Exiting the Mummy Cocoon

We had a Halloween Party yesterday and when speaking to the other mothers we discovered something that we all had in common.

Approximately 2 – 3 years after the birth of our children we emerged from what I like to term The Mummy Cocoon. Yawning and stretching, we stick our heads out of the comfort zone and notice with a shock that the world as we knew it is still there. But we no longer fit in the same place as we did pre-children.

When we have small children, our whole life is consumed by them. When (if) they sleep, if they sleep through the night, if they are sleeping in our beds,  what they are eating and drinking, if they are pooing and weeing enough, are they being socialised, are they developing, growing, learning…

This leaves little time for ourselves, especially if the children are close in age.

Then suddenly the youngest child can eat independently, is toilet trained, can play for a while alone. Perhaps the elder child is already in school, and the younger child starts to go to playschool or nursery.

We can go to the supermarket alone, without “Can I have that” echoing every 30 seconds. It is a treat to go the supermarket alone, a chore that 5 years previously was an every day boring task is now elevated to a fun morning. Maybe we can even meet a friend for coffee and chat without being interrupted.

We might look in the mirror and notice with a shock that the tactic of shoving our hair up in a pony tail occasionally has become and everyday occurrence and we cannot recall when we last had a haircut/manicure/facial. Which does not mean that all mothers “let themselves go” but with two young children it requires a lot more organisation to keep up with the beauty maintenance that used to be so easy.

We might realise that it has been a while since we have been to the gym, or that we now have time to restart a hobby, or learn a new one.

Generally at this point we will turn to thoughts of going back to work, if we haven’t already. This is where it gets tricky for many mothers, going by the experience of many of my friends.

Ideally, going back to work requires good and reliable childcare, flexible working hours and conditions but this is really not that easy to find. When I started working in sales, I did not consider how difficult it would be to work in a field that requires their staff to work evenings and weekends. Since having the children, I have not returned to that job.

We wake from our self-imposed hibernation to find that the choices we made in earlier, child-free life, do not still apply today. We have changed, our priorities have changed. Our lives have changed.

For many, this time is almost a re-birth. A discovery of what we are now, and how much we have changed. One only has to look at the many websites offering handmade jewellery, fabulous cupcakes, stunning bespoke wedding stationary or see how many women turn their hand to something new like photography websites, Painting gorgeous pictures, writing children’s books, blogging and writing, or retrain to work as Interior Designers after the birth of their children. I know many women who have found a successful second career, born out of the necessity of fitting in with family life.

The Holy Grail – a job that brings money, satisfaction and flexible hours working from home – is what we all seek.

So if anyone has an idea how I can make money out of sitting in front of the computer all day, do let me know.


  • Angela Pateman

    Thank you for your post, not sure if I can give you many ideas, but if I may share my experiences with trying to get back to work?

    Due to circumstances I moved over 9 times when my children were young, so no chance of employment. After that my husband left us last year when they were 4&6. I managed to get a job in July, but due to paperwork not start working until Nov, so living hand to mouth.

    Unfortunately due to 1 1/2 round trip to work/pick up children & outside to inner city commute coupled with terrible weather my employers asked me nicely to leave or face disciplinary acton. No flexibility was offered. So that ended in July.

    Since then I have deen self employed & am obviously trying to build my reputation.

    I have applied for other jobs, both in my other profession (was told 'we did have a slight concern over your childcare arrangements in the holidays')and in local shops. To no avail. Obviously this is discriminatory, illegal & even if not overtly mentioned is easily picked up on by the gap in your CV.

    Given the present economic climate, single parents with young children are not really high up on the lists of people they want to employ, despite the often briliant range of skills on offer. And as you mention, the hours required are not conpatible with childcare.

    So now I am living in poverty levels, I am grateful for the welfare state that keeps us from the streets. I'm in despair at what our UK Government has planned, especially for those in even worse conditions than myself.

    Sorry this is so long & a bit off target, but it is a reality for many women. This is not a self piting plea, I'm just stating facts. Other than the finances, I am very happy & have two wonderful children.

    Best of luck to you all in your businesses everyone.

  • Hayley

    I am an RAF wife, and, without wishing to generalise, on my side of the camp at least (ordinaries, not officers) there seems a reluctance to come out of the cocoon. Only one other mum at the playgroup I take my daughter to has ever had a job, the general feeling being that it is impossible to get a job that would fit in with children and husbands' unpredictable deployment.

    With this in mind, I am fighting as hard as I can to smash my way out of the cocoon. Prior to the child I worked in production for a large academic publisher. So, rather than return after maternity leave I shamelessly exploited my contacts there and I freelance. General proofreading and a little bit of editing, which works really well for us. I don't have to keep office hours, so am often up well into the night, but it keeps a regular trickle of money coming in, I can pick and choose what I do (in theory – in practice I tend to take whatever I am offered)and my days are free for duck-feeding, dog walking, playgroup and general toddler activities.

    That's the contingency plan though. In addition to that, for the past 14 months I have been going to university two days a week to study the GDL, with the intention of becoming a solicitor. Freelancing works for now, but I long for the security of a regular salary (and a job that requires me to be groomed and well-shod).

    For now it's, um, busy. Rather than typing this I should be reading about trusts and proofreading an article for a journal. But I am never bored, and I feel like my work/life balance is fine. (The awake/asleep balance, on the other hand…)

    So, to get my point in a rather long winded way…if you have any literacy skills (and as this blog demonstrates, you clearly do), contact some publishers and ask to be put on their freelance database. They will often ask you to do a test, and as long as you meet the standard you'll be added to the list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *