I have a friend who is just about to go back to work after having a baby. "The dread has set in", she whispered, "how am I going to leave my beautiful boy to go back to work?" Other friends report similar problems, dread and fear at the thought of going back to work. Partly as a result of not wanting to be parted from their child and also I think, as a result of not enjoying their jobs and hating what they do.
Another friend has no option of going back to work, she says, "I'm a freelance criminal solicitor. Thanks to Lord Carter, government reforms re legal aid and my own tax bill, back to work would mean I'd be in debt (nursery fees for 4 days at nursery in London equals a month in Spain!) I am lucky to have a husband who can keep us afloat for the next years, and the plan is to have a couple more kids asap. I'll go back when they're at school as this makes financial sense. More importantly, I get to use my brain again! Jokes aside, motherhood is incredibly important, but so is having something you can call your own, and the financial independence. That means work".
This is something I've really struggled with over the past six months, trying desperately to balance motherhood with work (see my post http://www.pret-a-mummy.com/2012/02/guilt-of-working-mummy.html ). Working in a 9-5 job(and the rest) is extremely difficult when you have children, for both parents. It's a long day for a child to be in childcare and doesn't stop when your child starts school as you still have to organise before and after school care. That isn't even taking into account the costs that my friend mentioned above. Does it pay to go back to work? I know some people that are working at a loss after paying childcare, just to stay in the job market until their child goes to school when their childcare costs will be reduced. Other parents are opting to have only one child or wait 4-5 years before planning another child. Going back to my point about hating your job, it seems to have become completely normalised to hate what you do all day, living for the weekend and just trudging on in misery day after day. Life is so short, work really doesn't have to be like that.
I've made some big changes in my life over the past six months, and a lot of it is thanks to the contacts I've made through writing this blog. Because I love writing so much I've come to realise that if you really love doing something, then it doesn't seem like work. Your life feels lighter and easier, you are happier in every way, loving what you do affects every aspect of your personality. So I've set my sights on becoming a freelance writer and blogger. Thanks to having children and writing this blog, doors have been opened to me that I never knew existed. I no longer have any tolerance for people who say they hate their jobs, it's down to you to make of it what you can, or find a way to get out and do something you love. If you do something you love then you will find a way to make money from it.
For me, I've been able to find paying writing jobs working for websites, writing content and articles. Twitter has been a great way of making contacts and looking for shoutouts. I've also been able to make money through the Yahoo contributors network. Best of all, I've now got a job blogging for an educational website and managing their social media. These things haven't come instantly, and I've had to do a lot of free writing along the way.
So having children has allowed me to move on with my career,into an area where I can work from home, be there to pick my children up from school and drop them off, take days off to deal with chickenpox when I need to without reference to anyone else or an unsympathetic boss. It has also given me loads of material to write about and access to people and websites who want to hear what I've got to say. The highlight a few weeks ago was seeing my writing in The Times. I got there, in the end.