Welcome to the very first edition of Balancing Act. I am so excited to be able to share the stories of lovely Mama’s and Daddy’s who are all working so hard to ensure that their families have the best possible bubbles to live in.
I have been fascinated by the reactions that people have had to me when I was on maternity leave, when I was getting ready to go back to work, and now that I am back at work. I find that some people are very judgemental about how they expect families to work. Well, I’ve got news for you everyone, we’re all different, we all have different needs and that is one of the amazing things about us.
My aim is to share the stories of families of all different types and spread the word that we are all playing a #BalancingAct to get through and raise our little people the best way we can. Let’s celebrate the diversity between our families, let’s not judge each other.
So, to start us off I’d like to hand you over to the Single Parent Pessimist.
- Tell me about your family
I’m a single parent to my 2 and a half year old, Chunk. He has no contact with his father for many reasons and I have been parenting alone since he was 6 weeks old.
- What was your job/position before you started your family?
I was a social worker within fostering.
- What was you work-life balance like?
I had a good balance because it was a 9-5pm job most of the time. Weekends were for socialising and enjoying my freedom.
- How did you find being away from work when you were on maternity leave?
I liked being away from work as I found it quite a stressful environment, but it was a hard time financially and also with what was happening with his father at the time and how it affected me emotionally alongside coping with my very first baby.
- Have you returned to some kind of work since having baby and how did you come to that decision?
I went back to my job for 9 months (3.5 days per week) when Chunk was 14 months old, but gave the job up as it was very difficult to manage in terms of childcare and trying to get that balance. Chunk was being looked after by my mum and sister on different days, and Chunk was being parented in different ways by all of us and it was affecting his routine.
I also missed him and knew that I would never get that time back with him, so I took a big risk and went self-employed as an independent social worker.
For the first few months I had no work, but have slowly started to get some work including work for court. It’s hard because I work when he is asleep every night, so social life is non-existent, but it means I get to see him during the day and he is so much more settled. I do my visits when he has nursery three mornings a week.
- How (if at all) has work changed since you returned (if you did)?
I now work for myself and am having to learn about being my own boss, and there is a risk of how I manage when I have no work, as his father only pays £2.50 per fortnight through the CSA.
The work I do has slightly changed, but in a good way as writing and assessments are my strongest skill.
- Describe your work-life balance now in 3 words.
It’s not very balanced. I have my son all day and work most evenings, but I’m trying to be more organised and find ways to start having a social life so am hoping this will slowly change, as I would like to find a partner at some point!
- Would you change anything about the family and work balance that you currently have?
I would want to not to have to work so many evenings, but I know that when he goes to school in a couple of years that this will change because I will have more time in the day to complete my work.
If you think you’d like to get involved in this feature and share your story, please leave a comment or tweet me @mamavsteacher