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Family Blog
The Stresses of a Working Parent in Ireland Today

The Stresses of a Working Parent in Ireland Today

The Stresses of a Working Parent in Ireland Today
Written By Geraldine Walsh – Award Winning Parent Blogger - Over Heaven’s Hill
Parenting is hard whether you are a working parent, stay at home parent or work from home parent. Regardless of how many hours you are at home or out of the office, life manages to create a bubble of stress that doesn't seem to go away. The ordinary difficulties and trials of being Mum and Dad are hardened by daily routines, decisions and responsibilities that cause unnerving stress in even the most organised person.
As parents who work outside the home, my husband and I feel the hardship of full time work but have little choice but to make it work. We are not alone and most certainly not unique. Ireland is littered with families who are separated during the working day. My heart aches when I think of us all spread over Dublin in different locations but that is the life of working parents. 
We bought a house at the height of the recession and suffered crippling negative equity. We are of that generation when the market went bust and rates rose to the sky. There is no way around the fact that we both have to work. For us, the reasoning’s are financial until a better solution crops up. If a better solution crops up. For the foreseeable future, this is our situation as we split our roll of colleague and Mum and Dad over the 168 hour week.

We are a young family and have started to feel the exasperation of daily family life and careers. Our daughter is three and our second baby is due in May. Between worrying about childcare and who will take the next day off if the little one is sick, to agonizing over what's for dinner and whether the toddler will actually eat it or not when your time is limited enough to make a half nutritious meal in the evening, to larger stresses like fearing the future and how your little ones will get to school. The stress of being a parent looms large and tends to hang around for quite a while.
There are ways to make each day easier. By having breakfasts and lunches prepared the night before, having outfits ready for the week and knowing where everything is i.e. keys, bags, coats and shoes, so there is no mad scramble for the door every morning. These are minor stresses that can easily be dealt with and smoothed over making the daily grind that little bit easier.
There are, however, we feel, three big stresses in our lives as full time working parents. Three stresses, I noticed, cropped up as soon as I went back to work when our daughter was five months old. 
The Future
I'll admit that when it comes to the future and more so to school, I am quite apprehensive about the logistics of our daily routine and how we will all cope with the maddening pressure of school timetables and after school care. If my husband and I feel the pressure of the daily grind, surely our children will feel it too?
We worry constantly about who will bring our children to school as we need to be at our desks by 8:30am. Who will pick them up? How will we manage to keep track of their homework, their progression in school? We're worried about missing out on these all important years when, personally, I feel we should be there as mentor, guidance counsellor and parent. The future is obviously uncertain but we need to consider the logistics of what life will be like for our children as they broach their school years and we work 40 hour weeks. 
There are solutions with before and after school care, home work clubs and extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, for us, we don’t have a support network close by that will help with drop offs and pick-ups. The logistics of these days worries me but I know hundreds of families have been there before us and have made it work. That doesn’t mean that it’s not stressful because the daily management of school activities, timetables that are askew to our work schedules and school holidays causes major upset and worry for most parents. 

Is my Child Stressed?
I have often worried how the toll of commuting and being away from her home for 9 hours a day affects our daughter. Since she was five months old she has joined us in the early morning commute to the childminders, followed by a long day away from her parents, and a late return home as we all fall in the door in the evening.
The day is long enough for me and I’m an adult. I am stressed by the inevitable rush to get dinner on the table before PJs, books and bed. We have very little time in the evenings with our daughter, perhaps an hour and a half which includes dinner time. 
There is little down time for us as a family during the week, which is why we make sure to enhance our family time at the weekends. Surely, all of this must have an affect on our daughter? Which leads me on to my next stress causing worry.

Parental Guilt
Yes, we all seem to live by parental guilt in some form or another and ours often kicks in as we drag our toddler out of bed at 6:30am to get up and get ready to join us in our daily commute. Guilt is not easy to repress. It's always there in some shape or form and manages to creep in when its least expected.
For me, the guilt of taking our daughter out of the comfort of her home, away from the two people she loves and trusts the most is crippling. We have built our home to be a loving, comforting and nurturing environment and I hate that she must be pulled away from that on a daily basis. Yes, her minder is a wonderful, caring and loving woman but there is no place like home.
The ideal would be working part time or from home but opportunities like that are very hard to come by. 
Our solution is to ensure we have good quality time with our daughter in the evenings, we chat in the car throughout our commute and weekends are purely family time. The guilt doesn't subside but we have to make the most of our time if we are to create a work life balance that tips on the optimistic and positive side of things.
These stresses are all linked. One bounces off the other and all come down to one thing, are we doing right by our children? It’s a question that every parent asks whether they work full time or not. Yes, life is hard as we strive to make our working life balance with our preferred home life. Our careers are important but our children come first. Our spare time is spent ensuring that our family life is the best we can make it, that our children laugh and are happy. The daily stresses and the future worries we have as full time working parents will never go away but perhaps the golden nugget of working from home is possible.
If you have it together, please let me know!