I didn’t always plan to be the bread winner.  When Mr Austere and I met at medical school I think it is safe to say that we both wanted to be doctors.  Whether either of us had any real perception of what that would really entail is up for debate.



I’ve always had a fairly robust work ethic. Although my parents may argue this point.  They once set me to cutting thistles in the back garden.  I famously lasted 12 minutes before I lost interest and wandered off.  I think this may be proof of my lack of interest in gardening rather than my lack of drive.


I have always had a job.  My first was as a chamber maid in Colonsay hotel at the age of 15.  I worked through university as a barmaid and in Burger King and since qualifying I have worked full time as a doctor of one sort or another.



i just love working



Prior to having kids it didn’t really occur to me that I would ever work less than full time.  I think in medicine it is very easy to get sucked into a competitive spiral where work is all consuming and nothing else matters. After having a baby I began to find the idea of her spending more time with nursery staff than with her mother unbearable.  Around the same time Mr. Austere began to find his job unbearable. We put two and two together and came up with a solution. 


After 14 months off work I went back full time and Mr Austere stayed at home with the baby. We’ve experimented with various models since then but the status quo is now set.  I go out to work and Mr. Austere looks after the kids. I know I am very lucky.  Mr. Austere is a fantastic father.  His patience far exceeds mine and he is not weighed down by a desperate desire to clean the house and earn money – both of which made my time at home with the kids very unpleasant. I get to focus on the career I love knowing that my little girls are receiving the best possible care from someone who loves them.

But…….the truth is that during the week I spend 1-1.5 hours a day with my girls. I leave in the morning before they wake up and I get home just in time for dinner.  The traditional Dad roles of bath and bedtime are mine. Last week I read an extra chapter of Whitney the Whale fairy (a truly dreadful book) just to have five extra minutes with them before they went to bed.


Helen had a costume for world book day which I never saw. Sally has her immunizations today – I won’t be there to hold her hand (or her down as the case may be).


I don’t know any of Sally’s pre-school friends.  At her birthday party I was surrounded by mothers many of whom I had never met before.  I gravitate towards mummy-blogs, but as I read them I feel like a fraud.  There are legions of woman in the blogosphere who are the opposite of me.  They spend all day with their kids, they craft and bake and go for walks and read stories all week, not just for two days. 


Yet I still feel like a mum.  When I read bedtime stories Helen snuggles up so close to me I can hardly turn the page.  Sometimes during dinner (much to the disgust ofMr Austere) Sally clambers onto my lap and wraps her (mucky) hands round my neck.  She presses her (messy) face against mine and tells me how much she loves me.  I actually enjoy night wakenings because I get a bit of special time with the girls. I don’t mind changing the occasional night time nappy for Sally. On Saturdays I take them to ballet and all the other mothers just assume I am a normal mum too.  They don’t know that I am a part time faker.


During the February half term we were stuck on Colonsay for an extra two days.  I had the best time ever.  Neither child was ill.  I had decided to give myself a break from studying and I loved spending time with them.  Even though we were stuck in doors we drew and baked and cut things out and read and watched TV and talked.  My kids are fun to be around and I want to be around them more.


So I’ve made up my mind.  I don’t want a career over my kids.  Yes, for the time being I need to carry on working the hours I do to support our family; but this isn’t how my life is going to be long term.  Once I am a consultant (hopefully quite soon). I will cut my hours, even if it means long-term austerity. I love my job but nothing beats a macaroni cheese scented kiss right in your ear.

girls on stairs

Maybe if we grin like maniacs she won’t go to work.

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  1. Millie says:

    I see lots of Dads dropping their kids off at nursery at 12 30. I suspect most of the Saturday mums have been at Nursery and with their Grandparents at least some of the week. You are a great role model. Your kids are growing in resilience. You and Mr Austere are doing a grand job demonstrating how to think and live differently for the benefit of all.

  2. Millie says:

    I see lots of Dads dropping their kids off at nursery at 12 30. I suspect most of the Saturday mums’ offspring have been at Nursery and with their Grandparents at least some of the week. You are a great role model. Your kids are growing in resilience. You and Mr Austere are doing a grand job demonstrating how to think and live differently for the benefit of all.

