01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Real Life Beckons....Going back to work 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Real Life Beckons....Going back to work

These intermittent posts are all related to our house build, however I am aware that life continues beyond the banging and the shifting walls of ours.

(*Okay, I can’t help it. Right now they are doing the roof. I am fully expecting the leg of a builder to appear through the roof above my head any minute now. The ceiling boards are shifting – I feel like I am on the set of Alien or some horror movie. A minute ago there was the most almighty crash – do I have an ambulance number handy?!).

Nonetheless, I do know that last weekend EU forces were strafing pirate strongholds along the Somali coast (that ratchets things up in our area a notch or two). That a grenade was thrown outside a Mombasa nightclub on Monday night, killing a security guard. That Greece has failed to form a coalition government and is now on the brink of being forced out of the Euro – and this uncertainty is causing ripples in financial markets all over Europe. I know that police are pressing charges against Rebecka Brooks accused of perverting the course of justice, hiding evidence of the NoW phone hacking case.  I know that Sarkozy is out and Francois Hollande is in – and that Hollande’s plane was struck by lightning when he headed off on his first day of office to meet with Angela Merkel (to discuss austerity). Meanwhile, I know that Kenyan MPs have just proposed a bill to give them absurdly big payouts at the end of their term of office (K Sh 3.7 million) – and Raila Odinga (PM) has denounced the move by MPs as unconstitutional. And that Kenya might have more oil than was once thought.

(I also know that Danni Minogue had an affair with Simon Cowell so has split with her dishy boyfriend (the silly fool) and Jessica Simpson finally had a baby after the longest pregnancy ever.)

Women considering going back to work - scary
So anyway – on an entirely new subject – I wanted to write about Mums of a certain age (like me), facing the yawning prospect of going back to work.

For the past few years I’ve been gradually building up to getting back into the work market (ie by online re-training, working for free, networking, researching, trying to write a blooming book etc), after a horrendous absence from paid employment of, oooh, I’m ashamed to say, at least 12 years!

How spoiled I’ve been! But I’m not alone. I know that there are lots of (expat) wives and mothers who see that their kids are growing up fast and would now like to dip their toe back into the job market to earn some extra cash. This topic is currently a discussion ‘du jour’ at most get togethers – but how best to make it work? Having been out of the job market for so long, we tend to want it all on our own terms. (i.e. not full time, hours that suit school holidays etc etc)

I’ve nothing but the highest respect for women who have managed to sustain a full time career throughout their children’s childhoods. Heck, since life at home with small children has quietened down, I’m even in awe of the fact that my husband has been working full time without a break for the past 20 years! But in the case of mothers, I think that their achievement is incredible. You read about clever, multi-tasking people in magazines – running their own businesses, mothers of four children, juggling constantly, managing high levels of stress - now I’m meeting quite a few examples through working part-time and I’ll be honest, they are intimidating.

I’ve noticed that women in the work place who are also parents are; tough, focused and no nonsense – they get their job done with a minimum of fuss and definitely no dithering. At first I thought that going back to work would be impossible, however I’ve been lucky. I work freelance so can dictate my own hours and recently work has been flowing in. I can just about cobble together a smart-ish outfit for the odd office meeting – but last week, when the idea of a business trip was mooted I tried not to let my face show that I was falling apart inside – it wasn’t the idea of deploying the school runs that worried me but rather; what on earth would I wear?!?

When considering going back to work, one stumbling block in Kenya is the obligatory permit required to undertake any kind of work here. Permits are costly so it helps to know that you are capable of earning enough to justify the expense. Plunging into full time work seems terrifying but a couple of friends of mine have done it recently, and after a period of some adjustment – they seem to be surviving.

I am sure it is important for our mental health to work – whether on a voluntary basis or paid, from Open University studying to selling. Otherwise the inevitable mid-life crises beckon – for men it is facial hair, long hair and marathons – for women it is the lure of the triathlon/iron man competitions, golf, cosmetic surgery, adult braces (I’ll tell you about that one later!)

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