I am super excited about speaking with Mother Pukka and her #flexappeal campaign when she comes to Twickenham next week. I first saw Anna in one of her posts when she created a ‘flashmob’ ‘Lets Talk about Flex Baby’, in the centre of London.
Since becoming a Mum I’ve spoken to many local Mums about their experiences of work and parenting, and how the two things combine. There are very few parents who are able to continue with exactly the same jobs after having children; some change or flexibility is required to allow us to spend time with the children and make it back to the nursery/childminder/family member/nanny on time. I have lost count of the times which I have literally sprinted through a busy street to make the train on time, so that I’m not late for pick up!
Personally I have tried out many different working arrangements. After taking a years maternity leave with each of my children, I’ve worked tried working four days, full-time and then ended up burning out and taking six months out to concentrate on being a Mum. I now have the perfect balance of a three day a week role. I have a job share partner (or job pairing as Mother Pukka likes to call it). I know that everybody has different demands and wants different things from work/life/parenting, but personally it took me nearly FIVE YEARS of parenting to find this opportunity and create some balance.
There are also many who have been inspired by the ‘ juggle struggle’ to seize on an idea and create their own businesses. We wouldn’t be here, without Emma @wegotthissometimes who started this after the birth of her second child, when she realised that she would not be able to return to her previous job. The ‘insta-famous’ bloggers who have attended our events @hurrahforgin @unmumsymum and @manvsbaby all started blogging after having children.
However nearly everybody I speak to has or knows somebody who has experienced pregnancy, maternity and paternity discrimination; some have been asked to leave their jobs when pregnant, been refused a return to their previous role, ‘offered’ a demotion on their return to work or refused any type of flexible working. This shouldn’t all be about the Mum’s either, Dads and partners also need flexible working so that they can play a full part in sharing the load, being able to help with homework or take the children to dancing/art club/scouts/karate. That is where ‘Papa Pukka’ comes into play.
Surely we have to demand that work places offer more flexible opportunities and move away from the 9-5 bums on seats mentality. Mother Pukka is keen to point out that this is not just about parents, it is about everybody in the work-force who wants the opportunity to work flexibly, there are those who are care for older/sick relatives or have other interests they want to pursue.
We haven’t even started on the ideas around affordable childcare. I think that has to be a post for a whole other day……. But in the meantime a big shout out to all the Grandparents and family childcarers who make it possible for others to work. Also thinking of those who have sadly lost their parents, are without family support or simply live too far away xxxx