There was a collective sigh of relief at our end when the government announced its plans to introduce 30 hours of free childcare in September – a month after our son turns three.
I’m sure it was a familiar response in many homes across the UK. What now remains to be seen is if the nursery local to us, actually adopts the policy. It’s fair to say that we have spent the last 16 months being crippled on a monthly basis by nursery fees.
It was of course a decision we made that I would return to work full time after having our little boy.
But it’s not been all plain sailing.
I suffered from separation anxiety, which became all consuming. I couldn’t see beyond the fact that I was only getting to see my son for half an hour a day Monday to Friday. It literally broke my heart every single day.
But with a complete change of mind-set (thanks in part to writing my first children’s book), came a much happier me, a much more balanced mum and a more rounded family life.
I was talking to one of my friends the other week, and asked if she was planning to return to work after her second baby. We both agreed it’s not easy but the choice has to be made, (rightly or wrongly) as to what kind of mum you want to be, and how present you choose to be in your children’s lives.
Everyone is different and looking at my circle of mummy friends, there’s a real spectrum of those who work full time and try to juggle everything (some successfully), those who run their own businesses so have a degree of built-in flexibility, and those who are able to stay at home looking after their children full time.
Being a stay at home mum is a big trend at the moment, especially amongst women in previously high flying corporate careers. You only have to look at the number of mummy bloggers who are making great strides in their online enterprises, as they try to find the elusive balance and earning power that a successful business can provide.
I would argue that balance is the key to everything. Unlock the balance and then yes absolutely women and mums especially, can have it all.
But striking this balance can feel like you are walking a tightrope 24/7.
Many parents I know talk about the guilt of not being with their child as they’re growing up. This of course has to be weighed up with the many benefits of early social integration that childcare can provide.
For me it’s never been about the guilt. It’s more that I always knew the sort of mum I wanted to be. And yes, for now, I miss my son every single day.
But I’m also determined to be at the school gates to drop him off and meet him afterwards. It’s also why I’m laying the business foundations that I am now, no matter what it takes.
When J was born, my world was literally turned upside down and inside out, and overnight I lost my identity.
My Health Visitor put it succinctly after meeting me just a couple of times, “You know you’re still Nicola, not just J’s mum.” I guess you could say I have a tendency to throw myself into things whole heartedly.
It’s part of the reason that I went back to work. It took me a long time to find myself again and I needed to have more to focus on than just my son and his well-being.
The one thing I would say to mums who are able to stay at home without earning is – make sure you carve out some time for you.
My work ethic has always been strong. It’s why after much studying, I launched my own successful photography business, and still run it to this day, whilst working full time.
Writing and publishing a children’s book at the same time as all of the above, and juggling being a mum, hasn’t been easy, but it somehow feels right.
It’s the path I know I should be taking.
Writing is also the thing which comes most naturally to me. It always has done. It’s also why I’m offering copyrighting services for those who need it.
- The busy entrepreneurs / small businesses who don’t have time to write their blog posts regularly
- Those who need help finding their tone of voice
- The authors who are just published but don’t know what will help to engage their fans in the way they would like to
With a background in Journalism and Communications I understand what works, and more importantly what the media looks for.
At the end of the day, being a mum is an incredibly rewarding and hugely enjoyable experience.
Yes it’s hard work, yes there are times where you feel unappreciated, and yes it can feel as if you’re wading through treacle at times, when no amount of distractions will stop a tantrum.
But it’s also by far the best thing I have ever done. And I’m beyond grateful to have the opportunity to be one.
At the end of the day, being able to help guide, nurture and shape a little person, to become the best version of themselves is an incredible privilege.
Whatever path you have chosen, know that you can have it all if you really want it.
Re-visit your WHY on a regular basis. Your reason for wanting to achieve what you want, get to where you want to go, and be the mum and person you want to be.
Nicola J Rowley is the author of children’s book James and the Amazing Gift, which can be purchased from Amazon UK. For every copy sold, £1 goes to raise vital funds for UK charity Contact the Elderly.
Nicola is also offering copywriting services for entrepreneurs and details can be found on her website.