Working mums: in their own words
Liz Turner kicks off a new series of profiles of working mums. The aim is to show the everyday life of a variety of working mums, how they work and how they manage both family and working life.
Liz works in a Jobcentre and has a 10-year-old step-daughter who lives with the family and a 16 month old. She is currently pregnant, with her baby due on 21st August.
She worked full time up until December 2010. After the birth of her baby in January 2011, she took nine months' maternity leave then went back to work three eight-hour days a week. She also works flexi time, so she can build time here and there by working longer or taking shorter lunches.
She has worked for Jobcentre Plus for four years, her first job in the public sector. She has worked since leaving university in 2005.
Liz splits childcare between her mum and a childminder. Her mum has her daughter for one and a half days and the childminder has her for the remaining one and a half days. The childminder lives over the road from her house. For her stepdaughter she only has to cover one afternoon a week as she goes to her mum's house straight after school on a Thursday and Friday. She adds: “Our childcare will need to be looked at further when we have three!!!”
For Liz, working flexi time has been “an absolute god-send”, as is working locally. She says: “ It gives me a little less to stress about.” However, she does worry about the cost of childcare and says that if she had decided to go back to work an extra day a week she would have been working eight more hours for only 20 more pounds after childcare was deducted. She adds: “If I had decided to go back full time, I'd have been out of pocket, as my partner only just earns the cut-off for tax credits, so no help is available to us that way.”
As she has two extra days at home, Liz does most of the childcare and housework. Her partner, who is the main breadwinner, helps to clean the house at the weekends, but does the washing and washing-up most days. However, they do share the cooking, and her partner always does odd jobs round the house as and when required. She says: “He is also a really hands on dad, and if I've had a stressful day with the kids, he'll take over as soon as he's home from work if needs be.”
Liz says that her advice to other working mums would be to do whatever suits you and your family best. “Do not feel guilty, and don't give in to any pressure from other people who will try to offer their opinions without truly knowing your family dynamics,” she states. “If whatever you decide works for you, then great...if it's not working, don't be afraid to change things so it does work. Communication and understanding with your partner is important and if you're a single mum, do accept help from wherever you can - including researching benefits that may be appropriate for you.”