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Dark days: searching for a work life balance

This week, I have passed the 5 week mark of being back at work.  Just over 5 weeks of being a full-time working mum.  That’s over a month of being back in gainful employment.


What did I do to celebrate?  I sat on my bed and cried.  After a while, I moved downstairs to get started on the washing up…and cried again.

If you were looking for some sort of jovial celebration about my ability to combine motherhood and full-time employment, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place.  If that’s what you’re looking for, you may want to look away now; I don’t want to drag your mood down with mine.

I wrote a guest post a little while ago about whether being a working mother makes me a better parent; a desperate attempt to put a brave face on things, to look on the bright side of life and focus on the positives that come with earning a wage.

But, it’s not that easy.  It never is, is it?

Yes, I love my job. Yes, it’s nice to have some ‘adult’ time.  Yes, the money I earn helps to pay the mortgage and keep our roof over our heads.  Yes, the money will help us finish the renovations on our house.  Yes, it means we can still have holidays – quite nice holidays – and make the most of our family time together on them.  Yes, I treasure my weekends with my children and want to make the most of having them to myself.  

But, I hate the daily journey to work; the dog-eat-dog mentality of the London commuter.  I hate the amount of time I have to spend commuting (over an hour each way and that’s on a good day).  I hate the person I become in the week because I’m always rushing between home and office because of the long commute.  I hate how I feel I have to rush the children around in the mornings and evenings because I’m worried about getting to work on time, getting home at a decent hour and getting them into bed for a long, good night’s sleep.  I hate how little time I get to spend with them each day in the week.  I hate how little I get to see my husband because he works long hours, mostly in the evenings and at weekends.  But most of all, I hate how guilty I feel for all these things and for feeling the way I do.

I feel like a bad mother, a bad wife…a bad person.

No-one told me how hard going back to work was going to be.  I didn’t think it would be easy but I wasn’t ready for this.

First time round, there was no issue with me returning to the world of work.  Olivia was 7-months-old and we both adjusted to it easily and without incident.  I always knew I would be going back full-time and that never mattered.  I don’t understand why this time it feels so different.

This time, I feel like my world is on the verge of falling apart; like I’m about to crumble.  I find myself on a regular basis crying, moping and feeling despondent, disengaged, numb.  I’m drifting through a vast ocean, caught up amongst the crashing, tumultuous waves, swimming desperately against the tide but getting nowhere.  Tired, confused, unsure in which direction to turn, flailing, drowning…

I’ve never felt like this before.  It’s a scary place to be.

I’ve retreated into myself.  I don’t say much and don’t show much enthusiasm for things.  I know this.  My husband knows it too.  The other night he told me that I don’t contribute to the home.  I can’t be upset with him for that, he’s right.  I feel broken.  I know I need to do something about it before I break my marriage as well as myself.

It’s time for a change.  Whether it’s my mindset or my situation, something has to give.

20 Comments

  1. Oh no! Sounds like your going through a really bad time. Have you tried explaining to your hubby how your feeling so he's a bit more understanding. Its still really early days so maybe it's just adjusting but you do sound a little depressed. I hope it lifts. That sounds an awful commute. No wonder you're frustrated. Anyway hope things improve.

  2. Thanks for your comment. To be fair to my husband, he is understanding but knows I'm the only one who can get myself out of this. When he said that I don't contribute, he wasn't saying it to have a go at me. He said it because he's worried and was trying to explain things from his point of view. I love him dearly but worry that my low mood makes him feel unwanted or unimportant because that couldn't be further from the truth. He feels the weight of the world on his shoulders at the best of times and doesn't have it easy with work himself so I really don't want to add to his worries any more than I have already.

  3. Oh Gosh, it must be so hard to commute all those hours. Is it even remotely possible for you to move closer to London? Or is it possible to find a job nearer where you are? I hope things improve soon and, like you said, maybe you need to try and change your mindset, but it does sound so hard to do what you are doing. I can only say best of luck xxx

  4. Hi hun. I totally know what you are going through. I felt exactly the same after returning to work post baby 2. I too never skipped a beat after baby number one but second time around floored me completely. As a working mum you have to keep talking and being honest about how you feel. There is no silver bullet but taking time just for you, in peace, a couple of times a week will absolutely help. Oh and some sleep! Take care. Vx

  5. We used to live in London (zone 4) and it still took an hour to get to work :-. I know I've spoken of my plan to slowly become self employed and, although that idea had to be put on hold for a little while, I think it's time to pick myself up, dust myself down and start putting that plan into action.

  6. It will get easier, going back after two is harder, two kids is a family, one s a couple with a baby, totally different set up. 

  7. The Working Mum issue is a 'hot topic' this week I've read a lots of blogs about it, I've blogged about it too. I have never done the hole london-commute thing but I'm from London originally and can imagine it must pretty full on.  The adjustment to everything is massive after having kids. Maybe you should have a change if you're unhappy with your situation. You seem like a strong person I hope things get better for you…good luck:-)

  8. Yes, it's bloody hard work to work when you have children. I did it ok with just the one, and then for a year or two with two and it's much harder second time round. I do think though this is a work thing. In any new job I've started, I've hit 'the wall' after about a month. When you start to question what you are doing, do you fit in, is it all worth it, it's not too late to bail out etc etc. I find that if I push on to about 12 weeks and still feel the same, then it's worth considering bailing out, but usually, by week 12 I'm in a much better place mentally, and I wonder why I was ever worried. I would just give it some more time. I'm sure you'll be fine. Good luck. 🙂

  9. Commuting in London really is something else. You have to get into a certain mindset when you're doing it because it's so busy and frantic. I don't think my train journey gives me enough time to calm down from it properly, as silly as that might sound. Thanks for your comment x

  10. Much love honey – I am definitely not one to be able to make relevant suggestions or wave a magic wand but am definitely here to lean on, talk to/message and send virtual bloggy hugs to.  A friend of mine (works full time, mum of 2) said she works on 3 areas, work, children, husband.  If any 2 of those are happy she's doing ok – and she's promised to let me know when she gets the magic formula to keeping all 3 happy at once.  In the meantime… *passes cake and sends a hug*

  11. You have so much to juggle – I really feel for you. Do you think it's an adjustment period or is it fundamentally not right for you? I hope something changes for the better for you soon… You can't go on feeling like this. Hugs to you. X

  12. I feel for you.  I returned to work when H was 7 months.  I had to go full time, my request for condensed hours was refused on the grounds I was at risk of redundancy and would be entering my notice period.  Except it turned out I didn't get my official notice for 10 months.  I actually ended up off sick from stress and depression for most of last year because I found it so hard to adjust.I am now looking for a job, I have to, my redundancy has run out as we relocated and my husband works 50-60 hours a week just to try and keep our heads above water.  But the thought of me working terrifies me, I am scared it will happen again.  At the same time, I know working on some level will be good for me as, other than my family who have their own lives to live, I don't know anyone here.  One thing I am fairly sure of, the dog eat dog corporate world is no longer for me, my son has to come first.Good luck. X

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