Laura Newell: Juggle of working mums offers reason for a G&T on Friday | The West Australian

by pregnancy journalist

The sweet sounds of ice falling into a tall glass, the gentle splash of gin followed by the whoosh of rising bubbles from the tonic are at times the only things between me and insanity.

Life as a working parent ain’t easy. It’s not a unique story, there are millions of us out here plugging away day after day just trying to make it to home time without completely losing it with a child, workmate, partner or unsuspecting bystander.

It could be the third nappy blowout of the day all over that shirt you’ve just ironed for your big meeting, another screw up by the bank and a missed mortgage payment, or even just a cross word from the boss that can push you over the edge.

But finally it’s not just the whingeing Pom over here doing the moaning about first-world problems. Science is catching up to the fact that modern life is doing a number on all of us.

Two scientific studies have emerged this week to prove the theory.

The first was a survey showing women suffer more from depression when forced to work long hours. The second was — shock, horror — that sleepless nights with little ones continue for upwards of six years.

Why we need studies to prove what most of us already know is a mystery but the interesting conclusion made by both was that women suffer more than men as a result.

Proof for all you blokes that it’s not just our imaginations!

That’s not to minimise the pressure on poor old dads. After all, they have to live with us women and put up with all the other stuff we deal with. But women are, for the most part, still the ones who do most of the childcare and household chores on top of work.

As women are increasingly encouraged to return to work soon after their babies are born, society still hasn’t managed to quite sort out the fundamental changes that will allow us to get back to our jobs while maintaining a reasonable level of sanity.

Yes, we have breastfeeding and pumping-friendly policies at work. Yes, long daycare hours are a godsend. Yes, we have some paid parental leave. But, newsflash, none of them go far enough to resolve issues working mums face.

We need to ask women what they need to make their work-childcare balance more manageable. And then we need to listen.

For me, the biggest problem was sitting in a room for 20 minutes watching a breast pump whirr away rather than being able to keep working.

In the end, my colleagues had to put up with me darting out of my office — milking machine still attached and purring away under a cover — to talk to my staff. Not one of them had an issue with it and I’m eternally grateful for that.

But with all of this to juggle — as well as sleepless nights and the guilt of dumping our children in daycare — is it any wonder that occasionally we struggle?

Which is why when a third study surfaced suggesting mums who give up alcohol during pregnancy revert to hard liquor after birth — perhaps even more so than before the kid popped out — there was a flurry of murmurs from workmates: “Big surprise, it’s not like it’s hard or anything.”

Bring on G&T Friday. Cheers!

This content was originally published here.

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