Getting Back Into The Workforce: Part-time and Flexible options

Career Loving Parents (Working Mums – and dads too!)

Missuswolf Career loving parents

Image from Pixabay

Are you a Career Loving Parent? Why not take this quiz to find out what your chances are of getting a part-time or flexible job …

Quiz

Full Time But Still Flexible

Here I am. Four weeks into working life following ten months maternity.

And how am I coping?

I’m going to be honest. It is tiring and my head can be all over the place.

But it’s not been as hard as I imagined. Organisation is key and I’m lucky that I have flexible employers that accommodate nursery pick-ups/drop offs.

Which is why I’m massively in support of the Hire Me My Way Campaign.

Empowering Women Back Into The Workforce

Missuswolf women working on car flexible work options

Image from Pexels

 

I’ve blogged previously about my thoughts on wellbeing and a work/life balance. I truly believe to achieve happiness and contentment in your life – especially as a parent – you need a happy medium.

You need time away from being a parent – where you have a role and responsibility outside of raising a small human.

Even if it’s just for a few hours a day.

To regain your sense of person and sense of purpose. Of course I’m not suggesting you don’t feel purpose by being a parent.

It’s the

biggest purpose

in life.

Just that you need that part of yourself back where you’re using your brain, personality and skill set to contribute to the running costs of raising a family.

1 in 4 workers have part-time jobs and everyone now has the right to ask their employer if they can work part-time. But as most working mums know, this apparent easy availability of part time work disguises many problems:

You can ask your current employer if you can work part-time, but what happens if your request is rejected?

And what happens after a few years, when you think it’s time to move on/look for promotion?

What if you take an extended maternity break, so leave your old employer and are looking for a new job when you decide to return to work?

When you’re looking for a new job, less than 1 in 20 are advertised on a part-time basis (for quality jobs with salaries at £20k+ pro rata).

The result is that many people (mostly women) get stuck in their current jobs. And when they have no choice but to look for a new part-time job, its commonplace to be forced to down-skill, taking a salary below their true value in the workplace.

I feel passionate about this. It’s not the world I want to bring my daughter up in.

1,500,000 people in the UK are currently trapped in low-paid part-time jobs below their skill level.

I want her to go out there, get a career she’s happy with, have a family and then return to working in a flexible role that matches her skill set.

And not get trapped and become de-skilled.

Missuswolf career loving parents flexible working

Image from Unsplash

 

The Hire Me My Way campaign is calling on all employers to start advertising their new jobs as being open to flexible working options. In other words, extending the ‘right to ask for flexibility’ to day one of a new hire, rather than just being a right for existing employees.

 

Anyone who feels strongly about this issue can sign up to the campaign here: http://hirememyway.org.uk/  to help the Hire Me My Way team put more pressure on employers.

You can check out employers who have joined the campaign and agreed to start hiring flexibly here.

I feel like now is the time to make some changes.

Women are at a stage where they are thriving in careers and we need to keep that skill set in the workforce.

Not penalise them because they’ve had a family.

Take the Quiz here.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Disclosure: Collaborative Post

Stripped Back: Red Wine, Terry’s and a Good Old Fashioned Black and White

Missuswolf stripped back bare trees

Despite one of the tag lines of my blog revolving around Fizz, I occasionally cheat on her with her cousin.

Vino rouge.

For those of you who know me, you know my strict relationship with wine.

Those of you who don’t, here I shall explain.

Once the seasons change, so does the colour of my wine.

As September sweeps in and the Autumn leaves curl, the crisp and dry vino blanco, once shared at sunset on patios, becomes an evocative shade of red.

A big, strong glass that can be sipped all night long. Preferably in front of a roaring fire.

Which I don’t have.

Once upon a time I would seek one out in a pub. And sit until last orders with my OH. Putting the world to rights.

Planning our next venture.

Well tonight, on this bitter eve after the Thundersnow (FYI I saw snow but missed the thunder) it’s been more of a toast to our ventures.

Life is deliciously chaotic at the moment and after the weeks militant routine, sometime it’s just nice to kick back and, you know, just chill.

Warts and all. By this I mean cosy in my winter jarmies, hair scraped back with sudocrem (yes you read right) over the winter boils that encroach my face.

Sipping red wine with a bar of Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Watching a good old fashioned black and white film with the mister.

We may sound old, boring or uncouth. But I feel incredibly relaxed. There’s something utmost soothing about watching old films.

