Working as a single mum

JODY HOPKINSON
Last updated 09:56 27/02/2013
empty wallet
MONEY PRESSURE

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I am writing a CV and covering letter. I am in two minds about getting more paid work because I'm worried about how I will manage the girls. I'm in the midst of a think/worry/stress fest.

On top of that, I've just read you need around $500,000 to retire. Here was I thinking $100,000 was good to aim for. Obviously English over Maths every time for this School C student.

Is the secret to start off with some part-time work (which I'm already doing), then build up to 20 hours so I qualify for Working for Families?

It is the dilemma all mums face deciding to go back to paid work or HAVING to go to paid work isn't it? And an especially difficult proposition for a single parent. How will things be managed? Me not having much energy post-work for two little beings? How DO you manage children getting sick, but needing to be at work? The guilt of not being able to go to school things, sticking them in front of tv because I'm tired at the weekend, listening to friends who are the children of single mums talk about how exhausted and grumpy their single mum was managing jobs and kids.

But ... if I have been on around $20,0000 - 27,000 for four/five years how much does that set me back in terms of saving for the girls' education and for retirement etc?

It's hard because there is only one of me so only one person to soak up the girls' excitement and tales about when they begin school - their teachers, mean girls/nice girls etc. Sometimes I think even just one other body in the room to soak up the energy would be helpful. Like an incredibly large cabbage patch kid.

I have continued to apply for jobs and have written for money throughout my pregnancy and the girls' lives. Even to the point of clarifying the spelling of names for a newsletter in between contractions.

In the middle of last year work had dried up and I had applied for two pieces of work. When the work didn't come through, I studied for my Trinity certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of another Language - this was a part-time course and it was designed to fit in around mums. It was tiring though. I wasn't grumpy as much as distracted. The kids watched a LOT more TV over this period.

I feel like I really have to put my case talking about this, as a beneficiary, and as a mother. I think there is a huge amount of pressure on mothers to do paid work and a minimisation of the importance of a parent being able to (at least part of the time) be at home/pick up the kids after school/attend school events. I think this pressure has not been commensurate with a flexible work force. Certainly during a recession part-time to full-time jobs with flexible hours are low to non-existent in my area.

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Also, moving from the benefit to 20 hours of work and Working for Families is an incredibly vulnerable time for single mums especially as many of us do no have parents living nearby, or ex's who are involved with their children. 

Apply for a job/get a job/put girls in after school care sounds good on paper, but full-time paid work plus full-time work as a single mum is a huge call. I wonder about it, and I worry about it.

But for now I'll go finish that covering letter. And who knows? I could be sitting at a desk near you soon.

- Essential Mums

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