Seven days on and I’m still laughing about a conversation I had with my friend and fellow mum, Sarah Good.
We were out for a morning constitutional in the sandstorm and I asked her what she’d been up to. I could never have guessed. She’d been stitching together discarded pink toes (from 70 pairs of toe-socks that were being turned into leg-warmers – don’t ask – for the school musical) to make a brain coral for her 11-year-old daughter’s diorama of the barrier reef! I laughed, in recognition as much as in horror, but it started me thinking about signs that you have too much time on your hands.
Recognise yourself in any of these? Then it could be time to get back to work…
- Feeling too embarrassed to tell the family what you’ve been doing all day.
- Not knowing which direction to drive after you’ve dropped the kids at school.
- Being happy to spend two to three weeks working on your child’s birthday celebrations. Junior Masterchef party anyone?
- Being too abreast of local developments. For example, are you the first to try every new shop/deli/coffee shop that opens in your area?
- Helping at school every other day of the week – reading, maths, computer studies, swimming, pencil sharpening, whatever – and still having time on your hands.
- Finding the tasks on your to-do list keep rolling over to the next week. It’s widely accepted that the more time you have to do something, the more time it takes.
I’m certainly not suggesting that stay-at-home mums should feel obliged to return to the workforce – bringing up the next generation is a hugely important job and you certainly need a brain to do it. But many women, once their kids are in school, want more. They’re ready to use their other talents, flex the non-domestic sides of their brains – and maybe embark on whole new careers… even businesses.
Taking into account the fact that the 2008 World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report ranked Australia first in educational attainment for women but 40th out of 130 countries for women’s participation in the workforce, I’d say it’s time to get out there.
By the way, if you’re wondering what happened to the brain-coral queen, Sarah is about to join national health and communications consultancy, RaggAhmed, as editor. Dioramas are not part of the job description.
Persephone Nicholas is a freelance writer and regular contributor to The Weekend Australian newspaper. She is particularly interested in career and workplace issues and also writes about travel and lifestyle.