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Post Traumatic Working Mummy Syndrome

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(Mis) adventures in Parenthood, Little League & moving your family 5,500 miles from London to California.

Post Traumatic Working Mummy Syndrome

Laura Bonnell

Photo courtesy of J and S Sign painters. Check out their rather awesome painty lettering work  here .

Photo courtesy of J and S Sign painters. Check out their rather awesome painty lettering work here.

Euphoric, I'm a little hesitant to confess that, but yes, I was a bit euphoric the first day my eldest went to nursery. We were 8 months in to becoming first time parents, and we were still very much in the weeds of sleepless nights. When I went back to work after our first little man arrived on the scene we kind of had a good little set up. Me and my husband were both freelancing, each working 4 days a week. We managed to juggle it so the lad was in nursery 3 days a week, and if and when we had those inevitable sick days we could move our work schedule around to accommodate making up the hours.

Now, before you read on I need you to make me a pinky promise! Please can we put any parental judging aside. I strongly believe we should all be allowed to make our own decisions as parents and not be judged, particularly in the realms of working vs non working parent. As long as the smalls and the bigs are happy and healthy, that's what counts right? These are just my opinions about my experience of being a working mother.

I must also confess that I actually like working! I know, I know, you can remind me of that when I'm crawling into bed at 8:03pm on a Friday night knackered, and longing to win the lottery. I probably wouldn't say no to a Unicorn sized cheque which could grant me a beach hut in Fuji, personal butler and a walk in wardrobe stuffed with Net a Porter's latest wares. I loved my maternity leave time with the boys. Particularly when it came to summer and Mummy could hang out with her mates at the park with a cheeky (small plastic) glass of rose and watch the smalls frolic (run off in all directions) in the park. But the novelty started to wear off, and I craved some head space and creative time. Financially I had no choice anyway but to go back to work. I was looking forward to mixing it up a bit, getting back to designing, and enjoying an uninterrupted grande latte, and Itsu selection box.

For me, I honestly feel like a happier and more balanced Mum when I have some child free time to get creative. I've mentioned before, I see my children a bit like art, I sometimes need to stand back to fully appreciate them. I also compare them to puppies, they pee on the floor, ruin all the furniture, and are constantly hungry. I love their lil pudgy faces to bits.

Less than 3 years later our 2nd little sleep stealer arrived. This time, a slightly more chilled variety. Slept more, didn't holler as much, and quite happily fit around our semi busy lives. We'd reached that magic age of 3 where I could FINALLY get some help with childcare without direct debiting almost twice our mortgage payment each month. Being self employed and a sole trader does not grant you access to childcare vouchers (will get on that soap box another day!).

When I was again ready (skint) to go back to work we decided this time round to do a Nanny share. Having a Nanny was something I had never considered before as it just seem so far out of our financial reach. I also kinda felt more comfortable handing over the care of my fridge emptier to a team of professionals. Rightly or wrongly I almost felt by getting a Nanny I was delegating child entertaining duties to a substitute Mum.

Fortunately we found the bestest Nanny we could wish for in the shape of lovely Lynn. Lynn had years of experience as a Nanny, teaching assistant, and had also worked in a Nursery. She would cycle to us in the morning, and remain in her gym kit all day, ready to run around with the lads for 10 hours a day. For a spell we did a Nanny share with a local family. During the day Lynn had charge of the 2 youngest boys, then would pick the older boys up from school later on.

This all worked well for a spell, until I got made redundant. I ended up in a catch 22 situation. I needed a job to pay for the childcare, but I needed childcare to find a job. We were super lucky that Lynn was the most understanding and flexible person we could wish for, and we managed to juggle, and wiggle our way through for the next few months.

During all of this my eldest had started school. Call me naive, but I never realised how much support was needed when they start school. Eeh Bah Mum summed it up perfectly in a recent blog post, here's an exert:

1. The Emails
Oh God the emails. Please make it stop. Remember that weird girl at work who kept sending emails to the entire company about random pointless shit? Yeah well she left and got a job in the school office. Here’s a brief taster of what your inbox will look like come September:
  • An update of the school’s policy on cheese
  • Suspected nits
  • Reminder about non uniform day with NO FUCKING DATE IN THE EMAIL
  • Procedures for evacuation of the school in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse
  • Definite sighting of nits
  • Pupil of the week award
  • Everyone has nits now
  • Something about school dinners, no idea what I deleted it hope it wasn’t important
  • Suspected case of bubonic plague in year 6
  • Nits are back or probably just never actually went away
  • Don’t forget to send your children in dressed as a giraffe entering Strictly Come Dancing tomorrow for ‘World Haven’t We Got Enough Shit To Think About? Day’
  • Winner of the this years house cup : The Nits
Top tip: When choosing a school ask how many emails on average they send a week and just pick the one that sends the least.

From Eeh Bah Mum Blog, click here to read full post.

Life was just kinda feeling too full. I was stressed because there were major management changes happening at work, and I had the gut feeling my job was in danger. My eldest had a stammer which had re-emerged with a vengeance as he started his new school. And I felt we were getting so much homework I would be able to receive a PGCE by the end of the year! I was working 4 days a week, but doing the classic thing of working extra hours when the boys had gone to bed, or sneaking a look at work e-mails on the day I wasn't working. Of course I feel like idiot after I was laid off and realised all that extra effort and sacrifice was a waste of time. 

When I did get handed my P45 I decided it was time to try and do things differently. I would start my own business, and freelance to pay the bills whilst I got things off the ground. My goal would be to build a sustainable business that I could eventually run during school hours.

I'm still a way off getting to that goal. I'm in fact working more hours now than I ever have - and I've lived and worked in New York for 6 years! I've experienced work hard/ play hard in the city that never sleeps. But that was pre-kids, and I was a lot younger and more energetic! 

Right now I'm actually freelancing 5 days a week. Of course jobs are like buses and boyfriends, and lots of opportunities have all come up at once! I've taken on the work with a view that I may soon be out of work for a while as we press the go button on Project 'move to California'. I need to really make the most of earning whilst it's there. I mean, I've got sandals and suncream to buy, I need to get saving!

Working 5 days right now is hard. I've not worked 5 days since before my first was born. Childcare for us right now consists of Nursery for my youngest, after school club for my eldest, and the odd day of Grandma or my husband taking a day off of work. It's a constant juggle as self employed work can be a little unpredictable, but we're muddling through. It's hard, I can see the boys are shattered, I'm knackered. I'm missing our time together in the day, the park trips after school (let's not forget rose for Mummy on a Friday). All the cliches, life is whizzing past, and I don't want to miss it. Fortunately for us it's not for much longer, it's only for a couple more weeks. You see my husband has now quit his job. He's freeing up his schedule to start calling movers and attempting to look for a job in Cali, place to live etc etc etc. For a spell I can park my working Mummy guilt, because as of June Muklet HQ will have Daddy Daycare! (No childcare vouchers needed for this one, just coffee and some late night Baseball on ESPN)


Our lovely ex Nanny Lynn has recently set up her own babysitting agency. We'll be booking in to get help entertaining the smalls whilst we pack for Cali. You can find her website here.