The full time working mum vs the full time stay at home mum.
The debate has been raging for years. Contradictory headlines splashed across the media wade in on whether either decision will harm your kids, or lead to their instant success in life. Both arguments can add to the guilt that many mums already feel. The fact is that all families are different and mums make decisions on whether and when to return to work after having a baby, based on what’s right for them, their family circumstances and their children.
Some mums might have to work for financial reasons.
Other mums might choose to work for personal reasons.
And other mums choose to take time out and stay at home to bring up their children.
Each has its own advantages and sacrifices.
Once we’ve made our own decision it can be easy to feel defensive about the choice we’ve made and a little judgey about the different choices other mums make. But motherhood is hard enough without feeling judged by others.
As a full time working mum you can be faced with many comments that cut you to the core. Often the person who says them doesn’t really mean to offend but what they say can hurt anyway.
So, as mums together, all doing our best, try never to say these things to working mamas. Like, ever.
‘Do you ever feel bad missing sport’s day and school assemblies?’
Short answer. Hell, yeah. Of course we do!
Every time a work meeting or a deadline stops us from taking time off to go to a school event we feel utterly horrible.
We try to use our annual leave to make it to the events that matter most to our kids. So we might miss a sports day but will pull out all the stops to be there for the nativity play. Work is a balancing act and we have to pick and choose what events we can attend.
It’s one of biggest guilt trips we have being a full time working mum, so please don’t remind us what we’re missing out on!
‘I’d miss my child if I was away from him all day’
We do too. And the zoo trips and the walks in the parks every day.
We miss so many moments but that’s the sacrifice you have to make when you make the decision to go back to work.
And you know, sometimes it’s actually easier to have a day in the calm of a workplace, than to spend it running around after energetic toddlers. At work we get little treats like being able to take a pee in peace and have a lunch hour.
And those snuggles and cuddles when we get home – they make everything worthwhile.
‘You trust your childminder, right?’
Nah – we just bunged our child into the hands of the nearest stranger without a backward glance.
We’re joking. Of course we think our childminders are amazing. We trust them with our most precious things in life – our children and know that our kids are having fun and being well looked after.
And the best bit – they get to deal with all the mess from the kids’ activities so we get let off the hook! Result!
‘I bet your house is spotless with the kids out at childcare all day’
I guess it should be? But no, if only. If truth be told we left the house in a rush and there are currently 375 Cheerios on the kitchen floor that we never managed to sweep up and the lounge looks like a toynami hit it.
And the laundry mountain? Don’t even start.
Yes, our children are at childcare during the day but they sure make up for it when they are home. And being at work all day means we’re always chasing our tail and never on top of the constant mess.
They say Sunday is a day of rest…or a day when we catch up on the rest of the laundry, the rest of the tidying, the rest of the housework…yay!
‘You look exhausted’
We are. Being a mum IS exhausting. Whether you work or not.
Sometimes no amount of Touche Eclat can cover up those dark circles under our eyes.
If only you could wear sunglasses in the office.
‘Good for you, for putting yourself first’
Everyone knows mums come last in the queue and that goes for working mums too.
Some days my kids go off to school looking neat and pristine and I have a blob of mashed banana and a Marmite handprint on my work clothes because I ran out of time to get myself together.
Working, like not working, is just the decision we’ve made for what’s best for our family. And the kids always come first in a family.
‘It must be hard hardly ever seeing your kids’
We do see them, each and every day. And quite a bit of the night too.
We’re there for all the breakfasts and morning snuggles.
We’re there for all the chats about our days and the special playtimes after work.
We’re there when they are poorly and they need us to be close.
We’re there for the weekends and the holidays and the celebrations, to make memories that will last a lifetime.
We’re there in the middle of the night to hold them close when they can’t sleep.
We’re there. We’re really there.
So for all the mums, the full time working mum, the part time working mum, the work from home mum and the full time stay at home mum, remember we’re all doing our best. And that’s doing an amazing job.
If you feel like reminding another mama from time to time that she’s a great mum, it will make all the difference to her day.