The Joy of Working

There has been a lot of talk in the last week about the heartfelt and powerful letter written by Donna Hartnett

She raises some very valid points about the struggle that most families make to hold it all together. It is impossible to read her story and not feel her heartbreak.
But in all the ensuing debate about the difficulties of working when you have young children, paying for childcare, getting children out to school/crèche and the constant juggle it involves, there was little mention of the ‘other side’.
By this I mean the joy of working outside the home.
Don’t get me wrong, I work outside if home as much for the financial needs as for anything else. But, that said, I enjoy going out to work. I like my job but that is not the only reason that I like going out to work. 
I love the social interaction, the chat with colleagues, the stimulation and the challenge of it.
 I love using my skill, learning new things, having an uninterrupted coffee break, having a lunch time that is just about me.
I love putting on my work clothes, wearing heels for the whole day, having people say ‘thank you’ and the sense of achievement at the end of the work day.
I love the ‘head space’ that it gives me, the time to follow a thought through.
I love all those aspects of working outside the home….but not all the time.
I love the drive home, the anticipation, the greeting I get when I get there ( mind you this isn’t always the case!) 
I love my renewed enthusiasm for my children, for dedicating all my free time to being with them.
I also love days at home with them, being at the school gate, hearing the after school stories, babychino dates with our youngest, seeing their progress in swimming lessons, and hearing about the newest ballet dance. 
I adore my time at home with them, but I wouldn’t be happy to be there all the time.
There is a lot to love about going out to work.
And yes, it does require juggling, and being super organised but, for me, it is worth it.
I know we are lucky, I can work part time, our children are minded in our home, which makes it a lot easier on them, and on most days either my husband or I can be at the school gate to collect them.
There are very big obstacles but in the way of ( mostly) mothers going back to/staying in work. Flexible working arrangements should be MUCH more common for both parents, and should be feasible in most jobs. Tax relief on childcare should be a priority. The government should take these problems seriously because if they don’t they risk losing a hugely valuable part of the work force.
The also risk leaving women in a more vulnerable position in society.
It might not be the popular thing to say but stay at home parents ( usually mothers), by in large, do not have as much say in the larger financial decisions of a family. If you do not have an income of your own, it is more difficult to dictate spending and it can take away your sense of independence and assertiveness. This can lead to a particular vunerablility.
In an ideal world this would not be the case.
In an ideal world the mammoth work done by stay at home parents, would be recognised and financially rewarded.
Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world.
So while the media were busy portraying these ‘put upon’ mothers who were being forced out to work with the sole purpose of paying bills, they missed the point that there are many, many women who enjoy going out to work, who just need some flexibily, some support to continue in jobs and careers that they love, while being able to also prioritise their children….for many women this is the dream.
If you would like to read some other articles on this topic click on Office Mum  and Bumbles of Rice

6 thoughts on “The Joy of Working”

  1. Very well said – I think too often we focus on the negative aspects – the guilt, the stress – and not enough on the good stuff. I'd say it's partly because there's a tendency to say "well, I'd love to be at home with my kids but I can't afford it" – which is true for lots of people – but it's healthy to say "I work because I have to and because I want to"

  2. Thanks Andrea, it's true that so much discussion about work is focused in the negative. I think many people feel that they will be judged for saying that they enjoy it.

  3. I remember the days of working outside the home and I really enjoyed it. For all the reasons you outlined. But now I have a different job and that brings with it different stresses and challenges. Great post with excellent points.

  4. I stayed at home. I was happy (mostly). I minded two little girls. Their mom worked and was happy (mostly) for me there is no right or wrong. We both did what we wanted to do, and it worked. It's ridiculous that mothers can work and be fulfilled but not be able to say it as that would mean you are a bad mother. Equally you cannot stay at home and say you enjoy it as that would mean you hadn't a brain in your head. I've three girls. I want them to have choices.

    1. That's true, forced choices often lead to unhappy parents, so supporting people's choices where possible can only be good. If possible doing what makes you happy is the key.

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