Posts tagged ‘working mum’

March 14, 2012

the great work/home debate

After six months of no new posts, I’ve decided to get back into the blogosphere (I actually forgot, completely, that I even had this blog due to the excitement of looking after a baby, going for walks and cleaning the bathroom – oh the fabulosity).

That being said I might not write again for six months but I needed to vent about my return to work story.

I posted some time ago about my lack of desire to go back to work – ever.  I wanted to be an earth mother, playing games with my cherub in between whipping up organic delights and keeping a spotless home.

Then reality set in.  Finances were getting tight, and it turns out not working when you’ve no extra money to enjoy long lunches and shopping sprees gets pretty boring.

Don’t get me wrong, now that motherhood has become a million times easier (thank god, because I totally struggled for the first three months) it is a lot more enjoyable.  But doing the same thing day in day out was making me grumpy and bored, and left me yearning for something more.

So I decided to go back to work, just for two or three days a week. Easy, right?  Not so.

Although my previous employer offered me my old job back on a part time basis, when I went in to chat to them I realised how much I hated working there.

Well, that’s not strictly true.  My employers and colleagues were wonderful, but the work was Dull (yes, that’s a capital D).

I didnt know if I could go from being bored but staying with my bub, to being bored for cash, and leaving my angel with strangers.

Nevertheless I though how bad could it be?  It will just be a couple of days a week, and the extra money will come in handy.

Then came the great childcare search.  It turns out I began my search at the precisely wrong time – just when all the vacancies caused by the older kids starting school had been filled.

Undeterred I put my name on every waiting list in the area, calling and emailing every week to check on updates.

After 6 weeks I finally found a place with a vacancy for one day and immediately signed up, knowing that once I was in I would be next on the list for another day when it came up.

Yay!  I was going back to work to escape the house, wear clothes that didn’t have vomit or baby food on them, enjoy an hour or so by myself on the train each day, and talk to adults.

I broke the news with not a small level of excitement to my dad and his ladyfriend, and their response?  ‘Oh, we really don’t think you should be doing that’.

What? Why?!  My dad’s partner is a psychologist who went on to explain to me all the bad side-effects early childcare can cause for a little baby, especially a ‘high needs’ baby which she says I have (I dont agree, I think Charlotte just likes a cuddle, who doesnt?).

Then and there my excitement bubble was burst.  I tried to ignore the advice but of course that night I turned to google, reading horror stories about children left in daycare.

Frustratingly, none of the studies done seem to show effects of childcare on babies left on a part time basis, only babies left in childcare full time from a young age.

After spending the evening bawling about leaving my darling with monsters I took a deep breath and told myself not to worry.  We had a playdate at the daycare centre organised and I would see how it went when I got there.

Unfortunately the playdate didn’t make me feel any better.  Despite the centre telling me they had a ration of three carers to ten babies, what I saw was a different story.  Around 30 kids were playing outside, ranging in age from a few months to four or five.

Two carers were surpervising all the kids and whether they were immune to babies cries, or just didnt care, they didn’t show any repsonse when the little ones started to cry.

One boy latched on to me and cried the whole time I was there. The only response from one of the ‘carers’ was “Just ignore him, he always cries, this is a good day for him”. Broke my heart!  What if my little Lottie was the one crying in the corner for a cuddle!

Then and there I decided I couldn’t be parted from her yet, and so here I am now with time to post on this blog because I cant be bothered cleaning the kitchen…again.

No doubt Ill start the search for a better childcare option soon, but until then I remain a stay at home mum.

How did you find returning to work, if you have? What were your experiences?  Did your child settle into care well?

March 5, 2011

Mia Culpa, Confessions from the Watercooler of Life

I pretty much love anything Mia Freedman puts on paper.

I’ve read Mama Mia (A Memoir of Magazines, Men and Motherhood) three times, save her column in the Sunday papers til last so the whole paper-reading experience always ends on a high note, and check out at least daily.

