Us mums weren’t always mums. Before motherhood, most of us did Very Important Stuff. We ran businesses, did research and built things. We created brands and wrote proposals. We made sales and made money. We were busy. We worked hard.
Then we had babies and we worked even harder. We walked around our houses in a sleep-induced daze, wearing yesterday’s pyjamas covered in baby puke and thought, “This is the toughest job I’ve ever had.”
Even though motherhood was exhausting and pretty disgusting, we still kind of loved it. But that didn’t mean we had forgotten about all the Very Important Stuff that we used to do. We missed working sometimes and wanted to keep doing it – but in a way allowed us to keep doing our mum job too.
But we found out that could be really, really hard.
A few of us got lucky. Our employers recognised the importance of balancing work and family life, and we were able to come to arrangements that worked for everyone. But most of our employers wanted us to work for a specific amount of time in a specific place every week day, which was going to make it basically impossible for us to be employed and still, you know, see our kids. When we asked if they would consider more flexible ways of working, they seemed confused.
“You want to work flexible hours? But everyone in the company works from 9-5,” they said.
“But there’s no need for everyone to work the same hours, really,” we said. “We could work early in the morning or late at night. Or we could work a long day one day and a shorter day the next. Does it really matter as long as the job gets done? Plus we would be happier if we could fit work around childcare duties, and happy employees are more productive.”
“You’ll need to work from our offices,” they said.
“But we could work just as easily from home, which would cut out the time we waste on commuting, leaving us with more time to get things done,” we said.
The employers looked puzzled. “We don’t see how this could work,” they said.
That’s when we kind of lost it.
“Really? It’s pretty straightforward. We keep doing the work that we always did – the work we’re pretty f***ing good at, we might add – just not necessarily in one building from 9-5. You benefit from all the good work that we do. We get to have satisfying careers while still being a kick a** mums. We both win.”
The employers were silent while they thought this over.
“So we’ll see you at 9am on Monday?” they said.
Sound familiar? I’m to have a fairly lucky flexible employer, but many mums struggle to find jobs that give them the work-life balance that they need.
Join the #WorkThatWorks movement with Digital Mums to show your support for flexible working. As they say, “It’s time for a serious cultural change to the way that we work in Britain for the good of mums, businesses and the economy as a whole.”