Redundancy looms (as my baby heads off to school)

Good luck my baby...

The uniform has been bought, buddies met and orientation days done. We’re off to school this week.

I have a strange hole in my heart about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for Mr Meat & Potatoes who has been keen to catch up to his big sister, but I’m also feeling a little empty for myself and what this means for our little family idyll. I’m feeling now that I am no longer needed (between 9-3) and I don’t know what will happen next. Once all of the kids are at school, there’s an expectation that we need to head off and ‘get a life’ (as if we are slightly sad, useless creatures), but only one that fits around everyone else’s busy schedules – mums are never entirely free, are we?

I guess I am lucky – Vegie Smugglers has bought in a good part-time income and kept my CV interesting rather than gappy. It’s only 2 years since I worked regularly as a magazine designer and my skills are still pretty relevant. It’s not the case for many women. At the tea & coffee table on the final orientation day, I got chatting to a woman who is farewelling her third (and last) child. The others are in year 3 and 5. She was looking anguished.

“Time to go back to work?” I asked.

“But what would I do, I have no skills”, she said, “Well, maybe deep down I have some skill somewhere, but nothing important”.

I was shocked. A beautifully turned out, friendly woman who has a track record of 12 years of loyal service, compassion and strength, thinks her future is bleak since her most recent experience is just being ‘a mum’.

I can’t express how angry I am about the relegation of the most crucial role in our society. Being a financier who can fill in forms and read spreadsheets, now THERE are skills. But a woman who can mentally, logistically and emotionally hold together a family for 12 years deems herself ‘useless’.

Sigh.

Another woman recently confided to me that sending her youngest off to kindy was followed by a good 3 months of depression as she shifted to her new life.

Ironically, the transition to motherhood triggered depression for me and I’m not eager to relive it as I mourn my babies growing up and leaving me. So I’m keen to hear from wise women who’ve been through this transition and can advise how to keep it as positive and smooth as possible.

So words of wisdom… please….

2/2/12 UPDATE: Yay! First day done and dusted. All went well – a bit of a relief to get things all underway. Thanks to everyone for your lovely emails and posts. My best friend took this pic this morning without me knowing and I love it – my little boy and me both heading off into our futures…

The first day of the rest of our lives...

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19 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Cath said,

    My daughter is at school but i still have a baby at home (almost 2) and i too agree…i find myself saying when asked what i do “I AM JUST A MUM” just a Mum??? so not Just a Mum but that is how it comes out! I also have my own successful business but i never mention this, as being “Just a Mum” is the part of my CAREER that i am most proud of. I have many friends who’s youngest children are in High School and they do not work (they don’t need to financially) but they WORK at home, doing stuff to make their families awesome…..So i say to you lovely lady, keep doing what you are doing…just with a tiny bit more time in the day, making awesome books, making awesome meals, having an awesome house and keeping together an awesome family! That is MORE than 40 hours a week!

  2. 3

    Stacey McMillan said,

    I am definately feeling the tug on this one. My youngest started school the week just gone, he is the youngest of 8. This last week has been very awkward for me, no playgroups or swimming lessons. Just a quiet house. I havent had a job in a long time. My resume for the last 15 years is empty….I have absolutely NO idea what to do with myself. Im looking forward to reading some responses and seeing what other mums did in this time.

    • 4

      wendyblume said,

      Hi Stacey, Well done on raising 8 children to school age – you’re AMAZING! I struggle with just my two. Everyone says to me that it’s time now to focus back on myself, but it can be really difficult to know where to start, can’t it!

    • 5

      wendyblume said,

      Over on facebook, I”m getting some suggestions: this one from Cherie… If your not ready to go straight back to work you can offer to help in the classroom Eg here we have home readers so the children have to read to you etc It’s not all day just for roughly an hour in the morning

      • 6

        Jessica Linke said,

        Yeah tuckshops are always desperate for volunteers. And I heard a bunch of interviews with tuckshop parents on ABC radio recently and they said it was great, they got to know all of their kids teachers and friends really well. And they always knew what was going on at the school as well.

  3. 7

    Trina said,

    You’ll find 9-3 really is a very short time. Then there’s parent rosters, school excursion to go on and canteen duty. So if you don’t go back to paid work there is plenty of volunteering to do at you kids school. I didn’t work when my first two were in primary school and ended up doing a lot of unpaid work for their schools. My youngest (14 year age group between the last one! Eeek but fun) has experienced something different, daycare 3 days a week from the age of 3. I haven’t got a job this year yet (the life of a fixed term teacher) but it is so complicated once you add work in there.

