able to take and collect Ellie on her first day but not since and when you hear other mum’s talking about collecting their child daily it is difficult not to feel a twinge of guilt. My saving grace is as always my gorgeous daughter who seems to think that the both the childminder and school are fun! Maybe, just maybe Ellie’s not nearly as bothered about my not being at the school gate as I am.

So there it is…my first ever attempt at a blog. I’d love to know what you think so please send me a message either on here or via twitter: www.twitter.com/sharonmsmyth