Lovely Lisa blogs at Mummascribbles and works full time as an events manager. I could relate to so much of what she says here, especially when it comes to feeling like you’re rushing around all the time. Finding quality time during the week when we are both at work is definitely a challenge for us. I’m glad that Lisa has touched on some of the negatives of being a working mum – it’s not all about the money!
Tell me a bit about your family.
There is myself, Lisa, my other half Dean and our three year old son Zachary. Baby number two will be arriving at some point in September. We also have two rabbits and some tropical fish.
What do you do for work?
I work as an event manager, away from home, on full time hours (37.5). There are times when I have to go away for work; it’s usually just overnight but there are a couple of events that are 2 days and one that that takes me away for 5 days. I have also just started volunteering for the NCT as the Nearly New Sale Coordinator and have my first freelance role as Account Manager for my local Families website (previously Mums in the Know).
What is a typical ‘working day in the life’ for you?
It’s hectic! Zach is in nursery two days a week and the other three days are spent with my mum. My alarm goes off every morning at 5.45 and we leave the house at about 7.15 the latest. Up until recently, I had been doing everything but Dean now drops Zach off at nursery in the morning. He doesn’t drive so we all walk to the bus stop and I give them both kisses and cuddles before walking 3 minutes further up the road to the train station, getting into work for 8.30. I then leave work at 4.30 and pick Zach up shortly before 6pm if the trains are running ok. We tend to get home by about 6.10 when I then have to feed and bath him. On Tuesdays, Dean is out playing footie so I am all alone to do these fun things!
When he is at mum’s, I drive him over there, arriving at about 7.40 and then head off to my sisters where I park on her driveway and walk round to the train station. On these days I get in for 9 and finish at 5. I only ever take a half an hour lunch which is how I manage to make up the hours! We manage to get home at some point between 6.50 and 7 and then it’s pretty much bedtime for him.
He tends to go to sleep between 7.30 and 8pm depending on what day it is and how knackered he is. So, it means that we see him ‘properly’ for about an hour in the morning (less if he sleeps in!) and an hour or so in the evening.
Do you find being a working mum impacts negatively on family life or is it positive thing for you?
For me, it definitely impacts negatively. I mean, in terms of him having a comfortable life, a roof over our heads and clothes on his back, it’s obviously a positive thing but in terms of family life, it’s pants. He loves nursery (even though he pretends not to) and he adores my mum, however I know for a fact that he would be happier if he had mummy or daddy around more. My mum was recently on holiday and so we shared the days between us, and I noticed a big change in him, his attitude and how happy he was. For me, the words I hate the most are “come on, hurry up” or “I haven’t got time for that” and I know those things impact badly on him. But it feels like we are forever rushing to get out of the house and during the week, he just barely sees us, and when he does, we are all tired!
What do you most wish you could change or introduce to make life easier for working mums?
I wish there was more opportunity to work from home. It’s 2016 and there is just no need to be stuck in an office an hour from home. If you need to talk then pick up the phone. If you need to have a meeting, there’s Skype. There are ways around having to commute in every day and for me, working from home would be life changing. Unfortunately my company doesn’t see it like that, it’s almost like they are stuck 20 years back and whilst they do let some people work from home regularly, it is a complete rarity. Equally, my old company who weren’t stuck 20 years ago, only agreed to me working one day a week from home!
How has working during pregnancy affected your job or career?
This is the second time I have worked whilst pregnant and both times have been for different companies. I definitely don’t think that I have been disadvantaged in any way in either of them. When I was pregnant with Zach, we found out that my dad had a terminal brain tumour and my company was amazing. Family was put first and when he was in the last stages of the cancer, I was told firmly to go away and not return until I was absolutely ready. They continued to pay me full pay. I like to think that they would do that for anyone but I think with me being pregnant, they were extra nice.
The company I work for now, I’m not sure they’d be as nice although they haven’t batted an eyelid when I’ve had to have the odd day off if Zach has been too unwell to go to nursery. They are also being brilliant with my antenatal appointments, allowing me to work from home on those days and I negotiated my working hours before I said yes to the job. I struggled for a while having a boss with no children but the other came back from maternity leave and I am no longer the only one in the team rushing out of the door bang on time. I get the odd comment every now and then from colleagues without children but I just ignore them. One day they’ll learn for themselves!
