Tips for the 'Must Work' Mum
Looking back to my days as a full-time working Mum (I worked 10+ hour days with a commute throughout my 3 children's childhood, right through until their teens and early twenties), there are things I would take more time to do if I could go back. These would likely enable me to give the care and love I wanted and needed to give to my young children, and I hope they might ring true for you.
Firstly, if you decide (or your situation demands it), honestly and realistically, that you do need to work, then there are things I would love to share with you from my own experience that may help:
1. Delegation is essential!
Garner all the daily help with routine chores you can from your partner, if you have one. So much of what a Wife and Mum does is stuff anyone can do! Even a husband! STOP the frantic whirl of assuming you need to do or organise absolutely everything yourself.
If you do not have a partner, sharing with a friend, or getting your parents or relatives to be a part of your life and that of your child, is a great way to do this.
2. Take time to prioritise
If it really is all upon you to do everything – and I do know exactly how that feels, - then prioritise! The housework is actually not more essential than spending time with your baby. (In fact, there is good evidence to show that a few germs around the home may actually increase your child's ability to deal with them effectively!). Each day you miss special, one-to-one time with your wee one, is time you will never have again.
Once missed, that opportunity will never ever come again, and you will suddenly look at your child and realise he has grown, into a toddler – school-child, teenager, without you even being aware – in the deepest sense.
3. Believe in yourself & tell yourself you are a special person
A wonderful Speech and Language Therapist friend I once had told me, ‘Margi, every morning when you look in the mirror, tell yourself you are a special person!’ - and that was a long while before any famous adverts or branding campaigns! I was reminded of it the other day when my daughter sent me an email telling me to acknowledge my beauty and tell myself I am beautiful!
Maybe you, like me, do not practice that nearly enough – just making that few moments to appreciate yourself and know that you are a great Mum, you are doing a good job, whether at home or in your profession – it is so important.
4. Make time to practice a little self care
Another thing that I know I did not do nearly enough, linked to (3), was to prioritise making myself look good. It is hard to make time for that – and after having a baby, and the messiness of breastfeeding, and the huge changes that the body goes through in re-adjusting after pregnancy, it sometimes felt I would never be back to 'normal'. This can also be a devastating time for us, when our demands to take care of a new human life detract from ourselves, in addition to all our other responsibilities.
Remember to take a little time to keep up with dressing in clothes you like and enjoy wearing. If it works for you, don't be afraid to use a little make-up and hair-care to give yourself a little boost you need to hold yourself confidently and walk with a spring in your step. How you look and the way you dress is often a reflection of how you feel, and the two affect each other, so do take a little time to care for yourself.
5. "First yourself, then the world"
There is a Pashto proverb that says: Awal zan, biya jahan’ – First myself then the world. It is very different from the saying I was brought up with: God First, others next, yourself last. But in this instance, I go more with the Pashto proverb: make time for yourself.
As a Mum with young children I found the only time I had completely to myself was in the early morning. Precious – so precious. Even in the winter, I would often go out in the garden for a few minutes and watch and listen to the world waking up around me – or still sleeping.
It brought a feeling of identity within me, grounding me for the day, and vitalising my prayers. Birds and trees and seasons are all so integral within the natural things around us, they become a part of worship and help in re-focusing us for the day ahead.
This was particularly true for me in the days after giving birth, when baby cries dragged me from sleep. I found when I went with this sense of oneness with the world around me, it brought a strong peace in me, and I appreciated the early morning hours of privacy and quiet.
6. Never stop trying ways to get your husband involved
And then, it is really important to make sure that your husband, the father of your child, is truly integral to bringing your child up. This needs to be from the beginning.
He needs time with you too – and reacts, often indirectly, when he does not get the attention he needs, especially if he is doing his best to give you, his wife, support and love in being a family.
Even if he is not that good with getting up in the middle of the night, there are many ways in which he needs to be involved – and talking and agreeing about that is key to feeling that you are not bearing the whole burden of caring for your baby as well as working.
Actually - you are not alone! I celebrate our women who are wives, mothers, and sisters. I celebrate their beauty and their strength! And I encourage you, if you are that mother, to be unafraid to get out there and connect with others doing just what you are doing. I want you to know how precious your role is with each of the hats you are wearing!
With best wishes,