They appear to have lived in simpler times.

And in these crazy times that we live in, sometimes it’s just nice to take a step back. Out of it all.

So tonight we watched Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A title so well known yet I’m ashamed to admit I wasn’t at one for knowing the story line. Argh.

But now I do.

And I want to know many more story lines from many more good old-fashioned movies.

Just while the nights are dark and the wine is red.

Until I’m back on a patio at sunset and the wine is white.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Image from Pexels

Guest Post: The Books I Love Reading With My Boys

Today’s guest post is from the lovely Deb Sharratt from My Boys Club who is kindly sharing with us the books that she’s loved reading with her boys …

 

@MyBoysClub is a lifestyle, travel and food blog by Deb Sharratt all about enjoying life in a family of boys. Follow at www.myboysclub.co.uk or on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

  

The books I’ve loved reading with My Boys …

There are so many reasons why reading to and with your children is a good thing. Helps them learn to read, improves concentration, teaches them new things, improves vocabulary, encourages creativity, can develop empathy and is calming and relaxing. However as well as all this it’s fun. It’s a special time between parent and child and I’ll really miss it when my boys no longer want to read with or to me or indeed no longer want a bedtime story.

Maybe that’s the reason why I’m a keen buyer of kids box sets and series of books  – I’m trying to make the bedtime story last forever! Anyway here are my top seven series of books sets.

 

Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child have been read and spoken so many times in out house that my boys can recite the entire books perfectly without having to read them. The books have inspired trails, such as this one in Hamsterley Forest,(http://www.myboysclub.co.uk/2016/10/all-leaves-are-brown.html) but other stories such as Tiddler, Stick Man, Monkey Puzzle and The Smartest Giant in Town too, with their flowing, soothing, rhyming stories are a favourite with toddlers and are just as delightful for older children as well.

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

My Boys receive their first ‘Wimpy Kid’ books as a reward for having 100% attendance at school and they have been hooked ever since. With both typed text and comic strip style illustrations, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney are all about a kid called Greg who fills in his journal (not a diary!!) of all the misadventures in his life. Everything Greg seems to do has hilarious consequences and his family are very funny.

My Boys couldn’t stop reading these books and thought they were funny and fun to read. They also laugh out loud at the films too.

Michael Morpurgo

Any collection of books by one of the nation’s favourite storyteller is one to treasure. The former British Children’s Laureate, Michael Morpurgo is known best for

children’s novels such as War Horse (1982) but has written over 100 books. His work is noted for its “magical storytelling” but also for recurring themes such as the triumph of an outsider or survival, for characters’ relationships with nature, and for vivid settings such as the war. We are now on our second collection of books. I was a little worried about the subject matter at first – the books cover wars, morality, death and what is deemed right and wrong but in doing have provoked many questions about so allows my boys to learn to share and express their thoughts.

 

Mr Men

Ever since the first books were published in 1971, Roger Hargreaves’ Mr. Men have been an enduring favourite with children (and parents!) of all ages. The likes of Mr. Happy, Mr. Tickle, Mr. Bump and friends must rank as some of the most famous characters in children’s books – and the boys love reading them as much as I did when I was a child. There are so many to enjoy and we love the bold, bright illustrations and simple storylines that make the Mr. Men stories fun and appealing for my boys to read over and over again. Every Mr. Men character has a key personality trait that provides huge entertainment as they head off on a variety of adventures but my favourite one remains Mr. Tickle.

Dr Seuss

Well, what can you say about Dr. Seuss’ wild, wacky and energetic creations? They are amazing. Entertaining. Loveable. And tell a great story too in rhyme making them easy to read and even easier to listen to. From The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, to How The Grinch Stole Christmas, these are timeless books of crazy rhymes and weird and wonderful characters that we never tire of reading.

 


Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl’s short stories are known for their unexpected endings and his children’s books for their unsentimental, macabre, often darkly comic mood, featuring villainous adult enemies of the child characters. His books champion the kind-hearted and feature an underlying warm sentiment. Some of his best-known books for children include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine.

Read about our year of celebrating 100 years of Roald Dahl

(http://www.myboysclub.co.uk/2016/12/2016-year-celebrating-roald-dahl.html).

 

His stories have gone on to capture the hearts and imaginations of children and adults across the globe, Matilda has always been a firm favourite with me and my boys.

