Returning to work after years as a full time employee and mum can be intimidating. What is the best way to market yourself? How do you find a job? Do employers understand the demands on a working mum? Should you update your skills?
Jillian tells us about her struggle to find suitable part-time work and the mum guilt so many feel when leaving their little ones to head off to work.
“Having been made redundant back at the start of October I have found myself updating my CV and starting to apply for jobs. I am 36 years old with two small children aged 4 and 2. I have a wonderful husband who couldn’t support me more yet when it comes to my career I feel like I can’t make it back up the ladder whilst working Part Time.
I have a Business Degree from University and just over 20 years’ experience in Retail Management all of which involved late nights, weekend work and shift changes. Once I got married I wanted to see the world with my husband and focus on my career and progressing on that. Once the mention of children and starting a family was approached I knew I didn’t want to work all those crazy hours that retail entailed so I looked elsewhere. This led me to a full time office job still based around the world of retail with more stable hours and better holidays. Perfect!
Going part-time was my choice. After been denied flexible working upon my return from maternity leave I was guilt ridden at having to leave my first daughter with a childminder. It had nothing to do with the childminder, she was superb it was just me and the mummy guilt. I was waiting my time and once a year had passed I applied again and it was granted. I had my 3 day week in the office and my 2 days at home with my daughter alongside the weekend as a family. Did I really switch off from full time? The answer was probably no especially with an app whereby I could access my emails. This wasn’t my best decision as I felt torn between wanting to work and enjoying my job and spending time with my girl exploring daily life. Once my second daughter came along and some things changed inside the business I then spread my hours across 4 shorter days. Then the big question arose – is it possible for working mothers to have a fulfilling and successful career whilst working part-time? I know I found it a struggle.
Moving to part time and accepting a part time wage vs a full time wage was a massive change. Was the average part time salary with enough left over for a great quality of life achievable and worth the sacrifice? And importantly to me – could I achieve the success I wanted to at a part time level? What if I shared the same career ambitions as those women who worked full time? Is it possible for a mum to be career-ambitious, whilst being off for part of the working week with the kids and would this be frowned upon?
I spend my days now trailing the job market for part-time jobs. There are lots in retail that I could avail of but they are mostly rota based and without sounding like a clown, I appear to be over qualified for. In fact in one instance I applied for a job and attended the interview only to be told I was over qualified and they didn’t believe I would stick around so why waste all the time investing in me. They say we are living in a time where flexible working or job sharing is wildly accepted yet I’m struggling to find those jobs at a level I can work at where there are opportunities and where a career driven mum is accepted. Did I put all that effort into my degree and career progression back in my 20’s for nothing?
I don’t want to be part time forever as I still have that fire in my (mummy) belly. I want to get back on the career ladder to success. I want to put all my training and expertise to the forefront and smash through that glass ceiling but I just don’t want to do it now while my children are so young. I “not wanting to do it” and I “having to do it” are what I am currently fighting. I can’t find a part time job suitable at the minute and that redundancy money isn’t growing on a tree out the back (I wish). If I apply for full time jobs both myself and my little girls will miss out on that precious time that I love so much.
Accept The Guilt
The alternative of course is accepting the guilt and getting on with it, which is what many amazingly women do. My biggest problem and this is applicable to everything I do is that I’m not very good at accepting that something’s not the way I want it.
If you’re a working mum who ‘got to the top’ whilst working part-time, please get in touch – I would love to hear your take on this and if you had these same struggles”.