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Is it possible to have a proper conversation about work and being a mum?

(114 Posts)
HandbagKrabby Fri 09-Feb-18 11:08:25

I currently mainly sah after redundancy and I’m setting up a business. I have worked outside the home and been a mum. I don’t care about what people’s personal opinions are about other people and what they do - it’s usually no one’s business. I’d imagine most mums have had or will have a combo of working and staying at home over the time they are a parent so it’s a bit of a silly hill to die on imho.

My point is, can we all help each other as mums without resorting to the arguments about who loves their kids most/who is the best role model/ who’s least fucked if the husband walks out etc etc?

I’ve not sah long and it’s only on mn that I found out if child benefit is in my name I can get full NI contributions. It’s only on mn that I found out how I’m protected in law by being married. Loads of good stuff gets hidden in 100s of judgy posts on all sides and it’s so frustrating!

Society places obligations on mothers that it does not on fathers and also discriminates differently against women whether we have children or are perceived as having the capacity to have children. As a group with loads of mums in it we have such a wealth of knowledge and experience that we can use to help women navigate being a mum, staying at home, working part time, full time, financial planning etc etc.

I love hearing how other mums navigate their lives, how they transitioned through various phases of life, especially when I’m feeling a bit directionless.

What do you think? Or am just I lazy, crap role model for my children because I rely on a man to pay the bills whereas previously I was an uncaring career bitch who dumped my dc with strangers in childcare because I couldn’t be bothered to bring them up myself? grin

StealthPolarBear Fri 09-Feb-18 11:09:26

Yep that last bit grin

giddyupnow Fri 09-Feb-18 11:14:09

Ooh yes I’m both of the last bits as well yay! I was just thinking how my banal ‘I took some time off, three years in fact, then got a well paid part time job’ in my old industry seems to fuck everyone right off just because it is so boring and reasonable.

BUT I agree I’ve learnef so much from mn, and actually if I hadn’t been in such a panic after reading about how I’d fucked my life right up by leaving my mental, stressful, 90hour a week behind me, I probably wouldn’t have seen the ad for the part time job! So thanks mn.

HandbagKrabby Fri 09-Feb-18 11:55:24

giddyup that’s exactly what I mean though! I’m sure loads of women (me included) would love to know about how you simply applied and got a pt job in your old industry precisely because it feels like if you sah for more than a millisecond you’re condemned to a life of zero hour minimum wage jobs if you’re lucky regardless of previous skills, qualifications or experience.

I’d like to see posters who work in recruitment or have their own businesses look a bit more at the bigger picture if someone applies who’s had a sah period on their cv.

It’s disappointing a bitch fest thread gets 100s of replies, but a more supportive one gets ignored. Suppose that’s aibu

Deshasafraisy Fri 09-Feb-18 12:00:06

It’s ok to live the family life that makes you the most happy, whether that be a sahm or working outside of the home. Each of us gets one life and care less about other people’s opinions on how we choose to live it.

Deshasafraisy Fri 09-Feb-18 12:00:26

*should care less

Abracadabraapileofbollocks Fri 09-Feb-18 12:10:56

Unfortunately I am automatically closed off to conversations or even trying now. Having been a working (single) mum and a SAHM (sah leech as is now the popular term on mn) with a husband. I have had and get lots of judgment for both (sometimes from the same idiot double win there). My general feeling as I go through life now, taking my son to playgroups, collecting the daughters from school . . Is fuck the fuck off. I have zero interest in connecting with anyone as it's somewhere between 5 seconds and 5 years until they pour judgment on my life.

LateToTheParty Fri 09-Feb-18 12:24:46

OP I'm in a similar position to you - SAHP following redundancy (although I'm not setting up a business). Long term plan is to get back into paid work via a voluntary role. Agree with your final paragraph, we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't!

Since returning to work after having DC1, I've variously worked full time, part time, out of the home and from home (all for the same company). There have been advantages and disadvantages to each situation.

Unfortunately it's an issue that polarises people, and similar to posts about drivers and cyclists or pedestrians, some people forget its possible to be on more than one side of the argument at some point in time.

My biggest bugbear, and a reason for sitting on my hands or ignoring the posts about SAHP & WOHP posts, is that without fail, someone will complain that they can't afford not to work, and someone else will state that it's a luxury or an indulgence that only the (typically) female partner can take advantage of, because of their highly paid (typically) male partner.

There's no acknowledgement that in some/many cases, the childcare costs as a consequence of having a second adult go out to work can cause a net loss to household income, especially when both adults are in similarly low paying roles. While there are benefits to working even at a loss (pension, career etc), it's not sustainable long term, and near impossible to sustain without family nearby who can provide free childcare, or step in during an emergency. That's the situation I find myself in at the moment, even with a masters degree, professional qualifications and industry experience. It is in part a consequence of living in a northern town where wages and employment figures are below national average. On the plus side housing and living costs are lower too. Ironically when people complain on here about the unaffordability of housing in London and the SE, there will always be people quick to tell them to move North, as if there are lots of well paid jobs going spare.