 

How to Train A Dragon

These books inspired the Dreamworks How to Train Your Dragon films. It is a series of twelve children’s books written by British author Cressida Cowell. The books are set in a fictional Viking world and focus on the experiences of protagonist Hiccup as he overcomes great obstacles on his journey of becoming a hero the hard way. The books have some illustrations, activities and also teach you how to speak Dragonese and train your own dragon to do tricks!

My boys love them all but they are perfect for children of any gender. Whichever books you choose to read, enjoy, it’s a very special time.

What’s your favourite book to read with your children?

Deb x

 

The First Week Back At Work After Maternity

Missuswolf First week at work after maternity girl in the air

Image credit – Pexels

We made it! I’ve got the Friday feeling for the first time in nearly ten months – and boy does it feel good!

Granted my Friday now involves picking up a Little Lady from nursery and heading home. As opposed to picking up the hubby and heading to the pub.

But what the hell. The fact is I’d been out the house by myself for nearly eight hours. Me Time 🙂

Well, the one thing I’ve learnt from my experience in my first week back to work is:

Organisation

is

key.

Packing bags and laying out clothes the night before equates to a smooth running morning.

Alarm goes off – jump in the shower. Snaffle a banana while I do my hair and make-up. Throw my clothes on. Get Ella dressed and then go go go!

All Christmas Ella was up about 6.15. Bloomin typical.

What does she do on the first day?

Lie in.

So you can imagine my horror as I tapped her lightly to wake her up. Pulling that wincey face as I braced myself for huffy tears.

None came.

Hurrah.

In the car off to work with my bag (yippee, I actually have my own bag. Although I need a new one desperately. Waiting to earn myself some pennies first) her bag and I even managed to pack a gym bag. Go me.

Arrive at nursery at just after 7am (Ella is there everyday from 7. Her finishing times vary between 1pm and 3pm. Pickups are shared amongst me and the family).

For those of you who have been reading my blog, you’ll be well aware how I wanted to go back full time. And how much I was really looking forward to going back to work (I never shut up abooot it).

Although I’m on a phased return at the moment, I’m still happy with my decision.

In fact, I’m so much happier all round.

For the first time in ten months I feel like ME again. The variety of going to work and slotting a few gym sessions around my phased hours has instantly made me a happier, nicer human being.

Although the snatched gym sessions are just a brucey bonus at the moment. Come full steam ahead I’m going to have to factor them into my evening time.

I’m not going to lie and I think it was blatantly obvious. I didn’t really enjoy being off with a baby. Gasp. Or does that sound too harsh?? It wasn’t healthy for either of us and this proves it:

Ella was never a snuggly baby and was so used to my presence that being with me was never a big deal.

Everyday this week I’ve had lots of snuggles, she crawls over to me and onto my lap, plays with my hair and sits on my knee. She pulls at my face and has lent in a few times for some kisses.

Likewise when I’ve walked into nursery and seen that unreal smile. A smile that lights up her excited little face while her arms and legs flail about. You can’t buy that feeling in a bottle.

Surprisingly there were no tears from either of us on the first day. I think we were both looking forward to our new ventures.

And she’s thoroughly entertained at nursery. Which is what I wanted and I knew she would be. They give her far more than I could ever give and I feel like she’s grown loads in the space of a week.

It wears her out.

The afternoon nap-time-battle seems to be slacking. In fact, she had one at 2pm today. 2pm. On my watch by 4pm I was stomping the beach front with the pram willing her to drop off. Selfishly so I could go back for a cuppa in peace obvs.

By bath time she’s rubbing her eyes and come bed time she’s passed out as soon as she’s tucked in (by daddy – the super-tuckerer-inner).

And me?

I’m on a roll.

I feel productive, organised, satisfied, motivated.

And happy.

Incredibly happy.

I feel like a superwoman.

My brain is gradually coming back to life. Granted my heads all over the place trying to work out where I need to be. But it’s nothing a good diary system at work and home isn’t sorting out.

Plus I’m learning a new job too. So the days are flying by. Dare I admit that I don’t even miss her??

Wait – that sounds harsh.

Of course I’m aware when she’s not around but I don’t get a chance to think about it as I’m so distracted. But it’s been healthy for me.

One day she’ll go to school five days a week so I wouldn’t see her then anyway. I think of it logically and that this is just good prep for those days.

What I said in T’was The Night Before … Returning To Work After Maternity is all true.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated tea, bath and bed time. A time I’d come to despise when I was off alone with her.

I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again. Happy mama equals happy baba.

