I have always worked, be it at a young age helping my parents with the family business, to volunteering as a youth worker at the local youth club from the age of 15. I have that hunger to work, and as I’ve grown as a person, that has never changed.
Before I met Chris, I would have definitely classed myself as a workaholic – someone who desired nothing more than working hard and striving for the next set of goals.
Alongside university and working up to 30 hours a week in a pub, my goal had always been to be a journalist, so from time to time I would work at the local paper, writing columns and gaining experience. It’s safe to say I am not afraid to graft.
Now, being a stepmum has not changed that. I still have that urge to work hard and that is something that is built within me – it will never change.
I work a full time job as a Senior Communications Officer at the local council, and I love it. But honestly? Becoming a stepmum did change something inside of me in terms of work and my work ethic.
I still work hard – always have and always will, but the moment I laid eyes on that little girl, something changed within me. That hunger and urge I had didn’t disappear, but grew – and encompassed being a stepmum as a role and a job I was very willing to take on.
Being a parent is hard work – and whether that is biological or not, being there and devoting your life to a child is a job in itself – and some parents and stepparents definitely don’t get the credit they deserve!
So how do I juggle that work life balance everyone seems to talk about? I struggle.
I find it difficult to switch off from work and at times you’ll find me checking my emails at gone 11pm, preparing myself for the next day.
Some days, when life is normal and Lily’s at school, she will have to go into after school club so I can stay late at work, while Chris works away – she loves it, and I used to feel bad for that, despite the fact she loves going.
Sometimes I felt I was cutting our time short with her to prioritise my own work – but that’s healthy, and allowed!
And at the moment, with everything in lockdown and both Chris and I working from home, our time is so split, trying to focus on our 9-5s, whilst taking care of Lily and home schooling while she’s here.
It’s been difficult, not only to adjust but also suddenly having to focus on two major jobs at once. Until now, working and having Lily and being a parent have been two separate jobs, I’ve dropped Lily at school or her mum’s and I’ve gone to work, or I’ve booked the day off to have Lily – they’ve not happened at the same time before.
At times I feel that I am doing both of my ‘jobs’ badly, not focusing on the job that I am paid for as much as I should, and not giving Lily the time that she both needs and deserves right now.
And for the first time, without producing a child myself, I feel mum guilt.
Which seems ridiculous because Lily is happy, healthy and is enjoying her time here, and still being home schooled along the way, but I feel so guilty that I have to work while she’s here, and so does Chris.
We are trying our best to split our time, taking it in turns to work and making sure we eat as a family, do fun things on weekends and evenings, and manage our time.
But one thing I do know and have learnt from all of this, routine is everything.
Setting time aside for family and having days that are dedicated to loved ones is so important. A stepmum, stepdad, parent, grandparent, can work and work hard and still find time to create that family unit – whether they’re in lockdown or not.