Bringing up kids and holding down a career is anything but easy says Sydney-based mum-of-three (and Career Conversation contributor) Nadine O’Regan, who talks us through her hectic day.
Before I had children, I didn’t cut the mums in my office much slack. They’d stroll in at 9:15 with baby sick on their shoulders and I’d think: “I’ve been here since 8am, and you haven’t even looked in the mirror”.
Ten years later, I’ve got three children and firsthand experience of how tough it is for working parents. You all deserve a medal. In fact I found the pace of corporate life with children so hard I gave up and started my own business. And I still don’t get the kids to school on time.
From the moment, I wake up at 6:30am it’s organised chaos: breakfast has to be eaten, school uniforms found and put on, bags packed and teeth cleaned. And it can all be derailed in a second if, say, I dare to give my youngest his drink in a cup that isn’t red. Occasionally, on a very good day, I’ll manage to have a shower. On an amazing day – pretty much never – I’ll even brush my hair.
Once I’ve dropped off the older two, I head home to make four beds, do two loads of washing, empty and re-fill the dishwasher and clear away the breakfast carnage, with my two-year-old trying to sabotage me every step of the way.
Stay flexible and efficient to keep your work and home life on track
When he goes down for his nap at 11am I neck a Weetabix then crack on with my to-do list. If I have work calls I’ll make them now – to the person on the other end of the line I could be sitting in a quiet office. If all goes to plan – nobody’s ill at school, nobody stops napping too soon – I’ve got three hours to get as much work done as I can. One advantage of having less time is that my productivity has really shot up.
At around 2pm it’s back to being a mum. I feed and water the youngest, then jump in the car armed with snacks to pick up the other two and ferry them to various after-school clubs. Then it’s dinner, homework, bath and, finally, bedtime. When, obviously, everybody suddenly needs the toilet.
If I’m lucky, by 8pm I’ll collapse on the couch with my husband for an episode of Game of Thrones. After that it’s back into the office to cram in another hour or two of work. At midnight I’ll crawl into bed hoping for an undisturbed night’s sleep.
It’s the same hectic story for lots of mums. Although running my own business is a bit of a juggling act, I’m in awe of those who manage to leave the house looking professional and arrive at an office ready to talk to actual adults. We’re all just about coping – getting through the day with our sanity, not to mention our children, intact counts as success.
And if the mothers I used to work with are reading this, the ones I used to roll my eyes at, it turns out you rock.
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