Flexible working. Feminism. Fun.

Flexi Mamas: Helen from Talking Mums

Flexi Mamas: Helen from Talking Mums

Welcome to week five of the Flexi Mamas series, which highlights the barriers that working mums face.

This week’s Flexi Mama is Helen, who has a beautiful daughter who is just finishing her first year at school and a boisterous son who is currently enjoying climbing on all the furniture. Her fab OH has his own business and works full time. She’s been a midwife since 2006 but is currently on a career break.

After her first baby, not going back to work wasn’t really an option.

“We wanted to buy a house, my OH hadn’t started his own business and the onsite nursery was a viable yet expensive option. I think at that point I needed to go back to work for my sanity,” Helen says.

“After my second baby things got complicated. My daughter was to start school and the wraparound care didn’t cater for the times I needed to go to work. We couldn’t find a childminder and we don’t have any help from family. So I decided to take a career break.”

Her decision not to return to work was due to a combination of lack of childcare options, childcare costs and lack of flexible working options.

“Nursery fees for my son would have been about £46 per day. Before and after school club would have a cost attached too.

“It’s hard to comment on what is reasonable for childcare costs as I’m not sure how they calculate the figures. All I know is that for me it would have cost me over half my salary. I think for some women this proportion is even more.”

Her job as a midwife made flexible working arrangements difficult.

“Flexible working is difficult to accommodate in the NHS with the requirement for numbers on shifts, appointment times that clinics starts and the 24 hour nature of the service. But I’m sure that there would be a solution to adapting to flexible working. The trust have a policy where they have to consider applications for flexible working but do not have to accept them.

“We did look at different work patterns but there was no flexibility on working on a new work pattern.”

Career development was also an issue. “Many band 7 jobs required full-time availability,” says Helen. “Job shares weren’t really thought of as a solution but more of a hassle.”

Helen wants to go back to work at some point, but she’s unsure where at the moment.

“I don’t feel like I’m ready to give up my midwifery career but yet I do feel like a change of career could be on the cards too. Lots of thinking to do.”

You can find out more about Helen on her blog, Talking Mums, on on her social media channels:

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