You’ve found a nursery, bought your outfit and negotiated flexible working hours. You’ve thought of everything … haven’t you? Here’s what no one tells you about life as a working mum.
1. You’ll become a ‘morning person’
Getting everyone up and out in the morning can feel like a day’s work in itself. Do as much as you can the night before, laying out clothes, packed lunches and even breakfast. Get up before they do (within reason) for a coffee and some peace and quiet. Then stack a pile of stuff in the hall they can just grab on the way out.
2. You’ll develop skills you never knew you had
Thought you were busy before? Multitasking will take on a whole new dimension as you find yourself on the phone to a client, writing your shopping list and paying your phone bill online – all at the same time.
3. ‘Me-time’ becomes your daily commute
It’s the only half-hour in the day you get to yourself, and you’ll find yourself strangely looking forward to it. Use it to catch up on your reading, have a leisurely coffee or just do your make-up in peace – it’s yours, so make the most of it!
4. You lose all sense of perspective
Your childminder breaks her ankle and your first thought is ‘how could she do this to me?’
Don’t lose your head – she probably didn’t do it to scupper your presentation. Take a deep breath, tell your boss, then sit down with your partner and make a plan to share the load.
5. You just about break even and you don’t care
Thinking about having your salary paid direct to your nursery? Sometimes it’s worth it just for some adult conversation. There are ways to minimise the cost of childcare, though. Use childcare vouchers if you can, and check out breakfast or after-school clubs for older kids.
6. Guilt is your new best friend
Hate leaving your kids but stress about work when you’re with them? Guilt won’t save you time or money, so leave it at the door when you head out in the morning.
7. Your standards will slip
Sometimes just getting to the office unscathed is a major achievement. Congratulate yourself, and turn a blind eye to dust and general clutter.
8. You’ll need to get tough
Still stuck with the chores after a hard day’s work? Don’t get lumbered. If you can’t afford a cleaner, draw up a rota and make sure everyone pitches in – even small kids can help to pick up their toys. Here are some tips on how to get kids to help with the chores!
9. Your working wardrobe will never be the same again
More often than not you will arrive for work with your carefully chosen outfit spattered with unidentifiable stains. Stick with a few tried and tested outfits that work with more than one top, and stash a few spares in your desk drawer.
10. You’ll love your secret life
It’s not all about stress and childcare dilemmas. Work is one place where you can actually get things done, finish a cup of tea, and are known as more than just ‘mum.’ And just occasionally you’ll find yourself browsing the shops at lunchtime and will forget you ever had kids at all…