In which I struggle to find a work / life balance and we have a fun photoshoot
Rory and I have had a good (albeit slightly tiring) week, we really have, but I can’t help but feel that I’m falling behind when it comes to work. As a freelance journalist, author and blogger, the amount that I earn is directly proportional to the amount that I write. And if I’m packing the days with little outings to entertain myself as well as Rory, then I’m not at the computer and hence I’m not writing nor earning.
In a way, it’s good that I’m feeling ready to work again, because when I first had Rory I was so sleep-deprived and shocked that it was an effort to get through each day. Work was the last thing on my mind as I tried to get used to my new life with a baby and make it as fun as possible. But now that I’m having fun, I can’t help feel that something is missing and I now realise that is work.
Work uses to take up 75% of my life (at least) before I was pregnant and now it probably takes up 20%. I can’t ease off completely because I have a few regular clients that pay me retainers to produce words for them. Also, I’m occasionally approached by new clients and my natural response is ‘yes’ – I hate turning things down! I’m not one to do a half-hearted job once I’ve accepted something and that was partly the reason why I ended up bringing my laptop to hospital. (In hindsight, I realise that this sounds crazy). Less than 24 hours after my emergency c-section, I was blogging. I may have been attached to a catheter and a drip but I could move my arms and use my brain so I got on with it.
In the hospital, there wasn’t much else to do but work or tend to the baby, but now that I’m home and my fiance is back at work I’m finding there are so many more distractions. It’s not just housework. There are meet-ups with the NCT mums, exercise classes to lose the baby weight ahead of the imminent wedding and that’s not to mention that I need my hands to play with the baby – I can’t type and look at the baby and he doesn’t like sitting on the floor while I type. I’ve tried it, believe me.
However, he’s still at an age where there’s a long nap around lunchtime and we normally get two hours, so I really need to use this time better. Until this week, I’ve been quite selfish in this time and doing things that I enjoy such as coffee or a late lunch with new mum friends. But I could use that time to work and I think I’d enjoy it as I do love what I do and I would feel satisfied if I brought more money in. The question is what would I sacrifice? Do I sacrifice the exercise classes? Do I sacrifice the meet-ups? Or let the housework pile up? Why do I have to sacrifice anything? Is it possible to be a mum, have friends and work at the same time?
I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, I’m afraid. I don’t think its something you decide instantaneously, even though I blogged last week about decisiveness. My gut instinct – for now – is that I need to accept that I can’t do as much work as I could pre-baby and that doing some is better than doing nothing. I could probably do a few hours twice a week – on a Monday (when my fiance isn’t working) and on a Friday when there are fewer social activities. If I combine that with work in the mornings before he wakes up and a couple of hours after he goes to bed at 730pm, then that’s really not too terrible. I mean, he is only a few weeks old.
On the bright side, we have had a lot of fun this week, including:
(1) A mum and baby photoshoot! We used Polly Geal from Little Kin Photography and I’m overjoyed with the pictures. I’ll blog (and show off) about the shoot very soon. Here’s one of my favourites from the day:
(2) Lunch at High Road Brasserie in Chiswick with my old boss from the Sunday newspaper. We had Champagne, posh nosh and I caught up on all the goss. Sometimes, I miss the company of people who don’t have children as it meant we didn’t talk about babies once. No talk about dirty nappies. Not a word about burping / farting. Nothing about husbands / other halves pulling their weight. Just office gossip, celeb gossip and chat about hot men – I’d missed those kinds of conversations.
(3) A walk around the gardens of Fulham Palace with the NCT crowd. This has started to become a regular thing and I love it because our babies are a similar age and doing similar things and we all seem to have the same concerns and issues. I can’t wait to see our babies developing and growing up together.
(4) Discovering a new gem of a lunch place in my neighbourhood – Coda di Volpe – with a mum friend. The aubergine parmigiana was incredible, the gnocchi was made in house and the Italian staff barely spoke any English. It just felt like we were in Italy when we were inside – it’s that authentic! A main dish and a glass of wine wasn’t even £10, which I thought was excellent value for money.
(5) Meeting Peppa Pig at the Westfield London shopping mall. I blog about why we did that in a separate post. It was for Save The Children and I found it rewarding to feel like I’d done something to support the charity at the same time as giving Rory a day out. I think he was a bit too young for the story and the songs though – I enjoyed it more than he did!
Overall, I’m happy with the week. My brain does feel like it’s switching off slightly as I haven’t been using it as much, but maybe that will change next week. I hope so!