Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Lyndsay Dickson on the ups and downs of keeping child care in the family and on the necessity of giving herself an evening per week to dance and chat

Introducing Lyndsay Dickson, Lyndsay is a 35 year old mother of 1 and a Speech & Language Therapist currently working a 4 day week.

As a Speech and Language Therapist, Lyndsay’s work is based in hospital offices, but her work takes her out and about to clinics, nurseries, schools, and homes. Lyndsay has a beautiful daughter Rosie who turned 2 years old in September. Rosie is a curious, funny, perceptive, and active child who keeps Lyndsay and her husband amused, busy, and challenged too! Lyndsay has a wonderful supportive husband in Craig who is an amazing Daddy.

Most days Lyndsay would describe her life as a working mother as “poorly balanced”.

Lyndsay feels that she should work. She’s conscious that women have worked to be accepted as equal to men in the workplace and she puts pressure on herself to juggle a career and home life well. Her family put no pressure on her and they help out with childcare while she works. This makes their lives busier and adds to Lyndsay’s guilt. Her husband would probably prefer if she didn’t work as life would run more smoothly and evenings would not be so busy preparing for the next day. Her friends all work but are teachers so do have prolonged holidays with their children regularly. She feels that women who don’t work are judged by society as lazy and unambitious.

Lyndsay says she spends somewhere between 2 and 5 hours on herself per week.

The hardest lesson Lyndsay has learned about managing motherhood and her career is really about the nature of maternal guilt and how difficult it is to manage the guilt she feels while leaving her child -- even with family -- especially when Rosie is unwell. She didn’t expect to feel this way. She doesn’t feel guilt when her “wee girl” is with her mum, but she does when she is with her other grandparents.

The last time she felt overwhelmed by the stress was when a family member changed the days she could provide child care for them and the time she could start from in the morning and was unreliable on a week to week basis. This caused a huge amount of stress and Lyndsay had to take time off to look after Rosie on days she should have been working. She felt resentful towards the family member and felt that she was ‘going back’ on an agreement. Lyndsay’s husband Craig recently started a new job which meant that he had to start leaving earlier in the morning. He used to get their ‘wee girl’ up and dressed and would take her where she was going. She now has to do that and be in work for 8am. This is getting a bit easier with time but not easy on mornings that she refuses to put her clothes on!

Lyndsay’s child care arrangement is as follows – her mother-in-law does 1 day, Lyndsay’s mum can’t get to her house until 9:30 so her dad has to come over at 7am until 9:30am when she arrives. Her father-in-law and his wife do 1 day. Lyndsay’s mum does 2 days for a total of four days of childcare. Lyndsay’s “wee girl” has just started playgroup for 2 mornings per week and is just settling in so she’s not sure how this with change arrangements.

Lyndsay has a wonderful family including her own parents and in-laws who she couldn't live without. She sees her family as her village.

For Lyndsay, the biggest stress is definitely when people who provide childcare are unreliable or let her down. Her and her husband simply can’t afford nursery fees and need to stick to a family solution as much as possible.

On how she keeps her sanity…for Lyndsay, sometimes going to work keeps her sane. She enjoys her work but wishes she worked fewer days. In terms of relaxation, Lyndsay does a dance class on a Wednesday night and she loves it. On Wednesdays after work she goes to her mum’s for dinner, relaxes and has a chat with her mum, and then she goes to her class. This also keeps her sane. Lyndsay is concerned that her husband Craig might be going to work offshore in the near future, which would mean she would have to give up dancing -- just the thought of that makes her feel less sane!

Lyndsay has adjusted her ambitions/approach to her work since having a child – she doesn’t volunteer for extra challenges at work as she would have done before she was a mum because she knows she can’t work late or come in early. On the flip side though, being a mum has motivated her to try and start up her own small business which is a slow process due to the lack of free time, but she is more motivated to do it as it means she could possibly cut her hours if it was successful.

Thank you Lyndsay!

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