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Is the grass always greener on the other side?

I do wonder if part of the working mother / stay at home mother angst has to do with either side thinking that the other has a better time of motherhood

As a working mum is rushing around feeling dragged in hundreds of directions, isolated from their child’s life and not managing to give enough attention to do either job or mothering properly they think back to being at home full time and have a rose tinted view of at home motherhood that incorporates happy afternoons doing jigsaws, a friendly group of supportive mother friends going through the same tribulations and a lack of that feeling of perpetually not being quite up to muster

The at home mum after 12 hours of incessant ‘why?’ questions, having not had a single moment alone including loo visits and having dealt with tantrums, toilet training and what happens when a toddler gets hold of a pack of rice krispies thinks back to working life and yearns for loo visits where you can close the door, being able to drink a cup of tea before it gets cold, being able to have an adult conversation without being interrupted every 15 seconds and being able to wear clothes for more than five minutes without them getting covered in snot, glue, poo or sick

The trouble is that neither is a realistic view of the world – it just always seems to be that what you don’t have must be better

I’m sitting here during a lull in a particularly grim week at work – various of the people I am working with on this project have thrown tantrums that would make put Littler to shame and the general atmosphere is one that could merit from a few people having a stint on the naughty step to consider their approach to the whole thing

Outside the sun has started to break through the clouds – it looks nice outside and I’d rather be out there than sitting waiting for people to join a conference call whilst tapping away on my computer trying to make this presentation look vaguely coherent rather than a bunch of random witterings

It’s made harder by not having seen Littler awake since bedtime on Sunday and with little prospect of seeing her before Friday morning – yes there’s nothing quite like going in to tuck in small, sleeping children. Being able to get a good sniff of that snuggly child smell, plant a kiss in that special place behind their ears and gently push their hair away from their noses – it’s nice, especially as they get bigger and resent time spent cuddling but it is a poor substitute for actually seeing and spending time with them

The other side of this fence is knowing just how unremitting being with them full time is – how much mess gets made and what a battle it is to get them to tidy it up as they go along, the puzzle of why every single piece of dolly clothing has to be pulled out of the box and why some days they really like yoghurts and on other days they are the food of the devil. It is remembering those days which are far too shouty and when you achieve absolutely nothing other than everyone gets totally sick of the sight and sound of each other

I guess the grass always does seem greener – this week I want to see more of them, next week we have the prospect of a cold and wet week of holiday in Wales, please send fun ideas for the family so we don’t end up all falling out by Tuesday morning (and some vibes that I get to catch up on some much needed sleep and time with my latest crochet blanket project)

Right so which side of the fence IS the better one to be on?

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14 comments to Is the grass always greener on the other side?

  • God knows – but if you find out, can you let me know?

  • I can see things from both sides, having been a working Mum to now being a stay at home Mum. When I was working I missed my son terribly, but had lots of lovely adult conversations and a pay packet at the end of the month. Now I am a stay at home Mum to my son and twin daughters and it’s probably the hardest work I’ve ever done! It’s a little easier now they are all at school but then I spend a lot of my time running backwards and forwards to both of their schools instead!

    I get days when I wish I had a job so I could have a rest!

    • Hannah Brewer

      Honestly there isn’t much rest in the workplace these days – no room to lie down on the floor for a nap under your desk…

      Am always scared I’ll fall asleep on the train after a long week and end up at the end of the line

  • Well, I would say working from home, but of course there are tonnes of issues there, one of them being never getting a moment to yourself where you’re not working, working long hours, never paying full attention to your children because you’re checking email on your phone…

    Having been back in an office again for a month and a half after 13 years of working from home, I’m liking that particular grass at the moment, except for the occasional wobble (generally brought on by a child saying ‘I wish you didn’t go out to work’ or ‘I wish it was always the weekend so you would be here and not have to put make-up on’). At the moment, I’m loving being someone else and being appreciated for my skills and knowledge. I’m loving putting make-up on every day. I’m loving being able to deal with problems during working hours, instead of having to work until 1am so I can finish work in time for the school run. And I’m really loving leaving work at the office door and having evenings to sit and paint.

    I think it’s really important to look at what you do have and appreciate what you love about that. And if there’s nothing you love about it or not as much as you did, then change it. (Not necessarily an easy thing, but there’s usually a way somewhere.)

    Gosh. I should maybe write an actual blog post about this. I probably won’t, though.

    • Hannah Brewer

      Go on write that post ;)

      Trouble is that when there aren’t a lot of options and in the current job market it isn’t that easy to change – time to start hoping that things improve so we can all have more options I guess

  • I don’t think there is an answer, but I do find working part time and from home helps. I like working, but I do love the fact that I am there whenever the boys come home from school. I think it gets easier as they get older :-)

    • Hannah Brewer

      I was thinking about that – only trouble with them getting older is they can tell you that they miss you (and school doesn’t make life easier, they seem to be on holiday for half the year)

  • Wish I knew. I work part-time which seems to be the best of both – or maybe not. I do get to see my girls and I do get to wear make-up and have adult conversations but I still spend half the time when I’m with my kids rushing around trying to catch up, I’m forever chasing my tail and I feel incredibly guilty and sad during school holidays. However equally I know that being with them 24-7 would drive me round the bend. My ideal would be to only work during term time I think!

    • Hannah Brewer

      Hard isn’t it – trouble is with holidays being so long they do make it harder, always feel I miss ‘home’ more when working and knowing they are off doing fun holiday stuff

  • Perhaps the greenest grass is in the land of no choice. I’m on maternity leave at the moment but I’ll be going back in September because we need me to be earning and I need to work at least part time to keep my hand in and stay up to date so I’ve no choice but to find the good bits in being at home now and working then. Though for the record I find being at home the easier of the two.

    • Hannah Brewer

      Think you might be right – a lot of this is caught up in having to go back full time and so feeling that my best of both worlds has got pulled away from me I guess

  • Jem

    I don’t know which is better, but I do know working from home is the work of the flipping devil. At least when I worked out of the home I could switch off at the end of the day, enjoy the half an hour I had with my kiddo before bed and enjoy a cup of tea in peace. As it is I’m sat here at 9:15pm having just finished work for the day, fitting in perhaps 3 hours productive work around a very-nearly-1yr old, the household chores, picking up the other one from preschool, etc etc etc.

    Not that I think it’s harder than anyone else’s circumstances of course, it’s all relative, it’s just a big adjustment and I can’t decide if I am glad I’m not going back to work when tiddly turns 1 next week, or whether actually I miss it all and I should consider finding a better paid job so that I could actually afford the childcare. Who knows?!

    Apologies for wittering on, it just saved me having to moan on my own blog (AGAIN) ;)

    • Hannah Brewer

      I think one of the hardest things is just not knowing what the alternatives might look like – so tough to work out what is for the best

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