Have you ever considered giving up work to be a stay-at-home mum?
It is my dream to give up work and be a stay at home mum. I have no doubt that I would be driven round the bend on a daily basis but I would just love it to be me who is bringing the children up. I absolutely hate working full time and I hope that it can change and I can at the very least go part time when my next maternity leave ends. I have my fingers well and truly crossed!
Do you find that you do the bulk of the household chores/childcare despite also having a ‘day job’? Or does your partner do their fair share?
There is no doubting that my other half is amazing. It is me that has done the majority of the childcare runs over the last three years but that is purely because he doesn’t drive and because he was having to commute an hour and a half to and from work each day. He recently moved jobs where he is half an hour closer to home, works half an hour less per day and has proper flexible working in process. He now does the two morning nursery runs and a couple of times a week he comes with me to drop Zach off at mum’s. It has all come at the perfect time because with being 7 months pregnant, everything is starting to get a little bit harder and I am definitely getting a bit slower!
As for the housework – he does it all. I suffer with SPD [pelvic pain]; it isn’t horrendous but I recently tidied up the front room and was in agony. The day I stupidly swept, I could barely walk. So he picks up all the slack in my inability to clean the house! He is also far better than me at loading the dishwasher!
What 3 top tips can you offer other mums returning to work (or considering it) to make things easier for them?
Make use of your KIT days. I felt like they really helped me to find my place in the office again. And you get paid for them so it’s a lovely little amount in your bank account after that maternity pay!
If you are worried about asking for flexible working…just ask. The worst they can do is say no and the best they can do is sit down with you, work through it all and say yes. I didn’t think my old company would allow me back on a 4 day week and they did.
If you weren’t happy in your job before you went on maternity leave, chances are you won’t be happy when you go back. It might be time for you to look for a new job that can offer what you need rather than struggle getting back into a role you don’t enjoy.
Have you ever felt guilty about being a working mum?
I literally feel guilty all of the time. I feel like mornings and evenings are so rushed, I feel like Zach doesn’t know where he is. I feel bad when he wakes up in the morning and asks ‘where are we going today’ and I feel bad when he falls asleep in the car on the way home from mum’s and transfers straight up to his bed. There are times of course when I don’t feel as much guilt, like when we were in a position to buy our first house and today when I could take advantages of a couple of sales, buying him his next size up clothes. Overall though, the guilt has always been pretty bad. Not when I’m at work, but when I am with him and he is ratty because he is exhausted from being up so early or desperate for our attention when we are trying to get out of the house.
Do you think mums are taken seriously in the workplace or is there still a stigma attached to having kids if you want a career? Have you ever experienced discrimination at work?
I think there is definitely a stigma. I do think that it depends what kind of company you work for and certainly whether those around you have children or not. In my previous company, I don’t feel that stigma was there quite as much. They were a charity – very flexible, very family friendly and very open to new ways of working. The company that I work for now are almost in the dark ages. They only just brought in childcare vouchers last year, the chief exec – despite having children of his own (although they are now grown up) – seems to have an air of attitude when it comes to pregnant people and I have had comments from other childless colleagues when I’ve been dashing out of the door at 4.30. It has been frustrating but I knew that we would be trying for another baby and so have stuck it out. I cannot wait to go off on mat leave though!
Do you enjoy your job or is it simply a means to an end?
I definitely enjoy what I do – I don’t enjoy the company I work for. I love organising events and seeing everything tie up on the day – it gives me a real thrill. That said, I’ve been doing it for almost ten years now and sometimes feel that I could put my experience into something else; still events but just a different kind!
What’s the worst thing about being a working mum?
Not seeing my beautiful boy for the majority of the week. I have never missed anything important. His first steps were on a weekend, I was there when he first started saying words. I don’t feel like I’ve missed any major milestones. I have however missed so much of his daily life and that makes me sad because I will never ever get that time back with him.
What’s the best thing?
Hot tea, the ability to eat a biscuit or cake without having to hide the fact that I am doing so and having money to spend on Zach (I hardly ever spend it on me hehe!).
Follow Lisa on Twitter @Mummascribbles.