Home ContentBalance: It’s the New Dream

Balance: It’s the New Dream

Published : June 07, 2015

It is, apparently, the key to happiness: the perfect combination of family, work, leisure and health which guarantees a joyful existence.

By Sharon Thompson

However, to balance the various things involved with being a working mum – even one who loves her job and her kids to distraction – you need to have completed a course in the sort of juggling at that would make a clown green with envy.

If the baby is happy, you’re probably missing a work deadline, and if work is flowing, you feel you may be scarring your baby with memories of neglect, however happily he is bouncing in his jumperoo or gurgling at his mobile, mirror, or teddy bears.

When the house is clean, chances are that your hair is not; if the cupboards are full of nutritious food, so the washing basket is overflowing with urgent laundry.

When I had my baby, I smugly thought to myself I had found The Great Answer – working from home!

What a perfect idea!  I would industriously tap away at the computer when the little ‘un was snoozing and, when he was awake, he would happily watch mummy doing the housework from the security of his sling.


For the first month, whenever the baby was asleep, I would simply sit, dazed and exhausted, cup of tea growing cold in my hand, as deadlines loomed and the carpet in my home slowly disappeared under an ever growing pile of Stuff.

He disliked the sling, thus putting paid to the idea of any housework getting done.  Ever.

Things have improved since, but the dream of a streamlined, balanced existence is still a long way off.

Currently, I am wondering if it might be when my precious first-born hits his teens.

Sometimes, I think as I attempt to sound professional and un-harassed while chatting with an important client while attempting to distract a fractious baby and simultaneously fold laundry which should really have been washed a week ago, I yearn – yearn – for the office I so gladly waved goodbye to over a year ago.

No distractions, adult conversation, and I could leave it behind when I left, giving me a chance to devote myself completely to being a domestic goddess and Earth Mother.

When I shared this thought with my good friend, let’s call her Lisa, who combines office work with her two lovely little toddlers, I was met with what can only be described as an unnecessarily hostile stare.

She described her day, and it was thus:

Rise before sunrise with both children ready to play, aim to clean, dress and feed both children and herself, rouse husband, pack for day-care, persuade, cajole and beg children to not plonk themselves in front of TV, to not fight, to not trash the house, and instead to GET IN THE CAR, and drive them there.  By then it should be around 8.30am.

Work for six hours, pick up children, buy groceries, try to maintain authority and remain cheerful, get home, spend important quality time playing with children, notice laddered tights, attempt to clean house just enough so that it cannot be mistaken for a riot site, attempt to cook healthy nutritious dinner before surrendering to stuff in a jar and rice, then try to create soothing ambience as the bedtime preparation begins.

Three hours later, when kids are in bed, she sits with her husband, dazed and exhausted, tea growing cold in her hand.

Stay at home mums have it no easier: the days, for them, are filled with child friendly activities, housework, shopping and the pressure to keep an ordered home with happy inhabitants.  And they may not have the sweet relief of a good whinge to fellow adults throughout the day.

There is a growing group of people in society who are choosing to live life kid-free forever: while I cannot imagine, nor would I want to, life without my baby boy, I can quite see how they came to that decision when I see myself some days: frizzed, frazzled, with porridge in my hair and a constant feeling I have forgotten something urgent: the image of perfect working motherhood, I am not.

Balance?  Pah.  If you get through the day with sanity intact, I think you deserve a medal.  Or at least a generously sized glass of wine.

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