International Women’s Day #makeithappen

I feel a strange sort of privilege that this year, if I write some thoughts down about a topic, a few people might actually read it and of those, it may strike a chord with some of them.

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I could write about all number of things for on the topic of women and indeed promoting the equality of men and women.  I’m not a political person so I wouldn’t dream of going down that route but I am passionate about women choosing, or it seems be able to choose, their family and working style once small people arrive on the scene.  Now, I am going to stay clear of politics but it does seem that the decisions around whether a new mother returns to work are becoming increasingly made because of political decisions and that women are as free as I would like to be able to make the decision that works best for them.

If you are new to my blog, then firstly “Welcome” *waves* and secondly, let me tell you about my working arrangements. I work full time as a secondary school teacher. Now, I know that when I say that many people will respond with ideas about finishing at 3, loads of holiday time etc (Thanks Waterloo Road for portraying teachers in a completely unrealistic light). But here’s the truth. Before Sprog arrived, I worked 11 hour days most days and at least one 8 hour day at the weekend, I took student’s on school trips on Saturday’s and school holidays (for no extra pay) and I responded to student emails at any time of the day including school holidays.  I worked for at least half of the week in every school holiday except the summer where of the 5 1/2 weeks, I normally worked for about 10 days/2 weeks. That is the world of a ‘full-time’ teacher.

wpid-img_20141002_210439.jpgWhen Sprog came to visit Mama before a Open Evening in October.

When we got pregnant, I knew that would have to change. But when weighing up the financially choices, I could only afford a minimum of 4 days at work if I were to be able to pay for just 2 days of childcare a week (thank goodness for grandparents for the other 3 days).  It was easier to go back for 5 days a week than ask for less.

So now, I juggle the same workload as before but at the same time as finding time to play with, care for and look after my little boy. It basically doesn’t happen very well.  Either I’m on top of the work stuff and feeling like a terrible mother, or I feel happy that I’m being a good enough mum and an awful teacher. My husband works full time too and he is studying so spends at least 3 evenings a week tucked away working. So we rarely see each other.

How does this have any relevance to International Women’s Day?!

Last weekend at the Work and Family Show (which was part of The Baby Show) at London’s ExCel, I met some women who were inspiring and motivational in helping me to think about a way forward. Women who whilst they wouldn’t claim to have it all sorted, definitely have it more sorted than me. Women who are strong in their career paths and their family lives.  And they talked about a term that I haven’t come across before. “Work-life blending” not “balance” as we are all too used to hearing. And I mean for me, I had no “balance” or “blend” before we started a family so I do feel a bit lost in this concept.

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Many of the women that I met and spoke to or listened to, were now self-employed so they could make the rules for themselves. This is something that I am eternal envious of as I would love to be in control of the working time that I put in, the environment in which I work, the people that I work with but having reflected upon this now for a week, I don’t think that at this time that is right for me.  It certainly wouldn’t achieve equality in my marriage in terms of what time and energy we would both be able to give our family. If I were to set up something from scratch on my own, it would mean my needing to be totally selfish in the time that I gave to that venture and actually at this stage all I really want is to be able to spend more time with Sprog and being his Mama.

Other women there were employees of various companies. Some had a delightfully understanding and flexible working environment where they were able to “blend” their working time with family time and really get the best of both worlds. Sadly, I felt that the majority who were working for someone else really couldn’t hide their ways through the fog to find a way to make this “blend” or even “balance” work for them and their families. This saddens me greatly as I desperately want to be there for Sprog and any subsequent small people, and I want to work ,in fact, I couldn’t imagine not working.

So I guess, if I could have a wish for International Women’s Day (that’s obviously how this works right?!) then I would be calling for a revolution of women, to take hold of the politician’s, give them a good shake and get them to help us be able to do both…but I’m staying away from politics so it would actually be that all women who feel like they can’t win, could meet another woman who seems to be “blending” or even “balancing” and content with the way it works for them. I know that I haven’t let on much here but I do harbour a secret plan for the future which should allow me more time with my family but like I said, that’s a secret for now. It may or may not happen, when the time is right I will share, but for now, during the crazy 13 hour days of parent evening and the 6 a.m. weekend alarms so that I can do marking before Sprog wakes up, I hold on to my little dream and that was thanks to my little bit of inspiration.

