I gave up working soon after my child was born.
The idea of having a newborn but having to leave at 6 a.m. to get to my office in South London, getting home at 7 p.m. if I was lucky, was not really my plan for raising my daughter. Aside from the injuries I’d sustained from childbirth which meant I had a maximum radius of around 100 metres, I would be driving that distance daily while running on little to no sleep. Whoever coined the phrase “sleeping like a baby” had clearly never had one.
When she turned a year old, we were hit with a pandemic.
Many companies started to bring in remote or hybrid roles. I actually dared to have some hope for being able to get a job.
As it turns out, however, it doesn’t matter how good I am at anything I’very previously done. What matters is continuous employment and an ability to leave the house.
Now, here’s my current predicament: My child’s at preschool three days a week. This gives me only three hours on those three days to dedicate to being on site. However, my childcare hours increase if I find a job. Instead of nine hours a week, that would give me four hours a day, five days a week, between when I have to drop off and puck up my child. Of course, there lies the challenge: to get those hours, the government has determined I already need to be in a job.
Oh, and here’s the fun part: if I don’t manage to get a job before the beginning of April, those hours will start in September. Oh, and they’re term-time only.
This basically means that my options are a flexible, remote position or nothing.
In April 2021, a British Chambers of Commerce found that of the 900 businesses surveyed, three in four expected to continue allowing remote working, yet 38% offered flexitime or staggered hours, and 32% offered working from different locations. Only 15% offered all jobs as flexible as standard.
This pretty much has been confirmed by my job search. Many of the recruiters I approached have said they’ll do all they can for me, however some have been brutally honest and said that many of their corporate clients offer zero flexibility.
Flexibility from employers is crucial to my cause, and if the employers are unwilling to provide this, that’s a large portion of the job market I have to rule out.
I consider myself a copy editor first, administrator second. I’ve applied for nearly everything going and have so far received about a 50/50 split between rejections and just being ignored.
I’ve had one interview, and I was passed over for that in favour of a candidate who had previously been a manager in that department – I presume this is the times of covid, when a manager applies for a role as assistant, and good luck to to that candidate; I hear it’s a great company.
It’s frustrating when searching for a copy-editing job. Most companies advertising for copy editors seem unaware of what they’re asking for; what they want is a content writer. But it never fills me with confidence when scrolling down the relevant websites and seeing the typos. One company I applied for even sold garden furniture with “complimentary” warranties. One can only presume the furniture tells you how wonderful you look as you enter the room.
But alas, my main problem seems to be that I am a mother.
According to some reports, one in five mothers who have no access to wrap-around care are – if luckily in employment – forced to cut their hours. Sixteen percent said it had cost them promotions.
Over half of the mothers surveyed stated that the lack of childcare has been detrimental to their mental health, and I can attest to this. Those who’ve been so restricted may well have done everything they can, from asking everyone they’ve ever met to keep them in mind if they hear of any kind of remote job, through to canvassing as many relevant companies they can find with speculative CVs.
There’s only so many times you can check your emails for anything but junk, hear “Don’t worry, the right job will come along,” between changing a nappy and cleaning drinks off the carpet for the fifth time before your brain takes you on a wild ride. I’ve found myself resentful of being a mother, despising myself for having skills I’m unable to use because I can’t even bring in some freelance business, and scared because my only other option would be a night job, which wouldn’t matter if I could get some sleep in the day but I can’t because I don’t have childcare.
And then my three-year-old, wipes the tears from my eyes, and says, “Don’t cry, mummy. I make you feel better.” And suddenly I can smile again. Do I care if I have to skip meals? Not if she’s well fed. Does it matter if companies assume the best person for the job is not me? No – that’s their bad decision, which they will rue by selling their complimentary furniture while I’m raising a smart, caring little lady.
The pain I’ve gone through, both physically and mentally, disappears every time I realise I’ve got a little girl to be proud of. A career to me should not be above my child. My career, in my personal view, should be equal to my role as a parent. Until she’s older, why should it be a problem for me to have a 50/50 split between work and motherhood? There are other people like me; why can’t one full-time job be split between two people in my position?
Anyway, that’s me over with for the night. I hope all of you who made it through my rant have a wonderful week!