Every Tuesday and Thursday without fail someone will say this to me as I leave the office for the day. Actually it’s more as they leave the office for the day as I’m never the first to walk out the door dead on 5.30.
From the off I think it’s important to say I love my ‘real’ job (by real job I’m referring to the job I’m paid a salary for) and I’m aware that I’m very lucky having a job I love that I can do part time.
But for a start the fact I work part time means that Wednesday and Friday are not my ‘days off’ in that it’s not a holiday, I’m not paid. I’ve chosen not to come to work and chosen not to be paid on those days through negotiation and agreement of a contract. Just as anyone else could do if they wanted to. I’ve got snappy in my response, but also I’ve sadly grown quite negative in my representation of my home life to these people. Feeling that if I tell them although it’s hard spending time with my children is rewarding in ways no salary ever could be; I would only further their opinions I’m dossing two days a week whilst they slave away in an office.
Work is my day off. I get to wee on my own, with the door shut and get my own loo paper. I get to fully dress myself after said wee and wash my hands at a leisurely pace. I get to drink hot drinks whilst they are actually hot, I get to break whenever my brain is feeling frazzled, take a walk to the kitchen, make a cup of tea and regroup my mind for a few minutes. I get a lunch break. I get to wear high heels and dry clean only clothes. I use a completely different side of my brain. There is a 99% chance nobody will snot or vomit on me whilst I’m in the sanctuary that is my place of ‘real’ work
I came back to work because I really love my job, it’s certainly not for the money. The Sunday Times recently reported ‘A mother with two children at nursery needs to earn at least £40,000 a year to make any profit from going to work (after deducting the costs of childcare, travel and pension contributions). A salary of £60,000 would leave her with £36 a day after deductions. The average woman in a full-time job earns £24,202.’ FYI I don’t make £40k a year, and it is for this reason it’s not financially savvy for me to work more than three days a week.
It’s a challenge to rebuff some people’s opinion I don’t work as hard as them because I work part time. Yes I may rarely get into the office before 9am and yes sometimes I’m late (a three year old does not care that we’ll be late when he needs a poo at 7.45am and childcare is a 15 minute car journey away, I’d definitely be more than 5 minutes late for ignoring that request for change in the daily routine). But then they don’t see me e-mailing at 10pm, or hear my calls to rearrange child pick ups with my husband so I can stay late to get things done.
My other job (the unpaid 24/7 one) is much harder, the stakes are higher. If I screw up there, the ramifications are major, it’s not ok to break my children, I can’t call the IT department to fix them or retrieve my work to re-do it. I only get one go at this parenting lark. Hopefully all this input now will ensure the payoff in years to come: my children Happy, Healthy and Successful in their chosen professional fields. If we’ve got it right then hopefully the chosen field won’t be in illegal international arms dealing (yep hands up admit I did have an embarrassing obsession with Hugh Lorry in the Night Watchman recently!)
My other job isn’t part time; it isn’t even a standard 40hr week with statutory holidays and breaks. The benefits package is huge but none of them can be monetised. I complete this 24/7 job at the same time as my ‘real’ part time job.
I’m know its nothing new to give you a run down of how hard it is to be a Mum, anyone that is one knows its tough regardless of the number of children they have, age gap/s between children, weather they’re a stay at home mum or not, its hard. Both emotionally and physically there is no job on this planet quite like it.
But what I do want to put out there is that until the general feeling in the workforce towards working mums changes this attitude of ‘enjoy your day off’ only serves to fuel the constant struggle of Mothers wishing to return to work. Parents trying forge a healthy and balanced relationship with their work.
Digital Mums quote when talking about women wishing to return to work after becoming Mothers:
‘the reality is a shocking 70% of women leave the workforce because they find it impossible to combine their career and family life. Three quarters feel there is just not enough flexibility. There are so many things stopping mothers from finding a satisfying job that they can fit around their family – the astronomical cost of childcare, bosses unyielding to part time hour requests, skills becoming out of date in our fast-paced world.’
When I was on maternity leave with my first baby I was made redundant so had to seek a new job when the time came to return to work. I didn’t tell the company I went to work for I was a mother; I didn’t mention my son for the first week and a half. For probably the first six months I only mentioned him when asked about him. I ran myself ragged arranging childcare without anyone noticing when meetings changed or I needed to work late. I was so aware of the negative feelings mothers getting special treatment in the work place got – hell not so long ago I’d been that person judging the woman for leaving on time to collect her kids, completely oblivious to what was going on for those women behind the proverbial closed doors.
When I was pregnant with my second baby I didn’t mention that either, I didn’t tell anyone at work until I was 22 weeks pregnant and worked my bloody arse off until my very last minute in the office to ensure the lasting impression of me was one of a hard worker and not a swollen puffy emotional mess (which I was).
I know it was my choice, but don’t write me off because I’m a parent. My skill set I manage on my ‘days off’ is brilliant when applied to the work place. I have an outlook on life that has shifted. I don’t get aggravated so easily. I’m excellent at finding resolutions to problems you wouldn’t even know are problems. As the very old saying goes ‘ if you want something done ask a busy person’. So if you want something done ask a mum we’re all really busy 24/7!
A grass roots misunderstanding of part time workers is only the beginning of the problem. A small minded view that in working part time you are some how only doing part of a job. But the lack of importance (by far to many people in my mind) that can be placed on the role of ‘Mother’ and what they juggle day to day to bring their children up compounds the issue further.
So sorry for the angry ranty post, but its not my day off, I work bloody hard at both my jobs. Please don’t belittle what I do in either forum.