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Not coping with work and motherhood- anyone else?

(27 Posts)
russianroulette Tue 16-Sep-08 18:50:59

I have a 3 year old dd and recently got a new job (in same organisation) so that I could change from working 4 to 3 days a week. The job is a promotion and even though I only work 3 days a week not coping at all well. The work is new to me and frankly, quite hard - have to spend hours drafting reports which makes my brain ache so much I just want to get home and unwind but of course have to collect dd from nursery and look after her. Made a mistake at work today which I keep obsessing about and its got to the point where I feel I just cant cope and I'm losing all my confidence, at work and as a mother. I know millions of women juggle work and childcare which makes me feel so crap that I cant seem to cope!!

ProfessorGrammaticus Tue 16-Sep-08 18:52:10

It's just a bad day. Tomorrow will be better!

Countingthegreyhairs Tue 16-Sep-08 19:12:22

How recently did you start your new job RussianRoulette? I think you are being quite hard on yourself if it's anything less than 6 months - it takes time to settle properly in to any new role. Also, you may find that although you find the report writing hard now, it will get easier and easier with time as you become more familiar with subject matter/format/style etc etc.

Allow yourself a bit of time to adjust ...it's never easy combining work with child-rearing .... how about giving yourself a set period to settle in and telling yourself "right, if things are no better in X months then I will reassess matters, but for now I'll cut myself some slack and give it my all whilst at the same time not expecting myself to be perfect!!"

Easy to say I know but at least you will giving yourself "permission" to be struggling for a while. Everyone makes the odd mistake from time to time!

Also, many firms try and squeeze a full-time job in to part-time hrs. Is this true in your case?

Lastly, do you have someone at work who could help you or who you could confide in?

Good luck!

russianroulette Tue 16-Sep-08 19:42:57

thanks countinggreyhairs, what you've said makes ssense. I've been in the new job about 3 months and I am a perfectionist which means I beat myself up continuously if I make a mistake or feel I could have done better. I have a heavy workload and at times it feels like my job would be more suited to fulltime hours as I try and cram everything in. I wish I could go easier on myself, any tips?

Professor- yes hopefully things will be better tomorrow (couldnt be any worse!)

russianroulette Tue 16-Sep-08 19:43:02

thanks countinggreyhairs, what you've said makes ssense. I've been in the new job about 3 months and I am a perfectionist which means I beat myself up continuously if I make a mistake or feel I could have done better. I have a heavy workload and at times it feels like my job would be more suited to fulltime hours as I try and cram everything in. I wish I could go easier on myself, any tips?

Professor- yes hopefully things will be better tomorrow (couldnt be any worse!)

HonoriaGlossop Tue 16-Sep-08 19:58:19

I agree with cgh - six months at least to settle in. I think after one year you've done 'full circle' and there are no real surprises left and that helps...

I think when you are a sincere person and a perfectionist, it can be REALLY hard to balance work and child, because you are wanting to give your all, and tbh in your position something really has to give, to some degree. If you're a more superficial person who doesn't think so deeply I think it can be easier to do both without agony!

Also how are you in yourself? Well and healthy? Work was the thing I felt I couldn't cope with when ds was baby/toddler and in fact I had an underactive thyroid and needed treatment.

Countingthegreyhairs Tue 16-Sep-08 20:00:26

It takes one to know one Russianroulette (a perfectionist I mean!!) so I'm the last one that should be handing out tips but fwiw ...

.. it sounds as though you are a bit isolated ...can you get some support (from a colleague or friendly manager)? A problem shared is a problem halved and all that ...

...you can only do what you can do ... if there is seriously too much work, can you discuss this with someone or find out more information (ie what did the previous person in the role do?) .. would there be an opportunity to delegate some of your work to someone else or to share with a colleague (you help out when he/she's stressed and vice versa)

... try and remember it's a marathon not a sprint ... if you try and give it your all - all day and every day .. you are going to burn out/get ill/get too stressed ... try and work a few breaks into your day - make sure you get some treats in the week - take an hour out to do something you enjoy - a spot of exercise perhaps - go to bed early - then perhaps the rest won't seem so overwhelming

bumping for others to come along with more suggestions ...

good luck!

russianroulette Tue 16-Sep-08 20:10:23

greyhairs- very sound advice, thanks! My boss has just been signed off with exhaustion so I need to be careful I dont go the same way now I'm having to cover some of his work too. I do have a very good friend at work who I moan to a lot and she says I have to stop being so hard on myself and to give myself time to settle in. God how I hate being like this, really wish I could be more laid back and get home and not think about work instead of going over and over in my mind where I've slipped up and how I can improve. I'm sure I wasnt this bad before I had children...

russianroulette Tue 16-Sep-08 20:10:26

greyhairs- very sound advice, thanks! My boss has just been signed off with exhaustion so I need to be careful I dont go the same way now I'm having to cover some of his work too. I do have a very good friend at work who I moan to a lot and she says I have to stop being so hard on myself and to give myself time to settle in. God how I hate being like this, really wish I could be more laid back and get home and not think about work instead of going over and over in my mind where I've slipped up and how I can improve. I'm sure I wasnt this bad before I had children...

