Updated: Apr 4
It was not uncommon pre-lockdown, to talk to parents who felt torn between their career and family life. I've been a working parent on both sides of this shift and the conversation of work-life balance is bigger than ever.
'Stay at home' vs. 'working full-time'
I've done the morning drop offs, the rushing around like a mad woman at 9:00am and considering it was still only the start of the day, I'd arrive at work often late and looking a little worse for wear.
'Seeing colleagues looking refreshed at the start of each day would make me question my sense of belonging to the company; especially as a new parent. I’d tried waking up earlier but by 9:00am, I'd still end up looking like I’d worked a 6 hour day.'
A few years before anything as unforeseeable as a National lockdown. I'd often hear the conversation about choosing between being a 'stay at home' mum and being a full-time 'working mum'. I didn't hear much about the option to be both these things, and I certainly wasn't ready to put my career on hold.
'Time to focus on baby!'
Having come from a family of confident, strong-minded women, I've been armed with the self-belief that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to. So imagine my realisation once the sleepless nights took-hold; having been some- way off from the peak in my ‘dream career’, I began to wonder if being a mum would limit my opportunities. I knew for a fact that I wanted to focus on both, which left me quietly struggling between being a mum and keeping up with a full-time career.
'I absolutely loved being a new mum but I wanted a high-flying career too.'
'Was I being unrealistic?'
As I looked down at my helpless, baby daughter, I would often ask myself if I was being ungrateful. I would reason that, 'surely now it would mean even more to provide the very best for her future; not just through my love for her but financially too. Was this not important too?' I wanted to earn the right to be able to afford 'nice' things for my family, with a goal to finally own a home instead of renting. I was also mindful not to work the insane hours I'd previously worked, because now, I wanted to spend time with her and be the one to put her to bed each night.
'I was in a total state of maternal confusion'.
'The moment' of realisation'.
It hit me one Saturday evening, sat on the sofa, watching the BBCs’ 'The Voice UK', when a gifted woman shared how close she'd been to landing a record-deal at a young age. She chose to sacrifice the opportunity once she found out she was expecting a baby. She prioritised raising her son over her dream career. I was in complete awe of this woman, since her a mindset completely challenged my perspective.
"It’s been 19 years, and now that my son has just gone to university, it's time to focus on me".
'Huh.. 19 years?' I thought, 'That's a heck of a long time!'
It then dampened my hopes that none of the 4 judges selected her to move on to the next stage. 'So is that it for her?' I wondered!
But then I quickly ridiculed myself. 'Who am I to judge what's next for her? After-all, she'd chosen what was most important to her. It then became clear to to me that with or without this record deal, she spoke highly of her life-journey and was proud of what she' accomplished.
'This got me thinking about writing this blog.
Fast-forward to the present day, where it is almost impossible to find a parent who hasn't been impacted by lockdown. There seems to be a widespread realisation that it is possible to have a work-life balance without having to choose one over the other. It's certainly allowed me to feel open enough to have this conversation without feeling like a misfit. I've spoken to recruiters, employers and to parents of my children's friends; most of whom seem to have gone through some sort of awakening in their work-life expectations.
'I have felt a strong, positive shift in perceptions; and thanks to kids interrupting zoom meetings during lockdown, this side of life has been forced to the forefront.'
More options are now available to better accommodate working parents; however, this does depend on the nature of your profession.
In summary, whatever choice we make, self-doubt and criticism will usually come our way. Remembering that we all strive for different things will prevent us from comparing our decisions to others. Our values are unique to us and every parent has their own ideals, goals and challenges. Only you will know what best suits you and your circumstances.
'I'd love to hear your personal experiences on this topic. Please feel free to leave your comments below.'
Written by Taaya Griffith. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
IMAGE SOURCE (Illustrated by me) - inspired by :http://www.spanishdict.com/