I’m a full time working mum of one and if I’m honest, I feel pretty stressed a fair amount of the time. So when I read an article about new data that found that working mums really are more stressed, it didn’t surprise me.
The research found that if you work full time and have one child you’re likely to be up to 18% more stressed. Add another child and that figure rises to 40%. Interestingly, “neither working from home nor flexitime had an effect on women’s chronic stress levels”.
It got me wondering about why it is that things can get so stressful. And then I thought about what an average day is actually like…
7AM My alarm goes off. I open my eyes, groggy from the lack of sleep. Last night, like most nights at the moment, involved a merry dance up and down the stairs to my daughter’s bedroom on at least 8 occasions to try to resettle her. I try to enjoy the first cup of tea of the day before the mania really starts. I nudge (kick) my partner when the toddler starts crying in the hope that he’ll understand that means it’s your turn. Neither of us are ready for conversation yet.
I wait impatiently for my turn in the shower while trying to enjoy a few brief cuddles with my daughter and simultaneously respond to an urgent work email while she tries to grab my phone from my hand.
8AM After firing off a flurry of instructions about what’s for lunch and where her clothes are to my Mum who’s on duty today I somehow manage to get myself out the door in time for a very brisk walk to the train station, only to find that the train is late. FML
I busy myself with work emails and catching up on the news while frantically rearranging my first meeting of the day. With any luck I’ll still be on time for the training course I have scheduled this morning.
When the train finally arrives, I don’t get a seat. I stand against the door trying not to be bothered by the man who keeps clearing his throat and crunching his knuckles. I text my Mum to remind her she needs to put more nappies in the change bag before she goes out.
9:15AM I get to work feeling a bit flustered. A quick mirror check reveals that I probably should have got up early enough to wash my hair this morning but I keep my fingers crossed that people just think the unkempt look is what I’m going for.
Also, there’s peanut butter on my sleeve.
I suppose I could have worse things on my sleeve. I attempt to wash it off before rolling up said sleeve and forgetting about it.
12PM I call home to see how Granny and daughter are. She shouts mummy as soon as she hears my voice and I experience that familiar stab of guilt about not being home more. My Mum thanks me for my text reminder and tells me that we need milk and bananas. I add that to the never-ending to-do list on my phone, which also currently includes buying a birthday present for the one-year-old whose party we’re going to at the weekend (should have done that already given it’s now Thursday) and ordering a new swim nappy in time for our next lesson on Sunday because the current one is getting rather tight.
3PM The day passes in a whirlwind of emails, meetings, subbing scripts and signing off pieces. It gets to mid afternoon and I still haven’t had any lunch and I realise I’ve needed the toilet for several hours but haven’t had a chance to go. I remember once telling another mum friend that work was great because you got to drink a hot cup of tea and go to the toilet by yourself. Theoretically true I suppose.
5PM Remarkably I manage to leave work at a reasonable time. If I’m lucky I’ll make it home in time for bath time…then I remember that leaving at a reasonable time means heading home at the same time as every other person in the city. I queue just to get into the tube station and then again to get on to the tube.
6:30PM I’ve made it home. I climb the stairs to our flat, take a deep breath and try to shake off the work day so I can enjoy the precious minutes left before bedtime. I open the door and the toddler flings herself at me before I can even get my coat off. Everything seems a bit better.
And then I remember I forgot the milk and bananas.
7PM Thankfully there’s just about enough for her bedtime bottle and tonight she decides to take pity on me and goes down without too much of a fight.
8PM My partner and I eat dinner and attempt to catch up on each other’s days. I think about offloading about something that didn’t go well at work but I don’t really have the energy to talk about it.
9PM We watch something mindless on TV while I reply to more emails that I didn’t get to during the day. I subscribe to Prime again, having cancelled it less than a month ago, just so I can get that birthday present delivered on time. I also remember to order the swim nappy and feel like I’ve had a small win. I underline milk and bananas on the to do list for tomorrow.
10PM Bedtime. I can’t sleep because I’m going through the mental list of everything I still need to do with that nagging feeling I’ve forgotten something important. Tomorrow is a nursery day and the bag is packed. I remembered to pay for the next lot of swimming lessons. I’ve booked a table for lunch on Sunday with friends. Then I realise I was supposed to book an appointment to have vaccinations for our upcoming holiday. How long until we go? If I remember to book it tomorrow for as soon as possible, that will be okay, right?
11PM I finally go to sleep, my head still full.