Yesterday was impossible. The endless cleaning, feeding, clearing, entertaining, refereeing got to me. I really felt like I had failed and for once I didn’t have the energy to care.
Since lockdown began, like so many others, I have had to fit existing my client work projects in between managing small children and a household full of demands. To work around this has meant 5am starts to work though my personal to do list before the house awakes and then vacating the office when my husband starts work at 9am to start my ‘day job’, often going back in there in the evenings to finish things off.
For women in particular, this is such familiar tale, taking care of everyone first and you squeezing your career and plans in between every one else’s schedule. It’s taken an a year of hard work to build up my clients and my own consultancy business following maternity leave with my second child.
Now, with work (mostly) on hold whilst I care for the family and fit some in on the side, it’s given me the opportunity to do a bit of thinking about this. Last night I did a tally of childcare and incorporated costs vs earnings during a normal working week and it makes for grim reading. Working in the early years of children’s lives means crippling nursery fees, often organising wrap around care, relying on family members and inevitably very busy long days – just for the bonus of keeping your career going and to pay the fees.
Flexible initiatives and working schedules are hard to come by, with employers sceptical about allowing employees to work from home, until they have forced into it during lockdown, to find it actually can work effectively (despite their reservations). I only hope this attitude will remain once lockdown is over and employees will be trusted to work flexibly in the future, thereby allowing mothers more options when returning to work.
What conclusions have you come to following this time at home on how (or if) to return to work and how are you surviving the juggle?