How my opinion of working parents has changed (now that I am one)

I’d like to issue a public apology to all working parents: 

I thought your job was easy. I thought you were fine (because you seemed fine). I thought you had an appropriate amount of energy and rest in your life. Once or twice I rolled my eyes when you took a day off “to take care of your sick kid”. I thought many things that were unfair and incorrect.

Now that I know what being a working parent is, my opinion has drastically changed.

So this one goes out to all those hard-working moms and dads surviving largely on coffee, and the promise (maybe) of half an hour to themselves while the kids are asleep tonight. You’re heroes! And here’s why.

There are no days off

Heyo! We made it to Friday, working parents. Time for… oh, more parenting. 

There are no ‘weekends’ when it comes to being a parent. Those two sweet days used to be reserved for sleeping in, getting brunch, exercising and seeing friends. But now they’re spent distracting kids with cartoons and snacks while trying to sneak in a bit more sleep, clean the house, mow the lawn and restock the depleted pantry with groceries. 

Staying up late to drink wine or watch a movie is tempting… until you remember your kids will be bouncing off the walls again at 6am.

Yet while there are no days off in motherhood (or fatherhood), working moms still rock up bleary-eyed to work to face the loaded question of ‘How was your weekend?’ (THERE WAS NO WEEKEND!)

Working parent life is a (literal) juggle

While there aren’t enough days in the week to fit it all in, there also aren’t enough arms on a human body to contain the chaos that is parenting and working. Managing daycare drop-offs, team meetings, sick days, KPIs, diaper stock control, actual stock control, sleep regressions, customer feedback – it’s like you need to be everywhere thinking of everything all at once. 

It’s no surprise that one tiny inconvenience at work can tip a working parent over the edge. Give yourself a break if you respond a bit snappily to an annoying request from your boss. After all, you’ve probably just remembered that your lunch today is a handful of Oreo’s.

Insta feeds are not an accurate representation

This obviously applies to most people – not just working parents. But post after post of your gorgeous smiling children can lull the general populace into a false belief that parenthood is nothing but beautiful, cuddly sweetness.

What’s not pictured: Crayon on the walls, being late to work every day, poop on the carpet, tantrums over Daddy cutting the toast wrong, streaking toddlers in the background of Zoom meetings, being hit in the face, reading the same goddamn picture book seven times a day. 

All before 9am.

We like to think that moms on Instagram are starting to share the ‘real’ side of parenthood. But there’s always more to every story. I get that now. I’ve learned to read the captions – sometimes the raw words completely contradict the perfect picture.

You deserve instant off-the-hook rights

When you’re late to your best friend’s birthday shindig, don’t beat yourself up about it. You probably just spent half the morning cleaning Cheerios out of the DVD player, at least an hour trying to get in the car, and a solid 40 minutes sat in the driveway due to a mistimed nap. Your friend can get over it!

Maybe someone’s planning a dinner party in two weeks’ time. A lot can happen between now and then for a working parent. Your kid could get sick. You may need to work evenings to make up for a day of carer’s leave. And in the end, you may just need to politely decline for an opportunity to use that gym membership you pay for and haven’t used in three months.

Working parents deserve so many medals and so much wine (if you like wine – otherwise *insert other treat of choice*). We usually (always) put our kids first, our work second, and ourselves last. We’re overworked, overtired and sexually frustrated (because sex is a rare, mystical occurrence that only happens when certain planets align). 

Working parents, you’re amazing. No one tells you that enough.

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