I’m a mum of 7-year-old twins and I run my own business from home, so unfortunately I know stress a lot better than I would like to. I think a lot of mums do.
Starting any business is stressful. It’s a mix of ups and downs, highs and lows and everything else in between. I decided to undertake this journey at the same time as my family was growing. Why did I choose to juggle the stress of being a new mum (early morning breastfeeding starts) and that of starting a new business (answering a phone call from a potential new client before 8am)? Why did I force myself to experience the anxiety and feeling of not being good enough to strike that elusive ‘work-life balance’? Because I wanted to. And that was enough.
I wanted to… because it allowed me the freedom to pick the kids up from school.
I wanted to… because I yearned to connect with other mums.
I wanted to… because I wanted to make a difference.
I run an online support service that helps families with multiple births, called Twinfo. I started it as a new mum, working on practically no sleep (my twins didn’t sleep through until four-years-old) and it was born out of a frustration at the lack of services that catered to those with twins, triplets and even more children.
I know I’m not alone in my stress and that my day mirrors that of a lot of other mums. In fact, findings from Amcal's 2018 Heart Health survey show us mums came in within the top three most stressful professions. Like many women in Australia, my day starts before the sun rises. I’m up at 6am with the mad rush to get two breakfasts, lunches, piles of homework and occupational therapy exercises done and get two kids out the door to school by 8:30am. I’m exhausted just writing this.
When I get home a little after 9am, I zoom around the house on clean-up duty, hang out a load of washing and get myself in front of my work desk. There are emails, social media to schedule, you name it – it’s normal for me, like many others, to work through lunch because I’m short on time.
At quarter to three I’m out the door again to pick the kids up from school and get them to whichever extracurricular we have on that day: sport, dancing, medical appointment – we all know the drill. If it’s dancing or sport, I’ll try to take my laptop to squeeze some more work in – and yes, I know how this may look to some other parents.
We’re home around 5pm and I start dinner with my partner Dave arriving around 6pm. We eat, shower the kids and try to get them in bed by 7pm – it’s why we opt to do homework in the mornings. Once the kids are in bed, we tidy up, the next load of laundry goes on, the dishwasher is stacked and we prep for the next day. There’s maybe another hour or two of work and then I fall into bed at 10pm. I’m fortunate to have Dave in my life who can help lessen the load.
My added area of stress? I live in fear of being THAT mum, the one always on her phone but I have to be honest - I take the opportunities to work where I can. We hear a lot about those mums at the park, sitting on their phones while their kids play but what you maybe haven’t considered is that she is squeezing in her last work task for the day, so that she can go home and spend quality time with her kids. I have felt guilty when my daughter has turned to me and asked, “Mummy, are you on your phone again?” I don’t need the added stress of your judgement too.
I have been incredibly grateful to have supportive family and friends around me while I took on this endeavour and built my business into what it is today but unfortunately, stress is always going to be a part of my life, as it is for many women. There is support and help out there though, so never forget that. Ask for help, be honest when you’re struggling and most of all keep talking about it – you’re not alone.
What is the most stressful thing about being a parent? Tell us in the comments section below.