Welcome to Meet the Working Mum Interview. Today we meet Hannah Dearden-Watts. Hannah works as a Nurse in the local A&E department and also blogs over at Devon Daze.
If you have missed any of the previous interviews, or if you are new to this series, check out all the other Meet the Working Mum’s.
An intro and a little bit about you, your family and where you live.
I’m Hannah, a mum of 3 young children, living in lovely Devon between the moors and the sea and thrilled to be lucky enough to do so!
What do you do for a job? Is it what you have always wanted to do?
I am a nurse, working in a busy Emergency Department. I was a little girl who dreamed of being a nurse – my dad was a nurse and often took me into work and I loved the hustle and bustle and busyness of a large hospital.
What was your motivation to return to work?
Nursing is more than a job for me – it’s a huge part of who I am. I have worked and trained hard for many years to gain the skills and experience that I have, and any prolonged career breaks would result in deskilling, which I didn’t want to risk.
How many hours do you work a week?
At the moment I work between 15 and 30 hours per week.
Do you have to travel far from where you live to where you work?
I live less than a 10 minute drive or 30 minute bike ride from work. Whether I drive or cycle depends on my shifts.
What do you do for childcare? Does this work for you?
At the moment we are managing to juggle childcare between myself and my husband. As things stand, its the only workable solution as shifts make our requirement too variable for formal provision. Plus, with 3 children the costs rapidly spiral and make working barely viable in financial terms. My husband travels and stays away a lot, which limits my potential working days, but when he is home he can work from home and fit school runs into that. In the past, we have used every form of childcare going! Friend swaps, childminder, nanny, nursery, preschool and out of school clubs!
What does your morning routine look like? What do you do to get you all out of the house on time?
I am one of life’s last minute rushers and have never mastered the art of leaving myself enough time to do everything, so I’m somewhat mystified that we always seem – by the skin of our teeth – to get everyone where they need to be, with what they need to have, just in the nick of time! We have developed several helpful strategies as a family over the years that definitely reduce the stress of getting ready:
1 – everything everyone needs to take with them is prepared the night before – school bags, snack, water bottles, reading journals, shoes, coats etc etc is laid out and kept by the front door.
2 – the older children are in a good routine of getting ready as soon as they wake up, and they don’t come downstairs until all ‘upstairs’ jobs like teeth brushing are done. They are able to get themselves breakfast if we are held up with the baby and know that they have to be completely ready for school (including shoes and coats) before the tv can go on.
3 – bags & pegs! My utility room has rows of pegs and a multitude of drawstring, PE style bags. Each extra curricular activity that the children do has a separate, dedicated bag and anything they will need for this activity lives there ready to go. This has saved me so many times! As soon as we get home from an activity such as swimming, wet stuff gets washed, dried and replaced into the bag along with goggles, hat etc. It means we never have to waste time looking for things when we are trying to leave the house.
4 – baskets by the front door! I have a unit with baskets by the front door with things that may need grabbing as we’re trying to get out of the door. There’s hair brushes and school appropriate bands and clips, one with sticky name labels and an indelible marker so that I can label anything being taken in for show and tell etc, and one with ear muffs, gloves and umbrellas for the moments we realise we’re not quite set up for the weather! Other things I keep there are envelopes and small change for trip or milk money, pens, stamps and carrier bags.
What do you like about being a working mum?
I like doing something I feel I am good at and get a sense of satisfaction from. I like earning money and knowing that I am contributing to our household in a financial sense, and therefore having a degree of independence over my finances. I like role modelling to my children – so that they see that I have knowledge and skills that are useful to others and that I use my education and training. I like that I get to meet a wide variety of people that I may not otherwise come into contact with, and that I have a group of friends and colleagues who know me as the person they meet at work and not as a mum.
What don’t you like about being a working mum?
I don’t like the added pressures that can come with working i.e. if a child is poorly and needs you it can feel awful to let colleagues down, and of course I miss out on what the family are doing while I am at work.
What would you change? Hours you work, commute you have to make etc.
I feel incredibly privileged at the moment to have a pretty good balance – to be able to work very part time hours in a professional role feels very lucky, so I would probably change very little in personal terms.
What three tips would you pass onto a mum about to start back at work?
1 – be as organised as you can be to make life easier for yourself. Meal plan, online shop, invest in a slow cooker and prep everything the night before. Buy generic birthday cards and stockpile a range of gifts as you see them in sales or online. I have a wall planner with columns that everything goes on to and a birthday journal with all friends and family listed by month. Set up a shared calendar on your phone so that anyone involved in childcare and keeping the show on the road can have input and see what their their responsibilities are.
2 – know that all that matters is what works right now – nothing is forever. Since having children I have worked full – time, part – time and been on maternity leave, I have worked for the NHS, freelance and for a private company, I have worked shifts and office hours, I have studied at college and at university and I’ve used all sorts of childcare too. I’be found the needs of the children, the family and my employers have changed over and over and I’ve had to be flexible and adapt and rethink arrangements many times. So, now I don’t try to second guess what hours or childcare I’ll need in a few years time, I just work out what we all need for the next few months and sort that instead.
3 – be kind to yourself and don’t get so lost in trying to be everything to everyone else that you have no time or energy left to do things just for you. (I make sure I exercise regularly as part of a group bike ride and that I read at least one book a month by taking part in a local book group.)
Thank you so much for taking part in the Meet the Mum interview series Hannah. I love the way you have everything organised for all the clubs in drawstring bags, such a time saver. I also love the way you have found a great way to have ‘me’ time. Making it something sociable is such a fab idea.
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