Thursday, November 17, 2011

Please don’t send in the clowns.

Blogger Sarah Wayland from That Space In Between ( thinks that working mums overuse the word 'juggle'. She's come up with another word she prefers. Do you agree with her?

I was meandering through the online world the other day reading bits of this and bits of that and I noticed something - articles relating to mums tend to overuse the world juggling.

Mums use it when talking about themselves and writers use it when describing the simple act of parenting, working or about mum’s just finding a moment to be.

I was never one to enjoy the circus as a kid. I hated the way the animals were treated, I was anxious about the trapeze artists and clowns…don’t get me started on clowns (jeez I must have been a fun kid to be around!)

When I read the word juggling two things come to mind – things flying through the air all at once and a stupid clown with make-up in all the wrong places. Some days I might be known for a random smear of the mascara wand but in the art of managing all those balls through the air juggling suggests to me that we might drop something. So I’ve decided to replace the word juggle with thrive.

Thrive suggests resilience, its suggests a strength rather than a deficit and it suggests a little bit of mastery – because that’s what we’re all doing, we’re the ring masters of our lives.

I’m not a person that likes to be idle, I work part time as a project manager (yay flexible employers), I study for my post-grad qualifications externally, I do some freelance writing, I blog and I mop up vomit for 2 small people and sometimes for 2 bigger stepkids…I’m no SJP (and yes, I really don’t think we should ask how she does it) but juggling just might be one of those words we insert for parenting. I asked some mums on my online uni forum about the use of the word juggling and needless to say 91 comments later I think it might be something we all have thoughts on it seemed that most thought that doing lots of things is just par for the course. One of the uni mums said to me..

I am proud of being a working, studying, performing, directing, mummy and my family is proud of me! I don't juggle! A slightly less present mummy is better for my family than a sad bitter mummy who is there all the time.

In saying we can have it all doesn’t necessarily define what all is…. we can have what we want and we can thrive in all of those things if we make the choice to, its all about options, its about making the most of your day and its about doing what you love. I do often doubt that I can do it all but the words of one of the mums rang through my head when I was pondering this…

Juggling implies that you are actually keeping the balls up in the air…. I would say it is more like a colourful ball pit, lots of fun, but you have to keep yourself from going under

So go forth mums…work, study, play and be who you want to be but don’t just say that you’re juggling because in thriving we don’t have to drop something, we might just pop it down for a while.

What do you think of the word juggling – does it irk you as much as it does me?

Sarah Wayland has been working as a Social Worker in the missing persons field for the last 10 years. She is currently a part-time stay-at-home mum, part-time public servant and part-time postgraduate student in the field of hope and loss at the University of New England. She blogs at


Life In A Pink Fibro said...

Great post Sarah! I like the word 'thrive' when it comes to working mums. Positive is as positive does.

Con Vicissitude said...

Eggsellent Sarah, aren't you glad I said 'go for it?'

Here's to ball pits and the fine art of thriving :-)

Anonymous said...

Great article and so very true!!
I am proud to say I am thriving too!

Jocelyn said...

At the end of a long week, thriving just feels like surviving ;)

Inspiration for the weekend!!!

Lisa Lintern said...

Thriving is a great positive word, but sometimes I feel my leaves wilt a little in the face of some of the challenges I confront as a working mum (albeit part-time). How about 'hurdling'...I'm becoming better at facing up to the roadblocks and taking a flying leap (or side-step with the energy evades me).

sarah said...

Lisa...I love the word hurdling...even though I was rubbish at athletics at school. I think having some positive options to replace those weary words that get attached to mums can only be a good thing..