Out of the Office by the End of the Week

I’ve published 53 interviews with women about balancing work and home, and I’ve written dozens of posts about women in the workplace, but I haven’t said much recently about my own job.

I do have an update though – after seventeen years in the funds industry, six jobs, eight bosses, and far too many pairs of black trousers, this Thursday, I’m out of the office one last and very final time. Or at least for a year. Or maybe just a few months. Or if it all goes horribly wrong, perhaps just weeks. As you can see, this is very clearly planned out.

Whether finishing up and switching careers is a good thing or not depends on the time of day and how much coffee I’ve had and who I’m talking to.

At first, it all felt very much like something that was being done to me – something over which I have no control. But as a wise friend pointed out, I did have choices. I could have opted to stay and take another role, but I chose to take redundancy and go. So I need to own that decision, she says, and she’s right. It does feel better that way – to see this as something I’m choosing. Well, kind of choosing.

The truth is probably somewhere in between. If this restructure wasn’t happening – if our Irish branch wasn’t shutting down – I would happily have stayed here forever. I love my job, it’s interesting and challenging. I love the people I work with. I have great flexibility and a steady income.

Taking an alternative role that was on offer within the same parent company was very tempting – I would have had the same great flexible conditions that I have now. But ultimately, I’d be taking a job I’d hate. I’d be miserable at work, and wondering about the what-ifs. I decided I wanted to know about the what-ifs firsthand, so I turned down the role. And as is so often the case, I knew as soon as I’d done it that it was the right thing to do – a huge weight was lifted.

But I still needed to work. For the sanity and for the bills.

So I called some agencies to look for jobs similar to my own; in the funds industry, and with flexibility. I got “Yes” to the former, “no chance” to the latter.

I was told that I’d have to apply for full-time roles, and then negotiate down to part-time hours later. Having worked a four day week with one day from home for the last three years, I couldn’t bring myself to go back to full-time. I am in awe of parents who work full-time. I did it when I had two children, but for me, the third child was a tipping point. Maybe when they’re all older, but for now, I need something that’s less than forty hours a week.

So, in the end, it was a bit like that “Choose Two” parenting meme you see on Facebook sometimes:

Clean House Sanity Happy Kids Triangle

I realised that for me, there’s a work version. In my current role, I have all three elements that I want from work, but in the future, I can choose only two:

 

Working Parent Triangle Office Mum

So I’m choosing flexibility and doing something I love. Income is the trade-off.

I’m going to work from home as a freelance writer – mostly at night to begin with, because I’ll have no childcare. From September, my youngest starts pre-school, so I’ll have two hours every morning. Freelance writing is competitive and it’s hard to make a lot of money. It’s unpredictable and it doesn’t quite pay the mortgage. But it means that for now I don’t have to work full-time, and I can have time with the kids, and I can do something I really love.

So it’s goodbye to the funds industry, and the commute, and my lovely office, and my lovelier colleagues. I’ll be boxing up the work dresses and the smart court shoes, and filing away the newly updated CV – ready to go when it’s needed. Meetings and spreadsheets and Power Point and lunch-dates will be replaced with school-runs and playgrounds and homework and cooking, punctuated with hurried email checks and scrambled note-making, until the night-time work begins.

The tea will never be as hot. I will resent cleaning. I will phone my husband and rant that I didn’t work in funds for seventeen years to spend my days hacking porridge off chair-legs.

I will be stressed if I have deadlines to meet and nobody to mind the kids.

I will be even more stressed if I have no deadlines to meet at all.

And I will be broke.

It might not work out, but I’m going to give it a go. Because in the midst of the porridge and the cold tea and the homework and the cleaning, and the deadlines or the lack of deadlines, there will be lots good times. And I think, despite being very, very sad to say goodbye to their childminder, the kids are excited about having me home for a while. And I’m excited too. And petrified. It just depends on the time of day and how much coffee I’ve had and who I’m talking to.

Wish me luck, won’t you?

Coffee shop office - Office Mum
My favourite coffee shop doubles up nicely as an occasional office

***

PS: On Saturday night, I was speechless (literally) and absolutely thrilled to win “Best Overall Parenting Blog of the Year 2015” at the Glenisk Irish Parenting Blog Awards, at a fabulous awards ceremony in Odessa.

I was in the finals with amazing bloggers like At The Clothesline, Bumbles of Rice, Mind the Baby, and Minis and Mum, so was taken completely by surprise when my name was called out.

It was an amazing event, organised by some very talented bloggers, and I was delighted to be part of it. And I’m really, really hoping my award is a good omen for the future…

Where Wishes Come From and Office Mum

 Chatting to my good buddy Sadhbh who won “Most Beautiful Blog” for Where Wishes Come From – photo used with permission from the very talented Sandra of A Modern Mommy’s World.