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15 thoughts on “International Women’s Day #makeithappen

  1. Well done you on juggling everything! I am a teacher too (primary) although I’m a stay at home mum, very lucky to be able to do this as I wouldn’t have it any other way. Also it’s not worth it financially or personally for me to work as her grandparents aren’t able to help out for various reasons (distance, working themselves etc). I have so much respect for working mothers, it must be so tough. Some people think it’s harder being a SAHM but I think I’d find it so much harder to go back to work. Good luck with your ‘secret plan’! Carolyn
    http://stylishmemories.com

    • Thank you lovely. I must admit that during the holidays when I am more SAHM than working mama, I am completely exhausted but in a very different way so there’s definitely no easy way around it but a good combination and balance would be great.

  2. Good luck with your secret plan sweetie. I know how tough you find it as do you about me! I want exactly the same as you but I don’t have a secret planet…well other than the one where someone reads my blog and decides that I’m such an amazing writer (pah) that they wish to pay me for the privilege and I can sit in my jammies all day and do the school run! If only life was that simple hey?! Great post as usual. #mummymonday

    • Oh my goodness, that would be amazing. If i could magically make enough money through this then i would be so so happy! I kind of wish i could share my secret plan but in order for there to be any chance of it happening, it needs to stay secret for a while

  3. Well said. It is difficult being a parent and having to work full time – with women there is also this cultural expectation that a mum must stay home and take care of the kids. Work life blending is a new one for me, I sort of get it, but it sounds like it is applicable to self employed only. I do find balance though to come naturally to me – can’t think of any work related matters when home with my baby 🙂 #allaboutyou

    • Thank you. As a teacher, it is near impossible to ‘turn off’ and not think about work at home. There’s always another student that needs a different kind of help or something else that you expected to be doing. We’ll see though, I may be able to make it work better!

  4. It’s great to have a long term plan isn’t it lovely, best of luck with it. I hope to work for myself one day, just need to keep my corporate part time job for the next few years until we can afford to buy a house. It will happen one day when the time is right 🙂

    • ooo, sounds good. It’s just so frustrating when ‘one day’ isn’t right now!? I’m not the most patient of people so I would like my wish to come true straightaway! Like you though, when the time is right it will but until then, I have to make the most of it.

  5. I absolutely agree with you – it is a crying shame that many women who cannot juggle work and family are forced out of working (like me!) if family cannot help with the otherwise exorbitant costs of childcare. Everyone loses – businesses lose out by having to invest in recruiting and training new people, and they lose out by losing all the knowledge and relationships (read “favours”) that the leaving mother has to forsake. The mother loses, economically, psychologically and also in terms of the years invested in a career to have to hit pause, or make a horrible choice about what is more important (nothing is obviously, but sometimes needs must and we are forced into a corner one way or another). It is a growing problem that will not go away. One day. Perhaps. Until then – hurray for the world of blogging which can lead to self-employment which is where I am now! Thanks for linking to #AllAboutYou

  6. We are lucky in that we have managed to juggle childcare with the husband having flexible working for one day of childcare a week (but still full time shift worker), my mum travelling an hour & a half round trip to us one day a week to take over and one day of paid childcare (only one child as the other at school). I work 2.5 days a week – I feel guilty when it comes to my mum, but otherwise it is about as good a compromise as its going to get when you work for an organization. I’d suggest going part time when sprog gets his free preschool hours? Not sure if secondary schools do this but I know a few primary school teacher mums who job share. Otherwise really good luck with your secret project and thanks for linking up with #thetruthabout X

    • I’d love to be part time but most secondary schools are not particularly willing/flexible when it comes to this. The secret plan will hopefully come together, it would make me so happy if it could.

  7. Good luck with your secret plan. I csn’t wait to hear all about it. I agree with you that this should be taken out of the politician’s hands. Instead, they should be empowering women to be able to make the right decision for them and their family. We couldn’t actually afford for me to go back to work as it actually meant that we would be paying for me to work. I am happy to be a SAHM but I do really miss my job. Thanks for linking up to #SundaysStars. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

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