Thursday, October 13, 2011

Working Mum: reflections on the first 12 months

Book Sculpture: very cool
It's just over a year since I started back in part-time employment after having kids.  I get asked a lot 'How's it going? I don't know how you do it.  Are you still happy?  Are you enjoying it?'.  So I thought I'd answer some of these questions.

I only work two days a week.  Once I'm AT work, it's fairly straightforward.  The challenge for me, especially since I'm new to the library world, is to contain my work to work hours.  I do sometimes find it hard to switch off mentally.  Even though I'm physically there two days, often in my head it ends being more like four.  There's the day before - when I psych myself up for it again and my brain begins whirring - and then the day after - when I'm processing all that's happened in the two days.  I have found that as I've got better at the job I'm not thinking about it as much which is nice.

Since I'm not home on the days I'm working I have to fit everything into the other days of the week.  This makes those days quite full.  I also try and cook in advance the evening meals for the days I work.  Fitting in all the normal stuff is probably the aspect of working that I've found hardest to get my head around. I'm getting more used to this.

Art work using old books: also very cool
As for the actual work, I do genuinely enjoy it.  I've gained great personal satisfaction from seeing all the  skills I've developed over my life getting used in a variety of ways.  Often I've dismissed the different things I've done as being irrelevant to a career because they weren't done in a paid capacity.  But I'm so grateful that I've lead lots of small groups, done kid's church teaching, given talks, lead meetings, set agendas, worked with older women, sung songs at playgroup, spent hours talking to my own children and their friends - all skills that others I work with are envious of and for which I'm very thankful.  I'm also a lot older than the last time I worked, and I know how to manage my time, say 'no' when I need to, cope with criticism, not be defined completely by my work - all different to when I worked in my 20's.

I say all this to encourage women who are stay-at-home mums and who might think they have nothing much to offer after many years out of the workforce.  I certainly lacked  a lot of confidence after being at home for 12 years, and I've totally surprised myself.

I still struggle emotionally when I miss out on things the kids are doing and the school holidays are still hard.  Not enjoying being apart from the kids would be the thing that would push me back to being at home full-time.  I would be very happy with a school hours job with no school holidays, but those kinds of jobs involve either being lowly paid (which means working LOTS of hours) or being in a very flexible, well paid job.  Neither of these ends of the spectrum apply to my job - I'm sitting in the middle.  Or go back to teaching - hmmm, not up for that yet.

I'm still working out how I feel about it all but at the moment it's going well and I'm glad for the opportunity to give it a go.

5 comments:

Karen said...

Love those book sculptures :)

Good to hear work is going well. I experienced many of the same things with returning to work after each child, the main thing for me is being organised with having quick/easy or pre cooked dinners for the days at work (or getting husband to make them!) and fitting in everything else that has to happen during the week (helping at school, Bible study, catching up with other people etc).

Over time I've become much better at keeping work in work time. I still have my moments when there are clients who are hard work, or something like that, but most of the time I'm far less stressed about it at home than what I used to be...

heather said...

Just as well I'm going to Adelaide. I could really get into those book sculptures. Boxes of books in the garage, plus all those ones we have in bookcases that decorate our walls instead of paintings... Have to say I found what you were writing about good, too. this is just in case someone else reads this comment and finds out how shallow I really am or think I can only read the pictures or am unwilling to have books for reading in my home.

Sandra said...

my only advice is think long and hard about takng on any more work - one extra day has really upped the ante for me.

Sandra said...

I love the book sculptures too - were they at Kogarah Library?? much more interesting than our local.

Jenny said...

We wish! No from libraries in the states.