Tag Archives: mums

Mums and Part-Time Work

I was interested to read today about the latest Netmums survey and campaign regarding mums and part-time work.

Netmums surveyed 1600 mums who work part-time. 70% of the women surveyed chose freely to work part-time and 93% of those had worked full-time before having children.

However, half of the women reported that they had taken lower skilled jobs when returning to work part-time.

Part-time work tends to be concentrated in low paid and low skilled jobs, where opportunities for progression may be limited. Many mums complained about being held back by working part-time:

This certainly matches my own experience.  I was fortunate after my first child to be able to return to work part-time on a freelance consultancy basis.  I worked as part of a senior advisory teaching team for the local authority, the pay was good and I had the opportunity to spend time with my daughter.  However, it was not without its pitfalls.  The other members of my team worked full-time and on permanent contracts.  This meant that many of the perks were not offered to me (including much coveted trips to Reggio and the Forest Schools in Denmark).  I didn’t get a local authority email address meaning my emails often didn’t reach the people I needed to contact and no mobile phone or laptop like the rest of my team. The biggest drawback however was the lack of maternity pay – as a freelancer I was only entitled to statutory maternity pay.

Okay, so many of these disadvantages were because I was a freelancer but I see my desire to remain part-time as a big disadvantage. Since having my 2 youngest children I haven’t returned to work.  The freelance work dried up with the budget cuts and I find myself in a difficult position.  I could take up a part-time classroom teachers post or become a supply teacher but I would see this as a step backwards. With my experience and qualifications I would expect at the very least to be a Foundation Stage Co-ordinator or a Children’s Centre Lead Teacher.  The difficulty is that once you begin to look at senior/management positions it becomes difficult to share that job with someone else and work on a part-time basis.

I don’t think this is uncommon.  I meet talented, well qualified women all the time who work on the checkout at Waitrose. Those that try to work full-time or cram 5 days work into 4, only to end up feeling like inadequate mums.  Some even give up altogether. I met a mother  who had  recently achieved a 1st Class  Law Degree.  When looking for jobs she was told that as a single mum she really needed to question whether this was the right profession for her because of the long unpredictable hours.

I find myself in a position of frustration that all my experience and knowledge is not being put to good use. I chose to be a mum, but I would like to strike a balance between being there for my children and having something fulfilling for me, without feeling like my years of study and experience have been wasted.  If I didn’t feel this way I could get a low skilled, low paid job but it would be difficult to pay the childcare for 2 under 5’s .

Am I being unrealistic in my expectations? Do I need to bite the bullet and make a decision to return to work full-time or work part-time in a less fulfilling job?

I’d be interested to hear what other mums think.

Grooving Mums – Shopping and the Little Black Dress

I have recently been joining Kate on Thin Ice in her Grooving Mums feature.  This is a way of sharing stories of how mums are doing things for themselves.  I’m trying to see myself as more than just a mum and stop seeing  doing things for myself as self-indulgence.  This week I focused on shopping.

Before I had children clothes shopping used to be something I loved.  Being slim I was lucky to be able to wear most things and I knew exactly what suited me.  This began to change when I fell pregnant with my eldest daughter.  After the initial excitement of buying maternity clothes for the first time, I soon came to the conclusion that everything I tried on made me look like the ballet dancing hippos from Fantasia.

After  she was born I hadn’t considered that my shape would stay changed for such a long time.  I had to go out and buy new tops because my chest had expanded from an A cup to a DD.  Having always been flat chested I had no idea what suited a full breasted figure, and of course anything I wore had to be easily accessible for breastfeeding.  Gone were my days of wearing pretty summer dresses and I would wander around the shops looking with envy at all the pretty feminine clothes that I used to wear.

Over time shopping became a chore.  I could never find clothes that I thought would suit me, I would try things on and come out deflated and disappointed.  I hated looking at my shape in the changing room mirror and would come home frustrated and empty-handed.  It wasn’t that I was overweight but my shape had changed and I had no idea what to wear to flatter that shape.

Those of you who have been following my story so far will know that since the birth of my 3rd child I have taken up running.  As a result I am now happier with my figure than I have been in a very long time.  I noticed that many of the clothes I have been wearing over the past few years are looking baggy and old.  I decided to do a wardrobe purge and throw out anything that was too big or had lost its shape and start afresh.

A large proportion of my clothes I’d had for a very long time, some were bought on my honeymoon 9 years ago and a few things were even older.  A lot of the other things came from charity shops or cheap shops, a sign of my belief that spending money on myself is self indulgent. On the plus side there were many things in my wardrobe that I had given up hope of ever fitting into again and they all went on with ease.

I made a decision to go out and buy a few things that were modern, fitted properly and made me feel good.  I had my 3 girls in tow and almost abandoned the attempt but instead plumped for sticking to one shop, finding some things I liked and trying them on.  My 7 year old helped me pick things and I explained the styles that just don’t work on me.  I was pleased to find a number of things I like ( a good start) and took them to try on.  As I was going in I spotted a girl with a little black dress, I loved it and it reminded me of exactly the style of clothes I used to wear, so I vowed to find it when I came out. I chose a few things that I was happy with and went to find the dress.  On my way I spotted a lady carrying a pair of shoes that I also loved, I added them to my collection.  When I eventually found the dress they didn’t have my size but I checked the changing rooms to see whether the other girl had bought the dress.  Fortunately she hadn’t and it was in my size.  By this point I couldn’t bear the thought of going back to the changing rooms with my 3 year old rolling around the floor so I bought it without trying it on.

Later that evening I put on the dress with the new shoes and stood back to look in the mirror.  It was like looking at the old me, the young single me who always wore dresses, dressed up and felt good. I looked at myself and it almost brought tears to my eyes ‘hello you, I haven’t seen you in a long time’.

I haven’t had occasion to wear the dress yet but I think a big girls night out might be in order – it would be a shame to just let it sit in the wardrobe.

Meet Mums Now

Have you ever wondered where would be a good place to take your children to play, eat, spend a day out or meet friends for coffee? Are you a new mum who is finding it difficult to meet other mums?

According to a recent survey a growing number of new mothers feel isolated and find it difficult to meet other mums.   Toddler groups are often very busy and noisy, this is not always the ideal place to meet other parents. I was lucky to find a small friendly NCT group where I made some good friends, but these are not always available. Even with friends I  remember as a new mum trawling my local town looking for venues big enough to accomodate a number of prams and with good baby changing facilities. This new app could be very useful to mums in a similar situation.

Meet Mums Now is a new app available free from app stores which takes the mystery out of choosing kid-friendly venues and offers social networking for mums who want to meet others.

With over 400 locations in London already listed, users can find child-friendly cafes, restaurants, pubs and attractions near them which have been endorsed by other mums. I notice that the app has also recently updated to include venues in and around my local area of Bristol and Bath.

The app not only identifies locations, but also allows registered users to contact other mums who have recommended a local venue. It’s a great way to share information and meet other mums, especially for those without the luxury of a group of NCT friends in the area.

It’s an idea that was born out of necessity when Nik Dewar, the man behind the app was on holiday with his wife and two young children. Searching for an app which would show them child-friendly locations for lunch in an unfamiliar area, they were surprised to see that what they were looking for didn’t exist, and set out to fill the gap in the market.

At the moment, most venues in Meet Mums Now app are in London, but it’s an idea designed to grow as more destinations in the UK are added. Future versions will allow users to add location of their own, but if you know a great kid-friendly locations now you can email meetmumsnow@gmail.comor send your tip off to twitter @meetmumsnow.com.

* this is not a sponsored post