Bad Mums’ Club: I Work Full Time And I Love It

Working 9 to 5

When you meet someone for the first time and the conversation turns to kids and family, there’s always one question that comes up.

“Do you work part time?”

It’s become so common for women to return to work, after having a baby (or two, or three..) compared to 20 or 30 years ago, when the norm was to stay at home and look after your kids, while the dad went out to bring home the bacon. I think it’s fair to say that now, most women who do return to work, go back part time. So people kind of expect you to say you work part time.

But I work full time. And when I’m asked the question, I take a deep breath, smile a big smile and in my breeziest voice, I say “No, I work full time.” I pause, looking for some kind of sign that will indicate whether the other person is thinking “Oh, OK” or “Full time? You are a BAD MUM.”

The other person will usually then ask about childcare and I’ll garble out in a faux-enthusiastic way, “Oh-she’s-at-a-nursery-five-days-a-week-but-she-LOVES-it.”  I really over-egg the pudding here, often babbling a bit about how she has SO MUCH FUN with all the other kids and HOW GOOD the nursery is. If I feel like I’m being particularly judged by the other person, I’ll throw in a “Pre-school is SO GOOD for their development at that age – they focus on learning much more than you’d think.”

If I’m ever asked why I work full time, I never tell the truth. But I’m going to do it here. Now. Are you ready?

I work full time because I love working.

Not because I have to, because I want to. I choose to work full time and I love my job. Admitting this is securing my place in the Bad Mums’ Club for life, but it’s the truth, and I can’t be the only mum who feels this way.

Going back a few years, I hated maternity leave. I found it so boring and yes, I suspect in hindsight that I suffered from PND but even taking that out of the equation, I still think I would have hated it. I’m just not the kind of person who enjoys being at home with a baby, day in day out. Some people love it. Some people don’t.

I was desperate to go back to work after maternity leave, and I went back three days a week, to start with. But in all honesty, I dreaded those two days a week that I was at home. I felt a weird panicky pressure to make plans for those days, to ensure I wasn’t alone with a one-year-old all day (still as boring as being with a young baby, if you ask me.) When my daughter was 18-months-old, I started a new job and told my new boss that I could work full time.

It was the best thing ever. And I had a great excuse if anyone asked me why I worked full time – I could simply say that my new job required me to do five days a week.

Of course, my decision to work five days a week is completely selfish. I am thinking 100% about me, about my needs and what I can – and can’t – cope with on a day to day basis. This is the right thing for me. But it’s not a guilt-free decision. I worry a lot that working full time is the wrong thing to do, as far as my daughter is concerned. Will it have a negative effect on her? Will she develop insecurities because of it?

And actually, shouldn’t I sacrifice my happiness for the sake of my child? If she is the most important thing in my life (and she is) then shouldn’t her happiness be my number one priority?

Well, actually, no. When I have all of these worries swimming around in my head, I remind myself of that thing that other mums tell you: You need to be a happy mum, otherwise you can’t be a good mum. And it’s true – if I worked part time and was at home with my daughter for part of the week, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now. And surely some of that unhappiness would rub off on her?

Perhaps one day, I’ll look back and regret working full time when my daughter was so young, but all I know is right now, it’s the right thing for me. I am happy and my daughter genuinely does love her pre-school. She thrives there. She loves the company of the other children and enjoys learning new things every day.

So she is happy, I am happy – why then do I feel like a bad mum?


I’m linking this post up to The Bad Mums’ Club – a collection of posts by bloggers on our failings as mothers. The Bad Mums’ Club consists of me, Morgana from But Why Mummy Why, Aimee from Pass The Gin and Katie from Hurrah For Gin but really, everyone is welcome. Do visit MorganaAimee and Katie‘s blogs to read their Bad Mums’ Club posts!

Now for the technical bloggy bit…. (ignore this if you’re not a blogger)…  If you are a blogger and want to write a post and link up, you can add it to the bottom of this post. Here’s the badge, if you fancy popping it on your post:

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  1. April 7, 2014 / 8:40 am

    I don’t think that makes you a bad mother or a selfish mother at all – just a Mum who weighed up all the available options and worked out what was best for her family. There’s no reason that giving birth should make us into this mass homogenised group of women who all want to be earth mothers and weave our own hemp or something so I’ve never understood the idea that there can only be one right way to bring up a child. The best parenting has to be the one that looks at the individual personalities in that family as a whole and works out what’s best – and it sounds like that’s exactly what you’ve done.

    • Alison Perry
      April 7, 2014 / 5:56 pm

      Your point about not being a mass homogenised group is so spot on. It’s so easy to forget that. You think all mums should feel the same about stuff, and act in the same way. When actually, that would be impossible.

