A Mother’s Work Meme

8 Apr

I saw this post on Mummy Pink Wellies and thought I’d weigh in. Here goes…

A Mother’s Work Meme

Please post the rules
Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
Leave a comment on mother.wife.me so we can keep track of the meme
Tag 3 people and link to them on your blog
Let them know you tagged them
Tweet loudly about taking part (well ok, that isn’t a rule, but how about if we start a hashtag – #amothersworkmeme)

1.  Did you work before becoming a mum?
2.  What is your current situation?
3.  Freestyle – got your own point you’d like to get across on this issue? Here’s your chance…

And, most importantly…. you’re tagged!! If you read this and agree or disagree, please join in.

1. I was a chartered certified accountant. I had been in the process of starting up my own one-woman practice, but had fallen into the lucky situation of having one client who provided enough work to keep me busy full-time. When they found they could no longer use me, I looked into going back to employed work, but when I fell pregnant, I realised that I didn’t want to use child care full-time. My dad needed some help with customer services and product research in his company, and offered to provide me with enough hours to keep me busy while I built my business.

I struggled immensely to find clients, due to my complete inexperience in that side of the business, and began to work full-time with Dad, particularly after two key staff members left in February last year.

2. Working with Dad fit really well into our lives – I could answer queries while hooked up to a breast pump in the middle of the night, and despite my fear of the “boss’s daughter” tag, I started to feel like I was really contributing to and becoming a valuable member of the company. I’m still a bit embarrassed when I tell people that I work for my dad, but I feel that spurs me on to work harder to prove myself.

I work about 30 hours per week. Barnaby is at nursery for eleven hours per week and naps for about three to four hours per day. I can also work in the evenings and more at weekends when Patrick is home to help. I realise that I will need to cut this down as and when Barnaby needs less sleep and moves around more!

3. Katherine makes a great point about the “what do you do all day?” comments. I keep a timesheet, because I’m weird like that, and I regularly do a 50 hour week including work, housework, feeding, changing, reading to Barnaby, walking the dog and attending baby-specific classes and appointments. I am sure that plenty of mothers attend more classes and toddler groups than I do, and absolutely certainly do more housework. The only way people have time to watch Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women is if they’re as rubbish as I am at housework, or if they’re not spending much face-to-face time with their children.

For me, there are two big bugbears in the world of mothers and work.

One is that we need to acknowledge that, for most careers, taking a year or more out is going to slow us down. We need to research and make our choices; recognise the real-life implications and stand up for ourselves if we genuinely feel that an injustice has taken place. If I tried to return to accountancy, having missed out on a year’s practical experience and ongoing professional development, I would have to accept a frozen/lower salary until I had proven that I caught up. That’s not a Four Yorkshiremen statement, that just seems fair to me.

Excellent childcare is available from a very early age, so it’s not essential to take full maternity leave, unless being the main provider of childcare to your child is something you want and choose to do. Unfortunately, there are all sorts of mean-spirited people out there in the mummy blog world who have written about how wrong, uncaring and unnatural mothers who send their children to nursery are, and the damage they’re doing to their children, completely disregarding that, throughout history, childcare has been a communal activity. It takes a village to raise a child, after all. To imply that a child can only be raised well if the mother is the main childcare provider during the working week is not only insulting to working mothers, but to the loving and dedicated childcare workers who provide the service.

The second point is that we need to bring more flexible working into the system. Many jobs can be done from home, or with flexible hours, but it just doesn’t happen – especially in lower-paid roles. Too many bosses seem paranoid that their staff will not work unless properly supervised, but that seems like crazy logic to me. Why hire somebody you cannot trust? Why not work toward improving company loyalty? We need to move towards a working world in which parents and non-parents have equal opportunities to achieve a work/life balance.

I’m afraid I’ll have to break a rule, as I honestly don’t know who to tag, but if you’re reading this, then please consider yourself tagged! I’d be interested to hear opinions of parents and non-parents alike.


