A MODERN DAY MAMA IN A WORLD FULL OF OLD FASHIONED EXPECTATIONS…
BY NATALIE FAULKNER
Did you know that in 2019, women are expected to…
Return to work after having babies, as well as cook, clean, manage the home, have an immaculate house at all times, organise kids, feed the pets, do the washing, attend school events – oh and stay healthy, be calm, loving, practice self care, and be groomed and well presented…
Or are they???
I recently surveyed a variety of women from various Facebook groups and the outcome was that 94% of women agree with this comment – 94%!
They felt an overwhelming inability to keep up. There was a feeling as though they were drowning in self- doubt and not able to do everything let alone have any downtime.
This is ALARMING.
The irony of all of this is that we are better resourced, and more informed than any other generation of mothers in the history of the world, yet we still feel inadequate, burned out, and defeated. But who is putting that pressure on us?
I feel it too…
I am passionate about my career (I have worked hard at it and it brings me joy) and I am also extremely passionate about my family. I am very much an outgoing, happy person and love to be social, so I try my best to keep all of these balls in the air, and at the same time juggling my household chores, personal appearance (ah crap I haven’t shaved my legs this week…. Thank gosh for maxi dresses)
Some weeks I feel like I am nailing life and the whole working mum juggle. Then other weeks I am totally running on empty with a washing pile to the roof, in a house that looks like its been robbed.
Women are told we have a lot of choices, but what we really have are tough trade-offs. Not all employers have altered the work culture to accommodate parents’ changing roles. Not all husbands are available to automatically help around the house. Not all families have support networks nearby. And honestly, deep within a woman’s psyche is still often this idea that part of being a good mother is micromanaging the family.
Only a few generations ago it was frowned upon for a woman to have a career.
Now, thank goodness, the modern-day shift has seen mums return to their passions and careers and even at times role reversal where the dads stay home. This is incredible. We have worked hard for this. But we still have a long way to go.
What we must also remember is that often, mums actually have no choice but to return to work for financial reasons. And some mums, make the choice to be stay at home mums because that is what works for them and their family.
None of these choices are wrong… No one should be judged.
After I had our firstborn, Jude, I returned to my career in a part-time capacity after 12 months of maternity leave. Only to then be made redundant due to the fact I could not commit to full-time work ( which is what the company now suddenly wanted).
For me to return to full-time work, I would have needed to put Jude into daycare 5 days a week from 7 am – 6 pm and at the end of all of that, I would walk away with $280 a week. WTAF!!!
Yes, I was worried that I might not get back into the ‘game’ as such if I didn’t try to make it work. But, personally, I couldn’t justify working that hard, and putting my darling boy into the care of others for such long days, to just have a measly $280 after paying all the fees and petrol. I was worth more than that and so was my family.
Now, after baby number 2, I have returned much earlier after only 5 months of maternity leave. Because I am lucky to have an employer with flexible working conditions. But the other balls are still juggling…
Radio Presenter and all-round superstar Emily Jade O’Keeffe (102.9 Hot Tomato), recently had backlash from an online troll who said she never spends time with her children because she is always at work.
Chatting to Emily on this topic she said ‘The fact is, working in the media people will judge you and you kind of expect some judgement and criticism. I work for 5 hours every morning and then I am with my kids. Not everyone realises this. I made the choice to go back to work because that is what is going to bring us the freedom to live the life we want and the freedom for me to be a better person and mother. Not everyone is the same though’
Emily agreed that she too feels the pressure to ‘do it all’ (even though she has a hugely supportive husband), so she has learnt, after near burnout, that sometimes we have to draw the line, make other sacrifices and ask for help.
‘Maybe the house isn’t as tidy, or maybe I don’t get as much time to socialise with my friends as much as I would like to. Or maybe I go to the shops in gym gear with no make-up more often than I hoped. But that’s what I do to make things work.’
Emily also said ‘It is important that we know when to ask for help. Outsource if you need to. You can’t be all things to everyone all the time. Focus on one thing at a time and Fuck the rest!!’
Which got me thinking….
I think the biggest contributing factor to feeling overwhelmed as a woman/mum is hugely, but not entirely this: Our culture celebrates and rewards independence, rather than interdependence, which has led many of us to believe that asking for help and needing support makes us weak.
So whilst you cannot change everyone’s opinions and beliefs, (some people are old fashioned in their views) you can train your own thoughts.
Just because someone thinks you should be doing something a certain way, doesn’t mean you have to do it. Especially if it’s burning you out.
Give yourself a break – mentally.
It doesn’t matter if you are a stay at home mum or a return to work mum, DON’T FEEL GUILTY! You are amazing!
The overwhelming consensus in my surveys with both those who agree and disagree that we are expected to do everything was – The sooner we support one another and let go of our own expectations, the sooner we will have a weight lifted.
If you have a day where all you achieve is feeding your kids and having a shower, that is great! Everyone is alive. Including yourself.
Get out of your own head and do what makes you happy.
There will always be the mum who seems like she has it all together because she wears make-up to school drop off or posts photos of her ridiculously perfect pantry organisation. But she probably has washing piled to the roof or struggles to find time to bath the dog or other boring household shit. Everyone’s priorities are different. And no one should feel like they need to justify their priorities.
Trust me when I say – NO ONE CAN PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY DO IT ALL!!
(And if there is someone out there that thinks they can, contact me because I want to interview you).
Let’s support each other and most of all BE KIND!
Some things are hard to change, but kindness is timeless.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Natalie Faulkner is a mama of 2, a corporate marketing manager and a children's entertainer. She basically dresses up for a living. She dresses as a corporate boss mum by day and wears fairy wings on the weekend! With over 15 years experience in the entertainment industry, and a passion for entertaining young and old, Natalie is also the director of fun for kids entertainment company Strawberry Fundaes Kids Parties. She is the creator of the blog Confessions of a Costume Character where she shares her motherhood adventures and valuable party advice. Her blog is relatable, inspiring and entertaining.