Not enough hours…


I’m pretty sure that just about every mother on the face of this earth would bite your hand off for an extra three hours in the day. I know I would. But at the moment, I think I’d probably need more like another 12 to get through everything I have to do.

That photo up there is what my desk looks like right now. And the only thing I like on it is the glass of wine. It also features a BlackBerry flashing away to alert me to my unanswered emails (186 in my inbox at this precise moment), a pad full of shorthand notes yet to be transcribed, another pad with details of my year-end accounts which *really* need sorting out, my passport, which needs renewing (by August 9th; no pressure), the booking form for the school table-top sale, where I intend to try to shift our outgrown baby gear, and, and, and…

I don’t like to moan about working from home. This is a life choice that I made. It’s my decision not to use childcare, and to cram my working week into The Baby’s sleep times. I made that decision because I love being at home with my children (and because the double-whammy of paying for childcare and commuting into London for work would gobble up my entire salary, if I were office-based). But this week, I am slowly losing the plot.

I knew it was going to be a busy week. Our school has inset and occasional days this Friday and Monday, so we’re off to Center Parcs; a welcome opportunity to have a mini-break without paying school holiday prices. Unfortunately, I have two feature deadlines on Monday – which means they have to be finished and filed by Thursday. I also have articles due in on Wednesday, the following Monday, and the Monday after that…

I’m generally not a last-minute person. Normally, I’d be well under control by this point in time. But this week, I’m not. Circumstances have conspired against me. The weekend was written off by DH having to work, which meant I had The Boy to amuse during The Baby’s naptimes, when I’d usually have worked. Then yesterday, I sacrificed my entire working ‘day’ to a trip to A&E. Throw in a few more unavoidable variables, like people not being available for phone interviews when they said they would, and you have the recipe for one very stressed work-at-home mum.

What’s worse is that I’m cracking under the pressure. When I told DH earlier that I’d burnt the bolognese sauce, I neglected to tell him the full story. What actually happened was that I was cooking the bolognese (two batches; one meat, one veggie) in a 20-minute window of opportunity between taking our passport applications to the Post Office to be checked (one failed, hence them still being on my desk) and going swimming with The Baby, while I was also trying to hang washing on the line, stop The Baby crumbling a cereal bar all over the floor, feed the cat and reply to an email. I could have sworn I switched both hobs off before we set off for swimming. But when I got back from the pool, I was greeted by the telltale smell of burning food.

I had left one of the hobs on under the pan of bolognese. For an hour and a half. In an unattended house.

Thank God we still have a house left.

It’s not the only stupid thing I’ve done lately. I’ve put the fabric softener in the detergent dispenser of the washing machine. I’ve completely misplaced my favourite sunglasses, even though I know they must be in the house somewhere. I even managed to book our Center Parcs break for 2013, rather than 2012, incurring 15 minutes of utter panic and a £50 amendment fee. Again, Thank God that I noticed my error before we actually turned up…

I think perhaps I have too much on my mind.

I feel guilty, too. Guilty that my husband is having to do all the cooking and washing up while I work. Guilty that the house is a tip. Guilty that the children are getting snapped at because I’m stressed and overworked. Yes, I really *do* need an extra few hours in the day.

But for all my moaning, would I change my life? Would I go back to my pre-kids job? Would I rather they were with a childminder while I was at my desk? The answer – for me, at least – is a resounding No. Because then I’d miss those everyday moments that melt my heart. Like the way The Baby has decided that walking backwards until she bumps into a wall is the funniest thing ever. The way The Boy comes out of school tripping over his tongue in his quest to tell me that he and his friend are going to open an indoor nature reserve – ‘and it’s going to be real, Mummy, not just imaginary, with plants and butterflies and maybe even parrots!’ The fact that even though I’d really rather *not* have spent my Monday in A&E, I was there, able to do it, and not an hour away at work when The Boy needed my help.

Still, an extra few hours would be nice. Perhaps then I wouldn’t almost burn the house down while cooking dinner.

*Disclaimer: yes, I should be working now, rather than blogging. But my eyes will actually start to bleed if I look at this wretched feature for one more minute…*


2 thoughts on “Not enough hours…

  1. I know EXACTLY how you feel. I worked from home as a freelance journalist for six months last year, before taking on the presenting gig – but I still earn part of my crust writing from home (evenings, weekends etc) so I haven’t entirely given up my WAHM mantle. It’s tough. And what I also find / found tough was the perception that working from home isn’t real work. It’s bloody hard juggling everything, whatever your job is – WAHM, Office mum, SAHM. But those moments when our kids do something funny or toddle over with a rare cuddle, they make it all worthwhile. Hope you get your features filed on time. I’m having a nightmare with experts for my latest piece!

    • I honestly don’t know how you juggle your crazy radio hours, working from home and looking after your little one. I really would have cracked up by now. Utmost respect to you! You’re totally right about people (husband!) thinking that home-working is easier than office-working, too. The assumption is always that it’s no bother for me to pick up a parcel from the sorting office/take The Boy to a party/collect the dry-cleaning, because I’m at home…

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