It’s one of those big questions going around in my head a lot at the moment. On paper, I have it all: I have a nice house, a good husband, two wonderful children, a good job and enough money to not have to worry too much when things inevitably go pear-shaped.
But being a full-time working, teaching, mum, wife and family member isn’t easy and sometimes it does feel like spinning all the plates is impossible. This week has been quite a difficult one. I was left in charge in my department at work and we only had half the department in, so the 2 of us were effectively doing the job of 4 1/2 people. I found myself working 14-hour days almost every day as I’m still playing catch-up, after work last week was being put on the back-burner, owing to the car accident I had.
As a result, I barely got to see my family. I was either home late from trying to hold it all together at work, or I came home and was working late into the night and then again early in the morning.
Then there was the accident itself to deal with. A lot of paperwork arrived this week and needed sorting and dealing with. I also needed to overcome my reluctance to drive and it has only been yesterday that I started relaxing a little more on the daily commute.
Thankfully, everyone at home was brilliant and it reminded me that ‘having it all’ is not the same as doing it all by myself.
Bulk-cooking in advance helped a lot this week. I was able to throw food into the slow cooker first thing, instruct my husband to put on the rice or pasta about 30min before I was due home and we still had decent, home-cooked food every day. There was a shepherd’s pie version, chilli, my Mary Cooper spaghetti with Frankfurters and a pork stew – all quick to prepare and easily served.
Our strict routines and job shares at home were a fantastic crutch this week. It’s the one thing we pride ourselves the most on – everyone having specific roles to do at regular times. I know I keep banging on about the importance of organisation, but it’s been brought back to me this week why we spend so much time setting it all up.
My husband has been helpful in keeping up with our morning routine – taking the boy on the two mornings he woke up before his usual 6am wake-up time, getting him dressed and ready for the day.
My 10-y.o. daughter has independently been preparing all of our lunches for the next day every evening and has dealt with the laundry once it was dry.
My 1.5-y.o. son is so used to his routines that neither mornings nor bedtimes were a problem; he still tidies up after himself every evening and leads our bedtime routine.
My job was to make sure everything was ready and prepared when it needed to be – clothes were laid out, breakfasts were made, laundry was done over the weekend, paperwork was dealt with. At work, every second was used playing catch-up on marking, ensuring our supply people knew what to do when, preparing a round of mock exams and the lesson pans for the department for next week and dealing with pupils as and when needed.
And while my working hours would not be sustainable over a longer time, somehow, we got through the week without any major incidents and it has all run a lot more smoothly than I thought it would.
True, the balance was not exactly in favour of my family and if there is one thing I am aiming to change this week, it will be to ensure that everyone – especially my husband – is getting a little more of my attention next week. But in general, I am very proud of our little family and what we can achieve as a team
So, is it possible to have it all? Absolutely. But it isn’t an easy feat; it requires a lot of organisation and team work to get it right and pull together when the plates we are spinning are about to fall.