Do I go back to work at the council? When I was on maternity leave with Ben I wasn’t very happy at home with a grumpy baby and felt I should give up work out of a sense of duty to Ben, going back to work then was the right decision but things are different now.
Me as a mummy: Over two years of parenting has mellowed me out, I am easier to please and I don’t need to manage great feats to get a sense of achievement. Getting through a day, making Ben laugh, making play dough models with Ben, getting smiles and baby cuddles from Ciaran are all enough for me. I freely admit I was happier being at work than being at home when I worked part time, I preferred to spend my day with adults rather than a 9 month old baby who cried most of the day, threw food at me and crapped a lot. Something in me has bended or snapped and I am now happier being at home with the kids.
Kiddie activity clubs: I want to enroll Ben in a football program on Fridays, I like going to Jelly Tots (a mums and toddlers group). I’ll miss all that if I go back to work.
Housework: amazingly something has (finally) clicked and I can now do housework. I was a slovenly housewife, Chris hoovered the lounge once a weekend and that was it for cleaning. I now mix vinegar, tea tree oil and hot water to clean the glass panes in our doors and I push the hoover around after dusting and polishing a couple of times a week. I don’t mind the mundane chores and feel happy looking at a clean house that I have cleaned.
Consultancy: I have been asked to take off the first two weeks in march to take calls, book 121’s etc.. and get set up for the next few months. I reckon (conservatively) I can make around a grand on telephone calls, the same on writing cases and pick up a couple of cases to represent at hearings. This will be hard if I am also working fulltime. If I can make 3-4K over the spring and summer that will help us out financially. Hopefully my Mum will be able to watch the kids in the day and Chris will help in the evenings and weekends but I can manage my workload and if I want to keep a day free to go on a nature walk with the boys I can.
Career: My career is on a long term break. I would probably want to work part time and then when the kids are at school I’d want to work term time only and school hours. While that is possible I know I wouldn’t offer a job that needs a full time person concentrating hard on their job to a part timer who freely admits that she will have to take time off at the drop of a chicken pox. Harriet Harman can write all the legisltation she wants but until there is a massive shift in how we think about work, women in moderatly senior posts will find it hard to get new jobs / promotions and balence their family life (I know from experience that if you don’t want to offer someone a job you just find another reason not to interview them or offer them the job and write your notes up carefully, Equal Opps laws can be dodged easily with a careful interview write up).
I used to be very career focussed and have always contributed my fair share of our income but I don’t want to focus on my career to the detriment of my little boys and would be stuck in the job I am currently in for several long years before the kids are old enough for me to focus on work again.
Free Nursery: If being driven nuts by Ben all week doesn’t appeal I can put him free nursery places from Sept 2010. So.. if I was at home from March onwards it’s only 6 months of having both boys at home all week before Ben takes up a free nursery place.
Work itself: I had a very understanding manager who knew bugger all about my area of work and let me get on with it. If I needed someone to add gravitas to a meeting he would try to come with me (like when I took on an assistant director over a parent partnership adviser giving incorrect advice) but he openly admitted it wasn’t his area of expertise and in meetings gave me credit when it was due.
Since the council has been re-organised I am now officially managed by a plank of wood. Seriously, this man had appeals training more recently than me and yet when I had to leave an appeal midway to attend a consultants appointment he moaned and groaned about not knowing the new code (well at that point I was working illegally as I hadn’t been trained in over two years and he had so tough luck dude). In a crazy decision my manager and the managers of the new authorities decided that rather than getting maternity leave cover (which is hard to do in our area for anything above admin), instead this plank of wood would clerk appeals with the casual clerks support and manage the appeals like I did. Apparently he refuses to do anything other than turn up to the appeal and clerk it, won’t take phone calls complaining about the appeals, won’t check panels are legally constituted etc.. and is putting all the responsibility onto the admin girl.
He is also puffed up about being a manager at last (he has worked there longer than I have been alive and tellingly has never had staff before), I am not being invited to meetings to discuss arrangements for the coming year as I am “not management”. I hardly feel that doing the same job I have done for nearly 5 years but without the sense of ownership and pride I used to have is an exciting option.
On the downside – even with the consultancy work I am unlikely to be as well off as I am working; less money for hair cuts, little treats like Champneys, definately no new car for me, no holidays abroad, no conservatory furniture, and no break from the kids until Ben takes up free nursery places part week.
I would need to work 13 weeks after returning to avoid paying back my OMP so if I handed in my notice on my return to work in December (I go back officially then and then take about a month of annual leave) I would be working until March. Hopefully they would let me take some of my unpaid parental leave in march to focus on consultancy but there are no guarentees and as I mentioned my new boss is a wa**er (the admin girl said she was applying for new jobs and he said he wouldn’t give her a positive reference, which is prety much illegal) so I am not optimistic about him being reasonable.