I enjoy working. There I said it. Like anyone, I have my moments when work is stressful or hard, but generally I’m happiest when I’m applying my brain and achieving something.
If you know me personally you might be thinking “ah, that makes sense” because I feel as though enjoying work makes me different somehow.
But does it? Or am I over-thinking it?
I’ll try to explain myself. We hear people complaining about work all the time, a lot more than we hear stories of fulfilment and joy. Ask someone how they are and you might get a response like “work’s busy” or “got to work unfortunately” or “nice weekend but back to the grindstone” and so on.
It got me thinking: Is it a bit like women’s bodies, where it’s more acceptable to talk about the bits we hate? Or do people genuinely not like working? Or am I completely wrong and plenty of mothers, like me, actually enjoy work?
I was one of those children who loved school. At university I enjoyed working hard and playing hard. And since starting my professional career I’ve loved having a job. I like having a problem to solve, a person to help, a campaign to deliver.
Now I also have the job of Mother. It’s an enormous job that has completely rewritten the way I live, work and think. But it hasn’t changed my passion for working. I had one wobble when our first-born was six months old and I thought, “Do I want to work anymore?”; a thought which was quickly dispelled by another day of picking sweet potato out of the carpet!
I took a year’s maternity leave for both children and so far I’ve worked part time for more than five years. I find this hard. I want to work more but I refuse to miss out on precious times with my son and daughter. I’ve felt overlooked at work for not being as ‘visible’ as others. I’ve felt discriminated against when applying for jobs or promotions, reasoning that the role could be done in fewer hours or as a job share, and getting rejected.
I’ve cut back on doing the work I love for the sake of doing something I love even more: raising my children – and this will only happen once. However, this very precious point in my life also happens to be the time when I have lots of energy and ideas to put towards my career, which can be frustrating.
Do other mothers feel like this?
Well, I decided to find out. Much in the same way I’d approach a campaign, I wanted to know more about how people felt as well as gather some statistics to help fuel the conversation.
I created a simple, 10-question survey called ‘Do mums love to work?’ and shared it on my social media channels. Within two days I had more than 100 responses and the overarching message is: I’m not alone. Mothers enjoy working and get a lot out of it. They want to add value. They’re talented and work remains a core part of who they are.
I’ll publish the full results of the survey separately. Again, like I would in my work, I’m also going to use some real-life stories from mothers to help bring the results to life.
Are you a #mumwholovestowork? It would be great to hear what you love about work and how you fit it around the other loves in your life.
The survey is still open here
A note for all: My interest in this topic is fuelled by my own personal experience as a mother. Clearly there are many people who are not mothers (fathers and those without children, for example) who have a view and I’d love to hear from you too. It’s all part of the same story.