Claire236 Tue 16-Sep-08 20:15:41

I know how you feel russianroulette. I moved to Germany for a new job on promotion almost a year ago now (with ds who was 2.5 & dh). It was really hard to start with but it gets better. I was trying so hard to get everything right for everyone (ds settled in nursery, new house how we wanted it, getting to know new people, being fantastic at my new job)that I felt like I was failing at everything. I think baby steps are the way to go & celebrate every little one you manage. You can cope & I'm positive your dd thinks you're a great mum & that you're doing much better in your new job than you think you are.

foxinsocks Tue 16-Sep-08 20:17:48

yes yes yes, I recognise a lot of what you are saying. I would say

1. Find a work buddy. One you can TRUST. One that you can talk to about silly mistakes (preferably someone who will say 'you silly loon, that doesn't matter!'). This has made an enormous difference to my work.

2. Recognise that what you are experiencing is normal for perfectionists. I HATE HATE HATE making mistakes and I find, like you, I make mistakes when I'm being pushed to my limits (which is what happens with my job). So my top tip for avoiding mistakes
a) draw up whatever it is. Then WALK AWAY. Go to the loo, make a cup of tea and come back and look at it again. I did this today and spotted a major error despite having looked at the same document the whole morning.
b) I own up straight away. Find this is the best. Takes the sting out of any bollocking that may be due.
c) if you are finding you are making mistakes a lot - you probably need more sleep (ha ha, I know) and it's worth evaluating your job to see whether they are loading too much on you.

And finally, I used a nursery when mine were tiny and it didn't work out. We have a nanny now and find it easier. This may not be viable for you (and your childcare may be working for you fine which is great) but if you are stressing about picking up or dropping off at exact times, it might be worth relooking your childcare situation as I have found having a nanny has really eased my childcare worries.

foxinsocks Tue 16-Sep-08 20:19:15

also I've been in this job for over a year now and I would say I only started feeling 'comfortable' in the last few weeks. Takes a long time to bed into something new and demanding.

russianroulette Tue 16-Sep-08 20:33:11

Thank goodness its not just me! Such a relief to hear from like minded people. I know when I make a mistake or could have done something better that I blow it way out of proportion and end up spending hours worrying about something that someone else would give only a passing thought to!

My dd loves her nursery but there is always the worry about having to leave on time so I dont miss my train and the one hour commute home.. Today I had to walk out a meeting dead on finish time while everyone else was still talking. However, whereas in the past I'd worry about leaving (even though I only get paid for my part time hours) today I was strong and told myself its perfectly acceptable to leave on time particularly as I made it clear when I started I have childcare commitments and there literally isnt anyone else who can pick my dd up from nursery.

Oh for more sleep foxinsocks, my dd is still up 3 to 4 times a night hence why I'm knackered and probably worrying to much about things.

Hope I dont post this message twice, noticed I've done this a couple of times...

foxinsocks Tue 16-Sep-08 20:37:28

oh russian, the bad sleep thing is a HUGE factor in making mistakes and being generally stressed.

Do you know why she's up in the night still? Must be a nightmare for you. You must be exhausted! I hope on the days you have off, you're getting a chance to catch up on your sleep.

russianroulette Tue 16-Sep-08 21:08:17

When dd was 3 weeks old she slept through the night, it was perfect! I think our luck has run out and its our turn for the sleepless nights. She wakes up in the night because she wants me to tuck her teddy in, and other strange reasons. Last night she was scared there was a feather in her room... very odd. I do get a chance to have a bit of a lie-in at the weekends but it never seems to be enough, guess we all know that feeling. Sometimes I daydream about booking myself into a travelodge for one night of uninterrupted sleep...

katface Tue 16-Sep-08 21:22:23

hi russian - i had a slightly different problem to yours, but whenever something goes wrong i end up blaming myself for not being the perfect mum. i went back to work (after a 4 year break from work looking after ds full-time at home) a few months ago as a freelance lecturer. ds got scratched and injured numerous times at a new nursery over the summer and i was worrying myslef silly over his safety.

i managed to find a new place for him literally overnight, a nice place with good staff, but whenever things like this happen (i have unfortunatly ended up with two very bad nurseries since last Sept.) i just blame myself for not being careful enough, or a good enough mum, etc.

