Tamara Kudiarskyj-Latham is a mum to Nikolai, 3 and Aleksandr, eight months
Tamara worked Saturdays when Nikolai was four months old to save for a holiday, but after six weeks decided it wasn’t worth it. Her work on Saturdays was providing respite care for parents of an autistic child. She returns to work today after the birth of her second son last year.
The real reason I started working Saturdays after Nikolai was born was that my husband Mark had been asked to be best man at one of our dearest friend’s wedding and the location was Bali.
How could we say no? But we had no money with a new baby. We had saved for being on maternity leave but not enough for a holiday. We made the decision quite selfishly. We really wanted to go and this was the answer. We didn’t feel that I would be losing time with Nikolai as I wasn’t working through the week and so, yes, the extra money was worth it.
The first few weeks were fine and it worked for us because each week we stayed focused on the fact that Mark was going to be spending quality time with Nikolai and developing a father son relationship with him, and I was helping families with children who had a disability and using my work brain again, but it did become hard work. Weekends were when we spent quality time as a whole family and what ended up happening was that I would work all day Saturday therefore Sunday would be ‘chores day’ – shopping, cleaning washing. I did start to feel extremely guilty being ‘the mum’ and it did bother us, so after about six weeks I was able to find a replacement. Fortunately we did go to Bali and had a wonderful time as a family 🙂
We are in a trickier situation after having our second son Aleksandr. I was supposed to be returning to work three days per week (we had financially budgeted for this and it is what I worked on returning to work after Nikolai). However a month ago the Director of the Childcare Centre told me there was only a spot for two days and if I wanted it, I had to take the place four weeks before returning to work. This means a drop in pay and having to pay for the 2 boys to attend child care on only one wage. Hmmmm, the ruthlessness of child care!
So once again finances (unselfishly this time) have become an issue and the talk of working weekends has come round again. Yes, I have spent hours on the phone to Centrelink finding out what the maximum hours I can work before we start to lose benefits. You have to, and I think it’s amazing we get what we do to support mums to return to work. Yes, we’ve talked about how difficult it would be for Mark after working all week and then having both the boys at the weekend, and yes, we’ve looked at it as a blessing in disguise as I will get to spend precious time with Aleksandr whilst Nikolai is at daycare for the extra day.
So here we are again. This time we are both unsure of how it will go with working a weekend but we may not have a choice. Whatever we decide we will just do what we have to and make it work.
As for the perfect number of working days, I don’t think there is an answer with so many situations to take into consideration but I would love two days. With that combination, you still have the work balance of exercising your brain, talking about things other than your children and knowing after one day of work, only one more to go. The difficult situation especially in my job is can I get my work done in 2 days? Probably not. And is it financially viable? Well we will see.
- Part time work. Juliet’s story (workingmumsaustralia.com.au)