I can’t decide whether I want to let myself go, to really stretch myself, push myself out there and touch the stars, or if I want to be ‘Mum’ – and only travel within a short distance of my family, making all school trips, treats and triumphs and baking buns into the bargain.
I want both – to do amazing things at work and be an amazing thing at home. I want to show my kids that they can achieve anything they want to if they set their minds to it and I want to be there with them for every bump, graze and knock.
I want it all. And I know it’s just not possible. Larry Smith has a great TED talk on it – I think I’ve linked to it before but it can withstand repeating (Why you will fail to have a great career).
So is everything else in the middle a compromise? I guess so. How much of a compromise depends on how you work it and how you feel about it.
We have certain rules in our house. Well, maybe it’s a bit like the Pirate Code and they are more like guidelines.
Each of us has some weeks that have a very high priority. During these the other tries to keep as home based as they can, and if they can’t, the theory is they sort additional childcare so that the other doesn’t have extra stress piled on them. (I tried this recently. All the plans went to pot with missed pick-ups and so on and my husband ended up extremely stressed).
We also ‘do diaries’ – a weekly or so chore that sends the children scurrying for cover as they know the battles that can become unleashed as conflicting clashes occur and we try and work out which one has dominance. What should take priority? A meeting, a training session, a chance to earn money, to visit performance, to catch up with friends or to attend sports day?
And I also try to keep the summers relatively work free – given the cost of childcare this has been an easy one. A chance for me to rest, relax and catch up with myself (possible as I work freelance) and also to invest in time with the kids to make up for all the times I can’t be there.
My kids are getting older, but they seem to need us around just as much so I’m going to have to keep on compromising for another 8 years or so.
My mentor has asked me to write up three scenarios – where I’ll be in five years time if I a) only do work that is close to home, doesn’t interfere with holidays, b) if I continue to travel sometimes, balanced with time at home, remaining in the location I am currently settled in and c) if I threw caution to the winds and followed work leads and options without thinking of home and family.
I’m scared to do it. Scared to face the options front on and confront the balance and compromise that I work to on a daily basis. Actually, that we all work to on a daily basis – it’s not just kids, its family and relationships and houses, and health and friends and having a social life.
So where does all this leave me?
I know that (in no particular order):
- I want to change the world or at least try and make it better
- There is more to life than work
- I adore all my family and want to be the best wife/mum/daughter/sister I can be
- I love my work and enjoy it immensely
- I constantly feel like I am short-changing people in one area or another
Would be great to hear from anyone who feels they have cracked this one. I kind of thought I was doing ok with it all until this week when my mentor lifted the carpet and showed me just how much dust around this I’d hidden there.