  3. Sabrina says:

    There are so many ways to be a parent, and you are NOT a fraud, by any means. But you do capture the weird disconnectedness that comes from not being part of the “stay at home” set. You’re part of the tribe, but you’re sort of not. And there is loss. Loss of the time together, the baking and creating and memory-making and free play, unburdened by schedule or goals. I feel your pain, because I’m lucky enough to stay home. There are days when I really wish I didn’t, but most of the time I feel so lucky to be right where I am, and don’t miss having a job AT ALL. I miss having time to read for pleasure, but perhaps if I didn’t waste so much damned time on FB…let’s be honest–I’m not very grown-up.

    So, I think your plan is wonderful. These years are so short, and you are both so young, there is plenty of time to do career things later. What you sacrifice in material comforts you’ll gain back in memories, contentment and strong bonds. And if you need a free vacation in California, just let us know. Our house is your house. 🙂

    • awesomeausterity says:

      What a lovely comment Sabrina, thank you. I know I didn’t do well being at home – I am a much nicer mother when I only do it two days a week but I think our current set up is too all or nothing.

      Thanks for the holiday offer – we may well take you up on it and you’re certainly welcome in edinburgh- our house may be shabby but it is very spacious!

  4. Mrs H says:

    This is a really interesting post. I am sure you do miss spending time with your gorgeous daughters. But you should know that you are obviously doing what is best for your family. Your daughters love you. And they would love you just the same if you were at home with them. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

  5. Rachel says:

    Such a thought provoking post. You are most defintely not a fraud. Whatever works for you and your family is the correct way. I am lucky and have 2 days off a week to spend with Sam and the rest of the time he is in nursery and I am at work. Hubby works away all week. It is great to have the best of both worlds but downsides to it too. Sounds like you are doing a fab job. xx

  6. Georgette says:

    A man never considers himself a fraud if he works full time to support his family. Why should you? My father worked a six day week when I grew up and I don’t remember all the times he wasn’t there I just have the memories of when he was. My brain doesn’t separate the ‘who’ made me happy, or not, as a child just the percentage of if I was happy or not! Give yourself a break woman! 🙂

    • awesomeausterity says:

      It’s funny isn’t it- I definitely have a double standard regarding what is acceptable for me and for me . I don’t know any other woman with young kids who work full time though and I suppose the tendency is compare myself with my own sex. Thanks for reading.

  7. jill says:

    It is really tough and it seems to me that whatever a woman does – there always seems to be guilt attached! You are doing what generations of men were expected to do for the last 100 years – some happy with their ‘role’ and some not so much. I know from experience being full time and – until the last year, a single parent can be really hard. For my daughter it meant after school club every day – one of only a handful of kids there full time. And she didnt really like it. I was lucky to get some support from other sympathetic mums who arranged various play dates. I wish I could have worked part time and am still working towards that goal.
    Mr Awesome is awesome but he is how all other half’s should be- the other half of a partnership who work out the best way of living their lives – bringing up their kids – and trying to keep everyone as happy as possible. Listen to how you feel – and make the changes to go part time – just do it! What about job share? The girls won’t be little in a few years and you have more time when they are at school.
    Many women work full time in factories shops cleaning etc. And bring up families who have to support each other in ways in which our more nuclear families have forgotten. Whats normal for kids is what they have – and yours obviously have plenty of love.
    At the end of the day we are all just doing our best.. and that’s all we can do. You are definitely not a fraud!! Take it easy 🙂

  8. Mrs Tubbs says:

    We were the same position as your family – I worked full time whilst Mr T stayed at home. It worked for us. It’s weird that no one ever questions this when it’s the other way round. Good luck!

  9. Emily says:

    Fraud? What a heartbreaking word to describe how you feel. It’s never easy, is it? The sacrificing and the guilt, the double-standards we face as women who choose to birth and work. I hope in your heart of hearts you know you aren’t a fraud. You are a wonderful example to your girls of how you can have the life you want. You can work and you can have a family, and you don’t have to do it in any particular order. I appreciate your honesty, and hope the next time you read a mommy blog, you don’t feel anything but the connectedness we all share as mothers.

