What’s it really like…? is a new series on Cardiff Mummy Says looking at the realities of parenting for different types of families. From home educating to shared parental leave, and parenting twins to parenting a child with autism, it’s been fascinating gaining an insight into the highs, the lows and everything in between for different family set-ups. You can catch up with the rest of the series here.
This week, Bridgend mum-of-two and blogger Kerry-Lynne Pyke talks about life in a family where both parents work full time.
Tell us about your family set up
I live in Bridgend with my husband, our five-year-old son and our daughter, who is two. Both my husband and I work full time and study outside of work too.
What’s an average day like for you?
Weekdays are busy. The children are up early – 5.30am most days – so we get up with them and have breakfast. My husband heads to work. I drop my son to breakfast club at his school before heading to work. My daughter is looked after by family for three days a week and a private day nursery for two so my husband and I share drops offs depending on where she is. I’m based in an office and if I get the chance I get out for a walk at lunchtime.
After work, either my husband or I do the family/after school club/nursery pick-ups before heading home for dinner, bath time and bedtime stories. When the children are asleep, we do housework and I go to a gym class a few evenings a week. I am learning Welsh part time so I go to lessons one night a week. I’m usually asleep by 10pm to handle the early mornings!
Tell us about your decision that both you and your husband would work full-time when you became parents?
Like lots of families nowadays, we rely on two incomes so there wasn’t really a decision to be made. It is a necessity for us.
Most people are really understanding but I’ve had a few upsetting comments over the years. One person said: “I don’t know how you can bear to leave them”. I find comments like that hard as it isn’t a choice; I have to work full time for financial reasons. Lots of other parents are in the same boat.
What are the biggest challenges of being a family where both parents work full time?
The juggle! There’s no getting away from it – it’s challenging to work full time and have two young children. I want to be the best parent I can be for the children as well as do my best at work. We’re constantly on the go and the to-do list never ends. I feel guilty for sitting down sometimes!
What are the positives?
I am so focused – I have to be to work hard at work, to be a good parent (I hope!) and to keep the house as tidy as you can expect with a toddler and a five-year-old racing around. I don’t procrastinate as I don’t have time to and I work as hard as I can at work so I can get home on time to have a family dinner, give the children a bath and kiss them goodnight.
One positive is that we make the most of the time we have together as a family. We do lots of days out, walks and activities at the weekends and when we have time off work to enjoy that time. It’s priceless.
We are very lucky to have family support around us. I would struggle to work full time without that. Both of our parents help look after our daughter during the week and help with our son too especially during school holidays. As a result, the children have fantastic relationships with their grandparents, which is lovely to see.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about parents in your situation?
That it’s a choice and that we are lesser parents. I’ve read online articles with comments saying that you shouldn’t have children if you work full time, but I don’t agree. It’s a necessity for many families in the UK today. I always hoped to have children and the children are our life. They don’t know any different to us working full time as that’s how it’s always been.
What would you most like people to know about your situation?
That we are doing our best to raise our children well and to be the best parents we can be. It’s truly a challenge but it’s worth it for the children.
What or who helps make your life easier?
Our families. Planning. Online shopping. Our slow cooker. Exercise. Weekend activities. A good iron. Batch cooking. Our friends. Weekend play dates. Yoga. Reading. My meal planner. Our tumble dryer!
Planning makes such a difference to our family life. I plan our meals out for the week, book online grocery shopping and slow cook/batch cook whenever I can. I have weekly food and activity planners on the fridge to remind us of our daily activities. I set reminders for the non-typical things we need to remember for school and nursery such as World Book Day costumes and school trip money.
What advice would you give other parents in the same situation?
Try to let go of the guilt and to accept when you just need a break. Working full time and being a parent is pretty relentless so you have to accept that you’re not a machine and that you need to look after yourself too. That’s not just in a health sense, but in a wellbeing sense too. You have to give yourself down time and do things for you too, whether that’s going to the gym or seeing friends one evening.
Are you in a family where both parents work full time? Let me know how Kerry-Lynne’s experiences compare to your own either in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy
Catch up with the rest of the rest of the What’s it really like…? series here.