15 Signs You’re a Working Parent
1. You spend most of your time at home preparing food, cooking food and talking about food with your child. Yet when it comes to your own lunch you haven’t prepped anything as you haven’t had time.
2. Your child will have slept relatively well all week, but the night before a significant work event they will instantly regress and wake a gazillion times. You will mutter things like “Why tonight of all nights?” and “It’s like they know”, while your other half tries to convince you that your child isn’t intentionally trying to sabotage your career. Then you tank yourself up on coffee in the morning and get through the day because that’s just what you do.
3. Before you had kids, your loathed your commute. All that time sat alone doing nothing when you could have been at home. After kids, you love your commute. All that time sat alone doing nothing instead of being at home.
4. If you work from home, your carefully curated zen-like study will now consist of masses of garish plastic toys with a desk buried somewhere underneath them. You will still insist on calling it ‘the study’ even though you’re internally resigned to it being hijacked until your kids leave home.
5. By 9am, you have already done what feels like a whole day’s work: you’ve washed, dressed and fed yourself and your family, skilfully navigated around a couple of tantrums, packed each child’s daycare bag (you’ve taken less for a week’s holiday than you send your children off with each morning) and done the childcare drop-off before finally making the journey into work. You wonder how in your pre-child days you ever managed to be late for work. Then you remember the lie-ins. Oh the lie-ins!
6. You tell the person looking after your child that you’ll leave them a ‘little list’ of instructions. You then proceed to write out a minute by minute guide for the day ahead and end up with something that resembles War and Peace.
7. At home, your child refuses to eat/nap/generally cooperate no matter what you do. But when someone else looks after them, they turn into this weirdly placid and agreeable creature who sleeps like a champion and can’t eat enough broccoli. In fact, if you didn’t pick them up directly you’d swear they muddled someone else’s kid with your own.
8. If you have to take an important call at home, your child will wait until the exact moment you answer the phone to start demanding all manner of things and proceed straight to meltdown if they don’t get it NOOOOOWWWW. As soon as you hang up, they’ll be fine again.
9. A childless colleague tells you they struggle to get in for 9am and you wonder how on earth that’s possible? What do they do all morning? Then you realise they’ve probably been sleeping. Ah sleep…
10. Following your return to work, you wonder if you have a new parent aura about you and whether people can sense you now have a child. Not colleagues, but random people who you pass in corridors. You ask yourself “Do I look like someone who has children?” You totally forget that pre-child you didn’t give a toot who did or didn’t have kids and never gave it a second thought.
11. The deductions side of your payslip is becoming so long it reads like the GDP of a small country. Because to add to your tax, national insurance, pension contributions, parking and student loan you now have childcare vouchers coming out too. Sheesh.
12. Although it’s sometimes a pain that you need to collect your kids by a certain time, there are upsides too. That lovely feeling you get when you have to excuse yourself from the painfully overrunning meeting to do the nursery pick up takes some beating.
13. Annual leave is no longer planned around joyful things like good weather and cheap flights. It now revolves entirely around childcare and the school calendar. Weeks of schoolessness loom up ahead like dark clouds while you pitifully scrounge around between you and your other half to cover as much as you can between you.
14. One of the things you like about work is having proper adult conversations about something other than kids. Except, all you want to talk about with the people you work with is… your kids.
15. Your colleagues often ask if you’ll bring your child into work one day so they can meet everyone. You pretend to be totally on board with this, whilst knowing that there’s not a cat in hell’s chance that you’ll let your crazy kid loose in your office where they are guaranteed to misbehave. You would quite like, after all, to keep your job.
And finally, although being a working parent can be hard, there are days when you’re eternally grateful to immerse yourself into your other life at work and you feel all the more refreshed for doing it (plus juggling all of the above surely makes you some kind of superhero!).