 

Colonies Wonderful IPBAwards Office MumMy lovely teapot-trophy! Handpainted by Colorines Wonderful

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47 thoughts on “Out of the Office by the End of the Week”

  1. Best of luck with the big changes. I’m really looking forward to reading how you get on as your blogs are always spot on (feel like you are in my head sometimes!!) . Massive congrats on the award too – really well deserved.

  2. Congratulations on the award, very well deserved. Best of luck. with everything, there’s no doubt in my mind you’ll succeed at whatever you set your mind to.

  3. The very very best of luck to you Andrea. I hope it works out for you and I’m sure it will. You are an intelligent, funny writer and I enjoy reading your blogs.
    Onwards and upwards.

  4. Best of Luck, I took 3 years off work and it was without a doubt the best thing I did. Yes it was challenging, frustrating and a tiny bit lonely at times but for the sake of my sanity, son and husband it was so worth it.

  5. A massive congratulations on your final week at work. You’re an inspiration, chasing your dream – I have no doubt you’ll be an extremely successful freelance writer. You will never regret this decision. Your family will thank you and you will love the change of pace. I can’t wait to see what you do next with your blog! The very best of luck Andrea

  6. First of all huge congratulations on your award. Well deserved!
    Secondly, congratulations on taking the plunge. Working from home freelance is crazy. Hands down it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had but at the same time the most rewarding. Cleaning is over rated though. 😉 Good luck!
    Caitriona recently posted…Homegrown Food Is Pretty FantasticMy Profile

  7. So excited to read your big announcement – not least because you know I took a similar leap into the unknown recently. It’s such hard work, but actually such a great opportunity to do it if just temporarily. And I think your Best Blog Award is the absolute best sign ever that this is exactly the right thing at the right time for you. xxx

    Can’t wait to hear everything that happens next.
    Jill recently posted… Hashtag vlogging!My Profile

  8. You are cleary a talented writer so no doubt you will it a success! Congrats on the award, well deserved, best of luck

  9. Oh, wow, Andrea, this is HUGE! You can do it, I know you can, and it will be a huge adjustment but with a teensy bit of luck and all your skill, it will pay off tenfold! Congratulations! I can’t wait to see what happens next!
    Maud recently posted…NineMy Profile

  10. Oh what a move, definitely the universe is sending you messages to say “this is the way to go”!! I’m delighted this has come up for you; whether long term or not, at least you can see whether it works for you. Well done 🙂 You are an exceptional writer, I know you will do brilliantly. (Should you ever feel like a day out now you have no outside pressure, we are a simple train trip away; we can celebrate with ***cake*** 😀 )
    Emily recently posted…A Few PaintingsMy Profile

  11. Good luck Andrea. It is all very exciting isn’t it? I’m sure you’ll rock at it because you’re very talented. Also I volunteer for some e-mail support if you need it some day as I have been through a similar path myself.

  12. Congratulations on the new venture!!! I’m delighted for you, things happen for a reason, so wonderful that you are seizing that opportunity! Fantastic news about the award!! Well deserved, well done!!!

  13. Congrats on the well deserved award. So jealous that you have made your decision and are going with it! I’ve been backwards and forwards for 18 months now and am still struggling with making a decision! Looking forward to seeing how it goes for you, good luck!!

  14. Thank you for the lovely wishes – there’s nothing like positive support to make you feel like this is all going to be OK!
    I’ve had lots of lovely PMs, DMs and emails – including some from people who are considering a similar move.
    I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes – tomorrow is D-day…

  15. Amazing, amazing! Best of luck, although I have absolutely no doubt you will be a success on your new path – you’re already well on your way. Genuinely excited for you. x

    (ps. Maybe today is the day for me to FINALLY publish the rest of the IMAGE interview?! :-))
    Jennifer Riddall recently posted…Blogging is the new runningMy Profile

  16. Wow Andrea, good on you for deciding against a job you’d be miserable in. Best of luck with the change in career!
    Just last week I decided to extend my parental leave and not go back to work till Number Three is 2, so that means life without a childminder for us too. I can fully understand your feelings on being at home fulltime. There are lots of ups but also some downs (and I’m glad I am not the only one scraping cement-like babyfood off chair legs and radiators!).
    I’m looking forward to reading about how life progresses for you and your family.
    Fionnuala recently posted…This is Motherhood #6My Profile

    1. Thanks Fionnuala, and delighted to hear that you are taking some additional time off as well – if only because we can be miserable together with the scraping of the food 🙂

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