The real life of a working mother

I’d never given much thought to the juggling act that is being a working mother – until I became one myself, obviously – and ironically, now that I am both working and a mother, I have barely any time to think at all.

I’ve been back in work for four months this week, and life has changed quite a lot. My six month part-time contract went out the window when I accepted a promotion onto the newsdesk of our company’s daily paper, and for the first time ever I’m working shifts – some days starting at 6.30am and others working until 10.30pm, which has taken some getting used to.

I was pretty nervous about starting back after 11 months – and then taking a new job so soon after – but I worried more about the logistics of managing both home and work life than the work itself.

Anyway, as I adapt to life in the fast lane, I thought I’d share a bit of an insight into my new world.

So, for me, life as a working mother is:

Guilt that you’re missing out on being there 24/7 … But not missing Mr Tumble or Mike the Knight one bit.

Hating yourself for having to prise your little one out of your arms at the nursery door.

Getting up through the terrible teething nights – and getting up for work the next morning.

Lists, lists, lists 

Hitting every speed limit on the way to work because you spent that extra five minutes reading pop-up books (or running around like a mad woman attempting to clean up after a morning at home). And racing home to catch bedtime.

Home for storytime

Texting from your desk to say where you left Boofle / the toothbrush / nursery book.

Basing your work wardrobe on what disguises sticky handprints and food stains, and only buying things that won’t need ironing … Because if you didn’t have time before, you certainly don’t now!

Making the most of every minute with your baby when you’re not at work.


Feeling like you live a double life as just before you put your professional head on you were sitting on the floor playing with a wooden pizza.  Sitting down at your desk feeling like you’ve already worked a shift … And needing all the caffeine.

Really, really hoping that while trying to convince your little one not to throw your lipstick down the toilet you remembered to put eyeliner on both eyes.

Feeling like you’re letting your colleagues down when you have to leave on time for the nursery pick-up and they’re working on.

Missing out on midweek play dates.

Having a phone that constantly beeps with arrangements for those play dates … or updates on what your little one is up to.

Enjoying the view while I’m at work


Enjoying the fact you can escape for a quiet coffee … With cake, obvs.

Finding raisins and biscotti crushed at the bottom of your handbag.

Wondering how on earth stay at home mothers do it when you’re shattered after one day off!

Seeing that smile when you walk through the door.  Realising you could get by on one wage, but knowing you enjoy your job too much (and worked too hard to get there) to give it up.

42 thoughts on “The real life of a working mother

  1. jess helicopter says:

    Love this! It’s a real dichotomy isn’t it? I actually think it’s great to have the best of both worlds. Some work time (and peace!) and brain use and then some fun time with your kid(s). Once you find the balance of what works for you, it’s great. Xx

  2. Kerry norris says:

    What a fantastic post. I can totally relate to all of it. Since having Eva my priorities changed about work. I used to live for my job. You really toy with what’s best and your feel very guilty about it. You’ve worked hard for a career but at the same time you don’t want to miss out on the time with your children. I also work shift work due to working in an operating theatre. It’s hard going x

  3. Claire says:

    It is so hard and tiring, isn’t it? I have been a full time working mum, part time working mum, stay at home mum (when on mat leave) and now work at home mum. You have described it all so well x

  4. Cardiff Mummy Says says:

    Ah, it’s hard, isn’t it? Whatever you do, you feel guilty. I have really scaled back my work since having children, but it’s a constant juggling act being freelance and trying to fit all my work in around them. Congrats on your promotion, by the way. x

    • alanaperrin says:

      Thank you. I can imagine working freelance must be really tricky … You have to be so strict in yourself to get your work done. At least it means we make the most of our time off 🙂

  5. Rachel says:

    Great post and really good insight. I became a stay at home mum as financially it wasn’t worth going back in our case (plus I wasn’t at all in love with my job) and although I love being with my son, sometimes I’d just like to use my brain a bit ?

    • alanaperrin says:

      It is nice using my brain, but I’ve read so many cases where nursery costs have made it financially unviable going back to work. We’re lucky we only have to pay for three days. Thanks for reading!

  6. Helena says:

    It’s hard going isn’t it, the juggling game. I start a new job tomorrow that is further away from home than my previous one. Despite my girls now being 7 and 9, the logistics of managing their days and my own is such a challenge! It doesn’t really get any easier.

  7. tots2travel says:

    Totally can relate to the wonderful cake and coffee breaks, but deep down I wished I had a wife at home looking after my child. I envied my husband the fact that when he worked he had me at home looking after our child and taking care of the house (well kinda taking care of the house).

  8. Becster says:

    I love you so much for that last sentence! Exactly how I feel – I worked too hard to get here to I’ve it up but along with that comes all the guilt of missing out on all the things you mentioned! Although it’s not Mike the Knight in our house it’s Monsters Inc!

  9. Becster says:

    I love you so much for that last sentence! Exactly how I feel – I worked too hard to get here to I’ve it up but along with that comes all the guilt of missing out on all the things you mentioned! Although it’s not Mike the Knight in our house it’s Monsters Inc!

  10. Emily says:

    It’s hard to get the balance right isn’t it. I had a year off with my girls and it was a real strange feeling returning to work, although only two days a week. I couldn’t imagine starting at 6.30am or finishing at 10.30pm!

  11. Tamsin says:

    I feel your pain!
    Esme doesn’t normally mind me going out the door because she’s too happy to see Nanny, but I do feel bad strapping her into the car before she’s had her breakfast.
    She looks at me as if to say: “But mum, I haven’t even eaten!”
    Poor sod!

  12. Sian @ DownattheMill says:

    I can relate to this so much. Full time worker and full time mum…. (because is there ever such a thing as a part time mum?)

    I am the office worker with the porridge hand prints on my trousers and the bags under my eyes. But like you say – the smiles when you get home… well worth it.

    • alanaperrin says:

      It is hard but at the moment I’m enjoying having time at home in the morning if I’m on a late shift, then the evening if I’m on earlies. Just glad I don’t have to do night shifts!

  13. liveotherwise says:

    Sorry if this ends up double posting, but it vanished after it made me login.

    I do not envy you the shifts, that was what I found hardest when working around having children. It’s hard doing both.

  14. Jade Priscilla says:

    I can relate to this post on so many of the lists you made especially missing out on midweek playdates and texting from work. I schedule the times I call or text according to what needs doing! haha x

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