Eat Your Cake

Ok let me start this one by saying that it’s not actually about cake… sorry ladies! This is a piece for the working Moms, the badass women of the world who are earning a living AND raising a family.

And no, I’m not giving any credit to the men on this one. This is a Feminist piece (rant!).

Working Mom. Career Woman. Juggling. Balancing. Doing it all.

Having your cake and eating it too.

So many people say it can’t be done. It’s impossible. Some even say that it’s selfish.

I say ignore them. If you want to keep working, or even begin a new career after having kids, then why not?

It definitely won’t be easy and it will take a lot of support from those around you, but if you want to do it, it can be done.

The end of Maternity Leave is one of those milestones in life that nobody really thinks about until you are staring it straight in the face… then it all becomes very real very quickly! A whole new world of anxiety, stress. confusion and worry takes over. Who is going to mind my baby? Will my baby eat/sleep/fart for this other person? Will they hate me for abandoning them? How much will it cost? Can I afford it? Will I lose the bond I have with my mini-me? So many questions!

Listening to Jennifer Zamparelli on the radio the other morning brought all of this back to me. It wasn’t an issue with my 2nd boy but with the first I had all of the niggling worries listed above. We lived nowhere near family… so were going to be putting our precious cherub into the care of STRANGERS! But it all turned out fine.

I feel like we were so amazingly lucky then compared to the women I heard talking to Jennifer. Today’s new mothers are facing a much bigger mountain of uncertainty and stress that I have ever heard of. Covid has taken Maternity Leave life away from so many new mothers, and it has also taken childcare options away.

To hear these women talk about how they enrolled babies into creches while still in the womb, to now being told that their babies won’t be accepted before 12 months of age (or 24 months in some cases), or indeed that their facility is not reopening, shocked me to the core.

I can’t help but put myself into these women’s shoes.

They want to go back to work.

They want to get on with their lives. And it’s looking quite likely that that won’t be an option for so many of these women.

Again, the men are not getting a mention here because even if the world collapsed in around them, they would manage to go to work.

I signed and shared a petition for the extension of Maternity Leave a number of times recently, but we have yet to see if it has made an impact on our so called “leaders” in Leinster House.

These women NEED to be allowed back to work.

Maternity leave needs to be extended properly for those who need it, and childcare facilities need to be fully functioning for those who wish to return to work.

Childcare is not just a parents’ issue, it is primarily a WOMEN’S issue.

Women must be supported in their decision to return to work. This support starts at the top; with the Government and their policies, and filters right the way down to employers, partners, families, neighbours, even the dog next door might play a part.

We talk about villages and tribes, well it’s all true and without villages and tribes, the world stops turning.

In order to have our cake AND eat it too, we need support.

We need good, reliable, affordable childcare. We need partners who will pull their weight around the house. We need family who can help us when things are getting a bit hectic. We need friends to keep us sane. We need understanding employers who can see the bigger picture when it comes to being flexible if children are sick or someone puked as you were about to leave the house, and you are an hour late.

I also think we need our supporters to include the laundrette, the supermarket delivery drivers, maybe a local cleaner once or twice a week/month.

We need to find a good babysitter and make sure they can do a few daytime hours as well as evening hours here and there to give you some freedom at the weekends.

And mainly we need to support ourselves. If you are a working mother, or career woman, or whatever it is you call yourself, then give yourself a chance, do what you can to avoid that inevitable burnout.

If you want the Hinch-worthy house you (might have) had while you were on Maternity Leave; then don’t kill yourself scrubbing at 11pm on a Friday night, consider taking a load off.

If you like your knickers ironed, then consider sending them out to be done by someone else, so you can spend your time doing something else.

Order the shopping online, save yourself the stress of doing an assload of grocery shopping at 8pm on a Sunday night when you should have your feet up.

Dedicate one night a week to takeaway dinners, or at least oven dinners. If you prefer home cooked every day, arrange for a couple of hours at the weekend where your partner keeps the kids occupied and you can batch cook.

I recognise this all costs money, but my point is that you can be the working mother, but you don’t have to literally “do it all”.

Time is precious, and never more so than when you are working 5 days a week and have small people to raise in the process. Lighten the load, free up some time for the really important things in life.

Have your cake ladies, and eat it too…

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