getting through a manic week as a working mum when work and home both need more time

Being a working mum has been an interesting challenge over the years. Most of the times I just about manage trying to juggle both home and work, however  there are times when my two worlds collide and I find myself in demand on all fronts. This is one of those times.

Thinking of everything I need to try get done by this time next week, I have no idea how I will get through it.

So here is my list .... it's long. I realise that much of the work stuff might not make sense to anyone who is not a consultant programme manager. It basically boils down to a whole lot of meetings, paperwork, and following up with different people.

The scary part is that this does not include all the stuff that I usually need to do over the course of a week - spending time with the family, commuting, working on my blog, reading and sharing other blogs, cooking, and if i am lucky a few minutes of me time.

  • Meet with nursery to discuss my daughters progress
  • Follow up with school to get key points from the mid-day meeting that I was unable to attend
  • Arrange a physio session
  • Think about what we need for our holiday in 2 weeks 
  • Look into replacing my oven which stopped working on boxing day
  • Monthly night out with local parents support group
  • Remember to buy and send birthday cards for friends birthdays (which were in January)
  • Try and think of something for Valentines day, so I can arrange it before we go on holiday

  • Oversee my project team (a team of 23), while the programme manager is on holiday
  • Complete annual performance reviews and provide feedback sessions
  • Prepare for my own annual review
  • Finalise my programme plan for the year, with input from each of the 6 project managers
  • Strategy planning for 14 employee support initiatives to be carried out in 2017
  • Find 4 people to support 2 new projects
  • Support one of my project managers to prepare for & deliver a workstream review meeting to agree what they need to focus on
  • Prepare materials for a programme update meeting with programme sponsors, and other key senior managers, in 2 weeks
  • Support & mentor a junior team member as they start a new short-term assignment

So what to do when things get too hectic and there are not enough hours in the day? Experience has taught me that  the best way to get through weeks like this is to 
  • Put my head down and get on with it, and not spend too much time worry about the size of my to do list. Worrying just takes up precious time. 
  • Focus on what is critically important, everything that is not critical can wait.
  • Don't try for perfection and be happy with "good enough". This means that I only do the minimum required to get the job done., anything extra is wasted effort. 
  • Ask for help, and enlist the people around me to help get the job done. I am a big fan of outsourcing tasks if I can.
  • Make the most of dead time, such as commuting to and from work. This is a great time for dealing with admin, especially if it involves internet research.

Thankfully the busy time will only be for a few weeks, after which we are off on a week long family holiday. I just hope that I survive the week, and have the energy required to head off on my holiday. 

Once a parent, always a parent - there are no days off. Not even when you want to hide away from the world for a while when things get tough.

As a working mum, the weekends are important. This is my time to spend with my children, sharing fun times and building the bonds between us through shared positive moments. At least that is my ambition. The reality is often a "little" different. I am exhausted, the kids just want to watch telly, trying to get my Son to do anything is a challenge due to his demand avoidance, and finding the energy to do anything can be a struggle. 

It has been a tough week, and all I want to do is crawl into bed so I can hide away from the world for a bit 

Since November I have been battling with multiple bouts of illness, which has meant a lot of time in bed and not much time with my children. I was aware of not having spend much time with the children recently, and had promised myself that we would do more things together. Work has been intense, but I was coping, and had even been able to make positive progress on a challenging project - until this week. It has been a tough week, and all I want to do is crawl into bed so I can hide away from the world for a bit and feel sorry for myself. But I can't. I am a parent.

I am pretty sure that my kids have a sixth sense for knowing when I am at my lowest, and they seem to step up a gear. If we were in Duracell advert, they would be the bunny who keeps on going .... banging the drum ... on ... and .... on, whilst I would be the bunny in the background on my last legs and barely able to stand before grinding to a stop. 

Feeling bone weary, I was in no mood for the extra early wake-up call on Saturday morning. Pulling the duvet over my head, I hoped that I wouldn't be noticed and that Dad would give in first and head off to deal with the early morning squeals for attention from Eldest & Youngest. It worked.

Tucked up under my duvet and feeling bleh, I aimlessly searched for something interesting to read. My unread book pile, BBC, twitter, facebook, and even some random google searching all came up empty - there was not an interesting story to be found anywhere. How was I to get out of bed, when the world had lost it's mojo?

Why do they always want the most attention when you most want a little peace & quiet

My solitude and pre-occupation with feeling sorry for myself was interrupted by Youngest slipping into bed next to me with a demand for "cuddles, Cuddles, CUDDLES". Her not so subtle clue that she wanted attention. Dad knew to stay well clear of grumpy mum, however the message seemed to get lost in translation for the two junior family members. For two hours I sat in a daze as Eldest explored my knowledge of the world with questions like "how did the first people forge metal when there was nothing to put the melted metal in", and youngest decided the only place to be was sitting on my lap. Why do they always want the most attention when you most want a little peace & quiet?

With the walls closing in and my mood worsening, I planned my escape and managed to creep back upstairs and into bed. Once again I was ambushed, this time by my Eldest who wanted someone to come and help him sort his lego. Realising that resistance was futile I headed downstairs, resigned to the mundane job of sorting the dark lego from the light lego. Sorting lego has to be one of my least favourite activities, second only to sorting puzzle pieces into their boxes after my two have decided to get them all out at once. Thankfully after what seemed like hours, I had earnt my free pass and was no longer in demand. 

I had earnt my free pass and was no longer in demand

Both Eldest and Youngest had busied themselves with activities that didn't involve me, and Dad had offered to get take-out for dinner. My afternoon was free and I was back in bed quicker that you could say Netflix. Even parents need time off and while I didn't get a day off, those few hours were just what I needed.

Mummy times two

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