Thursday, 12 April 2012

A Mother's Work

I’ve been tagged by Polly at Caught Writing to complete the #amotherswork meme.  So without further ado, here I go, posting the obligatory rules along the way...

  • Post the Rules
  • Answer the Questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
  • Leave a comment on MotherWifeMe so we can keep track of the meme
  • Tag three people and link them on your blog
  • Let them know you tagged them
  • Tweet loudly about taking part using #amothersworkmeme

Did you work before becoming a mum?

Yes.  Prior to having Pip I worked for a large, well known American company.

What is your current situation?

I am currently a SAHM to Pip. He will be 3 in June.  I decided not to return to work after maternity leave.   A few factors informed this decision:
1) I only wanted to return to work 3 days a week and that was a definite ‘no no’ as far as my old employers were concerned. Interestingly, every mother I knew of at my old company worked full time. 

2) If I had returned to work, due to the nature of my husband’s job, I would have had complete responsibility for drop off and pick up from any nursery, and this would have been very difficult when combined with the travelling and commuting demands of my job.  Pip would have been the first child in the nursery door each day and the last one to leave or, alternatively would have spent all his waking hours with a nanny. I didn’t want that to be the case.

3) Being really honest with myself, after 13 fabulous years of working in my chosen field, the veneer had worn thin, and that meant, I wasn’t prepared to come home put my baby to bed, have dinner and then get the laptop out again (which realistically I would have needed to do on occasion).  My priorities had changed.

4)The most important factor - I just wanted to be with Pip.

When Pip was 16months old, I decided on a change of career; something that would allow me to eventually allow me to become self-employed and tailor work around the commitments of family life. I signed up to do a part-time degree course (accredited by a university) at a well established private college.  The course time commitment was 6 days per month which meant I had some external mental stimulus but got to spend lots of time with Pip too.  I felt that I’d really struck the right balance and everything was going swimmingly, until 5 weeks in, I turned up one day to find the doors locked and a notice saying that the college had gone into liquidation.
Loosing out on the course teaching (which was fantastic) and a years worth of tuition fees was a big blow, but the bigger blow was actually finding that there wasn’t really anywhere else that allowed the flexibility of studying part -time in the same way. All other avenues would require a bigger time commitment or a much longer commute than I was,and still am prepared to make right now. So, at the moment, that road is closed.  I may return that way, I may not.
In August last year I started blogging - it’s helped fill the mental void and get my brain working again.  Plus, I’ve rediscovered something I love. Writing.

Freestyle - a chance to get across your own point of view on the subject.

SAHM - Retraining to get back into the workplace.

 I feel blessed that I am able to spend these precious early years with Pip. I have a choice, I am able to stay at home, and I know not everyone has that.  That said, once he goes to school I don’t just want to be sitting at home, baking cakes waiting for his return each day.  I want to work in some capacity, do something useful, or feel like I’m adding ‘value‘ in some way.  It can be hard not to let ‘The Fear’ grip you in moments of self doubt.  Will I still be employable? Will anyone want me? Will a job exist for me that I can juggle around the commitments of family life?  To my mind, this is where being your own boss does pay dividends.  If there is a sudden need to run off and buy a fancy dress outfit, then you can do it.  
Retraining is time consuming and expensive, and for people like me who have a first degree and are already regarded as ‘skilled’ workers, there is no financial help available to do it.  I wish the government would consider making some small concessions to help mums back into the workplace.  For example, even allowing me to have a student loan as a way of funding course fees for retraining would be a start.* As it is, retraining to do something new, even in the short time since my last course collapsed is becoming less and less of an option, due to rising tuition fees, and the fact that the doors of financial assistance are largely closed to help people like me train to do something new.

* If you’ve got a first degree you are not eligible.

Pensions and the SAHM - A nagging thought.

We can and do manage on one income, and that luckily affords me the opportunity to be a SAHM.  But, managing on one pension is a completely different scenario.  From the first day I started work, I paid into my company pension, and continued to do so, throughout my maternity leave, until the day I left. In the last 3 years, I haven’t paid a bean.  A short pension holiday won’t probably hurt, but should I have an extended period of time at home, it does nag away at me how I can continue to make adequate pension provision for myself. 
Well, that’s my two penneths worth.  I’m now tagging the following super bloggers to pick up the baton if they’d like to as I’d love to know what they did pre-children, and I also think they would both have some valuable insights to offer on this subject.
Lynsey the MotherDuck


  1. Great post and thanks for picking up the baton, your post was really interesting and I find that we are similar in some ways, especially in our thoughts about not wanting extended childcare for our children. Have to admit I hadn't thought about the pension issue, though. Good luck with finding a way to retrain, it seems a tragedy that you couldn't continue that through no fault of your own.

  2. Thanks for the tag. I enjoyed this was a good opportunity to reflect on past decisions and think about some for the future too.

  3. This was very interesting. You were obviously in a career you enjoyed but quite naturally your priorities completely changed when Pip came along. That's such a shame about the degree course. Would love to know what it was in. Just being nosey. I hope you pick up your mantle of writing even more. I have the same worries about pension as you, as I am in a similar situation.

    1. I'd love to expand on the writing thing more, but I can barely find the time to keep up with the blog at the moment. I guess that's still writing (and therapy!) in itself though.

      On the being nosey front... I'll give you a clue. Think needles. (Not the knitting variety.)

  4. Hello! Thank you so much for taking part in A Mother's Work Meme. I think of all the meme responses I've read, you have the closest experiences to me - though I did my re-training thing before my daughter came along and now realise I can't really do anything more with it until she is at school, but at least it is banked!! - I feel so lucky to have the choice to be a SAHM and for it just about to work financially.

    I worry about the pensions thing too. We get contributions to our state pensions through Child Benefit, for what they are worth. What hasn't been publicised much is that for families about to lose out on their CB, they still need to claim for it, even if they get zero £££ in CB, as that claim allows state pension contribs. to continue.

    1. I hadn't realised that CB withdrawal would impact on state pension contributions/ claims. Thanks, I will look into that further. As things go, by the time I am of pensionable age, I expect state pensions will be means tested anyway and state pensions for all, as we have today will be a thing of the past.

  5. Thanks so much for the tag!

    I'm a SAHM too, and can very much empathise with your reluctance to put Pip into childcare, only to get your laptop out once he's in bed.

    I too worry about the pension thing - when I stopped working, I kept a TINY pension going, putting in about £20 a month in. It's not much, but might keep the wolf from the door in my dotage.

    Right, I'm off to start my post! Thanks again and great post!

    1. You're most welcome. Look forward to reading yours. x