|My first battle station when working from home - the kitchen table|
|My new career in digital marketing|
From office to home then back to the office
After I gave birth, six years ago, I realised I couldn't go back to my job as inhouse freelance subeditor - and it became even more obvious when we moved out of London. The reason: a different outlook on life + you guess it, the childcare cost (and worry - think of those horrible stories in the media of children mistreated or neglected by childminders and nurseries).
I was an older mum so I had savings and yes, I missed work so I did a lot of volunteering, which continued (and continues) when I started to earn again.
Some women decide it's time to start their own business using the power of the internet - think Mumsnet, Britmums and e-commerce websites that started in bedrooms, garages and even on kitchen tables. I did a homeworking carnival a few years back but it's still relevant now and it features a fella too! Read it here.
Work-life balance, not only for women, men want it too!
Behind all this there is the quest for improved work-life balance and the bonus of seeing your kid take the first step, climb all over the furniture and learn to use a computer as a toddler!
I didn't miss any precious moment - I had my daughter at home till aged three and eligible for the 15 hours - which I struggled to increase to a few more even if willing to pay as the preschool was oversubscribed. I used to get up at 5am to work as she had always been a terrible day napper. Then she went to school and I got her in an oversubscribed afterschool club one day, then two, then three and from September of 2012 full time. I felt a bit bad as it's a long day from 845 till 6 but it allowed me to start temping out of the house part-time while still working from home.
In retrospect homeworking was not for me, the dream didn't come true... I was doing well working for a publisher, writing copy for websites, but I felt lonely, depressed in the winter months. I tried to keep super busy by volunteering for a breastfeeding cafe, SureStart centre, my daughter's preschool and school. I even helped out to publicise local events. And in spite of a beautiful view of the garden from my 'working window' (when we managed to buy a home), I was miserable. It was no good telling myself I was pretty lucky!
Then my partner found work he could do from home - so we decided that we would switch as he was fed up of commuting to London and come back at night because of the long hours. He hardly saw Michela except at weekends, he left when she was still sleeping and came back when she was in bed. And he worked away some weekends! I started applying for jobs and started my current job in April 2013 during the school holidays!
Now, aside my story, it's not only women who want to have a good work/life balance, men do too. I have met lots of them, especially here in Cambridge where the university is a more flexible employer. So let's see how it goes, I am on a temporary contract so anything can happen.
I enjoy being 'the man' during the week, my partner has taken over childcare and gets lots of work done because he is saving hours on commuting. He is saving money, so he has not increased his day rate, so everybody is a winner!
Mumpreneuring - most working mums dream of it!
Research carried out in April 2013 by Swedish clothing company me&i - you guessed it, a children’s clothing company founded in 2004 by two Swedish mums working from their kitchen table - reveals that, given the right business idea, nearly three quarters (73%) of working mums would leave the financial security of their current employment for a more entrepreneurial life – in order to give them the freedom to spend more time with their family.
Of the 1,500 working mothers who took part the survey, conducted by OnePoll, 64% have taken steps to improve their work-life balance since having children, with 50% opting for part-time working. However, in spite of this, many mums still find working in a traditional office environment a cause of stress, particularly when having to deal with family emergencies, such as a child’s illness (54%).
This inability to attain their desired work-life balance has led to a rise in working mothers carving out their own careers – fuelling the growth of a Mum-Economy. Business journalist Rachel Bridge, says: “The challenges faced by women returning to work after maternity leave are well-documented. However, what we are now seeing is a shift towards working mums taking control of their situation and setting their own employment agenda for the benefits offered by an improved work-life balance.”
It's no huge surprise that the internet has played a leading part in facilitating this, either directly - with mums buying and selling items - or indirectly through the world of possibilities that it has opened up. Personally speaking, I did carve out a decent career out of digital copywriting and remote editing + I know of a mum who started an eBay shop using her small garage as warehouse.
The good news is that according to this research, the trend is inspiring consumers - many mums would prefer to buy from a business run by mums (35%) rather than a big brand name (16%). Again, everybody is a winner!
What do you think?
Let me have it... hit me with your strong opinions of whether it's best to be a homeworker or working away from home. I might have gone back to rattitude with my contract job but it's a reformed, cycle-to-work rat! I get home by 6 so I can spend time with my daughter and the weekends are all about her. She has bonded with her dad more and we are all happy now as my partner is less stressed - he hated commuting!