For some of us, it’s a choice: a decision based on the fact that we’ll be better mums and happier people if we’re going out to work. For others, it’s a necessity, borne out of financial need or inflexible working policies.
But one thing that every full-time working mum has in common is that it’s blooming hard work!
When you work full-time, every day is a juggling act from the moment your alarm goes off until the second you fall into bed. But while it can be an almighty struggle, it can also be rewarding and fulfilling.
Here, one full-time working mum from Net Mums explains the thoughts that go through her mind every day:
1 You feel judged by other mums
There’s this universal assumption that if you work full-time, you love your job more than your kids and have chosen your career over being with them.
No one else knows the circumstances behind your decision to work full-time. Maybe you simply can’t afford not to work, or are banking time to take a career break. Maybe your boss wouldn’t accommodate your flexi-working request. Maybe you were crippled with PND and need to be out of the house for the sake of your mental health.
Whatever the reason, you adore your children as much as every other mum. Fact.
2 You’re a master of time-management
No one knows how to squeeze every moment out of the day like a full-time working mum.
You get up an hour before the kids to have a shower and make their packed lunches; you catch up on emails from your phone on the train; you spend your lunch ‘break’ doing your Tesco order; you stay at work until the very last second before dashing out of the door.
And then, when you get home, you spend your evening supervising homework, washing PE kit, ironing uniforms and packing bags ready for the morning – when it starts all over again.
3 You beat yourself up about missing out on important mum stuff
No matter how comfortable you are with working full-time, you can’t help feeling crap when you realise you’re going to miss out on your child’s nursery nativity play, class assembly or sports day.
It doesn’t matter that your other half can be there instead. You want to be there yourself, and not being able to makes you want to cry.
4 But you secretly don’t mind missing the crappy stuff
Okay, so missing the school play sucks, but not being there for nappy changes, toddler tantrums and the days when your child wakes up in an inexplicably vile mood is, frankly, not such a hardship.
5 You live in fear of childcare failures
The success of full-time work depends entirely on having good childcare in place, so when it goes wrong – whether it’s because your childminder has the flu or your child is too sick for nursery – the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.
Cue a mad, stressful panic as you try to work out who’s going to step into the breach.
6 You wish you could teleport
You can deal with being out all day, but you seriously resent the time you spend travelling to and from work – even if it’s only half an hour away – because it’s time you could be spending with your child.
If only you could click your heels Dorothy-style and just be there in a second …
7 You wouldn’t survive without your support network
Behind every working mum is an army of people who help things function: your mother, who helps with childcare; the school mum who drops your kids off when you’ve got an early morning meeting; the cleaner who relieves you of the burden of housework.
They’re your right-hand women (and men) and you couldn’t cope without them.
8 Missing milestones eats you up
One of the hardest things about being a full-time working mum is the thought of missing out on your child’s ‘firsts.’
You find yourself praying that your child will save their first steps or first word until you’re there – and plead with your nursery not to tell you if it happens on their watch.
9 You know how to make the most of family time
One of the benefits of being out of the house all week is that you’re determined to keep weekends sacred.
That’s your time for chasing the kids around the park, getting the playdough out on the kitchen table or taking the family to the zoo or farm – not for catching up on housework or doing the weekly shop.
10 You’re one of the most exhausted people on the planet
Pre-kids, your working day used to end when you put the key in the front door.
But now you’re a full-time working mum, getting home from work means switching straight from one demanding job to another – one where you have to bathe the kids, put them to bed, sort out what they need for the next day, cook dinner, clear up, send the emails you didn’t get round to finishing earlier …
No wonder you’re addicted to caffeine.
11 iPlayer and Netflix save your sanity
Working full-time means your evenings are one big whirlwind of catching up on domestic duties and child-related admin, and if you manage to sit down before 11pm, it’s nothing short of a miracle.
Thank goodness for catch-up TV; without it, you’d never get to unwind.
12 Guilt is your constant companion
All mums feel guilty, but none more so than the full-time working mum.
You feel guilty for not being with your kids; guilty for enjoying your job; guilty for not being able to pick them up from school; guilty for missing after-work drinks because you need to get home for bathtime; guilty for taking time off when your child is ill… It’s enough to drive you to the brink of insanity.
13 You enjoy using your brain
As much as you love being with your child, there’s not much intellectual value in singing The Wheels on the Bus and watching Peppa Pig marathons on the iPad.
Going out to work reminds you that you still have a brain, and that the years of studying or training weren’t all in vain – and that gives your self-esteem a much-needed boost.
14 You thrive on office chat
Whether you and your co-workers are discussing the refugee crisis, Sam Faiers’ baby name or what happened on Celeb Big Brother last night, it’s so refreshing to have a break from talking about nappies and homework!
15 You never feel you’re doing your best
You’re sure that there must be some perfect formula for achieving that elusive work-life balance, but if there is, you haven’t found it yet.
Instead, you’re constantly torn between work and family, and feel like you’re doing a crap job at work and a crap job of being a mum.
It’s tough – but there’s no choice. And in your heart, you know the world won’t end if your kids eat fish fingers and chips twice in one week.
16 You make rookie errors
When you’ve got so many balls in the air, it’s inevitable that you’ll occasionally drop one.
Hands up if you’ve ever turned up at work with your child’s Hello Kitty lunchbox in your bag, or sent her to school in uniform on dress-down day …
Yep, me too.
17 You’re still a mum – even when you’re not there
You may not physically be at home, but your number one role in life is as a mum – and even when you’re at your desk, that’s where your priorities lie.
You never stop worrying, planning, and just LOVING, and if the phone rings and your child needs you, you’ll drop everything to be there.
18 Walking through the front door makes it all worthwhile
Being a full-time working mum is one of the hardest jobs in the world. You’re spread too thinly, permanently exhausted and never stop thinking about what would make life easier.
But all the juggles and struggles are worth it when you open your front door at the end of the day and are greeted by a giggling baby, a toddler who rugby tackles your legs or a proud, grubby-faced child waving their Star of the Week certificate in your face.
You may not have it all, but you’ve made it through another day – and that makes you pretty awesome!
If you feel you are struggling to find a work life balance, take a look at our resources and free links to charities that may be off use here