Sometimes it takes a few tries to find exactly what you need as a working mum, as guest blogger Kristyn from Mummy K discovered…
As a journalist and having done freelance work before, I was pretty optimistic about being able to work from home or negotiate with my employer after my maternity leave finished two years ago.
I knew the ins and outs of the magazine and have figured out various ways to make the job work for both me and the company without compromising quality. But I was quite disappointed when I was told that they required someone to be in the office the “entire time”. It wasn’t negotiable and I didn’t really know how to push it. Personally, I didn’t think there was any big advantage to working from the office all the time in that specific role. But they’ve already decided.
So there I was, scrambling for freelance work because the one I was banking on fell through. I knew we couldn’t survive long on one income. But I couldn’t go back to work full time too. I’m one of those mothers – the non-clingy one at the start who ends up realising I couldn’t survive without seeing my child for hours. Obviously, full time work wasn’t an option for me.
So I pushed for freelance work every now and then, contacting everyone I knew from the industry and putting my name out there as a freelance journalist/sub editor/photographer and writer (anything I could do, I put it in my CV). For a while, I was able to scrounge up some work here and there, but finances were tight and I needed something more regular.
The thought of full time work and full time pay became appealing. When a fashion magazine contacted me to do around two months of full time work, I said yes. I’ve never done full time after having my daughter. I’ve never been out all day everyday before. I’ve never placed her on daycare everyday before. I’ve never juggled motherhood and full time work before. There were a lot of fears, uncertainties, and doubts – add to that the usual insecurities about whether or not I’d remember how to do my job. But money was an issue so I had to give it a go. I thought briefly that maybe I could be one of those mothers too – the one who could do it all.
Two weeks into the new life and I was ready to give up my full time employee hat. I realised I so wasn’t one of those women – you know, the one who can work full time and be a full time mother too. Hubby was commuting two hours each way to work so I couldn’t ask him to do a lot of stuff like pick up/drop off our daughter to and from daycare. Basically, I was doing it all on my own. Working, preparing my daughter’s daycare things, making dinner, getting her ready for bed, feeding myself, doing chores and so on. And I felt I was missing out on my daughter’s milestones. She’d come home one day and use a big word properly and I would just be gob-smacked.
After the full time period ran out, I felt a huge thorn come off my chest. In a way I was lucky that I could dip my toe into the full time world before deciding. I also know I’m lucky to have finally found a regular freelance work that I can do from home. Although the woes of working from home are also present, it is something I can handle far easier than when I’m working full time. It took a while, several trials and errors, but I’m happy I was able to find that balance – and the family is happy too.
Kristyn aka MummyK is a freelance journalist/photographer/editor and a first time children’s book author. She is mum to one little girl and two little dogs, and wife to her IT consultant/musician husband. She blogs at http://mummyk.com and tweets as @themummyk.