Monday, September 24, 2012

The balancing act

This year I made the decision to go back to work for one day a week.  Gideon was 7 months old when I returned.  I have blogged previously about the mummy guilt I felt at returning to work. Three terms down the track though and I still feel a little this way.  It's not exactly the same feeling as I had before I started but it definitely feels like a real balancing act between my home life and my work life. 

My Mum is doing an awesome job looking after the three kids.  And I know Gideon is fine without feeds and without me there now.  In fact, he probably sleeps better for Mum than he does for me at home!  But there has been quite a few times this year that Gideon has been sick and I have had to take time off work (Gideon seems to get a whole lot more respiratory sicknesses than the other kids ever did which we suspect is due to his adenoids - but that's a whole other story ;)) or he's not been 100% and I have still gone to work.

The hard bit is making that call.  Do I take time off or do I go to work?  How much time off is ok without being excessive?  If I do take time off I feel like I am letting work down (and my students - I work at a special school so having a day off means the kids have a replacement teacher or their class split and their routine is disrupted for the day).  If I don't take time off I feel like I am letting my kids down.  For me, family comes first.  It's not even a question.  When the kids are obviously sick I take time off.  But sometimes they are just not 100% and you have to make decisions about whether you should or shouldn't go to work (and then end up feeling guilty all day if you do decide to go to work!)

My mum has an auto-immune disorder too so if the kids are even a little bit sick it is higher likely that she will get whatever they have.  So I feel guilty whenever I send them off with a sniffle or the like that she is going to end up sick as well! 

Then there's been times that I have missed things at Jacob's school because I've been working.  All the special occasions at Jacob's school this year have been on Fridays.  I've had to miss his Autumn Festival and his Spring Festival (for which the kids did a little Eurythmy performancy - I was really sad to miss this!)  I know that my mum loves going to these but gee I feel guilty for being the only mummy not there for her son.  In my mind I am not performing my 'duties' as a mum (no offence intended for other mums that choose to work - this is just how I feel about things myself!)

Teaching is a pretty child friendly job. I get school holidays off to look after my kids and I don't have to put in extremely long hours in face-to-face time (I say face-to-face time because teachers do actually put in a lot more hours away from the classroom!)  But sometimes I wish I could have a job that is more flexible. One that I can work my hours around my children's needs and take time off to see those important performances by my kids.  

But then again, I love my job.  I love working with kids with special needs and taking delight in every small achievement they make.  And I can't really do what I do without being away from home!  So where does that leave me?  I'm not quite sure!  I suspect that this mummy guilt will continue until my kids are all grown up.  In the meantime I shall just have to learn to deal with it.  

For others that work outside the home how do you find balancing work/family life? 


Yvette ODowd said...

Iwent back to work when my youngest was four and due to start kinder a few months later, my middle was at primary school and my oldest due to start high school in the new year. I had all those same feelings as you, even thoug were older. We had a fantastic family day care carer and family back up.

I worked for five years before stopping becase of ill health. What shocked me was how much my kids still benefited from having me home full time, even though they were now at primary, high and uni. I stayed home for six years and now have been working again for six years. Now I am wondering how I will combine my paid work with becoming a grandmother! And when my daughter goes back after her paid parental leave, I want to help her with the balancing act!

Ithink there is no answer. Whichever side we are on, the grass is greener on the other. When we are home, we worry we should be working and when we are, we worry we should be home. And while we are busy worrying, our kids adapt around us and grow up just fine!

Faking being a housewife said...

I am due to go back to work when my baby is 1 and I don't know if I am ready to go back! Can't imagine leaving her

Narelle said...

Very true, Yvette. I forgot to say in my post too that I believe that working that one day a week actually makes me a better mum . It's nice to have that time away from the kids and come back to them refreshed and happy. And I know they are in great hands with my mum :)

Faking being a housewife, I don't think we ever feel ready no matter how old the child! Hope your return to work goes well!

Charlote said...

It's hard. I only work Saturdays when Lachlan is at home to care for Archie, and the longest I have been away is 3.5 hours.
I would love to work more as I really love what I do, but I know for me that the timing is not right. Archie is still so young, so I'll just continue to do half days for now.

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