I’m a working mother.
I’m a mother and I have full-time job.
I’m a mother and I have a job outside the home.
I work full-time.
I put my career first.
I’m ‘having it all.’
There are so many ways to say that I work full-time and I have two children. All of them seem to carry the implication that either a) mothers who stay at home are not working, or b) that by working outside the home I am somehow only a part-time mother.
None of this is true.
A day in the life:
Wake between 0600 and 0645 depending on Child 2.
Rush, rush, rush, teeth, teeth, teeth, shoes, shoes, shoes.
Leave the house at 0740. Stress, stress, stress. Traffic.
0800 throw Child 1 into Breakfast Club (€80 a month)
Back into traffic.
0820 drop Child 2 into Creche (€946 a month)
Run, run, run to get to desk for 08.30.
0835 at desk. Switch on PC. No Panic. No emergencies. Spend the day in relaxed fashion responding to emails, scheduling meetings, updating website and so on. Very little face to face interaction and no customer facing involvement at all.
4.20 Pick up Child 2.
4.45 Pick up Child 1 (€400 a month for after-school care)
Unpack bags. Make dinner. Make lunch. Laundry. Homework. Baths. Story. Bed.
If you were bored reading this, then I sympathise, I am bored living it. This is not having it all. This is the grind. This is the crushing tedium of the 9-5. This is work for the sake of a pay cheque, not a fulfilling career. This is paying the bills. This is future-proofing the family finances. This is not a choice, it is submission, an acquiescence.
As I take a deep breath in order to face the dark winter months, what is really becoming apparent to me is how employers really need to get on board with flexible working hours and the concept of remote working. There really is very little requirement for me to be physically in the office, as virtually all of my communication with colleagues is done by email. Perhaps the level of trust required by employers to allow employees to work from home is too great. Perhaps they think we’d all be sitting around on Twitter all day. ( Hey, bosses, you can do that at work too.) But as I sit in traffic at eight o’clock in the morning watching everyone trying to make it to their desks for 9am I can’t help but think is it really necessary for everyone of these people to be at their desk for 9am ? Only for them all to leave together again at 6pm? The arbitrary nature of it , the ensuing traffic gridlock and consequent stress – it just doesn’t make sense anymore. The world has moved on.
Another concept that could do with a shake up is the arbitrary nature of the 40 hour working week. How is it possible that the majority of jobs in the world all take the exact amount of time to do ? Shouldn’t it be the case that you have a job to do and it takes the amount of time it takes. I’m talking here, from my own experience, mainly about office based work. Talk of flexible and remote working is a luxury afforded only to the desk bound professions. Cleaners, nurses,teachers, retail workers are just some of the professions for whom working from home would be, well, tricky.
The first piece of the jigsaw.
Flexible working isn’t a global panacea but it would be the first piece of the jigsaw for many. The second piece is affordable childcare: to be caught in the trap of working only to pay exorbitant childcare fees, not being able to afford to give up working, but not really being able to afford to work either, makes no sense, and helps no-one. The icing on the..hang on, is this a cake or a jigsaw I’m making?..the icing on the jigsaw would be to stop vilifying families who use full-time childcare facilities. For most, this is a necessity, not a choice. It is families fighting to keep to their heads above water, not people dumping the kids for the day because they’re too much like hard work and swanning off to the gym for the day.
This is my dream. Flexible working. Affordable childcare. Families being able to choose what is right for them, rather than being forced into situations that satisfy nobody.
Something’s gotta give.