  4. 8

    Jessica Linke said,

    Don’t lose heart on the employment front, ladies. It really depends on the employers you approach. My husband and I own two bakeries, and we often need staff to just work a few (like 4, maybe 5) hours during the middle of the day, to cover the lunch rush. We find Mums with kids in school are perfect for this kind of shift, noone else wants such few hours and it’s during the day when their kids are in school. I know a lot of women have qualifications left over from their pre-SAHM days that they would like to get back into; and I know that retail isn’t exactly a glamour profession, but there is work out there for those who look in the right places – if you want it, that is. No sense going back to work just because someone says you ‘should’ want to. We’ve employed many women who haven’t ‘worked’ (in the commercial sense, lol) for many, many years while they raised their families.

    Don’t forget also – if there’s a hobby you’ve always wanted to pursue – photography, scrapbooking, working out, swimming, painting or whatever, now’s your time to hook into it! Part time study is also available to you. You can study all kinds of things from professional agencies online. Or take a part time TAFE course in whatever interests you. Pretty much anything you ever said “I can’t wait until the kids are older and I can try that/get back into that!” lol

    • 9

      Jessica Linke said,

      Oh and there’s always charities like Vinnie’s shops etc which are desperate for volunteers. You’d be helping a worthy cause and hopefully getting a good, recent reference for your resume out of it. If you can be reliable, competent and personable for free, then you can sure do it for a paycheck! (From an employer’s perspective, lol)

  5. 10

    Vikki Blyth said,

    My first tip is not to rush into anything. Time to find out what you really want out of life is important. Secondly stay at home mums can be just as busy if you decide to support your childrens school or community. One mum I know helped in the tuckshop & then the library and had enjoyed working with the IT equipment so much she went on to do further study ending up as IT support for the school. After such a long time at home with kids it does take time to adjust, give yourself the time and headspace to make an informed decision.

  6. 11

    wendyblume said,

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment both here and on the facebook page today. It’s all been great advice and I’m feeling alot more positive. I’m maybe even looking forward to a wee rest this week. might take myself off for the day on Friday and do some fun things just for me… imagine that!

  7. 12

    Kamya said,

    My advice to Mum’s is “It’s now time to take Long Service Leave” ! It’s what we’d qualify for in the paid workforce and so why not reward ourselves with this mindset when we find ourselves at this time in our mothering journey. And it’s certainly an effective reply to those who inadvertently put pressure on us with the question of what we are now going to do with ourselves (as if we are redundant!) Take some time out to re-evaluate without stress and distractions, to do some of those things with out guilt that have been put aside to the elusive ‘one day’ and just give yourself some space to see what opportunities present. It’s worked very well for a couple of girlfriends who have done just this and ‘taken LSL” and I hope I can take my own advice next year when I’m in the same position 🙂

    • 13

      wendyblume said,

      I like this kamya! I’m actually putting together a list of things that I’ve been putting off – nice things – and I’ll work away on it over the next few weeks. And who knows, I might even have the term 2 planner ready more than a day before term starts!!!! Well, maybe not.

      • 14

        Kamya said,

        Good on you Wendy !!! I expect I could spend a few days just paralysed with possibilities if I let myself think about it – but boy is the lack of their exuberant presence during school hours going to take some getting used to !!

  8. 15

    Mandy Seeger said,

    As many have said, most schools encourage parent participation in a number of activities, my daughter started Prep last year and I also have a toddler so unfortunately can’t help with things like reading groups but I signed up for the PFA which is extremely rewarding, helping raise much needed funds for the school. Our school has a breakfast club and Fresh Fruit Friday which are always crying out for volunteers and I help there regularly. I’m also involved with the annual major fundraisers like our school fete and there are also things like working bees where you can lend a hand.

  9. 16

    Edwina said,

    Off the track a bit but I went to the same primary school your kids do and it brings back memories seeing the logo! How funny! My only is heading off on his first day on Monday, with mixed emotions from me, but mainly happy ones. PS Love the photo of the two of you walking.

  10. 18

    jennyblume said,

    I’m so lucky I’m a genius, I didn’t miss a beat. Happy to have the brat out whilst I take over the world. Love Pe I mean Jen.


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