Extract: Chapter 1 Finding Ways to Work

This is an extract from Family Friendly Working, the book.

Chapter 1:

This first chapter will help you assess your strengths, skills and motivation.
By reading this you will be able to work out more easily which of the ideas in the following chapters will suit you and fit with your family and circumstances. There is also information about employment and self-employment, and a guide to your rights if you have a job but want to change your hours to fit with the family.

Why do you want to work?

Before you start looking for ideas, take a moment to work out what you are looking for. Why do you want to work? Is it purely financial necessity? Whatever your work, would you rather be at home with the children every day? Emma says, ‘I didn’t want to go back to work at all, and we managed for a while, but I’ve just started working evenings because otherwise we can’t pay all the bills at the end of the month.’
Or do you desperately need to do something that involves adult conversation? Will one more episode of the Teletubbies tip you over the edge? Elaine, mum to Tim, now eight, says, ‘I remember the moment when, sitting in the lounge one afternoon, I just felt I was going to run out of the house screaming. I was going slowly mad, sitting here watching CBeebies with Tim, and I needed desperately to find something more interesting to do, at least some of the time.’

Tim decided that he’d put his career second when his daughter was a baby. His father had had a busy job and he remembers seeing very little of him as a child, so when his father died when Tim was still quite young, he was left with a real desire to be around for his children. Tim’s daughter is now a teenager, and he has two sons aged six and one. Tim says, ‘I now work some evenings and weekends as a musician. I’m able to take my older son to school, and play in the park with the little one.’ Tim’s partner Charlotte is self-employed too. Tim says, ‘Working this way means we don’t have lots of money, but I love my days with the children. We don’t have a car, and try to get second-hand clothes and furniture, but it’s more important to me to know I’m a big part of my children’s’ lives.’

When can you work?

Before you rush off to the JobCentre, think about when it would suit you best to work. Take into account factors such as whether you are good at early mornings or better at late
nights. Are your children at school, and who could drop them off or pick them up if you weren’t available? Do you have friends or family members who could take turns with collecting and dropping children off? Or can you offer evenings, weekends and bank holidays? And even if you are planning on working while your little ones nap, think about how you will fit in the other jobs you might normally have down in this time. Don’t just think about how the cleaning and washing is going to get done. You also need some time for yourself and for your partner and this can easily get shoved aside.

Nadine Lewis found the decision to quit her job after the birth of her twins and work from home was almost made for her. She had returned to work after the birth of her first child, Abby, and loved her career in HR. She says, ‘It was different with three children under the age of three. Childcare cost me £22 each child per day. I worked three days a week, and although I would have got a discount on the fees if I had gone full time I valued the days with the kids too much. My job seemed well paid, but I just couldn’t afford to return to work, pay the cost of travel, clothes and lunches, income tax, NI and so on. I would have been working for negative income.’ Nadine started to work from home as a virtual assistant, but then came up with an idea for an emergency ID card for children. She now works full-time at her company, IceGems, which makes a range of ID solutions.

If you want to read more, buy the book.