Agree that a bit of kindness wouldn't go amiss, regardless of how people go about their lives. Good luck with your new venture!

HandbagKrabby Fri 09-Feb-18 12:25:35

abra it’s really shit that people do that to you in baby groups. I do think all this judging of each other some women are doing in child related situations is so unnecessary and divisive. The vast majority of conversations I’ve had with other parents in these scenarios have been about the children anyway so what does it matter what anyone does the rest of the time?

I find sah really hard sometimes, hard in a different way to when I worked. I think I was kinder to myself when I worked and I find it harder to chill out now because I’ve internalised guilt about being lazy, having some two penny mum business, spending my dh’s money on frivolity for myself. That’s my own issue and it is not a judgement on anyone else. Can you even say this without someone sniping about getting a proper job or not knowing how lucky you are?

HandbagKrabby Fri 09-Feb-18 12:30:58

late you sound very similar to me! I think there are lots of us knocking around the edges, who’ve done lots of different combinations and will probably do different ones in the future. I’d like to work full time again when both dc are in school in a different career to my redundant one so we’ll see.

Tarraleaha Fri 09-Feb-18 12:34:02

I’d like to see posters who work in recruitment or have their own businesses look a bit more at the bigger picture if someone applies who’s had a sah period on their cv.

I am in recruitment, and gaps in a cv are not necessarily a negative. The one thing that makes me put the CV in the bin is the fluff about it "being a SAHM means I am a team leader/ amazing at time keeping/ organisational management/ managing difficult people/ thinking on my feet/ money management, adapting" and the usual nonsense. No, just no. By all means, talk about volunteering and raising funds, but the waffle about what you are doing at home is really irritating. If you think staying at home is stressful, you won't cope in the real working world and have kids!

I am more than happy with stay home with kids, career break, however you want to put it. At least when you were a SAHM, it's clear what you were doing.

HandbagKrabby Fri 09-Feb-18 12:45:27

Tarra I think maybe a lot of people might put that type of thing because they worry being sah is seen by the workplace in general as doing fuck all. It’s good that you’re happy with sah as a description of the time smile

Partypopper123 Fri 09-Feb-18 12:45:47

Watching with interest, I've done a combination of SAHM, part time and now full time. It's taken me about 7 years, some damn hard work and acouple of moves to claw my way back to a decent salary.
I try to ignore all the SAHM v WOHM threads, asir just descends into a row. What I've learned from my own experience and MN is there's no 'right' decision, only what's right for you at that particular time.

Theclockstruck2 Fri 09-Feb-18 12:45:50

This post has restored my faith!! So depressed by all the conversations on here about it. In real life my friends and I all talk openly about how difficult and imperfect it all is and fantasise about the perfect job that would make it all easy! They all do different things, according to their circumstances. I find everyone is really respectful of each other’s choices/what they have to do, but that doesn’t seem to translate online for some reason.

I also don’t feel that many people fall firmly into one camp or the other, lots of working mums take a break, or try to work flexibly or go part time. Equally lots of stay at home mums do a bit of work, freelancing/childminding etc or study. I am at home but plan to go back once my kids are at school and my mum did the same. I remember having my mum at home, and I remember her being at work full time!

Charmander123 Fri 09-Feb-18 12:48:21

My friend's mum is a quite well in an actress so they were putting boarding school when they were younger. But never once did people say that she loved her kids any less because of work! But the same is saI'd to mums who stay at home.
I hate that argument so much! It's like you work for your kids a and work to be "you " not just "the mother ". But staying at home doesnt equal lazy!
I freelance and was quite hardcore before I had a baby but I haven't worked for a while now and know that soon me and my husband will have to switch roles a bit. So he'll be at home looking after the baby whilst I'll be working ( because of hours and distance both of us cannot work at the same time with a baby ) . I try and talk about this at my baby groups but either people are stay at home mum's or they work 9 till 4 and don't quite get the struggle of crazy hours x

HandbagKrabby Fri 09-Feb-18 12:52:17

party having gone through your experience is there anything you’ve taken away from it that might be useful for people like myself who would like to do similar in the future?

clock what’s the perfect job? Maybe it exists somewhere!

AmiU Fri 09-Feb-18 12:55:14

Tarra, that's really helpful to know,

I'm a SAHM, but mainly I fell into it as I had an unexpectedly difficult pregnancy just as I relocated to a new country for work.

I had no idea that child credits entitled you to NI.

