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Monday 6 May 2013

Working mums versus single women and balancing expectations

A piece was written below for Josie's Juice about how this woman's decision to change jobs has affected the balance she enjoyed with juggling kids and work and the understanding they all had about who fits where, and accomodations made for school pick-ups and the like.

The last time I worked full time was when I was pregnant with my twins. My editor at the time was an absolute champion. I worked a few days a week from home, which, when I was heavily pregnant was an absolute godsend. They should make a mould of this empathetic gay man who was my ed, and replicate him in all workplaces. I will never forget how wonderfully I was treated.

I have gone back to work since the twins were born, though just contract work here and there. All parties were across the fact I am a mum with nobody else available to do daycare (and now school) pickups and that I don't live close to the CBD, which is where my work has always been. I would've felt upset and disappointed if my employer didn't get the predicament I was in, but they have always been exceptional. And I have always given back ten-fold, working additional hours from home. And now that I do work from home lots, I love it. But those work/life balance boundaries are so very blurred. But that's a whole other blog post.

Now, read this woman's story about how her new workplace and how having working mums as allies in the office is a vastly underrated job perk.

"When I decided to change jobs after 15 years there were many factors in my decision to move.
Wages (of course), conditions, distance to travel, hours and a future with the company were all considerations. One thing that didn’t even register on my radar was whether there were other mums in the office.

This small oversight has turned out to be one of the biggest reasons why now, three months later, I am the loneliest I’ve ever been in a job and why I feel “different”.

At my previous job there were three other mums and three single staff. The mums loved hearing the weekend war stories of the singles. We lived vicariously through their exploits and sexploits and laughed and nodded knowingly at their tales of bar hopping and all the fun spontaneous things that go with being young and free.

And us mums were able to compare notes on our kids. We were able to talk about bullying at school, homework, nits, hand, foot and mouth disease, discipline and a myriad of other parent related issues.

The singles of our office laughed, sometimes grimaced and told us we were the best contraceptives in their lives.

If one of the kids were sick and the mum needed to leave work to pick up the child from school, we all understood. Working mums tend to make up for the hours even if not required and no one in our office ever felt short changed that they were doing more than the others. Similarly we understood if the singles were a bit late after a big weekend.

Our working environment was a happy marriage of singles and mums and it worked out well.

Fast forward to my new job and the story is not quite the same.

I am the oldest person, I am the only mother and if I mentioned the word nits, I think they might actually run me out of the office spraying Glen 20 after me.

There’s little understanding and no empathy when I had to leave to pick up my sick child  (even though I worked from home and made up the hours) from school. Initially I started to talk about my kids and what we did on the weekend – you know the rounds of birthday parties, footy, karate and endless kid stuff – however when I saw their eyes glaze over I stopped.

Now I just ask about their weekends and if asked, simply say mine was “busy” or “quiet”. Now I see smiles not bored looks.

A couple of months into the job, a Friday night staff outing was organised. I had to move heaven and earth to be there – hubby was interstate and finding a babysitter was not easy but finally I did it. I finished early that day so went home changed and turned up to the venue. I waited. I waited. And then I phoned only to be told they’d changed their mind about lawn bowls and decided to go bar hopping instead. I was so upset no one bothered to tell me that I just went home. I am sure it wasn’t deliberate but I’m just not one of them and they actually forgot to call me.

I miss the mums and I miss sharing my home life with my work friends. I feel different and not in a good way.

Next job as well as asking about pay conditions and parking, I will ask the question “do you have any mums in the office?”"

What do you think of this woman's story? Can you relate? Are you a working mum? Or a single woman in an office of working mums? Share your story here.

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