6 Responses to “A Mother’s Work Meme”

  1. marcidarling April 8, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    Before I became a mom I was working at a nursing home doing medical transcription. Tim and I both decided early on that when we did have kids I would stay home with them. I mostly based this idea on the fact that if I worked and put our child in daycare at least 50% (if not more) of my income would be going to childcare anyway and I personally would rather just not work so I could be with my little one. There definitely are days though I wish I had a full time job just to get out of the house and interact with other adults. I think no matter what a mom chooses there is ups and downs and a lot of work. I don’t know how many hours a day I work but I definitely feel like I’m busy with housework, keeping up with baby, taking care of phone calls that need done, cooking dinner, etc. not that I cook every night, cause I don’t!

    Recently my transcription job offered me a per diem position so I can go into the office on evenings or weekends. This is great because I can get maybe 8-10 hours in a week and bring in some gas or grocery money- but it’s still a bit tough because then I don’t get to see my husband as much and he really values put time together (as do I). Either way, once becoming a mother balance is hard to find I believe. I don’t know how some women do it, those ones who look like they have everything under control, their children are clean and organized and they are dressed stylishly. They must either have a nanny, help from family ( which I don’t have), or they get little to no sleep! Yes, I look like a slob sometimes and my hair isn’t always “done” but I have a happy child and that’s all that matters.

    • Becca April 8, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

      I think that it must be even harder in the US, because the work environment appears so much more intense – long hours and not much vacation time! That’s so awesome that you are getting the chance to build in the flexibility with work.

      The cost of ones time and the cost of not doing things how you want them to be done is a big factor in the decision, for sure. When I was pregnant, I was invited to interview for a role that would have involved quite a bit of short-notice international travel, but would have tripled my salary. The idea of having to leave him to go overseas somewhere just wrenched my heart. I think we are so lucky to be able to make that decision, having read stories of women who have earnt only a small amount per month after their childcare and travel costs had been taken, but had to do the job anyway because that extra cash is essential. I feel like it would probably be fairer if childcare costs related to the wage of the lowest earner in the family.

      Something has definitely got to give when it comes to juggling household roles, and if it’s not something you can see, then it’s probably one of those hidden issues like health and relationships! Especially after reading all the “Grandma as daycare” problems on Alphamom’s advice column. I am so glad I was never particularly polished in the first place – so nobody notices the difference when I go out with my hair pulled back and food on my shoulder. Yay for patterns.

      • Pret-A-Mummy (@BargainMummy1) April 9, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

        That’s really interesting about working for your dad. My dad is an accountant and I have never considered working for him but that is a real option. Surely that is what people used to do in days gone by and it must have worked pretty well? Perhaps that is what we should all be trying to do..suppose it depends if you can get on with each other!!

      • Becca April 10, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

        Ooh, yes… Making sure you can get along is a biggie! I have seen in the past how working with relatives/friends can encounter some big problems. We have been careful to make sure we talk about any issues we encounter as soon as possible, to avoid them building up into something bigger. And I tell him when I think he takes too many holidays!

        I’m not actually doing accountancy any more, but working in a customer services/product research/IT/marketing/general dogsbody role. It has certainly improved my multitasking skills!

        That’s interesting to think about days gone by – it makes perfect sense that someone might want to build a family business, although it might be contrary to many of our current-day values, such as equality of opportunity and striving to do better than our parents. It’s still extremely common in industries like farming, small-scale construction and shopkeeping; those industries in which you might start working informally while still at school.

  2. The Thrifty Mum April 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Too many really good comments! It’s so true that companies need to be more flexible about things like working at home. For most (ie desk based) jobs, surely as long as you get the job done and meet your deadlines it doesn’t matter when you actually do actual work. This culture shift would make working so much easier for working mums. I’m lucky to be able to work at home one day a week and I am more productive, relaxed and get to see my son a bit on those days as he’s looked after in the house by his Grandad.

    It’s so true that women are criticised for putting their children into nursery, and perversely we also get criticised if we want to stay home and look after them. (Perhaps the truth is we are criticised for having children…?)

    Lovely blog x

    • Becca April 13, 2012 at 6:59 am #

      Aah yes – the hated “breeders”. But the vitriol is somehow always directed at the women, but not the men. Last I heard, they played an equal part in the activity that leads to babies!

      I think my Dad would actually cry with happiness if I asked him to look after Barney during the week. An interesting idea!

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