Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Trying to have it all

Oops, we haven't blogged in a long time! Here's a nice long post to make up for it.

When we set up this blog way back in 2011, we had just bought our campervan and it was to document our adventures. But life is pretty normal now, so the blog has lost a bit of focus. But I'll try and put a bit more effort in!

Not long after the last post I started working part-time at a local accountancy firm. I was a bit apprehensive about leaving Devon for the first time. I was also feeling a bit out of touch with accountancy, and wondering if I should do something else entirely.

But in the end it turned out to be a good move; it was refreshing having some time away from being a parent and being able to get a cup of tea or go to the loo whenever I wanted without an audience!
I got shopping and errands done on my lunch hour too, so I got to play more with Devon when I was with him.

Working part-time meant less time to spend on my art and my Etsy shop, but it was necessary really as I wasn't making nearly enough money for it to be sustainable. Even though I had really good sales in my Etsy shop over the Christmas period, by January I was feeling pretty burnt out with very little time spent on my own well-being over the preceding months.

Nick is still working for BMW and is happy there -  the commute was getting a bit draining for him though, as he was regularly spending 2.5-3hrs a day in the car. Some days he would get back way after Devon was asleep. So we decided to leave our lovely cottage in Westbourne to move to Farnborough to be closer to Nick's office. In fact you can't really get much closer - we are a 700 metre walk away!

Moving up to Farnborough also meant that I had to leave my job, and that we would move too far away for Nick's parents to look after Devon if I was to get another job.

Devon has changed so much over the last year. His speech is coming along in leaps and bounds - now he has started talking it is very hard to get him to stop. And while up to a certain age I was sure keeping him at home with me was the very best thing for him, over the last 6 months or so he has become such a sociable little thing that Nick and I had agreed the time has come to start nursery school.

We went to visit a couple of local nurseries and Devon absolutely loved them. He was so excited to see all the children playing and it was a struggle getting him to leave, He kept pushing me away saying: 'go away mummy! go to work!'

From September Devon gets 15 hours free childcare so the plan was to start him at nursery then, while I looked for part-time work. But when a good job came up round the corner for a full time position I decided to apply. I wasn't really sure of my chances but amazingly I ended up getting the job!

While I was definitely worried about Devon being in nursery full time it would only have worked out at around 6 hours a day - manageable I thought!

Devon was so excited to be starting school, so we really didn't think we would have anything to worry about. We picked a nursery with a lovely outdoor space surrounded by tall trees.

Unfortunately the dream turned sour and after three days of nursery Devon started to become really upset. He also got really sick - all those nursery bugs pummelled his immune system and he didn't seem to get a chance to recover. Over the next two weeks he became progressively more upset and withdrawn, regularly telling us he didn't want to go to nursery anymore, and that he found it scary. The nursery said that although he would enjoy playing out in the garden, he cried whenever they sat down to eat or tried to change his nappy, and kept saying he wanted to go home.

I was completely unprepared for the guilt I felt, and found I just couldn't stand it. I spoke to my new manager, and was hoping we could have come to some kind of arrangement where I worked part time to start with or something. Unfortunately they didn't think it would work, so I ended up resigning.

It felt like a massive shame as it was a great job in all other aspects, but my parenting instincts completely trumped any common sense thoughts my brain was thinking.

So it's been an eye-opener and I'm back to looking for part-time work again - which is difficult, especially for good well-paid roles (and it has to be well-paid or it doesn't cover the childcare!)

I really do think society has a long way to go before the workplace is genuinely gender-neutral and part-time, flexible working is the norm for both men and women. Until that time many skilled mothers are being excluded from meaningful work as they cannot commit to the traditional 37.5 hours a week. And many fathers are missing out on spending more time with their children. From my experience anyway, full-time workers spend many of those hours unproductively while part time workers work much more efficiently in the time they have.

In the meantime, I'm back to being full time mum for Devon. It's hard and tedious work sometimes but I doubt I'll ever look back and wish I'd spent less time with him!


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