The work-life balance of a ‘Perfect Mum’ and how it drove me mad!

Fed up with reading about how to manage a ‘work-life balance’ and be the perfect Mum – we put the theory to the test…

Is it just me, or have you noticed a lot of stories in the press lately about ‘SuperfreaksMums’ that get up at 4am to start their yogaday?  They effortless glide out of bed and partake in a full workout session, walk the dog, make the kids perfect-bloody breakfasts. And all before I’ve even put Peppa Pig on repeat to give me five minutes more in bed!

You see, I’m not a morning person…

No, not even now when my child religiously wakes me up at 6.10am every morning. And every morning I respond the same way ‘GO BACK TO SLEEP AND I’LL GIVE YOU ANYTHING YOU WANT”. But all he mutters is ‘Peppa’ and I relent before half-sleeping, half-babysitting on the sofa, before faking my interest in a job I hate all day.

Apparently this doesn’t bode well for me. For, in order to be ‘successful’ I have to survive on five hours sleep, do exercise before kids TV comes on, hold down a career, be the perfect wife and eat healthy. Apparently these are all traits that successful CEOs Mothers and people observe. And, who do we have to thank for this pressure – people like Cosmopolitan – who were supposed to our friend!

If you can’t beat them…

Sick of feeling like shit for not quite being good enough, I took it upon myself to try this unfathomable lifestyle out. I gave myself one week of putting it to the test, this is what I would do:

5am: wake up, work out or meditatecock

6am: wake up Boo

6.15am: sort healthy breakfast for us

6.45am: do some washing

7am: Put on full face of make-up, make an effort to dress nice

9-5pm: At work all day

7pm: Eat a healthy meal

9pm: bed

and this is how it went…

Monday (Day 1)

I wake later than planned at 5.20am and go downstairs to practice some pilates on YouTube. It’s dark outside and the world is still. 15 minutes later I do not feel any better for it and reach for a bowl of Special K laced with strawberries. It doesn’t suffice.

I spend the next two hours babysitting while putting a full spread of make-up to go to work.

By time I get home after a full-on day, I am feeling tired. I rustle up a carby bowl of spaghetti to bring me back to life – it felt good. I go to bed at 10am, after just one more viewing of ‘The Crown’.

Tuesday

Today I’m up at 5am and ready to go. I can’t bring myself to exercise at this hour, so decide to put on some washing instead wakeCould I be winning!

I decide to use my iPhone app to try out some ‘meditation’ and ‘mindfulness’. I instantly get in the zone, perhaps too much as the next thing I know its 6.10m and I’m being woken by Boo!

I wade through another day of work, before retiring to bed at 10am again. Not quite disciplined enough to go to bed earlier – must try harder!

Wednesday

The alarm goes at 5am and I can’t bare the thought of getting up, so I snooze a bit more. I have to get up and do some meditation, but it’s quickly surpassed by the lure of checking my work emails.  My mind wanders off.

A long day at work, extended by an early start has started to take its toll on me. So, after a microwavable meal (I have no energy to cook!) I go to bed at 9.30am.

Thursday

This is killing me! I have bags under my dark circles for eyes, my skin is dry and I’m eating bad food because I have no energy to cook anything nice. I barely look human, as I haul myself from slumber at 5.15am.

I joylessly do a few star jumps then slump on the sofa, before my child hears me and wakes up asking for ‘see-ree-el.”. Im not at work today, and when my son sleeps at lunchtime, so do I!

I go to bed at 9pm later on, as its taking its toll.

Friday (Last day!)

We are over. I throw my phone on the floor when it wakes me at 5am, and let my son wake me up instead at 6.25am, a positive lie-in!

Five days of trying to be perfect has completely broken me, and I admit defeat realising that I can’t possibly do a full week of this.

Conclusion…

booGetting up earlier has its advantages for sure. You have time to do the washing, tidy the house and even watch a bit of Piers Morgan to wake you up. But is any of that worth an extra hour in bed – absolutely not!

I tried exercising but it made me feel worse. I enjoyed mindfulness and I would continue that, but the rest was a waste. As a result of less sleep I looked worse, appeared angry and joyless and ate crap food. I lost my enthusiasm and my spark.

If all of this is supposed to make you the ‘perfect wife’ then I abysmally failed. I had no time for the things I thought I would.

Just say No

I don’t care how the theory goes – for me, it takes a very driven person to survive on five hours sleep. In that tie to look and feel good , plus hold down a job and look after a baby is tough. The work-life balance can’t exist when your concentration levels are hit the hardest.

I’ve tried it, I’ve lived it and I can honestly say it’s not for me!

Tomorrow I’ll be having a lie-in, a donut for breakfast and will be going to be at 10am, if that makes me a failure, then I’ll take unsuccessful and happy any day!

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This article was first published by me in The Huffington Post .