Most mornings, as I head out the door to work (now in the dark. laters, summer.) my toddler asks me why I’m going to work. I say it’s so we can have a nice time off when the baby arrives in December.
Of course earning* money for maternity leave isn’t the only reason I work. It’s fulfilling, I like what I do, etc etc.
So with Digital Mums launching their #workthatworks campaign, I wanted to share how I’ve made work work, like the mums that I interview.
Returning from work after maternity leave was difficult, but I made it work with a staggered transition back into work and I now find myself hired at 5 months pregnant, working at a feminist brand (dreams!) 5 days a week ending my work day in time for the hour-long trek across London for the nursery run.
I didn’t have a job to go back to after being made redundant from MTV while on maternity leave, but I had the great fortune of a friend at my job before that needing freelance support. So I slipped right in there, and my husband did drop off and pick up so I could work 5 days 9am-5pm in central London.
When the need for freelance support there was up, I found a four day per week maternity leave cover job at Net-a-Porter which allowed me to take a short lunchbreak and be home to do the nursery pick-up. Yay! I could see my 1 and a bit year-old baby and enjoy his growing up. That job had benefits like BUPA healthcare, a managers’ bonus and parental leave for his illnesses.
Then when that contract ended another in the same business came up. And boom, at that point, I found I was pregnant again. After trying for so long, the two things came together at once.
I worked in that role five days a week, because my manager worked 4 days and preferred her 2-i-c to be there 5 days. My work allowed me to start early at 8am and leave for the nursery run at 4pm three days a week, but having to work later on the other two to make up the hours. Those two days of slightly later hours were not all bad, because mummy could make the trip home via Liberty/heaven on earth on the occasional evening.
When I found I was pregnant there though, it did mean I was not eligible for the company maternity package as I hadn’t been there two years (the company package kicked in earlier at MTV). Argh. Pregnant again in a sub-ideal money situation.
So with the contract drawing to an end and no obvious other role in the business that was right for me nor interesting, I was offered a role at a young fashion start-up Heist Studios at 5 months pregnant.
Now I’m commuting in to London 5 days, 8-4 and doing the nursery run every day with pleasure. And this is my current work that works.
There’s no BUPA, no special maternity package, nothing extra to get me through the difficult time ahead with no income. But for me, at least right now, this work works. I have no major corporation benefits but I was impressed to be hired by a company that knew I was pregnant. I don’t waste time with long lunches, because I’d rather smash out my work then get home to my baby, and no-one is forcing me to take tedious breaks that just don’t work for me.
So right now, and as with all things toddler, things can change any minute, work works. Although I think work would work more if men gave birth. There would be a full paid salary for at least a year, free physio and recuperation support, nicer, safer, more pleasant places to give birth and every pregnant man would have a halo to wear on the tube to identify him as the seat-deserving earth god life-giver that he was. That is a whole other post, isn’t it?
And on that note, I thought you’d like to see my fancy curated desk pictured above. I have no special place to blog from in the house, so I’m sat in my unmade bed next to a pile of coats and my gardening mags feeling awful because in order to write this I’ve ignored my toddler for around half an hour.
* how does anyone blog? I’ve sat down to write a few quick words after being absent since summer and already I’ve had a request from the dad to remove the toddler from where he is (he’s trying to do some painting) and a tantrum because I took the dummy away.