we moved out of London in 2007 to a more rural place that has excellent state schools, so ds is now going to a top state school which has cut out my anxieties and i can still lecture two classes every morning while he is in school.

like others have said it is difficult balancing children with being perfect at our jobs, but keep at it and it will get better as the children get older. it is extra tough on you as your dd is not sleeping well. once she sleeps better and you can get more rest things will get better. it is very easy to make mistakes at work when you are exhausted. my brain becomes mushy peas when i am tired grin

katface Tue 16-Sep-08 21:28:49

oh russian, that is defo. an age and phase thing she is going thro'. ds (4.3 yo) has only in the past few nights since starting at his new school (new school new anxieties ?), been begging me to stay in his room until he falls asleep...and this is a boy who has been sleeping thro the night on his in his own room since he was 9 months old !

this morning he woke up telling dh a story about an ant that sat on his shoulder in bed all night last night ! it scared him so he didn't want to sleep alone again tonight. i stayed with him until he fell asleep !

Poppycake Tue 16-Sep-08 21:41:31

russian - my lo was having trouble waking at night and not getting back to sleep, so we got her a little CD player to put on with stories. Has been great - she just pops it on and falls back to sleep (I have the same problem as she does and use the radio the same way)

At work - you are definitely one of many, but unfortunately we all work in different places and its hard keeping up with all the bright young things who can stay in at work as long as they like and chat all day. As everyone else says, it just takes some time to bed in. But you are doing a great job for your dd and yourself and I think you should be very proud.

russianroulette Tue 16-Sep-08 22:27:58

Poppycake you are right- it is hard when you work with women (and even men) who dont have children. They dont seem to understand that you might be trying to do a full days work on minimum sleep and you have the constant worry about whether your child is happy at nursery etc. When I first started my job one of the young high flying women was quite disdainful when I told her I had a child, she had a "that will never happen to me" type attitude. I dont blame her, I'm sure I was the same before I had my dd, never giving a second thought to just how difficult it can be for women combining work with motherhood. Its the little comments that I find stressful, the "why are you rushing off home and not coming out for a drink" type comments.

Thanks for the CD player idea, might try that. Fingers crossed so far she hasnt woken up tonight...

anniemac Tue 16-Sep-08 23:54:47

Message withdrawn

foxinsocks Wed 17-Sep-08 07:40:39

lol russian, funny you mention the travelodge thing.

Do you know what I do? Once every couple of months, I book a night in the travelodge round the corner from my office. I work full time and have a not very nice commute (I mean it's fine, I shouldn't complain, I just HATE commuting) so that I can work late in the office, then go out for a nice meal, go to bed in the Travelodge and even if I don't lie in, I can have a lazy morning and not worry about catching a train.

Honestly, it SAVES my sanity.

Unfortunately, dh travels for work a lot so I can only get to do it sort of twice a year.

Sounds like you are doing this all on your own which is obviously harder.

Claire236 Wed 17-Sep-08 08:34:57

My ds has slept through the night since he was about 4 weeks old but from when we moved to Germany he's hardly ever stayed in his own bed. I think we were probably too soft when we first got here. Rather than putting him back in his own bed we'd let him in ours thinking that once he'd settled in he'd stay in his own bed. Instead he got into the habit of coming in to us whenever he woke up. We decided last week that after 11 months of this & the fact that we're now trying for another baby that we couldn't carry on like this & every time ds gets up I put him back in his bed. He has a little whinge but goes back to sleep & we'd had a few nights where he'd stayed in his own bed all night but then he came down with a cold so we're back to square one.

katface Wed 17-Sep-08 16:45:38

anniemac - i don't think it is impossible to combine City life with children. like people have said it is possible, many thousands do it, men and women. please see my thread on this and I will give a more full response there, I don't want to hijack this one : )

ElenorRigby Thu 18-Sep-08 15:12:00

RussianRoulette...
I know exactly how you feel. I went back to work in May doing 4 nine hour days a week. I was up at 5:30am, dropped DD at nursery at 7am, was in work for 7:30, had 1/2 hour lunch finished work at 5pm picked up DD at 5:30. I was doing a 20 mile round trip from nursery to work each day. Each evening she would be grumpy, crying in the car because she was so tired. Each evening was a nightmare trying to feed her, bathe her and put to bed because she was crying and too tired sometimes to eat. This was stressing DD, DP and myself out. A month ago there was an incident that broke the camels back and Ive been signed off since then. I am due to back on Monday but actually feel quite ill again today crying, shaking almost throwing up. Oh dear.
I am going to cut my hours despite really needing the money becuase I dont think I could cope doing the hours I was. Im still sick with worry about not being able to cope.
So you are deffo not alone sadly.

ElenorRigby Thu 18-Sep-08 15:14:50

btw DD was 8 months old when I went back to work. She is now 13 months old.

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