A few years ago, I worked full time, had no children and most of the things below would never have occurred to me. How times change…
1. Working from home and caring for a child at the same time is impossible for me I’ve heard of people managing to make this work, but for me it’s an absolute “no no”. At best, my little one will want someone to play with, provide snacks and change TV channels at regular intervals. More often than not, she wants to help. Despite my best explanations, she just can’t understand why I won’t let her type in the middle of a Business Requirements Specification, or look at pictures of her cousin Gracie on my work laptop. If I’m attempting to work from home with a toddler companion, it usually means she’s ill. This is a recipe for getting absolutely nothing done, I end up dropping out of conference calls to deal with screaming fits and working into the night once she’s gone to bed.
2. Work life balance differs from person to person It sounds obvious, but it’s vital to work out what hours are best for you and your family. I returned to work full-time after maternity leave and found this too much. I now work three days a week. I find I have to work three consecutive days as taking a break mid-week throws me out of kilter. I feel as if I’ve had two weekends and spend twice the length of time catching up from my days off that I would have done if I’d worked my usual Tuesday to Thursday.
3. I have more holiday than I know what to do with! I book less holiday than I used to because I only need three days to take a week off. My holiday entitlement includes a Bank Holiday allowance to compensate for days that full- timers get off when I wouldn’t be in work anyway. Since I don’t work Mondays or Fridays, I pick up this allowance for pretty much every Bank Holiday.
4. It is much easier to go part-time in an existing role than find a part-time role in the job market It might just be the kind of industry I work in, but I’ve never seen a part-time role advertised that would suit me. However, like a large percentage of my colleagues with pre-school age children, I put in an application to my employer to work flexibly and this was accepted.
5. I am developing an encyclopaedic knowledge of which childhood illnesses mean my child has to be kept away from nursery and the length of exclusion periods My little one had Chicken Pox this year. I could remember having weeks off school when I had this as a child so was surprised to learn that she was allowed back in nursery five days after the first spots appeared. I was equally surprised to learn a) what Hand, Foot and Mouth was and b) that it has no exclusion period.