After a wonderful eight-month stint as a stay-at-home mum, I’m finally back in the salary-earning workforce. Although Hubby didn’t directly reveal his concerns to me, I could feel that he was stressed out about money most of the time. We survived sufficiently on a single income but the ugly truth was, we hadn’t been able to save at all. We should have been more prepared for unexpected expenses that cropped up throughout the past eight months. Besides, we both agreed that it was time for Ewan to socialise with his peers and be more independent.
In short, a silently stressed-out husband equals to a troubled-minded wife. I figured that two worried parents weren’t exactly good influences to their child either. This clearly conflicted our parenting goal to raise Ewan in a positive and happy environment and hence my decision to return to work and lighten Hubby’s financial burdens.
Hunting For A Job: Not As Easy As Thought
My job hunt was an eye-opening experience. Rarely encountering much problems in nailing down a job pre-baby, I was rudely awaken by the negative perception of society about working mums, especially those who have stayed home for a while to care for their offspring.
Hubby was very supportive, taking leave almost every week whenever I had interviews to attend. Thankfully, his boss was equally understanding too. All in all, I attended interviews at seven different companies. One required me to go to construction sites, so that was out of the question (its industry didn’t interest me too). Another wanted me to manage its PR, sales, advertising & promotions, social media, customer relationship, event management, market research and anything else this Chinaman-mentality employer could think of, at a fraction of my previous salary. During the interview, he even chided a distasteful remark saying, “How would I know you won’t run out to breastfeed your son while working?” He called me a week later to offer me the job, which I turned down without a second thought.
Another was an up and coming online discounted deals company which currently employs many young people, or what they refer to as gen-Y. Knowing that I had to put in extra effort to stand out from other competing young blood, I came up with an in-depth proposal on PR ideas for the company. They were impressed initially but my chance was cut slim the moment I announced my “married with one child” status. Their expressions changed from “we’ve found the right candidate” to “what? You have a child?!” within split seconds. True enough, I got a call a few days later to inform that I was unsuccessful in the application. The same situation occurred to another reputable company but at least they were frank about how the previous person in this position, who was also a mum, quit because of the long hours.
Tips For SAHMs Who Are Planning To Go Back To Work
From interview to interview, I began to learn what to disclose and what to keep mum of, among which are:
1. Be yourself but don’t talk about your children (unless asked) until the job is secured.
2. If you require time-off or flexible hours on certain days, don’t tell until you report for work officially. Then negotiate with your manager for an arrangement that works well for everyone. For example, you may clock in an hour earlier/later or skip lunch time to make up for the duration taken to manage your personal stuff.
3. If you’re asked about the childcare arrangement for your baby, just say everything’s well taken care of, you have your in-laws’/parents’ help etc. Ugly as it is, most employers don’t care if your child is having separation anxiety at his daycare or if you haven’t settled his childcare arrangement.
4. You know luck is on your side if the hiring manager is a mum too. If it’s a man, be prepared to fight a convince-and-assure battle.
5. I’m not telling you to lie but rather, gauge the situation and be street smart. Focus on how you can contribute instead of what you can get from the company.
Job Opportunities Dilemma
Back to my job hunt story, my luck changed towards the end. The phrase, “Be careful of what you wish for” describes the situation best because by then, I got two job offers to choose from. Company A is a MNC dealing with audit, tax and financial services while company B is a small publishing house. The former offered me more than 10% increment from my previous salary while the latter matched up to what I was getting.
For schedule predictability, I accepted A’s offer and upon knowing that, B finally agreed to my request for flexible hours. At that time, I wasn’t ready to back out from a promising career with A and at the same time, the job descriptions with B excited me. I freelanced with B for two weeks, taking care of Ewan in the daytime and catching up with work by night. This arrangement took a toll on me – I was stressed out and exhausted from the late nights and lack of sleep. A few days before I was due to start work with A, my inner voice got stronger and I followed my heart (and passion) by declining A and going full-time with B.
Working & Juggling Ewan
I didn’t regret a single bit about leaving my previous comfortable and well-paying job in Sunway for Ewan. Truthfully, ditching my career temporarily to raise Ewan was one of the best and courageous decisions I have ever made. We have grown so close to each other; we’re each other’s favourite person in the whole wide world now. He completes me.
It has been a week since I went back to work officially. I’m extremely grateful to my current employer for trusting and granting me a flexible working arrangement. And surprise surprise, this said boss is a man! A very understanding one although he’s not married and the only thing he knows about children is “Anakku”. I work from home most of the time and go to office on some days or whenever required. This flexibility allows me to spend time and do activities with Ewan whenever work isn’t too hectic. I get to pick him up from daycare earlier once I’m done with my day and we get to maintain his weekday Shichida lesson too.
Things worked out for us in the end. I’m very blessed and won’t ask for more. Hubby has gradually returned to his jovial self and best of all, I am able to help out with my family expenses.