Apparently I have a bits & pieces job…
You may be aware I just returned to work part-time after having my third child (see my previous post A Big Ol’ Bag of Motherguilt for that story). I am working 20 hours a week across 4 days to incorporate school drop-off and pick-up so I am limited in my work flexibility. I am at a team leader level in my organisation so I am used to jobs with a decent amount of responsibility and challenge. I have returned to a new position in my old team as the work I was doing has been moved to another site with more people doing it…don’t ask, I have no idea how that happened either!
When I returned last week, my manager, who is one of the loveliest people I know, was quite frank and explained she didn’t have a full job for me as I was not full-time and was apologetic I could not be given a role commensurate with my skills and experience. I was okay with this at the time as I had just returned to the office and was more interested in the logistics of how I was going to get from work to my daughter’s school and then home to meet my son’s special transport in the space of 30 mins ( I can do it but it is by the skin of my teeth every day!)
But now I have given it some more thought and am moving beyond the settling in period (you know the time when you don’t have all your accesses, when people still don’t know you’re back, when you don’t have a working phone – which I still don’t have!) and I am wondering what I am going to do with myself for those 20 hours each week. There are natural ebbs and flows in the work of my area so there will be busy times each month but there will also be many times where I will be literally scratching around for something to do. As I can’t be given responsibility for certain tasks as I am not there all the time, I will be forever asking others for work and checking whether there is anything I can assist them with.
This is not the end of the world but it is not the stimulating break from home that I was hoping for. As I learn more and get more confident I’m sure I’ll have more to do but I am not relishing the prospect of just being an add-on to the team when I know I could do so much more. I am a realist and I know that my hours are not ideal for employers. I am grateful each and every day that I have been given the opportunity to return to the workforce and also be there for my kids before and after school. It’s just frustating that there is no way I can contribute to my full potential. And I can’t even look to move elsewhere in the organisation as my hours just won’t be enough for most areas.
Yes, this has been a big whinge and I should be more grateful for what I have – but why can’t working mothers seek meaningful positions that allow them to effectively contribute to their organisation but also do what they do best – be awesome mothers? Why do mothers have to choose between their kids and their careers? Why can’t more employers look at more flexible options for their staff (like allowing them to do some work from home) which could result in far more productivity on so many levels for all?
It is great that the government has brought in a maternity leave scheme so more mothers can be supported and can spend time with their babies. But more needs to be done to support and encourage those mothers to rejoin the workforce – let’s face it, if you’re going to go to the trouble of finding and paying for suitable child care you want it to be worth the hassle. And a bits and pieces job just won’t do it for a lot of mothers who are seeking job satisfaction and stimulation outside of the home. Alas, I do not have any answers to this conundrum…but I will continue to mull over it and let you know whether I make any headway in my workplace!