I don’t want readers to feel like I’m preachy about this. Everyone’s family and circumstances are different. But if you’re considering a family and are very career orientated, I just wanted to reassure you.

That you can still be a good mam, in my case I already feel like a better mam, by going back to work. Hell I was even dancing around the kitchen to ‘Kids’ by One Republic with the Little Lady in my arms Wednesday tea time.

Throwing our heads back, laughing as I balanced her on my hip while marching up and down the room tango-style.

It’s a sight my OH came home to. And I’m sure he’ll agree. It was a much better one than having a baby thrown at him.

Happy Wife – Happy Life.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

 

Snacks On The Go With a Baby: Naturelly

 

For those of you who have stuck by me long enough on my weaning journey (cheeky post plugs here The Woes of Weaning and Baby-Led Weaning Essential: Tidy Tot All In One Bib and Tray) this is the latest installment: Naturelly.

Firstly. What is it?

Naturelly is a gelatine free, juicy jelly fruit snack, sweet by nature with nothing naughty added. 

That’s right – a jelly fruit snack.

So you know when you’re on the go and your small human makes those hunger noises? And if you’re like me there tends to be a stash of emergency baby biscuits in your changing bag to tide them over until the next meal?

You can now have an emergency pouch of jelly.

A pouch of jelly that’s:

– No added sugar or sweeteners
– 100% RI of Vitamin C
– Only 36 Kcal per pouch.

There’s three flavours to choose from: Summer Fruits, Apple and Blackcurrant and Tropical Fruits.

They have a screw top and can easily be sucked out the top.

I used this in the above scenario as an emergency snack for the Little Lady when we were out and about. She loved it. It went down a treat.

She was happy.

I was happy.

Yey winning at parenting.

That’s what it’s all about – being one step ahead.

If you’ve got school kids you can pop one of these in their lunchboxes.

You can buy them in bulk off the website and, as with anything in bulk, the more you buy the cheaper it is.

Plus you lovely lot for being my readers get to enjoy 25% off. Just pop in Natblog25 at the checkout.

There’s nothing stopping us adults having one either. If you need to quash a sweet craving or a pick-me up after sport.

Vegetarian society approved. Coeliac society approved. School Approved

Parent Hack: It’s always handy to have emergency snacks.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Disclosure:

Missuswolf Typewriter Compliments Disclosure

 

T’was The Night Before … Returning to Work after Maternity

Missuswolf mother and daughter in rocking chair

So here it is.

The night before I start my first day back at work since 11th March 2016 (I’m discounting the odd KIT day).

Since I joined The Motherhood.

Wow. It feels weird (but good!) to be getting into a routine of packing our bags and setting our clothes for the next day.

Something I’ll probably grow to hate. Or will I? I like being organised. Hopefully it will become autopilot and my future self (the tired head-less-chicken one in the morning) will thank me for it.

A nice bath. Early to bed to read a book and set an alarm.

Argh I haven’t set an alarm (bar the KIT days) since March 2016.

I’ll probably not sleep tonight for fear of sleeping in.

I know, I know. I’ve shouted from the rooftops how I’ve looked forward to this day. How I’ve longed to get back to work for some ‘me time’.

Ha.

It’s comical isn’t it? Who would’ve thought I classed work as  my time. 

But I do.

And I am looking forward to it.

However, do you know what I’m looking forward to the most?

Coming home to this gorgeous, happy little thing I’m proud to call my daughter.

I’ll look forward to having tea with her. To enjoy preparing it and then watching her eat it.

And bathing her. Watching her play with bubbles and the purple and yellow ducks. And the little spikey orange ball that lights up.

Splashing her little hands on the water and giggling every time she does it. Looking at me with those big blue eyes. Eyes that ask me to giggle back with her too.

Then wrapping her in her hooded towel where she resembles a baby Yoda.

Patting dry her utterly delightful skin.

Dressing her for bed.

Giving her a bottle of warm milk.

Reading her a story. Or two.

And then lying her in her cot. Her big girl cot which has been completely lowered now (when did that happen?)

Then tucking her in.

Actually, this is a daddy job as I don’t tuck her in tight enough. She’s like that magician that can escape being chained, bolted and dropped in water. Wriggles in all the right places and breaks free.

And do you know why I will look forward to all of this?

Because for nearly ten whole months, the monotony of everyday motherhood – looking after a small human by myself – takes it’s toll in the evening.

