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      work/life balance, parenting, Daily Mail, femail, alison canavan, practical parentingIs there really such a thing as a good work/life balance? Can we have it all as mums? Do we have a right to be happy? Should mums stay at home? We constantly battle with these questions and more but I have only one answer for all of them


      I cannot tell you how many people have felt the need to give me their advice on my work/life balance. I work very hard as I want to give James a good life, education and future. I also like work. There I said it, I like working! We need to stop judging each other as women and mums because its really none of your business if a mum chooses to stay at home or go to work as long as they are happy and they feel that it’s the right decision for them.

      Let me make one thing very clear before I continue: ALL MUMS ARE WORKING MUMS. That’s right staying at home is actually the most difficult job in the world. It’s constant and you don’t even get a lunch break most days!

      That is why I think the best thing a mum can do is reserve judgment and offer support. If you want to stay at home then do that but if you want to go to work you should be able to do that without feeling guilty

      As a new mum you might want to give up work and stay at home, change career, start your own business or head back to college. Be careful not to fall into the “I’m a mum now so I can’t do that” trap because it’s just not true.

      I have achieved far more since becoming a mum than ever before. Becoming a mum has given me the courage to fight, follow my dreams and pursue my passions. It most certainly has not been easy but it has definitely been worth it.

      Your life does not end when you have children in fact a whole new world of opportunity awaits. Don’t get me wrong you have extra responsibility and less time but if you are doing something you love you can be happy doing both. I believe that you can have everything just not all at the same time and you will have to sacrifice different things at different stages. But don’t ever give up on your dreams.

      The first thing I would say to all new mummies is to simplify your life as much as possible. We all think everyone else is coping better than us but the reality is that most mum’s struggle trying to get any balance into their lives never mind getting it right. Most mums will feel less confident after a baby and nervous heading back to work, throw in a bit of guilt and a whole lot of I’m not good enough type of feelings start to bubble to the surface.

      So my advice is get organized and stick to a routine. In my previous life I hated routine of any kind but not now. Get everything ready the night before. It saves time, sanity, helps with stress and the kids love their routine (even if you don’t)

      You need to create lists and make them your best friend. Whether you have lists on the wall or in your phone they will help to keep you focused and there is nothing more satisfying that checking off a list. Set alarms on your phone if you are busy and tend to forget things (perfectly normal for mums!)

      Preplan your meals for the week. Make your baby food in batches and freeze and do the same for your own dinners. Switch to Internet shopping as it cuts time and you can do it from the comfort of your own home when the baby or kids are asleep.

      If you are struggling to stay on top of the cleaning and washing ask for help and if you can afford it get someone in to help for a few hours a week

      Nearly every day at work people ask how I do it? When I get to work I switch to professional mode and leave my stresses at home. I struggle so much when trying to balance work and home life. But I need to take jobs whenever they come in which means that one-week I’m incredibly busy and the next I have nothing. For this reason panic mode can set in for financial reasons. There are definitely a few things that can help

      Keeping a list and scheduling 5 minutes of me time every day and make sure you get some exercise. This can be as simple as sitting down with a cup of tea on your own and taking a few long deep breaths or going out for a walk. Getting the kids involved in chores from an early age and helping them to understand responsibility is also very important. My top tip and the most important rule I live by is to be present when you are with your children and make that precious time count.



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