I am angry because I don’t get the same level of support for my career as my husband. I am cross that because I freelance and work from home that I am not even entitled to maternity pay. According to the TUC, the UK is the third worst ranking country in Europe in terms of paid parental leave. Only mothers in Ireland and Slovakia have worse entitlement.
At the moment I feel really hacked off that I carry the mental load for my family. There was a great avalanche of opinion in the media about this, a French feminist, called Emma did this great cartoon about how women carry the burden domestically if they have to tell their partners what to do called ‘You should have asked’. When I showed my other half it, he said it was incredibly sexist. Whilst, I was texting him the date of our twins parents evening, (which he couldn’t make), and reminding him to send his brother a birthday card.
Yes! You might exclaim that women can be their own worst enemies we take on this mental load. We stay up late making or ordering a costume for World Book Day, answering client emails and generally worrying that everything has been done in order for the next day to run smoothly.
Does my husband feel bad if he misses a school assembly or he hasn’t baked cakes for Children in Need. No, but sometimes I do. While I wish I didn’t and I know that I am a strong role model for my kids. I have run my own business from home for the last nine years and I am currently working as freelance writer and copywriter. I still struggle with merging my professional self with the domestic side to life.
I also have to remember that I chose this arrangement because I wanted to be around for my kids and that most of the time the messiness works for us. I can write from the kitchen table and still help them with their homework. I can go to Mums into School day and bring in bought cakes because I don’t bake, and I get to see their smiling faces at pick up and to hear about their day.
The downside is some late nights and sometimes the ‘mental load’ can get too much, disrupted sleep, juggling childcare and working on the run are all things I have to contend with on a regular basis.
Sometimes I think going to work in full time would be easier, I could have someone at home picking up the domestic stuff and come home with the kids fed and in their PJs, ready for a bedtime story. Whilst I know this is the stuff of fantasies and I am sure a fulltime working mother will soon fill me in on the fallacy of this dream.
I hope that my daughters don’t have juggle as much as I do. I would like companies to recognise that more flexible working arrangements for women and men will make home life happier, which will reduce absenteeism and stress at work. In reality, the mental load is real for both sexes, who struggle to work and raise families at the same time.