A few weeks ago I was sitting in my usual sofa spot during Hazel’s afternoon nap. She’d been grizzly all day (teeth, leap, growth spurt… one of those) and I was knackered. But instead of sitting scrolling Instagram and mainlining Diet Coke like I should’ve been, I was simultaneously working, adding my upcoming study dates into the family calendar and texting my mum about childcare. I was staring down the barrel of serious overload – working practically full-time, studying for a degree and rearing a ‘spirited’ 9-month old. That week, I was the epitome of a hashtag MumBoss.
“Actually I can… say no to stuff”
As women, we’re used to giving 110% percent at work – we’re constantly fighting against the pay gap, sexism, discrimination and for women of colour, working class women and women with disabilities, racism, classism and ableism respectively.
But the notion that you should be ‘working on your brand’ all day every day, running multiple ‘side hustles’, keeping your Insta game on-point and visually merchandising your desk every morning leaves us at risk of serious burnout. And it seems things don’t let up when you have a baby – you’re expected to move seamlessly from #GirlBoss to #MumBoss.
In 2017, maternity leave isn’t just for sitting around on your arse during naptime and going out for lunch with your NCT group. You should be starting a freelance craft business and promoting it via a beautifully-curated Instagram. You need to resurrect your long-forgotten blog and share wise words on motherhood punctuated with soft focus shots of your immaculately-dressed baby. If you’re going back to work, get your Keeping In Touch days sorted asap and don’t forget to pick up your emails – you wouldn’t want to be forgotten. And why not do some studying while you’re at it – you can write your essays when baby’s in bed! Who cares if baby doesn’t actually sleep ever and you’re permanently exhausted! You’re a #MumBoss, you got this *biceps emoji*
In reality, the #MumBoss movement stems from idea that mums should still ‘have it all’ despite a working world set up to systematically fail them. There’s no room for rest and relaxation here. No time for taking your shitty company to a tribunal because they fired you while you were pregnant – just start a ‘network marketing business’ instead. I’m generalising, of course – there are loads of amazing women doing amazing things while juggling childcare and thoroughly enjoying it. And more props to them – if you can find the balance, that’s fantastic. But so, so many mothers can’t find that balance, and they’re left feeling one of two ways – lazy and old-fashioned or overworked and overstretched.
For me, things came to a head last week when I was seriously considering taking on a house renovation project alongside my freelance business, my degree study and my kid. I can do it all! I thought to myself as I wondered if we could live without a kitchen for a few months. Eventually I realised that actually, I can… say no to stuff. I can wait a bit. I don’t have to achieve absolutely all my goals and dreams within a year of giving birth, just to prove that it’s possible. Maybe it is. But not for me.
So I’ve deferred my uni place until next year. I’ve sacked off the house renovation (after a bit of gentle common sense talk from Rob). Hazel will be at nursery from November and I’ll be picking up a my freelance business again – I don’t think I’ll ever work at the same level as I did before she was born, but I’m hugely privileged that my job is still there and can be as flexible as I need it to be. I know a lot of women don’t get that break.
I’m not a #MumBoss, but I am a working mum juggling a job, a baby and some semblance of a life. It’s not always successful, rarely Instagrammable and won’t earn me a a legion of social media followers, but that’s cool. I’m happy with it.
This is a great post – it’s difficult enough trying to juggle everything but adding a small person in must create extra complications. I applaud any mama that manages to just get up, get dressed and accomplish another day bringing up the kids
So refreshing to read this! With the realisation that my maternity leave ends in two months and I’ll be heading back to work 3 days (as well as taking on a second more flexible job/some social media work), spending quality time with my baby and keeping on top of home, I’m already starting to feel overwhelmed at the thought of it. Wondering if it’s going to be too much.
I’ve also felt as though I should have done more with my maternity. Actually try to blog for once which I’ve not done at all, or as you say, jump on the creative business bandwagon.
It’s great that you’ve taken a step back and decided not to overwhelm yourself. Your uni place will still be there a year later, and you’ll have had another year of being mum. Which truly is the hardest job of all!
I couldn’t agree more with this. I’m a mum who has often ended up well outside the balance. As women, we can often actually be our own worst enemies. We’re fighting against so much and then we go and make it harder for ourselves. Sadly social media is often the culprit in piling on the extra pressure, no matter how much if a positive influence for change it can also be. I’m just so pleased to see someone else admitting that not being able to have it all right now is not a failing. It’s perfectly ok to be happy with doing our best, whatever that may be.
Well, I think any woman with one or several babies/toddlers/tweens/teens are Mumbossing it in general (I have none), never mind the rest of the stuff. Well done to all mums, I say – you’re all Wonderwomen
Can totally relate to this Jen.
I personally hate the GirlBoss or MumBoss term.
I think everyone is different and I believe NO ONE has their shit completely together after having a child.. It never gets any easier. There’s always something!
Everyone is different and everyone finds their own way. Nothing should be perceived as failing. You have a beautiful daughter, you are totally winning!
It sounds really sensible to postpone the uni course, well done on taking what must have been a hard decision. I’ve had to massively adjust my expectations for myself since having a baby – I had big plans for my maternity leave which weren’t at all realistic!
I’m not a mum but dear lord there is too much pressure on new mums to be conquering the world one Instagram post at a time. It feels like too many people are expecting parents to treat maternity/paternity leave as a sabbatical from work, rather than the crucial time to look after and bond with their new baby.
Omg Jen, this is SO on point. I’m also freelance, and I have a 5-month old. In this time, I’ve written two pieces for Mother & Baby, started a podcast and carried on blogging……and I am at breaking point! I’m definitely at the stage you were, and it’s refreshing to feel I’m not alone. I’m definitely NOT a #mumboss and I’m also okay with it! (ps this is BEAUTIFULLY written.)
Excellent post, Jen. I’m not a mum but have definitely noticed this trend for bloggers to ‘do it all’ and it doesn’t appear to relent even after bringing a tiny human into the world. A much needed dose of reality right here!
Great post! I hate the Girl Boss and Mum Boss terms. Men just get to be the bloody Boss so why not women too?
Yes we can do it! We need only motivation , or in my case and this is my moto lately as I need to change my current life and trying to succed in all I want to achieve no matter what people might say!