The Greatest Balancing Act

The most difficult job of all that a mother has to do is balance her roles. I often say in a funny accent "Everyone wants a piece'a me!" And often times it is true.

I work outside the home, four days a week. I have every Monday off. I really love my stay at home day. I put my apron on and bake and organise and clean and get ahead with things and it gives me a wonderful sense of peace.

I used to be a school teacher.

After my first son was born I went back two days a week in a job share and it nearly killed me. I hated having to leave him, even though I had a really good 'Day Care Mum'.

 I agonised over whether to leave or not. In 2000 I started studying again externally and fell pregnant with my second son. That was all the persuading I needed. I resigned from my teaching position and cranked up my study. I studied full time waiting for the baby to come.

My son was born in May 2001 and I juggled two little ones and the study. It was then that I learnt the value of redeeming my time. I gave up television ( except Seachange on Sunday nights on the ABC) and started to get up really early, sometimes as early as 4am, to do my study without interuption.

To cut a long story short, I had about five years at home with the children. Two years ago I was given the opportunity to work three days a week in the area that I had done my second degree in. I started the three days and eventually it turned into four days.

The boys are in school now, but not a day goes by when I don't consider coming home again. It's just the little things. Number Two son sat doing his homework this week and I thought I need to be there with him when he does it. Hubby is home with the boys when they do their homework and he is very good with them, but it's not the same. He is a great cook as well and has a meal ready when I get home. but it's not the same. The difference is , that when I get home from a busy day I have very little left to 'give'. I would be happy just to lock myself in a room for an hour until I 'come down'.

So... it's the great balancing act. I enjoy my work. I like the stimulation. However, the stay at home mum is the most important job in the world in my books! It's not about the money. We have survived before on very little money. Sometimes we do better on a tighter budget because I manage it so much better - last time I budgetted really strictly when my first son was born, we ended up being able to carpet the house with the surplus !

So, if I don't need the money and I agonise over the stay at home role, I bet you are asking why do I stay ?

The answer is complicated. I really like my work and I am grateful for the opportunity to be getting the experience. I don't want to walk away and live with the regret of what I could have acheived. I also think that I can invest as much money as I can for the future of my boys. Goodness knows what it will cost to put them through university if that's what they choose.

One good thing at the moment is that I can work flexible hours. My aim this year is to start early and finish early, hoping to be home at 4.30pm. That way I can still have a little down time before I slip into my apron and enjoy my children!

Are you caught in the great balancing act ? How do you juggle work and family ? Does your financial situation pin you to a job you hate ? Email me or leave a comment. I would appreciate your feedback.


Ailsa said...

Yes! I'm caught in the great balancing act too. I felt myself nodding along with your post. I work 4-6 days a week on a roster basis. The good thing about where I work is I can start when I like and finish basically when I like. I always do the 9am school dropoff and 3pm pickup. With my partner working away for upto 6wks at a time, I juggle everything at home. It's hard!

Leonie said...

You are like me - I work part time , I homeschool, I don't really need the money but it pays fo extras. I do like my work, however, and I think it adds an interesting facet to my mothering and wife roles.

Tania said...

I have the best of both worlds. I am a Day Care Provider (mum) and I get to stay home and work. At the start of the day I still get my son off to school and I am here when he gets home. When dh is away I also pick him up from school. I take any daycare children with me. During the afternoon the children have a rest/sleep period somewhere between 12pm and 3pm so I use this time to prepare our dinner. All children arrive at 9.00am. Three of them go home between 3 & 4pm. The last child goes home at 5.30pm. If I want a day off for my son's sports day or other reason, I give plenty of notice to parents and take it off. I get to choose what hours I work. I don't work weekends or overnight, this is our family time. I chose this career when the last of my three daughters left home and I was lost. This job is very challenging and rewarding and I enjoy it immensely. My son gets on well with the daycare children, he is nearly 12. Tania

donna said...

I used to be a teacher too, when joe was born i went back doing supply cover ,2 or 3 days a week. Did that for about 3 1/2 years until maisie came along, then i made the decision to stay at home. we have a lot less money, but like you i actually find i spend it much more wisely.don't regret the decision at all.

C said...

Probably a bit off topic but my parents decided the following when my siblings and I hit uni. We would pay HECS and basic stationery supplies, photocoping at uni, etc.

They pay for textbooks (although I source 2nd hand or use library when available), transport passes (but I normally pay for mine), use of a shared family car and help to pay for some petrol but in return we have to help with driving our younger siblings to activities, all medical and dental costs, excursions/field trips and most miscellaenous expenses related to studying.

I lived in college for two years, they paid one and I paid the other. I then lived at home for a year and a half and I paid a nominal amount when I lived in the granny flat. I had access to the phone, wireless internet, photocopier and printing at the home office, as much food as I wanted though I often bought and cook my own, washing and drying facilities, cleaning supplies, etc. I now live in my own home but my parents still pay for medical expenses, printing and photocopying at home, textbooks and they will help me pay for other expesnes related to prac.

Anyway, not related to the great balancing act at all (I have nothing but the utmost respect for all the mothers who are in my course!) but hopefully an interesting perspective on one way to manage household expenses.

I should mention during this time I always had a job and for part of the time two jobs and I received Youth Allowance up until when I moved into my own home. And we always pay for personal expenses such as our mobiles, clothes, discretionary spending, etc. :)

Thanks for your comment and I will definitely be coming back to your blog as well!

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