I remember feeling like the mothers at my work were like mini prophets of doom when I was pregnant with my first child. There was so much they told me that made me feel very nervous about my decision to become a parent. One voice stuck in my mind clearly - she said "You will never feel completely in one camp or the other if you are a working mum - you'll either miss out at work or miss out at home. You can't have both"
Those words have echoed in my head for the last seventeen years off and on. And yes, sometimes it has felt like I've had to make calls on one side that cost in the other. Getting the balance right has been really tricky.
However I've loved being a mother, and I've loved working and somewhere I've made my peace with how to put those two things together.
This year was meant to be the beginnings of a new season - as all three of my girls would be at the same high school. Parenting of teens is something I adore - nothing could have prepared me for how much enjoyment I get from the conversations, the joking and the doing-things-together with my daughters at this age. it feels like such a privilege to be part of my young people's lives. But it's also less time invasive and I was preparing for a year of finally throwing myself into my business without so much distraction.
And then my youngest was stuck in a place where school wasn't the right fit. We tried to make it so, and I'll give the school huge kudos for the help they offered, but with much discussion I decided to withdraw her from school for the remainder of this year and homeschool her.
It's been the best decision for her and I'm so happy we did it, but I'm also thrilled at how it's improved my work life too. Being so pushed for time, and having to suddenly becoming a hands on mum along with running a business has meant I had to make some changes.
I took control of my diary, and have cut down the amount of time in the office - which has increased my output of work I blocked out more time for my own exercise to get headspace - and have improved fitness and more energy to give to my work
I've had to lean on my team to work with me - and they've completely outdone themselves
I've learned to really revise, refine and relinquish my commitments, to make my time count. I now have specific days and slots for specific tasks which means I'm able to power through to do lists.
It's one of the first times I have felt that yes, working parents can have it all - it's hard to squeeze it all in, and there are definitely a few "hang on I just need to do this" moments, but over all homeschooling has been just as beneficial for me as it's been for my daughter.
I'm hoping, that as she returns to school next year, that I maintain some of the habits I've created this year and be reminded to look after my time - it's our most finite resource.
So while there has been a little of "Man, mothering is a lifetime job!" conversations this year, I'm still incredibly thankful that I do get to have it all and sometimes you can both have home and work working well together. That prophet of doom was wrong.