Alpine Mummy

A new life in the middle of nowhere

The truthful testimony of a full-time working mum

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I’m a mum of three (did I ever mention that…?!). And I work full-time. Properly full-time.  Swiss full-time is 40 hours per week – 9.00am till 6.00pm, minimum, and I seem to do a lot more than that.  Plus I commute. At least an hour each way (and up to two hours on a very bad day when accidents and road works and snow and fog and other random incidents that can’t ever be predicted end up conspiring against me).

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Believe me, I’m very grateful to have a good job which pays the bills and keeps us in the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed (ski passes and new bikes ain’t cheap). Plus I think it’s important for my kids (and, I have to say, my girls especially) to see me go to work, to learn the value of a job (both personally and financially), and to realise that snow is free but not much else in life is.

Living in paradise comes at a price...

Living in paradise comes at a price…

But it’s pretty tough, no matter how much I try and sell it to myself (and to others out there, pretending not to judge).

Here’s what being a full-time working mum means to me:

Being a full-time working mum means always playing catch-up (and never succeeding). It means being late for work, late for meetings, late to come home.  It’s being late to feed the kids and being late to put them to bed; being late to eat dinner, and then put yourself to bed.  And then it’s late getting up, late to work, late for meetings, late to come home. I pass through life on a bike with no breaks: watch me, perched precariously on the saddle as I hurtle down a hill – squeaking and squealing my way to the bottom.  There’s no way of stopping and no ability to take my hand off the handlebars for even the tiniest second to flag down the rest of the world as they zoom past, smooth and smug in their brand-spanking-new 4x4s (with their kids actually strapped in at the back and no-one poking each other’s eyes out with a pencil).

Being a full-time working mum means watching what you say. All the time.  No-one at work wants to hear about how you don’t want to join the running club, thanks, because your pelvic floor has never quite been the same since you pushed out yet another sprog and that you’re genuinely scared you’ll wet yourself if you go jogging with them.  Nor do they want to hear your ‘birth story’; they don’t want to know that this weekend you spent the whole day stinking of sick thanks to the unsurpassed ability of your beautiful daughter to projectile vomit in the most inappropriate of places; and they certainly don’t care about that ‘hilarious’ moment when you stepped in your baby’s turd.

Being a full-time working mum means always wanting to be somewhere else. It means spending the whole day working flat-out so you can leave early; passing up (again) on those after-work cocktails and dinner with the team; dreaming of rushing home to those little darlings that you’ve missed so much whilst you’ve been dealing with unhelpful suppliers and unfathomable spreadsheets.  And then it means arriving home to screams and wails and snot on the walls; making you long for the quiet of the office where no-one whinges or cries or asks you to wipe their bum.  (Not too often, anyway).

Being a full-time working mum means porridge on your suit, and nappies in your handbag, and your baby chewing your Blackberry as if it were one of her five-a-day. It means never having enough sleep, never having time for a wee, and never ever replying to your friends’ emails (sorry guys) because on the rare occasions you get to sit down for five minutes you either fall asleep or have to immediately get up again (usually to stop your offspring discovering yet another ingenious method of nearly killing themselves and each other). It means not knowing who their teacher is, or who the other mums are, and having no idea, quite frankly, when it’s Sports Day, yet again. You won’t help them with their homework, or pick them up from crèche, or even cook them dinner, very often.  (Hopefully though you’ll have a perfect Alpine Papa in your life too, to pick up on all these essentials.  Otherwise it’s just neglect, you know.  That ain’t good.)

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Being a full-time working mum isn’t easy. And it often isn’t fun.  But it’s life (for me, anyway).  And so, for me, being a full-time working mum means muddling though the best you can, with a smile on your face, cash in your pocket, and an extra-large glass of wine in your hand.  In my experience, it usually works out just fine – the hugs received on your return home from the office will make even the crappiest day seem OK again, I promise.

Though you will have to get that suit dry-cleaned. There’s snot on your shoulder. Again.

 

 

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Author: Alpine Mummy

Now an ex-City lawyer, I gave up London life 'just for a year' to spend my maternity leave in a tiny village in the French Alps. Nearly three years later Alpine Family is still here - the legal career is gone but we're living the dream (most of the time) and skiing and hiking our way through life. Walks and fresh air are now the order of the day - bye bye smog, hello mountains...

7 thoughts on “The truthful testimony of a full-time working mum

  1. HOW TRUE?! WELL WRITTEN X

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  2. What’s the point of living in paradise if you never get to see it? You’re paying too high a price. Ditch the dream home and enjoy a life you can afford without working yourself into a burnt out state. Nobody dies wishing they’d spent more time at work.

    PS how do you even find the time to write this blog?

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    • The point is that living in Paradise requires a grounding in reality. It’s the way that dreams are realized, otherwise they remain just that – dreams. Our dream is to have a good life living in the mountains, to have a comfortable and stable home for our kids, and to be able to do the things we enjoy without having to worry about keeping a roof over our heads (however fancy that roof might be – and ours really isn’t!). Our dream is not to struggle through life, living ‘near’ the mountains in a tiny flat, constantly worrying about bills and not being able to afford to do the things we want to do (I’m thinking ski passes here!).

      I suppose the point is that Paradise (aka the Alps) is an expensive place to live. We can’t live here if I don’t work. But work is not all about the money – for personal fulfillment and pride I want to do a job I enjoy and can progress in. It just so happens that (for the time being at least) those jobs are full time. I won’t be wishing on my death bed that I spent more time at work, I agree, but nor will I be regretting that I made this commitment to work so hard in order to achieve the life we want to lead.

      Thanks for your comments

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  3. As a soon-to-be-ex lawyer (I have really struggled with the ridiculous hours required on transactional work and have had to think long and hard on whether it is worth doing what I have been doing), I absolutely understand and agree with your post and comment. Really well done on transitioning to a 9-6 job (although the commute sounds awful), it’s a rare thing do be able to leave your work at work!

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    • It’s a tough decision. Well done. I don’t think I’d have had the courage to do it if I hadn’t found my ‘new life’ in the mountains first. I got a sneak preview of how life could look if I seized the day and gave it all up, and I’m so glad I got that chance to walk away – I might now be poorer, and less professionally fulfilled, and rather less proud of my intellectual achievements, but I’m happier, that’s for sure. Good luck, let us know how it goes! Xx

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  4. I’m heading back to work after a year at home following the birth of my fourth child..age from 12 yes down to 11 mths! Am excited for silly reasons. .like to hear people say my name..’Louise’, instead of the constant echo of ‘Mam’!! ..to dress up,have time alone on the train. .Realistically I know it will be crazy busy, but I really want this to work. Like you say, a better quality of life with more cash and especially love my daughters seeing me work, I feel them proud saying their mam works and hope it inspires them. I studied a degree part time over the last few years and took final exams last May and got a 2:1 VA hons degree in Business and Psychology. Last week I took a final Diploma exam, so in the past 12 mths, I achieved a university Degree, Diploma and made a little person! I feel proud and I love the reality of your blog..that while it’s busy and stressful. .just keep smiling and keep going because nothing lasts forever.I hope one day I’ll look back on the madness with all the humour and positive attitude that you have..while having Vito with my four grown up kids! X

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