When pregnant with my first child, I had no idea how dramatically my life could change. I was happy working as a Press & PR Manager at a theatre and hadn’t even thought of leaving. That was what nurseries were there for, right?
But when my son came along, it all changed. The end of my 12 months maternity leave came and I wanted to return to work but have a good balance with home-life too so I negotiated a three-day week. That said, my three-day week slowly became being contactable five days a week. Not exactly ideal when answering the phone to journalists whilst chasing an 18-month-old around the park.
When I had my second child, there was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be returning to work. It just wasn’t financially feasible; everything I earned would be going on nursery costs.
I loved spending my children’s early years at home. I enjoyed lots of days out at the park, heading to music classes and museums and exploring Manchester in a way I never had before….through the eyes of little ones. I had a third child and was content taking my eldest children to school, and spending my days with the youngest, making more memories. But as she started school, I was ready to return to work.
Looking back, I think I would’ve chosen to stay at work after my second child, primarily to keep on top of my skills. I had no idea how much you could lose confidence over time and how much technology could change. Going back to work can be incredibly scary, especially for a stay-at-home mum who hadn’t worked for seven years.
I’ve now returned to the working world, writing freelance for Families Online. It’s a fun and varied job, it’s given me a chance to gain more experience in the areas I’m unsure of and gives me the opportunity to fulfil my passion for writing. As I work from home, I can still do school pick-ups and drop-offs and take the kids to their activities which is the perfect balance for our family.
The downsides? I miss the interactions of the office, not knowing so much about the people you work with i.e. their holidays, their latest home crisis, their latest Mother-in-Law visit!
Working at home can be a lonely business, and interactions with fellow mums can often be superficial -passing comments about their child or the weather. Working full time is pretty much off limits for me. My husband is a contractor and can work away for a year at a time, and when he’s at home he can clock up 50 hour weeks.
I’d love to take on more work, but it’s also key that I strike that balance. I speak to loads of amazingly, talented and skilled parents and the message is always the same. They need employers to offer flexible working options, because they, in turn, would reap the benefits. They would gain employees with skills and commitment, who will give their all because they feel valued. To be honest I think they would profit greatly from mummy guilt (because let’s face it, we spend our lives making up for things we should have done better!).