Article

(Not) Doing It All

I was asked to write an article about ‘managing it all’; a job and career, a significant writing hobby and a young family.

So, obviously I’m going to regale you with my life of synchronised diaries, colour co-ordinated wall planners, and neatly ticked off to-do lists.  Also my Pinterest perfect house, my home baking blog and my beautifully behaved, and clean, children.

Bahaha, hahahaha, hahahahahaha!!

Ahem.  Sorry.

I was back working as a locum within 6 weeks of the birth of both my children. Full days from 4 months with the first one. How did I do it?  I don’t know really.  And why?  Again, that’s difficult to answer but I do have a compete inability to say no when people ask me to work for them.

Actually, I do know how I managed.  Extremely large quantities of Diet Coke and serious amounts of professional childcare.  Also, a very understanding husband and a perennially untidy house.

Things are better now, mainly because the little blighters sleep through the night. I have cut down on the Coke (a bit), but not on the help.  On the days when I work, my kids have two, if not three, meals with someone else.  I’ve only been doing this four years but already I have used childminders, before and after school clubs, a nursery, a pre-school, grandparents, a friend’s daughter who babysits, an employer (when the practice was desperate!), and on more than one occasion my kids have  simply had to be in the clinic with me.

I have never been the organised type.  I am always flying out of the house in a big flap.  It’s just now I have two small people in my wake and carry more bags.  I do try, and after much trial and error, I now write everything down (the calendar on my phone is a riot) in an effort not to forget.  However, still I am usually on the last minute.  I confess, I am that mother on the school run with a big 4×4.

It is also helpful that I have never been that house proud.  The cleaner recently quit because the challenge was just too great (true story) and my car is a cesspit, you probably need vaccinations to travel with me.   I just don’t see things like that as a particular priority and am more than happy to pay for someone else to keep our heads above water (and filth).  Obviously, I try to keep on top of things day to day and I do get a warm glow of achievement when everyone has a full underwear drawer but my heart just isn’t in it.

As for my writing, nap times are very useful for sitting down for a quiet hour or so.  This is when most other mothers get the laundry done, another reason why those sock drawers are rarely fully stocked.  Also, YouTube.  Did you know that they show four hours of Peppa Pig back-to-back?  I mean, obviously they don’t watch the whole thing (*cough*) but it’s jolly useful! (If you don’t know who Peppa Pig is, treasure your ignorance.  If you have children, she will be coming for you)

And therein lies the dilemma. I am torn. I want to be at home but I want to be a professional working woman as well. I want to be there for my children and spend time with them but there is only so much baby singing and playground small talk I can take.  I feel I am ‘above’ being just a stay at home mum but I know I would be a pretty crap one of those if I tried.   At least when I work I have an excuse to hide behind if the bin hasn’t been emptied for a fortnight.  A natural housewife I am not.

So you can see, I am absolutely nothing special when it comes to life’s eternal balancing act. You only need to walk into my house, or see us on the school run, to realise that.   All I can tell you is that I couldn’t do any of it without a team of people behind me helping out, a relaxed attitude to home making, supportive colleagues and family and, vitally, a fridge full of Diet Coke and white wine.

Have you got any tips on balancing veterinary work with a family?  How do you do it all?  Please let us know in the comment box below!