“Nice of you to join us”.
“Oh you’re so lucky to only work three days!”
“Every weekend’s a long one for you isn’t it.”
“Don’t worry we will pick up the slack.”
If I had a pound for every time I’d heard one of these phrases, I’d be able to legit drop my working week down to two days. I really just want to yell a big fat “FUCK OFF!!” in the slightly superior face of people who dish out these “amusing” repetoirs week on week, but instead I thought I’d have a go at bashing out a few, slightly more mature responses on here. Only slightly mind.
Because yes, working a five day week and raising mini-people is knackering and slightly insane but working three days is pretty much as bad. I’ve done both and I can promise you it isn’t any better.
I actually can’t believe I’m writing this but I don’t like working part time. If my ever-patient Mr S were to earn less money then I would happily swap roles and let him work the three days instead. Because what I’ve ultimately discovered is that part time working and part time mothering is actually another way of just being quite shit at both things.
Sure, there are days where life runs smoothly, I fit in a smug 6am workout, kids are bribed, washed and posted out to school and nursery without a whiff of a tantrum (rare), work is productive, understanding and actually a bit of a laugh, hot coffee is imbibed and I get home to a slow cooker full of nosh that I very lovingly threw into it that morning (not really, I fucking hate the slow cooker but for illustrative purposes it sounds better than beans on toast). These are the good days but you know what? They are few and far between.
Most days I still fit in a 6am workout, hurriedly shove dry shampoo in my hair before throwing it up in a bun because I can just about squeeze four days out of my blow dry, run out of the door shouting at kids / dogs / anyone who will listen about anything that matters, forget my pass to get into work, drive back home cursing and swearing, then race back into the office for a full day of “what the fucks” and “I don’t work Monday and Friday so NO I don’t know what was agreed in that meeting you’re refusing to move to a Tuesday” and then head home to a pit of unwashed socks, pants, doom and further bribery. And usually a KFC…at which point SOMEONE will always point out that they’ve had two takeaways already that week and why can’t we have home cooked meals. Sense the rage people. Sense it.
Ok, so I do have a Monday and a Friday to bond with my daughter, which in theory is all very nice. We do toddler swimming (something sadistic people thought up with no idea what it’s like to contain a squealing, slippery, she-devil in a vast pool of far-too-fucking-cold water) and nature tots (which is similar except replace the water with mud, forest and worms) and I am grateful for all the lovely bonding time. She also naps in the afternoon so I have plenty of time to clean things, wash things and complain about things on Twitter. Lucky I know but honestly I’m not sure how much I enjoy it. Two and a half is a really tricky age as I’m sure you know. And in all honesty my home is no cleaner now I work full time – how I’m not sure but there it is.
Then there’s work. Honestly, once I’m there I genuinely enjoy my work but I hate that feeling of being slightly out of the loop / inner circle of knowing-dom. You know that feeling you have when you come back into work after two weeks annual leave and you sit and stare at your colleagues and your computer with a dazed and slightly alarmed expression on your face? Yeah, Tuesday is like that every week for me. It’s like to trying to elbow your way into a conversation where nobody wants to talk to you so you sit on the outside trying to piece bits of the puzzle together and generally making a tit of yourself or coming to the wrong conclusion. And I’m a professional you know, so I take pride in doing a good job. Or at least I would if I ever felt I was doing one.
‘Part-timers’ (said like it’s some sort of condition) don’t ever progress from what I see – they tread water rather furiously until such time as they can “be a committed part of the workforce” once more and then no doubt spend double the time and energy “proving themselves” because the younger, perkier, childless folk have started replacing them on the career ladder. It feels like a hamster wheel leading to nowhere but of course you run like fuck anyway because you know, bills to pay, kids to feed etc.
There are many coping strategies which I could helpfully dole out to you if you are in a similar part-time everything situation but honestly I’m not sure completely winging it is a method I’d recommend. All I have to offer is
gin tea and sympathy, a right old complain, some passive aggressive whinging about “a woman’s work” and a well deserved browse of the new Autumn / Winter workwear collections we can’t afford anyway.
And that my dears is what it’s really like to work a three day week.