    • awesomeausterity says:

      I do feel the connectedness too, I think that’s why I enjoy reading them. I am hugely relieved when I read about others who count down the hours until bedtime or want to scream with frustration but I suppose I’m a competitive person and while other woman beat themselves up over pain relief during childbirth or breast feeding I’ve picked this. Hopefully once I am able to reduce my hours a little I will feel better about myself. Thank you for reading.

  10. Lisa (mummascribbles) says:

    I often feel the same as you – I work full time, probably see Zach just a smidgen more than you see your girls in the week and read SAHM blogs with the utmost jealousy!!! But, we are doing what we have to do and you know that the girls are just fine with your hubby. I too would love to drop my hours and hope that one day I can. But for now, we need two wages, literally even with two wages we are just scraping by at the moment so I know there is no choice. We just have to keep going and know that they are happy even if we aren’t!! I also feel the same about nighttime wake ups – in the morning I’m not so grateful but at the time, I snuggle his sleepy self and give him loads of snoozy kisses! #sundaystars

    • awesomeausterity says:

      Thanks for replying – You’ve actually just given me a huge reality check – how lucky we are to be able to have a stay at home parent who has chosen not to work!! I should be counting my blessings. Fingers crossed full time is not forever for you.

  11. crazymadmumof4 says:

    You are such a great role model for your girls and most definitely not a part time faker. You’re showing your girls they can be anything they want to be.
    I sometimes think my children have a better relationship with their Daddy because he’s not here all the time. They take me for granted and give me hell while Daddy gets all the cuddles, kisses and stories about the day.

    • awesomeausterity says:

      Yes I know what you mean. Poor old daddy gets all the abuse and then he is cross when I swan in and take them shopping at the weekend! I try to defer to him in terms of discipline because he is the one who is there all the time but then it’s hard not turning him into the bad guy! Thanks for reading.

  12. Mrs Puddleducky says:

    I am so glad I found you and your blog! I am the bread winner in our household, just returned to work after my second, slowly working up to full time (eek). I know how you feel. We kinda have a 3 year plan to save some pennies then I want to go proper part time (fingers crossed). I find it even harder second time round because I’m leaving them both. There’s days I only see them for an hour or so and I feel so guilty x

  13. mummyofboygirltwins says:

    Honestly, I think we all feel Mummy-guilt – whether we stay at home, or work. I decided to leave my HR career and stay at home, and of course I have been lucky to do so but there have been times where I have missed working, or felt unable to cope at home. Don’t feel a fraud. We all do whatever is best for our family…and it sounds like you’re an amazing Mother. However if cutting your hours back makes you feel happier I’d say do it. Try it. See how you get on. We miss my salary but we have coped. You just adapt don’t you. Great post and thanks for sharing #sundaystars Jess x

  14. christina says:

    When you described the things you are missing out on, I felt it right in the stomach. I don’t work full time, but I have missed out on some things too.
    You are providing for your children, and they love and adore you. I say, just make the most of the time you have with them 🙂

  15. MrsB says:

    *waves* full-time working mama over here and I completely understand your desire to want to work part-time. I’ve spent a lot of time, money and effort in becoming a lawyer and I don’t want to “waste” it all. Like you I have a plan. It involves getting further up the ladder so that I can work less. We are in a great position of having a choice and I am very grateful. You certainly shouldn’t feel like a fraud. At all. You a great role-model to your children and you and your husband are breaking gender-stereotypes with your current set-up in caring for them. Well done.
    Would be great to hear how your plans for corporate ladder climbing are going from a mum who is trying to do the same!
    MrsB recently posted…I am the mum who…(part deux)My Profile

    • awesomeausterity says:

      Thank you! It’s nice to read about another mum who is also still thinking about their career. I do love my job and I don’t want to give up my career which I have worked really hard for. I have a big exam to sit next week – eek! If I pass then I will be able to start a consultant job within a year and definitely cut my hours a little. I do feel proud that we are breaking gender stereotypes and when my eldest daughter says that she wants to be a doctor I do feel a stab of pride.

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