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The number of women who are the main breadwinners in their family is rising fast. One woman who knows what it’s like to be the main earner in the family is Sally Bradley, Workingmums.co.uk’s events manager.
The number of women who are the main breadwinners in their family is rising fast. According to Aviva, around 16% of women in households with children are the main earners.
The shift in the traditional roles can cause problems, given the ingrained nature of those roles and the pace which which society in general adapts to what has been very rapid changes in the last few decades. However, the rewards can be great with partners, for instance, sharing more of the childcare. One woman who knows what it’s like is Sally Bradley, Workingmums.co.uk’s events manager.
Sally has been the main breadwinner for some time, but earlier this year her family took a further step towards reversing traditional roles when her partner Mick decided to leave his telecomms sales job and set up his own cookery business, The Curry Stall, offering authentic Indian cuisine.
“Mick has always loved to cook,” says Sally. “He has catered for family dos and has all his health and hygiene qualifications. He had had enough of the telecommunications work and wanted to do something he loved and work for himself.”
He started setting up the business in May and has been going to local farmers’ markets near where the family lives in a village just outside of Oswestry in Shropshire. He has his first private function this week and is booked into family festivals for next year. Sally says it was a big decision for the family and they had to think very carefully if they could afford it.
They had moved from London to Shropshire last year to be nearer Mick’s parents and to give their two boys, aged one and four, a better quality of life and more outdoors adventure. Not only were they able to afford a bigger house but they had some money to spare at the end of the month for activities with the children.
The family felt they could afford the transition so Mick, who is half Pakistani half Welsh, handed in his notice and Sally is taking the main responsibility for the family’s finances while the business grows.
Sally has been working at Workingmums.co.uk since last April. With a pedigree of over 20 years in the event management business, she had been freelancing before she got pregnant with her oldest son, Joe. When she became pregnant the cost of insurance became so high that she went on maternity leave for the last six months. After Joe was born, she started looking for part-time work which did not involve huge amounts of travelling away from home. “I never saw anything home-based,” she says, “until Charlie was two months old and I saw the Workingmums ad. I had been out of the workplace for around three years by then and I was more than ready to go back.”
She applied for the job and Mick had to write her covering letter because she had never had to do one, having been either headhunted or having moved with her existing bosses to other jobs. “I got offered the job and then I thought oh my God I haven’t got any childcare,” she says. Luckily, she lived in south London not far from her sister and mum at the time and they helped look after Charlie. Joe was in a nursery three days a week.
Joe is now just about to start school and Mick has been looking after the boys over the holidays and Charlie during term time. “It’s been a massive role reversal from when I was off with the boys,” says Sally.
“It can be a bit difficult for Mick at times which is understandable. He’s very proud and always earned his own money. This is the first time he’s had to rely on someone else. But his relationship with both boys and Charlie in particular is now fantastic. He has had the whole holidays going to parks and doing activities. He does get frustrated going to toddler groups, though, because none of the mums talk to him and he is a very sociable person. He is the only man there.”
She adds that it has also been good for Mick to see what childcare is like, that it is not always a bed of roses and that it is hard work. Sally says she likes having the balance of a stimulating job.
“I like the fact I come to work and use my brain,” she says. “I have quality time with the boys and have Thursday morning and Friday with the boys. That time is very precious. I also like that they can see their mum is working [Sally works mainly from a home-based office, but commutes regularly into London]. They will understand where money comes from. Working also allows me adult time and there is a real sense of achievement at getting events off the ground. I really enjoy my work and I really enjoy my time with the boys.”