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The Beautiful Chaos: Juggling A Career & Motherhood

When my son was born in the middle of the 2020 Covid lockdown, managing my career and motherhood was something I didn’t give much thought. Instead, I was knee-deep in nappies and piles of washing, and trying to remember to feed myself whilst keeping on top of the baby’s bottle-feeding schedule. Fast forward 10 months, and I suddenly found myself back at my laptop, embarking on what felt like the first day back at school.

The Career/Motherhood Balancing Act

Trading my cosy maternity leave days for busy Outlook calendars and back-to-back Teams calls wasn’t easy. That first step back into a bustling work environment, even from the confines of my home, was daunting to say the least. I felt a pang of guilt every time I had to drop my little one off at my parents’ house or nursery so that I could get my head down. It was a wild ride on an emotional roller coaster, coupled with the constant questioning – Was I doing justice to my role as a mum? Could I still flourish in the role I loved?

One of the main obstacles faced by working mothers is managing time effectively. With the demands of a career and the responsibilities of motherhood, it can be difficult to find enough hours in the day to fulfil both roles to the best of our abilities

The invisible, never-ending list of tasks that whizzes around our brains can be overwhelming and mentally draining, and that’s before we even think about work.
Did I put the washing on? What should I make for dinner tonight? Is his bag all packed for nursery? Did I book that GP appointment?

I found myself becoming easily distracted and overwhelmed, and often questioning my own abilities in a role that I’d previously felt confident and capable in. Spending 10 months away from work had more of an impact on me than I’d anticipated, and whilst everyone around me understood and was patient with me, I really beat myself up about it!

Mastering the Art of the Juggle

As time went on, I started to develop a new rhythm, a beautiful chaos of nappy changes and spreadsheets, which is as glamorous as it sounds! Once I accepted the fact that there may not be a perfect balance, I found a way to weave motherhood and work together.

There's a reason why we call it 'the juggle' - it requires heaps of patience at the start, willingness to make mistakes and a relentless determination to make it work.

It’s a challenge familiar to many: according to a study by the UK’s Office for National Statistics, approximately 75% of mothers with dependent children are now working. This makes it evident that the struggle of balancing motherhood with a career isn’t a rare circumstance, but rather a growing trend thanks to climbing childcare costs and a desire to claim back a part of ourselves that’s lost when we become parents.

Becoming a mum while juggling a career is far from easy, but believe it or not, it’s possible and can be extremely rewarding. By managing my time more effectively, adopting flexible working hours – a luxury that the pandemic ironically offered and something that Blackline have welcomed – and setting realistic boundaries from the get-go, I have found a routine that works for me and my colleagues, and most importantly, my family.
I’ve also found tools that help me to stay organised and plan out my time, such as Structured and Notion, and I’m forever writing lists and jotting down thoughts in my iPhone’s Notes app.

One thing I've always wanted for my son is for him to understand what it is to work hard and achieve your goals, so I've grown to love that he gets to see me chatting to my teammates in video calls from my kitchen table.

He often makes an appearance on camera himself and knows all of my colleagues’ names, and he understands that when my laptop finally shuts for the day, that’s when the most magical time begins. The evening is exclusively ours—whether that’s cooking the dinner together, playing with his favourite toys or enjoying stories at bedtime. It’s our time to connect, unwind and bond.

The New Normal: Accepting & Adapting

As many working mums will testify, we often find ourselves in the middle of a swirling tornado of responsibilities. For me, it’s emails, meeting requests, phone calls and amidst it all, the ever-persistent, ever-lovable demands of a three-year-old. Then just when you think you’re getting ahead, you’re hit by the relentless onslaught of sickness bugs and viruses that toddlers love to spread amongst themselves. Covid, Bronchiolitis, Croup, Norovirus, Chicken Pox – you name it, we’ve had it (some multiple times).

You may be wondering how I can stay on top of it all, and to be perfectly honest, sometimes I don’t! As much as I love to plan, I also have to adapt and react to what each day throws my way, often having to move deadlines, reschedule meetings and get through my to-do list in those rare quiet moments.

Yet, once the bugs have passed and things settle back to ‘normal’ again, there's an undeniable joy in the chaos, and a sense of accomplishment that springs from every small victory.

So, here’s my proposition to you: If you’re a working mum out there struggling to maintain that elusive work-life balance, know that you’re not alone. And remember, there’s no set script. Don’t be afraid to craft a schedule that suits you, your child, and your career. Take charge of your narrative and embrace the beautiful chaos that is the life of a working mum!

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