Juggling kids and a new job can feel like 4 seasons before 9a.m.
Today, I start a new job. I have the usual mix of nervous and excited energy that goes with new beginnings.
Today, however, I also have the added challenge of caretaking two little humans who are oblivious to the societal expectations and social pressures of the first day of a new job. Juggling kids and a new job is a whole new ball game.
Nappies still need changing, kids need dressing, hair needs combing, breakfast spills need mopping and sibling rivalry needs mediating. All that is woven between my own preparations for the day.
I briefly lust after the days when I could have a shower and do my hair and makeup uninterrupted, but those days are gone.
I lay out my silk shirt and skirt, as I may have in previous years. Only this time I plan to slip these on a few minutes before walking out the door, lest I risk Weetbix down the front, Promite on my shoulder, or toothpaste splash-back that goes unnoticed until it’s too late.
Trying to be a good parent and a good worker
You see, I aim to be as present as possible to my kids. We all do, right? It’s the ‘golden egg’ of parenting.
On mornings like these, presence is elusive, as my thoughts are consumed by what lays ahead of me in my day.
What will the new office be like? What about the team of people I will be working with? Have I made the right move… at the right time?
What was I thinking changing jobs when I have two young children, sleepless nights and new milestones for them, all rushing together like a river mouth forging together with whitewater intensity and chaos, before settling down further downstream.
Ok, so perhaps that’s a little dramatic, but my 1 year old is teething, and my 3 year old is transitioning out of night nappies and regularly wakes up wet.
The effect of these broken sleeps, over long periods, are not to be underestimated in how they affect your daily life and functioning. These days I seek out coffee like an addict looking for their next hit.
If that isn’t enough, here’s another ball to juggle
Did I mention my 3 year old is about to start Kinder?
Never before have I had to have the conversation with a new employer about my child starting Kinder the following week, and negotiating flexible start times… on the first day of a new job.
I’m in unchartered territory.
The anxious voice on my shoulder is telling me how ‘unprofessional’ this is, and cringing at the conversation that must take place day 1 with my new manager.
The voice on my other shoulder assures me that women the world over are having these conversations with their employers, and that anyone can appreciate that starting Kinder is a big deal for a 3 year old. Right? Right?!
The kids can sense my stress
Childcare drop off is harder than usual. They feed off my nervous energy, and don’t want me to leave. I extract myself from their grasp, with words of love and affirmation, and promises of seeing them later in the day.
Finally, I’m in the car and on my way. Space to breathe. Re-set. Think towards the day ahead of me, even though I’ve been up for hours already. It feels like 4 seasons have passed before the day has even begun.
As I pull into the car park, I brace myself for the first day. I take a deep breath. I’ve got this. As an experienced professional… AND a mum.