workingmum


every cloud does of course , have a silver lining :)

two years ago my childminder dumped me..well it wasn’t that personal, she was moving on. as a result the challenge was , pretty much overnight, to find a replacement for one of the most important adults in my life. luckily enough we were successful and found the wonderful claire, who’s created an environment for the kids which is pretty much as idyllic as you could hope for in a house across the road from school. she’s fab.

the only problem (which has been at the back of my mind throughout the year) is that as a trained teacher, the lovely claire has been contemplating going back to work in a school. so i’ve been trying to work out how on earth i would cope with life as workingmum without the childcare on which i so depend.

anyway claire announced last week, that she was sticking with looking after the kids. hooray. and what’s more, apparently i was the key influence. sounds good ? not so sure … she was  persuaded that this was the best course of action, by seeing me arrive for the boys stressed up to my eyeballs day after day.

so here’s to stress …and of course to three more years of claire 🙂 .

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good bits v bad bits

this is a list which will grow..just kicking off with a few ideas today

good

life is NEVER boring; you keep in touch with a whole loada people; you don’t have to worry about paying the bill for next term’s guitar lessons; …….

bad

work preoccupies you when you should be thinking about the kids; stress levels are generally high high high (especially between 830-845 and 445-530); you’re ALWAYS rushing around; ……


so one of the painful bits about being a workingmum ..

is lying in bed on saturday morning, with work swirling around your mind, when you should be thinking up fun things to be doing with the kids (in the rain).


workingmums : full time or part time ?

couple of weeks late, but thought it was worth a comment or two about the study referred to in ‘the guardian’ on 27 feb which looked at the changing work patterns of women pre and post the birth of their first child.

in short ,  before kids as a woman, you’re pretty much as likely as a man to have a full time job , and actually pretty unlikely to have a part time job .  birth of first child and that proportion of full-time working women clearly plummets ..80% reduces to 15% (in fact interestingly , co-inciding with the proportion of women with a part-time job). so how long does it take for the proportion of women with full-time jobs (and kids) to return to a higher level than the proportion of women with part-time jobs (and kids) ? just 17 years after the birth of their first child. seventeen years – that’s probably double the time most of those workingmums spent in the work-place as full-timers before the kids arrived.

so what does this mean?

well clearly workingmums either prefer or are restricted to part-time jobs (once you’ve had the taste of part-time work , perhaps you’d rather not give it up 🙂  )

….btw we don’t of course quite know how they’re defining part-time work .. seems to be under 31 hours a week – so a four day a weeker like this workingmum would be classified as full-time (and to be honest that’s how it feels , so that’s fair enough)

pay gaps between full-time and part-time wages (per hour) have actually more than doubled in the past 30 years. so we can infer that many of these part-time jobs are probably  not of a ‘professional’ level .. this probably means that there are plenty of workingmums who have the talents to work in roles beyond those that they end up in .

the study suggests that the best way to retain employment in a ‘professional’  job, perhaps at less than five days per week , is to stick with your pre-kids employer. agreed. presumably one of the reasons the workingmums who stick with their pre-kids employer do so (above of course hopefully , liking their job) is precisely because they know how difficult it will to get back into the workplace at a similar level. they made that sacrifice of time with their kids for that.  equally validly, mums who gave up work totally to exclusively be with the kids say until school age kicks in, made that choice knowing there would be a sacrifice further down the line. the point is , don’t kid yourself , being a workingmum involves sacrifice for all but the luckiest.

so when they say plan for your first baby ..it’s not about planning to have enough money to buy the mountains of stuff you need to get through the first year ..it’s about planning to be in a job you enjoy, with an employer who’s prepared to be flexible about the proportion of time you work for them in the future.


when we gotta go, we gotta go

ooh , feeling positive tonight :-). another good thing about being a workingmum. when you gotta go, you gotta go. no hanging around to finish your emails (1500 currently unread if you want to know). the metaphorical bell goes at whatever time (245pm/5pm depending on part or full time) and you’re out of the building (reversing into a bollard if you’re this workingmum last week). music on ; kids in sight ; tea to cook and part two of your life to live.

workingmums have no time to waste 🙂


this post should be read by workingmums only

..hello, back on the blog. the diversions of the past few months (work, life, facebook) are for 30 mins, under control and there’s something for workingmums to celebrate.

listening to the ‘today’ programme last week, ‘thought for the day’ kicked off with a reflection on some data (sorry can’t remember the source) which demonstrated that in the u curve of people’s satisfaction with their lives, the low point fell at 44 years of age.

