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, this week I’d like to hand you over to Kim from The Triplet Diaries.
- Tell me about your family
I’m Kim, I live in Lincolnshire with my husband John and our identical triplet boys – Lucas, Harry & Oscar who will be 3 at Christmas. (I’ll send the photo later as I can’t find one of all of us and they’ve just woken up!).
2. What was your job/position before you started your family?
I worked as a legal co-ordinator for a small leasing company in Northamptonshire. I had worked there for 5 years and really enjoyed the challenges of the job as well as working with my lovely colleagues.
- What was your work-life balance like?
I worked full time and so did John, but we were both earning a good wage so we enjoyed holiday’s, weekends away, dinners and lie-ins at the weekend. Work was busy, but life was good!
- How did you find being away from work when you were on maternity leave?
My pregnancy was classed as high risk and that meant that I had to leave work earlier than I might have done if I had had a singleton pregnancy. At 29 weeks I was officially on maternity leave. Before the boys arrived I must admit it was a bit of a boring time as I was like a beached whale sat on the sofa eating my way through an enormous amount of petit filous on a daily basis. I missed using my brain at work, but I didn’t miss lugging me plus three into the office every day.
At 34+1 weeks I went into labour and that was the end of the boredom. Life became a whirlwind of feeding, nappy changing and sleepless nights. I had absolutely no time to think about work, let alone miss it. My colleagues kept in regular contact and I took the boys to visit them.
- Have you returned to some kind of work since having baby and how did you come to that decision?
As September approached and I began to regain some sort of sanity, I realised that I needed to think about what we were going to do about work and childcare. We worked out that to place the boys into childcare for three days a week, it would cost £450 per week! It made our eyes water just thinking about it. This left us with the question of who was going to give up work. I was earning a slightly better wage than John and I had the opportunity to progress, but between us we decided that it was better for me to stay at home. I had never wanted to go back to work full time after having children so the idea of having to do it now I think would have made me feel resentful. I was now a stay at home mum looking after three babies! The thought of throwing in the towel on a career that I had built since I had left school was extremely daunting and I constantly worried about what I was going to do in the future once the boys were at school. I think I was also angry that we had not really had a choice in working or not working, the cost of childcare was preventative and when choice is taken away from you it never quite feels like the right decision.
- How (if at all) has work changed since you returned (if you did)?
My work has changed dramatically since having the boys and I will probably never go back to working in finance again as I’ve realised it’s probably not an industry I really feel passionate about. Over the past year I have decided to take on a couple of evening shifts at a local supermarket to bring in a little extra cash. I don’t do it because I particularly want to, but it is nice to have a little extra income. I think this will continue to be how I work until the boys attend school because trying to find a job that fits around a 15 hour a week childcare allowance and term time schedules is very difficult. I have however taken on a voluntary job working with families who need a little extra support in the hope that I will be able to do something useful with my time while the boys are at nursery and also use the experience to shape a future career working with children.
- Describe your work-life balance now in 3 words.
- Would you change anything about the family and work balance that you currently have?
I love being at home with the boys and being able to take them to classes and play dates and I wouldn’t change that for the world. I do wish that employers generally were more flexible as I would love to work in a job that was more adapted to my skills set and that worked around my family, but alas I fear the UK will take some time to catch up with their European peers regarding flexible working options.