My ultimate fantasy/job would be that Mia has a spelling problem and needs someone (me) to sit by her desk all day while she whips out witty articles for me to proofread, in between going over trashy websites and magazines, eating cakes and drinking champagne (not much of a job really but I never claimed to be a career go-getter).

So you can imagine how much I was looking forward to reading her new book, Mia Culpa, Confessions from the Water Cooler of Life.

I couldn’t wait.


So when I popped into my favourite bookstore at lunch the other day and saw it there, I snapped it right up and had half finished it by the time I got off the bus home from work.

So what’s it like?

Well, imagine you’re single and at a wedding, or a bar, or wherever.

Across the crowded room you lock eyes with one of the most handsome men you’ve ever seen.

As luck would have it, one of your friends knows him and introduces you, and a wonderful night follows.  Not just good looking, he is witty, entertaining, sweet, kind, funny – all in all, a perfect package.

The only catch is, he is leaving for a round the world trip the next day and wont be back for six months.

So you keep in contact via email, facebook etc and finally he returns and you’ve set up a date.

You can’t wait.  You’ve primped and preened yourself to the closest state to polished perfection you’ll ever be, bought a ludicrously expensive new frock and shoes to match, and had your hair styled in a super sexy, glamourous do (that manages not to look like a ‘do’ at all).

You meet up.

He is still handsome – just not as great as you remembered.  Maybe you had the beer goggles on the first time?

He is still witty – but all the stories he tells are the same as the one he told you the first night you met.

And while here is nothing technically wrong with him at all, you’re just not feeling the love.

This is how I feel about Mia Culpa – I really, really wanted to love it but I just dont feel ‘it’.

There was nothing I hadn’t read before in the new book – much of it word for word.

But just because the book seems to be a rehash of Sunday columns and mamamia posts (with a bit of the Mama Mia book version 1.0 thrown in for good measure) doesnt make it a bad book, not at all – I’ve just read it all before.  Mia culpa!

February 1, 2011

not so desperate housewife

One of the things I’m most excited about in coming months (other than the new baby of course) is the day I finish work. 

And if I have my way, I won’t be heading back to traditional paid employment at all.  Ever.

I’ve felt guilty about my lack of career love since entering the workforce, pretty much. 

After finishing uni I was brimming with optimism and enthusiasm for my new career.  Except that my new career never really came along.

Sure, I’ve had jobs.  Some I’ve even liked, for a little while.  I’ve even returned to uni in a bid to foster more enthusiasm and/or discover my calling.

But after all this time and study, finally I’ve come to the realisation that perhaps a career isn’t for everyone – at least it’s not necessarily for me. 

picture courtesy of Alice Jean's Vintage Living in a Modern World

And while I feel happy for friends who have enthusiasm and a genuine love for their work, I no longer feel guilty for not feeling the same way.

I’d say about 90% has to do with my upbringing (and the other 10% the overwhelming boredom that hits me after a few months in any job – I’m beginning to suspect a form of undiagnosed ADHD). 

My own mum never worked in paid employment, at least not when I was growing up.  That isn’t to say she was lazy, not in the least. She worked harder than many ‘working’ mums I knew of – keeping a spotless and beautifully decorated home, making our clothes (and as an ex-fashion designer she made some beauties), creating an abundant and relaxing garden, ferrying me and my three siblings to music lessons, dance classes, sporting events etc, providing a seemingly never ending variety of delicious and healthy meals each night (along with breakfasts and packed lunches), looking after household admin and some aspects of my dad’s business, and most of all always being there as an infinite source of love, affection and support.

Of course we kids never appreciated all this consciously until we were older.  Truth be told I was always so jealous of a classmate who lived on our street who had her own key to let herself in the door from third grade – oh, what freedom!  But in hindsight I know I would have preferred what I had.

