Mum-of-three Becky Dickinson tries to juggle children and work, and ends up dropping a ball
Since becoming a mum, life has been a series of dilemmas. Disposable nappies or eco ones? Purées or baby-led weaning? And does anything get rid of stretch marks? But the dilemma which causes mums the most angst is: should I return to work? If the answer is yes, then there are questions like: should I work part time? Can I work from home? And will I ever fit into that trouser suit again? In my case; yes, yes and probably not.
Working from home definitely has its advantages. There aren’t many places you can spend the day in a onesie, with unbrushed hair, eating Crunchy Nut Cornflakes out of a Tupperware container while checking Facebook at 10 minute intervals. However, the downside of working from home once you have children, is that you have children. Because however much childcare you sign up for, it is never enough. This means you will try to cram in whole assignments around nap times, and possibly CBeebies. The trouble is your children will sniff out your plans and turn them into porridge. And then smear that porridge all over the carpets.
Take this week. Day one: The Toddler develops conjunctivitis and is banned from attending nursery – even though that’s clearly where she caught it in the first place. Unfortunately, I have an unavoidable telephone appointment so I set about trying to exhaust my daughter. By the time we’ve walked to the letter box (the long way), danced our socks off to All About That Bass and bashed out numerous nursery rhymes with shakers and bells, one of us is ready for bed. Unfortunately, it’s not her. She knows there’s something I have to do and there’s no way she’s going to sleep so I can do it.
With minutes to go until my call, I resort to Bad Mother tactics and stick Peppa Pig in the DVD player. My guilt continues as I hand The Toddler a packet of something that doesn’t even pretend to be part of her five a day. Praying that muddy puddles and a sugar-laden snack will keep her quiet long enough for me to work, I creep into the kitchen with my phone. Minutes later, the door squeaks open and a beaming face appears. “More!’’ she says waving the empty sweet packet in the air. I shake my head, and place a finger to my lips, hoping she’ll get the hint. Amazingly, she does and turns her attention to the contents of one of the cupboards instead. It’s not ideal, but at least she’s quiet.
As the interview progresses, I’m suddenly aware of a strange dust in the air. I turn to discover half the kitchen now resembles the set of Frozen. The floor has turned a dazzling white and my daughter looks like she’s been rolling in talcum powder. I’d forgotten that cupboard contained the flour. “Mess!’’ exclaims The Toddler, then toddles off to get the dustpan and brush. Naturally, she has no intention of actually cleaning, but proceeds to spread the flour around any uncovered surfaces.
[pull_quote_center]With minutes to go until my call, I resort to Bad Mother tactics and stick Peppa Pig in the DVD player…[/pull_quote_center]
It’s all I can do to sound professional and hope the person on the other end thinks I am working in an orderly office, not in a cross between an explosion in a bakery and a nursery. Thank goodness we’re not on Skype. As a fine white mist settles over the washing-up, something else assaults my senses. Compost? The bin? Then I realise it’s my daughter. She now needs a nappy change. Well she’ll have to wait, there’s only so much multi-tasking I’m capable of, although the smell is practically melting my eyeballs.
Just as I’m wondering how I can bring it to a timely end, an almighty screech shakes the kitchen. I jump round to see The Toddler playing with an old smoke alarm. I have no idea where she found it and even less idea how she managed to set it off. I grab it before we both end up with perforated ear drums and scrabble at the battery pack. It won’t budge. There’s nothing for it, but to terminate my interview. “I’m sorry, I think the fire alarm’s gone off,’’ I say. “We’ll have to leave it there.’’ I hang up.
The Toddler has won. Actually she’s done me a favour, I couldn’t really concentrate anyway. Two days later, the eye is better and she can attend her only other nursery session of the week. I’m about to get her dressed, when her older sister comes in. “Mummy, my eye’s all sticky…’’ Which means only one thing: soon the third child will have it too. So much for working.
Post the Easter chocolate overload, Mum-of-three Becky Dickinson embarks on a new health regime to shed the baby weight… Click here