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Mums Inspiring Mums

Why Should Mums Have to Choose How Present They Are In Their Children’s Lives?

This weekend is Mother’s Day and across the UK for those who are still fortunate to have their mums, or a mother figure in their lives, there will be flowers and celebrations by way of thanks.

Because let’s face it our mums are really special and it’s only when we become parents ourselves that we realise how much they have done for us, and in many cases, continue to do so.

When I was growing up it was the accepted norm that parents would split the work-life balance with Dad’s going out to work and Mum’s being around to look after us as children. My Mum also managed to re-train as a teacher so that she could be around for us in the school holidays. She, of course, made it look easy that she did this. And when you’re little you never question how or why things are the way they are, you just accept them.

Nicola J Rowley Founder of the WMA

It’s only now as a Mum myself that I fully appreciate just how much my Mum gave up career wise to ensure that her family came first. Having worked for years in a career both as a Journalist and Communications professional I ask why anyone should be expected to give up being as present as they would like to be for their children?

Because that is the reality that so many mums are now faced with. They are either extremely lucky and have flexible working that is actually flexible, or they have to rely on others for wrap around care to ensure their child gets to and from school on time. But with this comes the inherent guilt of not being able to be as present as they would like or being able to attend every school play or event that’s laid on.

But it’s the fact that nowadays we have to choose how present we are in our children’s lives that gets to me. Surely, it would be better for everyone if we are able to be there for our sons and daughters as and when they need us.

Don’t get me wrong, some employers are brilliant and fully embrace flexible working and should be held up as shining examples because they get that mums have dual roles that don’t just end when they leave the office for the day.

Equally, the thought of not working for me would just feel wrong. Ever since I stepped foot into our local bakery for my first Saturday job at the age of 14, I’ve worked. And I love it.

But surely there has to be a way for Mums to not feel they have to make this choice.

This is why so many women are stepping away from the workplace. So many highly intelligent, qualified, smart women who are now finding a way to make everything work for themselves by going freelance or by starting up their own businesses. Because that’s the way they can work towards the freedom lifestyle that they crave. They no longer want to be a slave to their nine to five roles or feel like they have to be seen in the office, just because they are seen to be.

All of the Mums I know with a job are far more productive when they’re given the support and trust of their employers to work from home or have a mix of both. They work smarter because they have to, and they appreciate the trust that has been placed in them. They might complete their work at different times to others, but they will never miss a deadline and as a result, they’re incredibly focused.

So on this Mother’s Day when we celebrate everything that our Mum’s do for us, please remember this. Your Mum has given up so much for you to be able to do what you’re doing right now. She may well have made it look easy, but somewhere along the line tough decisions were made. She might have taken a pay cut to spend more time with you, she might have found a job that worked around school hours, she may even have made the hard choice that another family member / Nanny would help out more than she would have liked.

But these are choices she has had to make. Not necessarily choices she wanted to make.

And there’s an army of incredibly talented, strong, smart professional women who right now are feeling the injustice of it all. Why should they have to choose? I don’t know the answer to this I just know that when all is said and done, it feels really unfair.

How It Can Be Hard To Just Keep Going When You’re Ill…

As a working mum there are days when it just feels hard to keep going and to keep juggling; especially when all you want to do is retreat back under your duvet and stay there for the rest of the day because you’re ill.

This week has definitely been right up there in terms of wanting to retreat.

Taking care of yourself by Nicola J Rowley Founder of the Working Mum Association

But as with all things, I’ve had to try and balance the need to rest and listen to my body and the need to get through as much as possible within the timeframe I’ve had and to be there for my son.

By Tuesday of this week, I was down to just a vocal squeak and was swallowing razor blades. Thankfully my earlier bout of viral conjunctivitis was on its way out – but having both of those combined meant a very poorly me indeed. And it was a good reminder of how much as a working mum we still have to do, no matter how unwell we feel.

The need to get some additional support at times like these is so important. Not only does it allow you time out to recuperate even for just a little bit, but it means you’re more likely to get better sooner.

I don’t think there’s anything worse than when both yourself and your child are simultaneously struck down with the same lurgy and feel just as bad as each other. It’s at times like these that I wish we had a magic wand that could be instantly waved so everything can return to normal.

But magic wands aside, there are some coping strategies that you can adopt to make the whole illness scenario feel not quite as painful as it could be.

If you can muster the energy, move both of your duvets downstairs and lie underneath them preferably on separate sofas. It can feel like a real novelty and a bit of an adventure even for a poorly little one and it allows you to be in the same room as them should they need you.

Jelly. For as long as I can remember, no matter how awful I was feeling as a child, my mum would always make me a jelly. It’s of course a pure comfort food, but I’ve introduced the same for J and he knows if he’s ever ill, jelly will be coming. The thing is, yes, its pure sugar and water, but then when you or your little one is poorly and not eating, it’s a great way to ensure you both stay hydrated. And they will love you for it too.

I always said that when J grew up he wouldn’t be watching lots of television but if there’s illness in the house, there is a great selection of educational programmes that will keep everyone entertained. I’m thinking here of Numberblocks and Alphablocks in particular – that way at least they’re still vaguely taking on board easy Maths and phonics even if they are missing days from school.

Rest. This is by far the most important thing you can do where at all possible. Sometimes it’s easier said than done when you’re both ill, but see if your partner or a friend/family member can pop in if need be to take over on the care duties, and if you’re contagious and can’t even venture outside, then try and encourage quiet time.

I have to say that after this week, I’ll be glad to see the end of the illness, and now that we’re heading towards spring, hopefully that will be the end of the deluge of winter style bugs.

Hopefully when all is said and done, you have an understanding boss or company who has been sympathetic to your need to either work from home if your child has been off ill, or if you have too.

Illness is your body’s way of saying it needs to rest and the most important thing that all of us have, is our health. So please respect it and look after yourself as much as you can.

Sending lots of support your way… x