Now I’m not saying you can’t do all this AND have a career (and I truly take my hats off to those who do) but for me personally I’d never be able to ‘have it all’ – something would have to give, or else everything would be done half-heartedly, and no doubt wearily!

And while I don’t disparage anyone who needs a career to feel fulfilment, I don’t feel that way myself. 

Whether we can afford for me not to work I don’t know. 

It will probably come down to the number of kids we have and, if I decide to go back to work what kind of salary I’d be looking at – I wouldn’t be keen on working if all my hard earned dollars went on daycare and takeaways.

Who knows how I’ll feel about this issue once I’ve been away from the workplace for a while – my boss is convinced I’ll be begging to return after a few months.  Will just have to wait and see.

January 14, 2011

maternity leave, parental leave – what does it all mean?

Many women find choosing the right time to have a baby a difficult decision.

While there are many factors to take into consideration, I still believe the best advice is that there’s no perfect time, and if you and your partner are truly ready emotionally, then the right time is any time.

However, there are some practical considerations to take into account.  Ill try to touch on just a few of them here.  Bear in mind I’m no HR or legal expert, but have worked in HR in some capacity for a number of years.

Here are some random tips that I hope you will find useful:

Paid parental leave

The new (Australian) government parental leave scheme provides for 18 weeks leave, paid at minimum wage – currently $570/week – to anyone who has worked a minimum of one day per week over the past twelve months, whether that be self employed, full time or casual.  

Payments are made irrespective of length of service with any employer ie so long as you have worked the minimum hours, it could have been with ten different employers – you are still eligible.

This scheme is also independent of your partners salary – payments are made so long as the primary carer had an individual income of less than $150k in the year prior to taking parental leave.

Maternity leave

The paid parental leave scheme is separate to the twelve months maternity leave provision which entitles you to return to your previous position (or a very similar one) within that company after a year (or less) off with your baby. 

For this entitlement you must have been with your employer for at least twelve months before taking leave.

If you are very lucky your employer will pay you for all or some of this leave, in addition to the paid parental leave described above.

Dealing with HR and difficult employers

Don’t take HRs word as god.  While some companies have excellent parent-friendly policies, there are just as many (at least) who are decidedly against all things baby. 

An example is in an interview.  While you are no longer to ask someone if they have children (the employer’s assumption being you will be unsuitable as a worker if, on occasion, you might need to take time to look after a sick child, or whatever) they get around this by asking about your interests outside of work, or casually asking about your family, or asking “is there anything that would prevent you from doing regular overtime”?

Another, very unfortunate, thing that companies can do is comply with the legal aspects but make your working life so difficult or unreasonable that you are forced to resign ie make it a requirement of your job that you travel two days a week etc. Nasty!

While there is a generous provision in the new laws which requires employers to make reasonable allowances for requests to change your workload, eg a request to job share, leave early twice a week or whatever the case may be, in reality they can say they have made “reasonable’ allowances knowing that it is unlikely a new mother (or father) is going to bother facing the emotional and financial stress of taking the company to court.

Can my partner take parental leave?

If, unlike me, you’re dedicated to your career and don’t want to take the time off, maybe your partner does. 

Well, good news! These provisions apply to whoever is the primary carer, hence the newer term ‘parental’ rather than ‘maternity’ leave.  

The entitlement can even be shared, for example, if you want ten weeks off to bond with the new bub then to head back to the office, then your partner can take the remaining eight weeks.

Sorry for the rant – there’s just a lot of conflicting advice out there and obviously I have a lot to say on the matter!

I hope I haven’t scared anyone – these are just some issues to consider.

It’s also important to note that there are plenty of lovely, flexible and generous employers out there who are happy to bend over backwards to retain hardworking, loyal staff.

Note:  for anyone considering these issues, don’t just take the word of a random blogger, seek legal advice, visit the Fair Work website or talk to your company’s HR rep (at your own risk, remember – they are employed to do the best for your company, not necessarily for you!)

UPDATE:  check out the post on parental leave @ mamamia