Category Archives: Jobs

Work stress and the single parent

Article at

The suicide prevention group R U OK? conducted a survey of 800 people (if you want to know more about that group, go to their website at .The highest risk group for extreme stress at work was middle-age single parents. Oh great, sighs the middle-aged widow here. Just what I didn’t want to know.

But I can see why it is so. No denying it. It is the stress of getting not only oneself up and going in the morning, but also a child (who may or may not be co-operative 🙂 ), the desire to do a great job at the workplace and to contribute to society through one’s work, and the desire to be a really good mum and family member. The stress of being the only person who is keeping track of a child/children’s progress, time commitments, needs and wants. The lack of downtime as an adult to do rewarding leisure activities that do not directly involve a child.

Can I add that it is not helpful for judgmental people to say “Well, you shouldn’t work until your child is old enough to look after herself/himself”? If I didn’t work, I wouldn’t be able to pay my mortgage. I would have to go on the waiting list for public housing, which is currently a 2 year wait. I would have to find a place to rent, which would take up a large amount of any welfare benefits I may receive. And DD’s life would be put in turmoil with a change of domicile, school, leisure activities and closeness to family and friends. I’m not going to do that.




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Posted by on August 9, 2011 in Jobs, Life Matters, women


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One little thing …

can derail you.

In my case, it was when I examined my bank statement last week after pay day, then went over and looked at my pay slip from that Thursday, and discovered someone had made an error. I’m not going to use the passive voice – someone, I don’t know who exactly, made an error.

Because that person did not correctly enter my childcare costs as a pre-tax salary sacrifice – the only way I can afford good quality childcare with my income – I am now missing $112 in net income for that fortnight. That much makes a difference. It could cover my petrol, or it could cover my grocery bill for a fortnight. Without it, I cut down on any discretionary spending and have to pull back on paying for much-needed house repairs.

One stuff-up, and another family feels the pinch. I don’t have a nice fat income from a partner to cover me. I’m it. That’s all.

Bugger. Hope the HR department can work out where the error occurred and how it can be fixed before the next pay period. Even better, I would love to get that $112 back. Not holding out that much hope, though.

Universe, you can stop hitting me. I told you, I’ve had enough. I want to be happy.

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Posted by on August 9, 2010 in Jobs, Life Matters


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1. Job may be getting better. I’ll believe it when I experience it.

2. Weather too hot for the past week. Cooler today but still we need rain, not bloody dust drops to make cars dirtier.

3. It is probably vaguely wicked to overtake a brand new car of a particular brand while driving a 19 year-old version. Can I just say that a very peevish middle-aged woman finally overtook me in her super-smart 2009 model five kilometres later? 🙂

4. I miss having a latte or flat white coffee every morning. Those pre-mixed powders are bearable but not really close to the real thing. Still, they’re cheaper by some huge factor.

5. Had lunch with a friend. Got to vent and grizzle without being judged and it felt good.

6. I am officially one of those sad, pathetic old cat ladies. Two nights ago I had a 15 minute conversation with my ancient cat (16 years and counting). He listened intently, never took his eyes off me, and never interrupted. I was able to tell him all about my worries about work and why I’m sad about no longer being able to study. Things I would have normally discussed with my husband in happier times. Then it occurred to me that I’d probably have different topics if DH were still alive.

7. Ancient cat has put on another 100g. Go, cat! He’s still rather skinny but not as bad as he was a year ago. I’m amazed that he has that extra weight, given the amount of fur he’s been shedding with his summer moult. I brushed enough fur off him three nights ago to make a new kitten.

8. There is no point 8. I have to get back to work.

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Posted by on January 14, 2010 in cats, Jobs, Life Matters


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The Mummy Wars and Childcare

In an article in The Australian today, I learned something new thanks to a government minister.

Families Minister Jenny Macklin said the so-called “mummy wars” between working and stay-at-home mothers ended some time ago.

“The thing I feel strongly about is that our system of support – whether it’s financial support or service-based, childcare for example – it does have to recognise that families are different and that we need to respond to their individual circumstances as best as we can,” Ms Macklin told The Australian. “We want to do everything we possibly can to support children, especially when they are very small.”

Dear Minister Macklin, the mummy wars have not ceased in real life. You might believe that thanks to policy and a rosy view of feminism that all us women are in it together and looking for the best way to co-operate.

Please remove your rose-tinted spectacles. The next battle has just begun thanks to the data shown in the above article.

Almost half of all stay-at-home mothers are using formal or informal childcare by the time their youngest child is two, based on new figures that debunk the old distinctions between working and stay-at-home parents.

How does the crabbiness start? Let me count the ways. It’s the mums in paid work who wonder why SAHMs need a day off, and the stressed SAHMs who need their own time out, just one day, please, to get to the doctor/dentist/supermarket. It’s the mums who are on their own, who need childcare for a full five days a week but are livid to find that spare places are used for an SAHM who wants time to run her own errands. It’s the SAHM who wonders why the working mum is mean and won’t give her a break, and maybe that’s because the working mum doesn’t spend enough time with her children and perhaps the working mum should budget better so that she doesn’t have to go to work during the golden, formative years of her offspring’s childhood. It’s the working mum wondering why the SAHM doesn’t want her children to mix with others.

Oh boy. I’ve heard all this. It gets much nastier than this (I’ve used the sanitised versions), and it is frequently irrational and incorrect, ends up in reductio ad absurdum and worse.

I’ve noticed that the dads don’t get into this debate face to face. Fear? Complacency? I’ve seen dads write plenty on the net at a safe distance where their anonymous faces won’t end up scraped by fingernails of either side.

I kinda wish the rosy feminism expressed by some brave souls really existed. The one where we would all support each other’s choices, whether it be to stay at home while a child is little, or to return to the workforce. The one where we would help each other, where we wouldn’t snipe at or judge each other, and where maybe, just maybe, we could rejoice in the wonder of living in a country where choices such as these can be made.

In the meantime, I’m looking for a bike helmet and a chest protector for the next installment of the mummy wars. Whichever side I’m on, I’m sure to be in the wrong.


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I have held a number of casual or temporary jobs. Some were while I was a student at uni or high school; others were second jobs while I worked at a low-paying full-time job, like secondary school teaching.

The worst ones were those that required cleaning. Toilet cleaning was the worst of the lot. Just thinking about it now gives me the creeps. How on earth can adults be so clumsy? How can vomit fly all around the cubicle? (Actually, the answer is “First drink a lot of alcohol.”)  House cleaning wasn’t much better.  Some houses stank of urine, or animals, or the lingering aroma of fatty meat meals long since eaten.  To this day, I still can’t deal with stale kitchen smells very well.

I did some tutoring in French and English language skills which was OK. Neither thrilling nor offensive.

Music teaching. Ah, the highs and lows! I’ve been thrilled at students learning new skills and finally working out how to get their hands co-ordinated on the piano. I also remember a man who wanted to learn how to play the flute and who creeped me out considerably.  No real reason why: he was pleasant enough, dressed well, always paid on time, but I eventually made some lame excuse about increased study load and let him depart. Strange, I haven’t thought of him for years.

I would have liked to do pet sitting but somehow that never came up as a job opportunity and I was too shy to advertise for jobs.

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Posted by on May 16, 2008 in Jobs


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