Since moving to Spain we have met people from many different nationalities and backgrounds. As well as Spanish and English there are lots of Dutch, Norweigan and Belgian families in our area.
I was recently talking to a new Czech school mum friend of mine, chatting about the stresses of being a working mum. As we were talking I realised wherever you’re from and wherever you live, there are the same issues for mums trying to fit in work, school, and general life.
Here are 5 problems faced by working mums across the world…
Not enough time
I don’t think any mum has enough time Whether you work or stay at home, when you add work into your life you’re short of time to get everything done. As well as work and school runs, you need to fit in cleaning, grocery shopping, homework, ferrying kids to afterschool clubs. And that’s before you get round to doing anything for yourself!
It doesn’t matter where you live, there still aren’t enough hours in the day.
Paying for childcare
Whilst childcare here in Spain is much cheaper than in the UK it’s all relative to the average salary. School holidays are much longer and the school day is shorter, so if mums aren’t lucky enough to only work school hours they still have a lot of childcare to sort.
I don’t know many mums who work outside the home and are lucky enough to work around school hours without having to rely on any breakfast clubs or after school care at least a few times a week.
Asking for time off
This is one of the best things about working for yourself – not needing to ask for time off! With school plays, meetings, holidays and sick days there is always something you need time off for. Recently we had some terrible rain and floods here and school was closed for three days. What can you do if the kids are home but you are supposed to go to work?
Asking for favours or agreeing to work extra hours to make up time just adds to the stress most working mums already have in their lives. No one wants to have to take off time unpaid due to unexpected childcare, you need your full annual leave allowance to cover the school holidays.
One of the biggest problems faced by working mums is constantly rushing around. Wherever you live I bet that school starts around the same time as you need to be at work! You’d have thought by now businesses would be more flexible on start times knowing mums have to get the kids to school first, but sadly not many are.
I still see mums dropping their children off at the school gates and running back to the car to head off to work. There also seems to be a lot more grandparents doing the school run here in Spain which I assume is because the parents have to be at work.
Taking care of yourself
When was the last time you painted your nails? Or went to the hairdresser? Or even relaxed before falling into bed? I bet it wasn’t as recently or as often as before you had kids!
When you have work and kids, fitting some me-time into your week takes a back seat.
Working mum guilt
I bet you regularly feel the working mum guilt. Guilty for dropping crying kids off at nursery before rushing off to work. Guilty for missing school events, or for working school holidays. And guilty for sending your child to after school clubs or handing over to relatives because you can’t get away from work.
You’ll probably also feel guilty for leaving work early, not being able to attend important meetings because you’re part-time, asking for time off for school events, and phoning in unexpectedly when your kids are sick.
I spoke to three fellow working mum bloggers, all based in different countries. I asked them what the biggest problem they face being a working mum is. Here’s what they said…
“I’m in the very fortunate position of being able to work from home, with no commuting or travel costs. I work mornings for a company and also run my own freelance business and blog, which fit around my daughter’s school hours. However, I often work in the evenings and weekends to make up for this. School holidays are the worst because I feel I miss out on a lot of my daughter’s growing up time. In an ideal world, I’d only work school hours and school term times but, sadly, that’s not reality, is it?”
“One of the hardest things for me to juggle is schedule. I often feel like I want to be in two places at the same time. I need to get work done, but there are so many activities that school does where it would be so wonderful if I could attend. I definitely have to pick the most important items and work out a flexible schedule that day.”
Getting dinner on the table
“After a decade of working mom life (with a working husband also), we still struggle with making dinners. Getting home just before five and leaving the house by 5:30 for dance classes most days means there’s NO time to create a healthy dinner. Thankfully my 11 year old can prep and cook basic dinners so she and her sister eat a lot of soup and Kraft Dinner (or peanut butter sandwiches, if we have bread.) “
If you’re a working mum yourself I’m sure that most of these problems faced by working mums sound familiar, no matter where in the world you live!
Let me know in the comments where you are based and if you also have problems with juggling work and family life.