Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Caution mum at work

I just finished reading Mary Pols book Accidentally on Purpose about becoming a single mum after a one night stand (I find myself weirdly attracted to all writings on motherhood since becoming a mummy myself; plonk a bottle or a baby on the cover and I'm sold). While as a smug married I can't identify with most of her struggle I found a passage about locking her screaming son in another room to hit a deadline strangely mirrored my own frantic existence as a freelance/mother. 

I am sure it's a case of grass is always greener but sometimes I envy those mothers who can step out of the house, onto a tube and into work mode, whereas I work from home which means every boundary is blurred. The office is after all designed to elicit productivity, the home, especially when filled with screaming children, most certainly is not. 

So while office bound mums can take calls, write reports and sip coffee from the peace and tranquillity of their desk, I have scribbled down commissions from editors whilst changing a nappy, relied on the babysitting services of Cbeebies more often than I would like to admit and trained my children never to speak while I am on the phone on pain of permanent cessation of said Cbeebies. 

I have also, like Pols, locked myself in a room where the screams were muffled sufficiently for me to ignore them as I bash out an article for the next day's edition. I'd like to say it was down to a dedication to my career, but I think it's more due to (a) needing the next pay cheque and (b) because I am more afraid of saying no to my employers than to my children. 

To overcome my children's objections to mummy hiding away in the office to work I have come up with a cunning scheme by which, instead of saying I work to pay the bills, I claim that my income is all spent on toys, holidays and chocolate. This ruse resulted in them shooing me off to get back to the grindstone with days of  returning home with my newborn twins and had my five year old shouting thank you to the daily newspaper that is my chief employer as we embarked on our last family holiday. 

But while my fragile work life balance may tremble on the pinhead of this minor deception there are benefits to working at home. While in the office you can drink your tea while it's still hot and chat with a colleague without constant interruption from a toddler determined to get your attention, at home you can snatch a 15 minute cuddle break and take time out to do the school run. 

There is no perfect solution to combining working and mumming, and we all make it up as we go along, but I think my children would agree that the odd spell of squalling incarceration is a small price to pay for a mum who is prepared to swap her hard earned cash for chocolate, toy cars and tickets to Disney World. 

No comments:

Post a Comment