I'm bored of the working mum debate

31 October 2018

Dear friend,

It has been a time of huge change for us as a family. Big lad started his new secondary school and I took on an extra day at work. We have all been busy finding our new norm.

Working more wasn't a decision that I took lightly. I wanted to keep my caring responsibilities at home but I wanted to put more energy into a career I love and reap the financial benefits too. I struggled with the idea of working four days. In all honesty I worried that it signified a shift in my priorities. What effect would it have on our family? Would the boys cope? Would I?

Maybe because of this inner turmoil I noticed more press attention and read a number of blog posts championing the cause of stay at home mums. Most giving highly persuasive well-put arguments that were difficult to challenge. But many that left me with a sense of guilt or shame that I am still not quite getting it right!

Do you ever get the feeling that, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't? I'm bored of the working mum debate.



Let's not forget that women have fought to have more equality in the workplace. We proved that we are competent and capable of taking on the roles traditionally delegated to our fathers.  More women are working. Today, over 70% of women aged 16–64 are employed (53% in 1971) and the majority of mothers work (74.1%).

On the face of it we have made fantastic progress. But the UK has dropped from 9th to 26th place in terms of gender equality. It seems we haven't made a crack big enough in that glass ceiling yet and support for working women remains 'woefully inadequate' according to the King's College London.

I have friends who work full-time, part-time, work from home, are CEOs, stay at home mums, stay at home dads. I love and respect them all. Many women (and men) have made sacrifices for their families whether that was giving up careers, missing out on their child's first day at school, making financial sacrifices or not being home every night to tuck their kids into bed. Each and every one have made the choice that works best for them, their families, their unique set of circumstances.

The crux of the problem for me is, whilst I am able to slip into my dad's company brogues I haven't actually managed to give up my mum's responsibilities. As a teen of the 80's I was sold the idea that women could have it all (I could be the boss in the workplace and still smash it at home).  It has taken me 20 years to realise that to have it all I need help, whether that is flexible working hours, hiring an au pair, having a cleaner or relying on family.

Why are women still arguing amongst ourselves? Whilst we are debating who has made the right choice aren't we failing to get the point. It is a personal choice.

Let's stand together and talk about the issues that really matter and that will make a big difference to women; equality of pay, representation of women in top roles, affordability of child care, flexible working hourstax on sanitary products (tampon tax), higher cost of women's personal care products (the pink tax), zero hour contracts etc

Stop making working mums feel guilty. It is all about finding a balance that works for you. I don't know if this balance will work for us. But I know that I want the support of my sisters (not their judgement) whilst I work it out.





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