Part-time slacker

After the birth of my daughter, I decided I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her at home instead of sending her off to be looked after by other people (after all, surely the reason we have children to begin with is to spend time with them and bring them up, right?). Well, we couldn’t afford for me to stay at home altogether and actually, I also missed working a little, so deciding to go back to work part-time felt like the perfect compromise.

I returned to work after 11 months of maternity leave mainly because I needed to go back to school (work) before the summer holiday’s began. As Isabella was 11 months old, I was still breastfeeding her and so this meant that I had to express at work to ensure she had milk to give to the childminder. This, combined with getting back into the working routine was really stressful for me. I found I couldn’t express at the times I needed to due to actually teaching and then trying to pump during break time and lunch time was just too stressful. It ended with me not being able to pump much at all, despite trying all the tips and tricks I read online. This ‘working mother’ malarkey was already proving difficult.

Despite the hurdles, I just about managed to muddle through working 3 days a week (with the help of my mum who looked after Isabella every Monday and picked her up on a Tuesday and Wednesday for me). I would get home from work just in time for bath and bed usually but decided it would be ok. We plodded on like this until I fell pregnant with Benjamin; Isabella was 2 and a half.

After the birth of Benjamin, I decided to take the full year off. This meant I was able to take Isabella to pre-school 4 mornings a week and not worry about childcare. Returning to work the second time was a little different. We had around 12 weeks of childcare to muddle through around pre-school as Isabella started school the term later. Benjamin settled into his childminder’s well. I thought things would get easier from here.

However, once at school, Isabella didn’t settle as well as I’d hoped. She cried for me to take her and pick her up from school. She cried because she wanted me home. She cried because we had to do her reading homework after I got home and it was late. She was sad. Although she had family to take or pick her up every day, it wasn’t Mummy. She wanted and needed me. One afternoon whist she was in Reception and I was still at work, she was accidently left at school. Obviously the school took amazing care of her and she was taken to after school club until I reached her but that was the last straw for me. As her mummy, this broke me. I know it was a simple miscommunication between my husband and mum (they each thought the other person was picking her up) but I felt terrible. I was at work looking after other people’s children while my own child was forgotten. I broke down. It was then I made the decision to reduce my hours further.

Now I work a 50% timetable but I only work one full school day. This gives me the flexibility to pick the children up 4 days out of the week. We are all much happier about the after school routine and I am able to look after and care for my children just as I had always wanted. We do homework at a sensible time, I can take them swimming and to other activities. But now I face the issue with work. I’m a part-timer. Just a part-timer. I’m seen as being inferior to all the full time members of staff because I have other commitments. I don’t feel a part of the community anymore. Instead I feel as though people tolerate me, look down on me for working part-time. I put everything I have into my job when I’m there but I’m always seen as doing less, not chipping in. It drives me mad.

 

I go to work and people see me as the ‘part-timer’ or the ‘working mum’ trying to juggle life. Why should I have to defend my choices of contracted hours? Why does there have to be a stigma attached? We shouldn’t be made to feel inferior to others because of the choices we make. Even the word part-time has negative connotations attached to it. People assume I just do nothing on my ‘days off’. I’m fed up of being seen as a part-time slacker. I am a mother. I am a teacher. I am a woman who has made a decision about the hours I work. Just because I am a woman and have children there is an automatic label given to me. My husband has a job. He also looks after the children and yet he doesn’t get called a working dad. He just does his job. He has a title. He is respected. Why can we not be seen as equals? We both work. We both look after the children. We just have different ratios of work and family time. But then I look at their faces and know however people see me, I’ve made the right choice for us!

If you’ve enjoyed this, why not head on over to Mummy Vs Work and see how she Tackles the Food on a Budget

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