it’s all apparently explained  by a sense of achievement and purpose in life (or a perceived lack of achievement and purpose during your mid 40s). now this workingmum ain’t that far away from 44 , can gladly report that things aren’t at all bad …and actually wonders if that’s in part linked to being a workingmum.

achievement and purpose are two things that workingmums can probably relate to pretty positively. our problem is that our cup runneth over with too much purpose . our lives are crammed full of stuff to do … and hopefully a fraction of that ends up in some sense of achievement. achievement in the workplace coupled with achievement of being a good mum .

if it sounds a bit smug, it’s not supposed to be. but it is sometimes good to hold onto the things that make the turbulent, busy lives of workingmums worthwhile and sometimes great fun.


women, (not just workingmums) in the workplace

workingmum notes two changes at work, which may , or may not be related

 one : the  perception of an increasingly  malevolent upper management

two : the virtual irradication of females at a upper management level

 workingmum was going to raise this in a meeting earlier this week ..but decided not to on the basis that males out numbered females by about five to one


first day back to school

..and today seems like a magnification of all the bad things about being a workingmum. a busy six weeks means that we’ve not quite achieved the expected status of readiness for school ie, all school gear collected, washed, ironed and neatly laid out . in fact we find that as we prepare to leave the house, one pair of school shoes is making its way to workingdad’s workplace fifteen miles away.  son number one is presented with the choice of wearing crocs with sox or trainers two sizes too small .  inevitably ties are lost and have to be repurchased. what might have been seen as exhuberance from the boys over the last few weeks , now just sounds like a very loud noise and the whole thing feels like a machine intentionally designed to take five steps back with every step forward. it’s exhausting. and to make things worse the prospect of work doesn’t feel that good either 😦

workingmum never set out for this blog to be a piece of therapy, but today she feels she needs some. oh to be back in the outer hebrides.


job interviews, sacrifice and finally another post

the irony of it all, the last post was celebrating four months of blogging, and only one post later, workingmum is celebrating six months, with little real activity on the blog. workingmum was contemplating why this should be … true, workingmum has recently developed a facebook addiction which seems to take priority above writing posts for a blog (so much easier; so much more interaction), but other things have been going on in workingmum’s life which have perhaps interrupted the desire to blog. time now perhaps to have a short reflection on those events, as they do bear some relation to the issues faced by workingmums.

life at work over the last three months has been unsettling: big time. you know – all the rubbish associated with an organisation seeking to reshape itself. amongst this, the need for workingmum to reapply for her own job (or a job of a similar nature , with a different title…ok the same job). so of course no-one likes being put through this, workingmum or not.  it has however raised a specific issue for this workingmum which might be worth airing.

when workingmum made the decision post maternity-leave, to return to work on a nearly  full-time basis , part of the decision was about keeping a career going for the time that the children became more independent . this involved sacrifice and of course still does. prinicipally sacrifice of those days with sometimes smiling, and ok sometimes screaming toddlers, pre-schoolers and after-schoolers. sacrifice (of a far lesser nature) of those coffees and chats with the other mums at either end of the school day, not to mention games of tennis, and opportunities to help in the classroom, or on the children’s school trips.

back to work. faced with the prospect of not being successful in reapplying for her job, workingmum has feared the consequences of that choice all those years ago.  nine years of giving up time with the most important people in your life. and potentially nothing in the future.

ok so it may have worked out ok…but workingmum has been shaken by the whole experience, partly because of the fear that all those years ago, she may have made a fundamentally flawed decision. 

so this is one of the reasons why workingmum has been a bit quiet of late. but hey, it’s the beginning of the summer hols..boys out for six weeks, cornwall beckons. the sun is bound to shine some of the time…isn’t it ?


four months of blogging on

workingmum noticed today that this blog’s life now amounts to 4 months 2 weeks. ok so it feels more like six months, but anyway it’s longer than perhaps initially expected. right back in the first month of the blog, workingmum reflected upon the process of blogging, the nature of the audience and the impact of that perceived audience on how the author approaches their blog. it’s kind of interesting to see how this this evolves over the early life of a blog. initially getting contributions (usually from joe or marian) seemed to legitimise the blogging process;  now it doesn’t really matter. (tho it’s always nice to see 🙂 ). blogs i guess develop into what they we’re originally meant to be – diaries. and diaries are really for an audience of one – the author . and not really the author now, but the author in the future, looking back to how life once was.  on the very few occasions that workingmum gets out her real diaries and tries to decipher the worn and illegible writing of her teenage years and twenties, it’s just fascinating to walk back into the past.  so for this workingmum, blogging is an attempt to capture a moment in life , so that when the kids have left home and work is less manic ( 🙂 ) she can step back once more into the chaos that is life as a workingmum.