Never Mind The Kids, It’s Work Keeping Mums Awake At Night

The first meeting of my new post-kids freelance career took place at an upmarket private members club deep in the countryside. Suited, booted and over-prepared I navigated the car down the long entrance drive before promptly taking a wrong turn and ending up down a lane to the side of the car park....instead of in the car park itself. An automatic wooden gate slammed shut behind me. Perspiring slightly but determined not to arrive late I got out of the car, marched back down the muddy lane in 2-inch heels and clambered over the gate in my best suit to unlock it from the other side, all the while trying to maintain a calm, purposeful demeanour in case the client had spotted this unfortunate spectacle. It seems to me now that a panic-stricken vault over a muddy gate in heels is a fitting metaphor for working life as mother, certainly for me and for many of the mums I know. Sharon Horgan's brilliant new series 'Motherland' depicts working mum life hilariously and with painful accuracy as an adrenaline-thumping rollercoaster of short-lived highs, rage-inducing frustrations and a lot of frenetic juggling. For many of us, the struggle of combining work and parenting reflects the biggest struggle of becoming a parent - how to balance our personal goals and aspirations with the needs of our children. And the choices we've made (or had to accept) about our working lives can preoccupy our minds whether we're stay-at-home mums or working full or part-time. As it's often a source of frustration, stress or even guilt, work can almost become a taboo subject among mums. We often assume that everyone else has got it all figured out perfectly, while simultaneously worrying about offending those who have made different choices to our own. But truthfully with exception of a lucky few (who should be shouting it from the rooftops!) I don't think that many of us feel like we've got it sussed and opening up to each other about our decisions, skills, ambitions, successes and set-backs can only be a good thing as we navigate this tricky path together. For me, a freelancing part-timer, it might seem like I've achieved the perfect balance, but as a paid-up (hopefully!) member of the 'gig economy' it isn't always a bed of roses. While it has many advantages and the work itself is great, the freelancing life is unreliable by nature - it can be feast one month, famine the next and the lack of certainty over workload and income makes planning childcare and budgeting difficult. Plus there's not much office banter at the kitchen table! But it feels like the best option for now when good, local part-time roles in my industry seem hard to come by. Perhaps our generation of mums should see ourselves as trailblazers with a shared mission to find flexible work that satisfies our professional ambitions while complementing family life. The more we share our experiences and advice with each other in person, the more likely we are to find what we want. Personalities like Mother Pukka and forward-thinking recruitment companies like 2to3days.com are already championing the flexible working revolution and making it their mission to educate employers about this huge, motivated pool of hidden talent. The more we support one another and the louder we shout about what we want and all that we have to offer, the better.