I have been thinking about whether I work to live or live to work. I think when you have a child your priorities in terms of work (and everything else to that point) change but in terms of the question of do I ‘work to live or live to work’, I believe that it has to cover both. I think what I mean by this, is that it has to be balanced.
Luckily I do have a job which gives me balance. I do travel, but when I am not traveling, I can pick my daughter up at 5 and spend 2 solid hours with her each evening plus almost all of the weekends. I know I am very lucky to have this. A lot of mums I know do not travel, but equally do not get home until 6 or 7 every night with long commutes to get to and from work.
Career has always been incredibly important to me and now that I am a mother, it is also important to me that what I am leaving my child in nursery for, has to be meaningful. I do believe that my daughter is benefiting from nursery enormously, for her social skills and her personal development but of course I miss her like crazy. If I was to leave her at nursery and then do a job which doesn’t stimulate me or I was doing something which I feel is adding no value (except a paycheck), I would really call into question if this is the right thing for me.
Of course, the paycheck is important, to feed my daughter, give her security and a roof over head, but for me, it is also important to do a job which adds value to my life in other ways, and has a meaningful purpose. After all, we spend so much of our precious time working, half our lives in fact, that it would be nice to do something of value to us.
As a working mum, the decision to change jobs perhaps because you are not fulfilled at work does become more complicated after you have children as there are so many more factors to consider – location, proximity to childcare, flexibilities, working hours etc. The decision to take risks is more difficult, particularly if you are the breadwinner. I think as mums, because we have less time, we are more decisive, and because we have our eyes on the future for our kids, we are more entrepreneurial than we were before, but unfortunately the stake is much higher when you have to consider more than just yourself.
I think the movement towards flexible working is the ideal scenario because that balance is more easily achieved – you live to work but you work to live as well (as you have time to ‘live’) but it is still quite hard to find companies which offer this.
I think I have a bit of both. I work to live and I live to work. Before having my daughter, I would have said I live to work. Perhaps this is what happened to everyone. I wonder how many parents answer this question in the same way that they did before having children….