Happy New year lovely people!
I trust you had a great holiday season! I did. I didn’t do anything unusual, just spent time with family and friends. I also have a lot more to share with you this year so thank you for sticking around and bearing with my intermittent posts. I won’t make any promises but this year will be different. 😉
The holidays are over and it’s back to work or school or life as we know it. I honestly didn’t wish to do anything on New year’s but the kids wanted to go to grandma’s house so I took them over. After a couple hours, I’m getting ready to leave and my mum passes her laptop to me. There’s a word document open with the words, “Tips for managing the home as a working mum”. I shake my head at myself and think, Chia, is this not something you should be sharing on your blog? I mean seriously, receive some sense this year. My mum is going to dip into her over 35 years of experience working and managing a home with 7 kids (She’s retired now) to deliver this talk to a women’s group in church.
So I said, “That’s great but your kids grew up in the 80s and 90s; those were very different times compared to now. We lived on a street where everyone knew our names and if we misbehaved at all while you were out, you would hear all about it even before you got out of your car.”
She laughed and replied, “Well, that’s why I’m asking you since you are more in tune with the times. How do you do it?”
I sniggered and said the first thing that came to my mind, “Get help.” I didn’t think my simple statement would end up in an hour long conversation that further delayed my exit.
“No, no. You shouldn’t rely too much on helps. There are bad people who could hurt your child. Don’t you remember the story I sent you about the Togolese help who cut off a baby’s arm because the Madam beat her?”
Er, no mummy, I don’t read lengthy WhatsApp messages and I’m quick to delete graphic images from my phone. (Why do those things go straight to your gallery!? Geez!).
This spiraled into another conversation which I won’t go into just yet but before I knew it, we were discussing all the pros and cons of different types of help you could get versus alternatives for a working mum. And this has now inspired this post which I think is just right in time for the new year. So I’m going to share my journey so far with balancing work and home and raising these kids of mine before I summarise my top tips for working mums in another post. So if you just want my tips, you can skip my story completely and just go straight here. If you’re okay with a little light reading, then grab your coffee and dig in.
- The Early Years
Before I had M, everyone told me the same thing. Get help. You will need help. When will your help arrive? Your help should arrive before the baby comes so you would put her through early.
I already had Andrew who helped with the cleaning and ironing, and between Hubs and I, we took care of the cooking. So the Help’s job was to ‘help’ me take care of the baby. To me this was ludicrous. I would take care of my baby myself. I had no intention of shifting my responsibility to a help (*Side eye at my 2010 self).
Now Andrew was okay, but I couldn’t well leave him to keep helping out in the house. He was our gateman (meant to open and close the gates for us when driving in, clean the compound, wash the cars and keep the entrance secure) so I couldn’t quite imagine him helping me hold my baby when I needed an extra hand (he had quite a strong unique scent about him and believe me I invested in many deodorants, soaps etc for him). So I got a help just before the end of my final trimester.
She was young and quite clueless, literally fresh off the boat from the East so I had my work cut out for me. (I have a whole other post on all the different helps I’ve had over the years). Anyway, I still wasn’t going to leave the care of my precious baby in her hands. I never quite understood women who left their baby to be carried by the maid/nanny while they strolled with their handbags. For me it was the other way around – hold my bag, I’ll carry my baby. Me in all my judgmental know-it-allness! Now I’m like, “To each her own. Do you, Boo.”
When I first had M, I was of course overwhelmed with my new responsibility. I was an emotional wreck, and I was under so much pressure to prove myself “worthy”. Such a silly but true notion. I changed maids about 6 times in a 3-month period before I got Anthonia who stayed for about 5 months before she left for the Christmas holidays and never came back. (I’m not a horrible boss, as I will prove to you in my maids post). Before I got Anthonia, I had already been asked, “What are you going to do when you go back to work?” With the ever changing maids I knew I couldn’t rely on one to be my primary childcare giver. There was also the fact that I was fiercely jealous of anyone who tried to form an attachment to my reticent baby. He only had eyes for his daddy and I didn’t want some random woman to come take my place! Also, where we lived was rather isolated, and Andrew was never around so I couldn’t count on him to make sure she wouldn’t stroll out the gates with my child unchallenged. So I chose to put him in a creche…