Up until just recently I was a commuting working mum. A mum who dropped her kids off with an amazing childminder 4 days a week, hopped on a train and worked in an office with other nice adults. Rather than a freelance, working from home, trying to juggle a jelly, a peeled banana and a nappy with a turd in, working at home mum. Obviously, not technically those particular objects but trying to juggle housework, mumming, actual real life paid design work and this funny old world of blogging.
Even as I sit at my kitchen table trying to write this while the littlest one naps I can hear him stirring from his sleep MUCH earlier than normal and I am about to lose my precious window of writing. I am being an awful mum, ignoring the noise and hoping he might go back to sleep. Please don’t call social services on me for letting him whinge for 10 minutes, I just really want to write at least 10 sentences. He probably has a massive shit in his nappy and that’s why he is moaning. He’s been in bed for an hour and 48 minutes, which is an acceptable nap time but I was counting on him having at least 2 hours so I could write this.
Any way life as a freelance mama is much harder than I imagined. I am pretty organised, I’ve always been good at managing my time. When I worked in an office and managed a team, I was always good at time management and helping them manage theirs. I have never been a ‘leave it until the last minute and then work really late’ kind of person. I was always on top of stuff so there was never any stress. I really bloody hate stress, stress doesn’t suit me. I’m an arsehole when I’m stressed.
Working at home while trying to manage 3 boys, cooking meals, grocery shopping, keeping my house tidy (and occasionally clean), homework, families, friendships, staring at my phone, exercise, box sets, drinking wine, having fun and sleeping (phew I think that’s it?!) is much, much harder than I thought it would be and my time management is now poor, very poor. Somehow after everything gets done I’m left with approximately 43 minutes to get anything done for myself. Then I just feel pissed off.
But there is one thing that really helps me tackle all of the above and it is getting properly ready every morning. By properly ready I mean shower, hair washed and dried, and make up. I have to wash my hair otherwise I get greasy stringy fringe, which is quite frankly unacceptable. The only exception to this rule is on a Saturday when I have 8am boot-camp. To be honest though, even then I manage a bit of make-up because without concealer and blusher I look like a heroin addict.
I don’t do it for anyone but myself. It makes me feel like I can tackle life. It stops me from teetering on the edge. Over the years I have had a bit of grief about it too. My family were always making digs as to how long it takes me to get ready…. ‘well we will probably be late as Lucy has to do her face’. Can I just categorically state now that it takes me 30 minutes to get ready, shower and hair included. If I’m really stuck for time I can do it in 20. I can hear you saying well you could use that extra half an hour to do something productive? But by getting ready it makes me about 10 times more productive.
As I mentioned before, until recently I have always got ready to go to an office, and it’s the getting ready bit that I miss the most. That and my nice quiet train journey where no-one asks me for anything and I can read a book and gather my thoughts. So, this getting ready for an office each day is part of my routine, but this time I’m getting ready for the school run, playgroup or sitting at my tiny Ikea desk. I still apply that blusher and eyeliner. Without it I don’t feel like me. A lot of mummy bloggers and influencers talk about the power of a bright lip detracting from tired eyes and I’m so in that camp, but for me its eyeliner. I love a bright lip, but it’s not essential to my confidence and sanity. On the school run the other day someone asked me what time I got up as my hair and makeup must take so long. I get up at 7am on school mornings and I think that’s pretty ok isn’t it? When I went back to work after having Jesse my alarm would go off at 5.45 so I could get everything done, and everyone fed and watered. But I did it as that’s what made me capable of managing the day. I needed that 30 minutes of getting ready time.
For me the power of makeup isn’t about vanity, worrying about how you look to others. It’s about how it makes you feel. After I had Charlie and we were in hospital for a while, as the days went on and we both started to feel better I started to put some makeup on again.
It is just the same as your dressing style. Or your choice of footwear. I’ve got many friends who are shorter and always wear a heel. No one questions it, it’s just what they do. If wearing red lipstick to a meeting with your directors makes you feel more confident about presenting then good for you. If wearing eyeliner on the school run makes me feel like I can manage my day better, then good for me. If wearing any makeup makes you feel uncomfortable then that’s fine too. Or if you would prefer an extra half an hour in bed, go for it.
During mental health week, there was a campaign called #howcanihelp and many people were asked to list all the things that kept them going, helped them keep their balance in this crazy world, whether they had mental health problems or not. I listed mine and I totally forgot to put ‘putting my game face on’ We can’t underestimate the power of makeup or belittle it as it seems vain. The benefits it can give to someone’s confidence and mental wellbeing are endless. If you are ever feeling a bit crappy about yourself I can’t recommend a little swipe of a mac lipstick (my fav is tropic tonic if you are interested) or a swish of bobbi brown everlasting gel eyeliner, coffee is my shade on this, black is a bit harsh in my old age 😉 But like I said we are all different.
Check out the chunk
An attempt to get all three boys in a school run selfie