This year, after five years as a stay at home mum, I decided it was time to dip my toe back into the working world. With my eldest daughter starting kindergarten and my youngest enrolled in daycare for a couple of days each week, I felt ready to add meetings and deadlines to my calendar once again. Just as the idea began to swirl in my mind it became a reality as I scored a parent-friendly job with flexible hours. The positives kept on rolling – that I was a mother was viewed as an asset to the company and not a liability, my start day was the first day of school term, and I could work remotely when I needed. It all fell into place easily, maybe too easily, because I was blindsided by a wall other mothers had told me was there but I had never ran into myself.
Change rained down on my family all at once, becoming the order of the day, week and month. There were tears and tantrums, some from my girls and some from me, as we adjusted to a faster pace and a busier life. Did I forget to mention I’m also studying and my husband recently landed a promotion that demands he cram more hours into an already chaotic schedule? Yep, things became a juggle as we threw everything up in the air and did our best to stay standing and catch it all. A serious bout of mummy-guilt washed over me and verged on becoming a critical case when my three-year old peeked over the screen of my laptop to chastise to me, telling me I needed to look after her properly, which at that moment meant squishing play-doh into semi-recognisable forms with her.
Like many families who’ve navigated these waters before us we were adrift and being tossed backward and forward until it felt we were losing our way. To tread water and stop stress from running rampant we made house rules like no shouting and listen to one another. Thanks to online shopping and babysitters willing to read bedtime stories on repeat when we couldn’t, we muddled through and I felt more amazed than ever by parents (mum’s in particular) able to balance family with work and all the other commitments that pile up to be seeming insurmountable.
What I haven’t yet mentioned about my family-friendly job is that amongst the business, marketing and tech professionals there is also a professional fairy that joins us at events to entertain kids and give parents a break. Last week, not for the first time, my daughters joined me at a family event I was working. It was the Kegworth Autumn F.A.R.E. at Lechhardt. There were rides, games, a petting zoo, dance concerts, and fairy floss, yet they stuck close by my stall and circled the fairy, confirming once more there are no elastics or strings holding her wings in place. At the end of the day as we packed up and got set to go home, two little faces looked up at me, one painted to be a puppy and the other a rainbow butterfly, and told me they loved mummy’s new job because now they get to be friends with a real life fairy.
With that seal of approval I realized that with some help and perhaps a touch of magic we’ve settled into our new normal and found our way again. Now for a family movie night and maybe even an ever-elusive date night to celebrate.
Guest Contributor- Donna Armstrong
Donna is the Inner West Community Manager at Juggle Street, an online network of families, babysitters and nannies that connects busy parents with local helpers.