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Estelle Currie is a tv editor and has worked for the BBC and the Times Educational Supplement. She describes her working life and how she juggles it all.
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
Three daughters aged 11, 9 and 6.
How much time did you take off for maternity/paternity leave?
I was at home with each child for roughly nine months, although I have never had a traditional maternity leave! Broadcast journalism = contract work so, child 1 – just finished a contract and stayed at home. Child 2, had been freelancing for Radio, so just stayed home on statutory maternity pay. Child 3 – had intended a traditional maternity leave, but ended up leaving.
Did you keep in touch with your job during maternity leave?
Child 1, no. Child 2, yes. Child 3, had to!
How was the first week back?
Not applicable as new job in each case. But I was ready to go back and generally happy.
What kind of childcare do you have and are you happy with it?
I have the same childminder since my first baby. My children love her and she loves us.
What has been your worst moment as a working parent?
Discovering how fragile your working arrangements can be when one of them is ill, or part of the process breaks down.
And your best?
When younger team members tell me that they feel inspired and positive about combining motherhood and work, despite seeing me in action! Meeting deadlines within budget and proving that being a working mum is possible.
What is your typical working day?
Up at 6.45am – lunchboxes, empty washing machine and put on another load, wake children, do breakfast, get them and me dressed for school and work, leave home + dog to walk to school, drop off children and take dog for quick walk, drop off dog and pick up workbag, catch train. The day job runs from 9.30am to 6 or 7pm (husband does pick-up).
Home for dinner – kids homework / music practice / baths – pick one – not possible every evening – then bed.
How many hours a week do you work/what is your work schedule eg full time, flexitime, compressed hours, etc?
I work four days per week – three full days in the office, plus fourth day split between Monday and Friday which I work from home.
What do you feel, if anything, needs to change to improve work/family
My husband also works part time so we can spend as much time as possible with the kids, but still earn some money and remain sane with other interests. I am generally happy with my lot as my company is very flexible. I can adjust my hours to take them to school and my husband picks them up. Another huge plus for me is that I don’t work school holidays – but I don’t get paid then either. I don’t think I could now work in a traditional framework as I would feel restricted – we have managed to make this work, but it has taken a lot of finetuning and it is quite fragile – financially especially.
Do you feel there is enough support/advice for working parents?
I work in a creative industry where I feel comfortable about talking about my children and have always felt comfortable organising my working practices. However, I do feel that I have had to make it work by putting some career plans on hold and occasionally taking jobs for which I am over-qualified, then working my way up. Finding part-time jobs is impossible – companies should be more creative about offering new jobs which are part-time, as in my experience mums/dads are very keen to prove their worth.