Monday, November 2, 2009

Part-time living

Four months in to my new part-time life and I'm still trying to figure out what I make of it all. And I mean 'part-time life': working three days a week means I not only do the job and Mummy bit part time, but everything else as well.

Yet tough as it is to squeeze five days work into three, it's probably the part-time family stuff that I find hardest. We pretty much operate a one-in, one-out policy on the parenting front in this house, which speaks for itself. The only reason I didn't stop writing bwb when I came back from DC was because I spend so many evenings alone.

Then again, part-time friendships aren't exactly easy. We're useless socially because one of us is usually working - day or night - and dinner party invites for one just don't happen. I'd love a decent night out, but can't even manage to organise that for my birthday.

It's working part time that's got me into this mess. When you're still on maternity leave, it seems such an elegant solution to the conundrum of whether to go back. But from this side of the fence the reality is pretty different. It's just not possible to feel you do either the job or the baby justice. Although I'd like to think Louis suffers a little bit less than the paper. Mainly because he gets to hang out more with his Daddy, not forgetting the lovely Anna and his 'Bam-ma'(s) when they have time.

The old guilt of the working mum is as old a chestnut as they come, yet each new mother struggling with her conscience comes to the issue afresh. The conundrum got an airing this weekend when the Observer's political editor described why she'd decided to resign and get to know her toddler instead of working round the clock. It's a great piece, but only served to magnify my own work insecurities because anyone who knows me knows I'd never have cut a holiday short to return to work! (As retail correspondent I managed to miss the bid battle of the century when Philip Green tried to buy Marks & Sparks because I was getting married.) I utterly applaud Gaby Hinsliff for quitting but slightly worry that she's called her inevitable blog usedtobesomebody. It hardly makes it sound like full-time motherhood has much going for it.

And the solution? There isn't one. Not working full time, not working at all, and not even working part time. What to do?


A Modern Mother said...

Part-time seems like a good solution -- the best of both worlds kind of thing. I work part time (from home, but a lot of trips into London) and hubby travels a lot so I know what you mean. But as you say you get the worst of both worlds too. Not to mention to stigma attacted to working mums. There's no easy answer.

Hot Cross Mum said...

It's a never-ending dilemma. I have worked full time, part-time and now stay at home since having the children. Each option comes with its own issues and guilt. In fact, I think if you all lived in idyllic peace and harmony on a tropical island there would still be something to feel guilty about. My advice - try to really enjoy the time you have with your children - don't worry about the time you don't. Award for you over at mine.

Iota said...

No easy answer. By the time you've worked it out, they're at college and it's too late.

Teaching seems an obvious answer, but teachers say it's not.

Babies who brunch said...

I used to think working from home would be the answer.... but then I had Louis!

dulwichmum said...

I worked part-time when my baby turned three and then went full-time when she was four and a half. I always found it easier to be at work than at home and I felt dreadful about that. As work heats up (the recession makes it harder to leave work at the end of each day - you never want to be the first one to leave), I realise that I am losing touch with my chidlren. They are no longer babies and I don't want to miss a minute. I didn't really respect my mum as a teenager as I didn't think that she did much, but she gave up any chance of a career for us. I am now more torn than ever.

There is no answer to this, I know. But as redundancy becomes an ever more realy possibility, I actually think it could be a good thing. Let someone else push me into making a decision here. My children are such good fun now, I want to enjoy them while I still can.

To me, part time was five days work in three days. More stressful than three days!

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