Time for reflection

Jess Randall is a single mum with a full-time job as an office manager. To relax she writes books and blogs. Workingmums.co.uk found out about how she uses her "me time".

Working mums don’t get much ‘me time’, but one who uses hers to the full is Jess Randall who spends her evenings and part of her weekends writing and blogging.

Jess [her pen name], who has a 15-year-old daughter and an eight-year-old son, works full time as an office manager for a public sector organisation. She drops her son off at her parents in the morning and her daughter walks to school. In the evenings after the children are in bed, she focuses on her writing.

She has already written a book called Rosie’s Dilemma which tells the story of a woman who is divorced after 15 years of marriage. It deals with the aftermath of the divorce and has many parallels with Jess’ life. She is a single parent and divorced in May 2008 after many years of marriage.

“The book details all the decisions you are faced with, the financial problems, the worries about the future of your children. I started writing it after talking to friends who had been through similar experiences and they said it would be a good idea to write about it,” she says. “There are things I look back on now and wish I had done them differently, but you are guided by emotion and are dealing with the trauma of it all. It’s the worst time to be making decisions.”

She wrote the book to help her reflect on her own personal experience and says she is so glad she did so. “I hope it will help others,” she says. One of the things she says she learned from her own divorce was not to rush into another relationship just because one has failed. “It’s better to take time out and heal first,” she says, “but a lot of people are anxious to meet someone and show they can have a successful relationship.” She is one of them. She went into a long-term relationship one year after her marriage broke up and that relationship ended around five months ago. “It was too soon,” she says. “Since I’ve been on my own I’m much happier and the children are happier. They come first. I feel I am in a good place now.”

Nevertheless, she says the end of a 15-year marriage is a big deal. At the time of the split she was working full time and faced a long commute. “I should have taken some time off to sort things out, but I kept going to work hoping it would take my mind off things. I was always very conscientious too and didn’t want to appear unprofessional,” she says.

Rosie’s Dilemma is out on Amazon as an e-book and will be published in paperback in the US by Create Space.

Jess, who has moved back to Warwickshire where she grew up, is now working on a second book on British Asian families. She says she was always “a bit of a daydreamer” as a child. “I loved reading and by 10 I had read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Sherlock Holmes and books on Greek mythology,” she says.

She adds that being a single mother now she has time in the evenings and at weekends when her children are busy or in bed. “I’d rather do something positive with that time,” she says. “My job is kind of methodical. My writing is the opposite and is all about being creative and imaginative. I’d rather know that I had tried than be a frustrated writer.”

Jess also blogs and her blog [www.jessrandall.com] has helped her reflect on her own childhood and its impact on her own parenting style. She recently blogged on being a working mum and recalled her childhood growing up looking after her brothers, one of whom had special needs. Her parents were working hard setting up their own business and she says she hardly ever saw her mother. “They were building the business for their family,” she says, “and trying to provide a decent future for us.” However, the experience of feeling fairly unsupported as she tackled bulling at school and other issues has left an impact on her and made her keen to pursue a good work life balance so she can meet her children’s emotional needs as well as their material ones.

“I didn’t really have anyone to talk to and kept a lot to myself as a child,” she says, “so it is important that my children feel they can talk to me.”

Jess, who is also on the governing body of her daughter’s secondary school, started her blog at the end of March, but has already done 60 posts. “Once I find something I really throw myself into it,” she says.

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