I’ve been too tired or sick of her by this time of day to actually embrace and enjoy these moments.

Gasp. What an awful thing to say.

But it’s true.

These moments tend to be flung at the other half. For him to try and embrace after his day at work.

So no doubt I’ll still be tired from my day at work.

But that’s just it.

I’ve been at work. I’ve had time away from her. She’s had time away from me.

So those moments that we are together.

Will be unbelievably special.

I can’t wait to see how excited she gets when I come home from work.

This festive period I’ve had the hubby on hand so I’ve had little breaks.

Little breaks like having a lie in.

Where I’ve surfaced and she’s already had her breakfast and her dad has dressed her. Dressed her like only a dad can dress his daughter – in obscure outfits that should never leave the house.

I inch my way through the living room door. As sometimes she’s crawling around right behind it (again – when did this happen?)

Then, she sees me.

With those innocent blue eyes.

Taking me in.

All dishevelled in my dressing gown and untamed hair. My make-up free face still puffy from sleep.

And she looks at me like  

I’m the most beautiful person

in the world.

Her  long little legs kick wildly.  Her smile lights up her cheeky little face and the excited giggles that escape from that tiny little mouth are breathtaking.

I do have a heart underneath all of this Warrior Mode.

And my god it explodes.

My little buddy for life.

I’ve come a long way in nearly ten months.

It’s been the toughest, hardest most emotional time of my life.

I’d go so far as to say it’s been the craziest.

I’m still me. Just a different version.

One that has been on a huge learning curve.

But I look back upon my time with fondness. There have been plenty of highs and there have been plenty of lows.

There’s also been some questionable parenting moments.

Like the time I couldn’t remember leaving chocolate in her cot, only to discover it wasn’t actually chocolate on her hand – that mammy had left the dirty nappy bag in the cot …

And as much as I’ve wanted this absolutely crazy time off to hurry up, I’ll reflect on 2016 in years to come as the year that not only broke me – but it also made me.

I’ve poured my feelings and frustrations into what can be looked upon as an online maternity diary. Like diaries, there will be some entries I look back upon and downright cringe, even regret. But for most of it, I’ll look back with pride.

That maternity leave not only gave me a chance to spend (albeit some frustrating and exhausting) time with this little human of mine.

It gave me the chance to take a step back from life.

To focus on something I’ve absolutely loved doing since I was a little girl myself.

Writing.

Last week, I watched the BBC film on the Bronte sisters To Walk Invisible.

And that was empowering in itself. Three women masquerading as men to get their novels published. What a significant piece of history.

A piece I want to share with my daughter. I’d like to think that by writing this blog I’m writing some history for her too. That mammy loved writing and her dream came true to share it with the world.

Missuswolf mother and daughter reading

Image credit to Pixabay

On the subject of the Bronte’s, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read Jane Eyre. Ouch.

I’ve downloaded it to my Kindle. I want to get into the routine of reading before bed again.

I digress.

This whole pregnancy and maternity experience has brought me new friends. Friends which some of whom I’ve not even known a year. But it’s felt like I have known them a life time. Who’ve been there on the toughest journey of my life. And that’s a strong bond.

Missuswolf Maternity Friends for life

Image credit: Pixabay

Then there are friends I’ve always had who’ve been on this journey with me too. Through the raw parts. Who have seen me at my worst and I have seen them at their best as they support and pick me up.

Friends who bring you pizza when you’ve got a teething baby and all you have eaten is a bowl of trifle for tea.

Those people are priceless.

And I thank them.

For sharing this crazy ass journey with me.

That’s Sisterhood for you.

That’s Motherhood.

Here’s to my next chapter. I’m off to make it a good one.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

 

 

Out With The Old. In With The New. 2017 – here’s to you.

Missuswolf Happy New Year picture 2017

I love New Year.

Not necessarily New Years Eve. Although we had a lovely quiet one with friends at home. As we have a baby. So staying in is the new going out.

I love the clean slate.

To start afresh.

And returning to work (following ten months maternity)  in the New Year with everyone else makes it easier for me.

New Year New Start.

I’ve made resolutions in the past.

The usual ‘eat healthy/drink less’ variety.

But this year I just want an overall resolution.

To be happy and positive in life.

Oh, and if we’re sticking to the optimistic front – in the words of Del Boy: This time next year we’ll be millionaires.

Here’s hoping.

All the best for 2017.

Make it the year of you.

Love Missuswolf xxx