I’ve got a new job. It still hasn’t sunk in yet – I interviewed for it yesterday afternoon and found out this morning I was being offered a position, which is both hugely exciting and terrifying at the same time. I work for the NHS, which I love, and my new job will still be with them, just in a different office, a completely different role and a nice little pay rise to go with it. This is a big change, a huge step up in my career, and a massive achievement for a little working mum like me.
I have always been a working mum since having Joe – it almost never occurred to me that there was any other option. I know there are so many fabulous stay-at-home mums who either run their own businesses or just get to enjoy spending lots of time with their little ones, but for me, this just didn’t seem to fit. I didn’t want to give up the job I enjoyed and I’m glad I didn’t. My work is something just for me, away from being mummy and family life – it keeps me active, motivated and intellectually challenged in a way that sitting at home watching Peppa Pig all day simply wouldn’t do (before all the stay-at-home mums start to complain, I know this isn’t all you do!). I enjoy the adult interaction and the sense of satisfaction I get from doing a good job and making a difference, and I can’t imagine having made any other choice. I suppose I am lucky that I have a job I don’t hate!
I could have come back to work part-time, but once we had worked out costs for nursery for Joe, this just didn’t make financial sense. I also don’t think I could have progressed so well in my job if I was only there three days a week – it would have made looking for a promotion or better prospects that much harder. Employers are a lot more flexible these days when it comes to work/life balance but I think the reality is if you want to have a ‘career’ rather than a ‘job’, you’ve got to be seen to be putting as much effort in as possible – and this means full-time.
It has been hard at times. Until recently when my parents moved to Newcastle to be closer to us, Andy and I have juggled full-time jobs and parenthood between the two of us. As Andy is a teacher, it is hard for him to get out of work at short notice, so if ever Joe has been ill at nursery, I have had to take special leave to be with him. Andy has often had to finish a busy day at school, spend a precious couple of hours with Joe before bedtime, then spend the rest of the evening doing marking or some other work before he can fully relax. We often don’t get to have our evening meal before 9pm, particularly if we’ve been out for a run, or I’ve gone to an exercise class. By the time bedtime comes around, I’m normally more than ready to close my eyes.
I’m not saying there is anything particularly special about us for doing this; the situation is the same for thousands of working families, and we have a routine that works for us. Joe absolutely thrives at nursery and I have never felt guilty about leaving him there – although it was very hard to when he was younger and used to cry all the time when I dropped him off. Now he has his little friends, he loves it so much he sometimes doesn’t want to come home! Nothing beats going in to collect him at the end of a busy day at work and having him rush up to you, arms outstretched, shouting “Mummy!” with a big smile. Of course, for a lot of women with lower paid jobs, the prohibitively expensive cost of childcare means it doesn’t make it worth their while to work at all – a situation which still desperately needs addressing.
I don’t think I would have considered myself able to do a job like my new one a year or so ago, when Joe was so much more dependent on us and still left me feeling drained at the end of the week. Now he’s an independent little thing, nearly three years old in a couple of months, and I’m ready to take the plunge into a new challenge for me. Of course, the extra cash won’t go amiss these days – we can make a start on a few home improvements that have been on the backburner for a while. I think I’ll still look forward to putting my feet up on a Friday night though.