I think it would be helpful for new mums to know that the first 4 years are the absolute harder to juggle work. I know several friends who've negotiated working 7:00 - 3:00 with large companies like Barclays and Accenture, so their partner can do drop off and they're home in time for pick up.

I would like to know how both parents work when they don't have a family/ support network. Practically, what happens if you're nanny is ill or your LO is ill and can't attend a group setting?

Honeybooboo123 Fri 09-Feb-18 12:55:37

I work four days a week with two DC and feel I have a good balance. I had no interest in being at home or full time.
I have no issue with women who choose to do so. However i had to roll my eyes at a friend who told me she had no time to herself. She has one school aged DC, doesn't work and has a cleaner. I may have said what about every day from 9 till 3!!!!

AmiU Fri 09-Feb-18 12:56:58

handbag, this is a great thread

HandbagKrabby Fri 09-Feb-18 12:57:16

char any kind of working outside of 9-5 Mon-Fri and term time with dc is a ball ache by the looks of it. Another thing that holds parents back in the workplace. All the best with the new job!

Tarraleaha Fri 09-Feb-18 13:09:11

I think it would be helpful for new mums to know that the first 4 years are the absolute harder to juggle work.

I completely disagree. When the kids are at nursery, the settings are open from 07:30 or 8am (roughly) until 6 or 6:30pm, 5 days a week, usually 50 weeks a year. It's not cheap, but childcare is there.
Once they start school, you need: wraparound childcare and pray you have a place at breakfast club and after school club or a great childminder, back-up for holidays, back up for inset days, election days and son on.

Re the CV, just picture someone working at McDonald. We all know what that means, everybody there is a team leader apparently, but there's only so much waffle you can come up after working in a fast food restaurant.
Don't forget that the people reading your CV might very well be working mums themselves!

Beingmethistime Fri 09-Feb-18 13:10:43

I worked very long hours and was the main earner whilst my DC were very small, with DH as a SAHP. We believed that once the youngest started school it would be relatively easy for us to both work. However, as we don't have family members nearby who are in a position to help out with emergency childcare this was not the case. My workplace also (despite pubic statements to the contrary) was not very parent friendly eg. I was told that I could only work reduced hours if I was prepared to work late/come in on my day off etc with no notice when needed (not practical if working hours are to fit with childcare), team meetings were all held over breakfast etc. Not to mention the number of times female staff with children (not just me) were overlooked for career enhancing opportunities because it was presumed that they would not want to travel etc.

For these and many other reasons I had a period as a SAHP and now work in a much lower paid part time role whilst DH now works full time

What has struck me in all of this is that whichever role I have taken people seem to feel the need to comment and pass judgement- especially family. When I worked full time, lots of mums (and my MIL) told me that they couldn't do what I did and leave their DC all day, I had nursery joking that I was imaginery as they never saw me, relative strangers asked me if I was just not maternal when they heard that I was going back to full time work after maternity leave etc. When I was a SAHP I was continually asked when I was going back to work, how I could afford not to work, had I been ill, didn't DH mind supporting me, what I would be doing with my qualifications (the implication being that I somehow owed it to others to use them in a voluntary capacity if I chose not to work). Now I am still asked when I will be going back to my 'proper job' and what I do to fill my time etc

In contrast, when DH was SAHP we were both told (sometimes by total strangers) how wonderful he was and what a brilliant parent he was for spending so much time with the DC. He is now congratulated for retraining and going in to a new profession (something that he had wanted to do for a long time, and took a lot of financial and practical support from me to achieve) and I am told how lucky I am that he was prepared to do this so that I can have 'some time out'.

I think that as women we need to focus more on supporting each other. I can't help but think that it's a tactic used (intentionally or unintentionally) to keep us on a back foot in the workplace- if we're judging each other and arguing about who is the better mother/career professional we're not challenging the way that we are subtly overlooked for promotion etc once we have children.

HandbagKrabby Fri 09-Feb-18 13:12:00

ami it’s child benefit that gives you full NI until your dc is 12, it’s not credits afaik.

When I was a terrible mother who obviously hated her dc and selfishly was at work we had a dependency day policy of three paid days a year for emergencies. Also my dh could work from home so he did that sometimes and stayed with the sick child. When I go back to the workplace I’ll be looking for somewhere with flexible working, wfh and family friendly policies. We don’t have much support here so me and dh need work that has a bit of give. Easy for me to say until I have to find such a workplace smile

Palavapalava Fri 09-Feb-18 13:12:01

I’m a sahm and didn’t know about full NI if child benefit in my name - could anyone point me in right direction or share a link?

Theclockstruck2 Fri 09-Feb-18 13:13:53

Beingme - yes!!! Just yes. To everything you say.

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