Friday, 27 May 2011

Work it girl

I have been thinking about returning to work. Children start school full time at three 'round here, that means from January 2012 I will no longer be a fully fledged 'Stay At Home Mum'. I gave up my job in 2008 when I was pregnant with my third son.
I never imagined being a SAHM, not because I liked working or thought I wouldn't cope with the lifestyle, simply because I didn't dare think about it. In my mind, we couldn't afford it, therefore it wasn't an option. Three years later, we STILL can't afford it. The main bills never go unpaid, but food shopping, new shoes, car repairs, hair cuts, birthdays, Christmas and so on are impossible to fund at times. Not once though, have I wished I had a job. I miss nothing about working, none of the clichés apply to me... "Having an adult conversation" Er, I still have them, thanks. "Drinking a cup of tea in peace" well, I like having tea when I want one, not having to wait hours 'til break time. "Motherhood is thankless" where do you work? Not once did I get thanked for going to work. "Being at home with kids turns your brain to jelly" again, where do you work? Unfortunately, for the uneducated like me, going to work was not an exercise in increasing brain function.

My eldest son is 12, I worked part time in a pub when he was 8 weeks old til he was 18 months old. I worked full time at a school from when he was 18 months old to 8 years old. I missed so much, sports days, concerts, outings... I never took him to school, never picked him up. The great thing was spending school holidays with him, this was a treat.  If I hadn't worked, I never would have been able to afford to buy a house on my own, I did the right thing. I am doing the right thing now. The question is, what is the right thing to do NEXT?  Find a part-time job and earn enough money to pay for someone to take the younger 2 boys to school and pick them up? Study, but get into a state because I'm so rubbish at time management? Stay home but feel guilty and panic about what the more distant future holds? Try working from home? Where to start?
I am enjoying my life, I feel quite free, creative, calm and dare I say it important. I fear full-time work will be the oly sensible option. I do not want to be tired, stressed, worried and guilty all the time. That was how I always felt when I worked full time, but I didn't  realise, just though it was normal. Maybe I am not cut out for working and looking after my family, maybe I just can't cope. Or perhaps, I just need one of those jobs where I go to work with make-up on, drink tea, chat and laugh and browse the internet, for now, I'm happy to do all of that from home.


  1. I'll have the same issue soon, my smallest is 3 as well, but will only be part time for the school year starting in September. I'm not massively missing work, I'm enjoying my working on the blog and writing again, I have no family locally so would still have to lean heavily on after school clubs and childminders, I like that we can all eat dinner together at 5 o clock...

  2. It's a tough choice and I don't know what the answer is. My wife hasn't really worked for 12 years and although we could have done with the money, neither of us wanted to pay someone else to bring up our sons (my wife's mother semi-abandoned her at a young age, so she was determined to be more present in her children's lives).

    The important thing is not to torment yourself over what you should or shouldn't be doing. Even with your kids at school, you're still running a house and a family, which is a full time job.

    Have you read Tom Hodgkinson's 'How to Be Free'? I read it when I was unemployed for a year and it was a breath of fresh air, making me realise that there's more to life than being a wage slave.

  3. Great post, I have to go back to work in August after my maternity leave (and my extra holiday!) ends - i really dont want to go but am kind of handcuffed into it as I would have to pay back a proportion of my maternity pay if I dont. So im doing a compromise and doing part time hours, tbh its a stressful job and I know im going to hate it but i'll do the minimum 3 months and see how i feel.

    I totally agree with your reasons for staying at home and the nursery fees are a killer ...wheres my lottery ticker? Scarlett x

  4. I've been a stay at home parent for 13 years or so, though I've had plenty of part time evening and temporary work to make ends meet.
    I wouldn't have missed the kids growing up for all the tea in China (do they still export tea?), though my wife will occasionally have a go (understandably) cos' she thinks she's missed out on the best times when they were tiddlers. I was a 'latch key' kid from about the age of six, and I didn't want that for my girls. Plus, before we made the decision for me to stay home (I earned a lot less than my wife), most of my wages went to pay someone else to get the best of our kids.
    Like yourselves, we've had a tough time with money, the car was off the road from Jan till April as we didn't have the money to get it fixed, just had another huge gas bill, and the cat cost £260 to be treated at the vet, so bang goes the holiday fund, roll on pay day.
    You know what though, even with all the sacrifices, it's been worth it.
    My kids are great people (yeah I know, I would say that), but they are well grounded, know the cost and worth of stuff, and are caring and understanding individuals that know how to value the 'important stuff'. Were a tight little unit family-wise.
    One downside of being at home so long though is finding decent full time employment. Nobody values the skills it takes to be a parent and home maker, and I've yet to get a reply to any of the numerous application I've sent out.
    Though when I finally do find work, I must admit I'm kinda dreading those tedious work place interactions again, mindless conversations with people you have little in common with other than working together, all that false 'bon home' about football or whatever (I HATE Football).

  5. Lakota and Scarlett, you two should join forces and open the best second-hand shop/cafe in Britain. Imagine the 'Overheard' books you could write...

    Steerforth, I will read that book, sounds just the ticket. Interesting that both your wife and Stensil Head wanted to be there for the children after experiencing absenteeism from their parents.

    Stensil Head, It sounds like your family's arrangement has really paid off, and you should feel immensely proud.
    Ah,the mindless banter at work-no escape is there? I worked with 98% females, so little football talk, but plenty of soap talk, diet talk, washing line talk and lots of tears (which I REALLY struggle to deal with).

    Thanks for reading and commenting, it makes my lonely, miserable existence slightly more tolerable!

  6. Going back to work after being a stay at home Mum always feels a bit odd. When I had my children, it was more the thing to be at home for them when they were very young. I still say they were the happiest times of my life ...until now and retirement! The trouble is we are rather driven by the need to make ends meet aren’t we? best of luck with the decision making.

  7. I too struggled with working and been a Mum, I wanted to take them to after school activities etc. So I arranged to decrease my hours from September, part time work 2 days a week. I am happy with this!Happy medium. Great post.

  8. Hi
    You're write about as much on your charity shop buys as I do on mine! I'm if you want to write and give me some clues!

    K xx

  9. Superb post and I can relate to so much of it. I have no desire to go back to work, I don't miss it. I loved my job but I love being a SAHM more - I love sharing my daughter growing up and being there for her. I know it's not everyones cup of tea but it's my cup of tea and I'm going to sit and drink it in peace ;)

    I haven't got the answers for you but I'm sure something will pan out that suits you all. Perhaps look into freelance work from home so you have the best of both worlds?


    p.s. Thank you SO much for your comment on my post on Friday, means a lot.

  10. Lucy, you should stay at home and channel all your energy into writing a novel. I seriously think you can do it. Your blog is the only one I read every post of. x


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