When I first returned to work six months after my twins were born, a wise colleague said to me "welcome to having it all!". The accompanying eye roll spoke volumes.
On forums such as Mumsnet and across social media, we often see the guilt. Mums are guilty because they can’t attend every nursery or school event, sometimes miss bedtime and even first words. Initially I felt all of those things. I am constantly tired because the children don’t sleep through. I run around in the morning attempting intricate hairstyles while singing along to Postman Pat. And I arrive at work feeling the day should nearly be over.
But here’s the thing: in the past two years I’ve achieved more at work than ever before. I’ve been reflecting on this: being a parent doesn’t make you a better person. To think that is an insult to those without children. Being a parent doesn’t offer you an insight into the world you didn’t have before. Being a parent is both a blessing and very hard work, but it doesn’t make you a special snowflake.
I’ve realised that for me it comes down to two things: we lost a baby in 2012 and having the twins was a big part of the healing process. And I’m just too tired to waste time.
You don't have to experience loss and have twins to change your approach, so what is the approach?
Don’t dither. Do. Sometimes we spend so long thinking about possibilities that we miss the opportunity to make them happen. Evaluate, risk-assess, discuss with decision-makers and set about making it happen.
Believe you are good enough. Don’t question your abilities – you know you are capable and you aren’t an imposter, so get on with it.
Share the load, share the glory. Give your colleagues the chance to shine and take a lead. You don’t have to do everything yourself and they deserve the opportunity to take the limelight. A healthy team is one where everyone knows their worth.
Do a job you love. Not everyone is so lucky, and we all have times when we don’t enjoy work or have to take any work we can to make ends meet. But try to find a thing you love about it, particularly in the voluntary sector – be motivated by your cause and take time to remember why you do what you do.
Having it all is hard work. But it doesn’t mean you can’t.