  2. April 7, 2014 / 9:19 am

    I really enjoyed this Alison, and completely agree with you – I do think it’s really important to not lose who we are as people, when we become parents – there’s so much more to us mums than nappies and cleaning! I am a SAHM but I was really unhappy in my job and, for me, being at home was the best move to take the pressure off both myself and my family. I think if I loved my job, as you do, the outcome would have been very different! I’m certain that your daughter will grow up knowing that her mum is an incredibly intelligent, independent woman – and is that not the lesson we all want to raise our girls with? I think that makes you Supermum actually! Xx

    • Alison Perry
      April 7, 2014 / 5:57 pm

      Ahh your comment made me feel a hundred times better, thank you. I often envy SAHMs who love being at home – I wish I felt that way.

  3. April 7, 2014 / 9:50 am

    Er this is a tough one for me to comment on and I thought about shutting the laptop and walking away, but I kept thinking about your post.

    Ultimately, you do what’s best for your family and it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or does. If you and your daughter are happy then the circumstances are right for both of you.

    However, as the daughter of a very career-focused mother, I can say that there’s a possibility that your little one might look back and might not see things as being so rosy. I’m sure that there will be a moment when she reads this post (if she reads this post) and sees it only in black or white, that you chose work over her. You don’t have to justify your decision to anyone and nobody has the right to judge your choices, but when it’s your own flesh and blood standing before you, I imagine that’s going to be pretty tough to take.

    • Alison Perry
      April 7, 2014 / 10:02 am

      Hi Rachel – thank you for commenting. I genuinely welcome all views on this kind of post. Part of me agrees with you – that’s where the guilt that I mention come from.
      On the flip side, I have personal experience of this – my mum worked full time when I was a child. And I can say – hand on heart – that it never once occurred to me that things could, or should, be any different. I have zero memories of my mum not being present at an important time. I always felt loved and secure.
      So I guess my point here is that yes my daughter might grow up to feel negatively about me working full time, but it’s not a given.

  4. April 7, 2014 / 10:05 am

    Thank you! Everytime someone asked me if I was going back to work I would say ‘yes, full-time unfortunately’. I felt as though I had to justify it so would make out it was because I COULDN’T go back part-time (I don’t know if I could, I never investigated, I just went back where I left off!)
    To be honest, now I would like to go to 4 days just because I think my little boy is now getting a bit funny about only really seeing us both at the weekends (he’s about to turn 2) but, like you, I don’t think I could have stayed at home full time or even 2 or 3 days a week after my maternity leave. I was running out of ideas and other mums for sane conversation! If you’re a bad mum, then come join the club – there are a lot of us out there. x

    • Alison Perry
      April 7, 2014 / 5:59 pm

      I definitely find it easier to be at home with my daughter now she’s older, so I totally get where you’re coming from here. They are a lot more fun as they grow up!

  5. sarah naylor-hagger
    April 7, 2014 / 10:08 am

    Thanks for the honest post. I’ve found a job I’m really excited about and trying to sort out childcare at the moment. I’m worrying about the move from sahm to working mom for me. This eases it a little! !

    • Alison Perry
      April 7, 2014 / 6:00 pm

      Really glad the post helped you a bit!

  6. April 7, 2014 / 10:21 am

    Very well said, Alison! If you have a job that you love, it makes you happy, as you say, and I totally agree that a happy mum makes a good mum, however that happiness is achieved.

    • Alison Perry
      April 7, 2014 / 6:01 pm

      Phew. Glad some people agree with me! I get nervous writing ‘controversial’ posts.

  7. Charlotte
    April 7, 2014 / 12:11 pm

    Hi Alison,

    I loved this post (as I a love many of your posts) and it made me think about why I work full time. I too really enjoy my job (even though it is very demanding, time consuming and knackering!) though I have always felt the need to explain to people that I HAVE to work full time as I am the main bread winner, we need the money, life we have become accustomed to etc etc. Actually, that is part of it, but also, I am a person who loves my job and recently progressed to a new post of higher responsibility which excites me no end. I can only see my career going onwards and upwards. I want my little boy to see me working hard in order to have the things we have and do the things we do. I did do part time when I first went back but like you, felt that the day I had off had to be planned to the nth degree or it would be a disaster!

    We are lucky that I am in education and school holidays are there, and LB is getting a good mix of being at child-minder/ being with Dad (who works at home and has LB twice a week) and then me at weekends. I do find it so hard though when I want to do things for me at a weekend. I FEEL like I should dedicate ALL of my time on a Saturday and Sunday to him which I often cannot as I have needs to. Gosh, I sound so selfish and now feel guilty!

    Ultimately, we have to do what works for us. I just have to remind myself of that over and over again (currently at work, marking books, in school holidays, LB at child-minder – I really should be in the Bad Mums’ club!)

    • Alison Perry
      April 7, 2014 / 6:02 pm

      Hi Charlotte, you sound like an ace mum who has thought it all through and made a decision that’s right for your family. And fab that your little boy gets to spend time with his daddy at home too! xx

  8. Ch
    April 7, 2014 / 1:56 pm


    I work 4 days a week but consider it full time as I often have to go in or check email , or work extra hours anyway. I love this post as I find it very hard to justify working with my 2 young ones, but only to myself ! I’ve not met anyone who critisizes to my face , I just mainly get ” how do u cope ” comments , to which I answer I don’t very well !!!!

    It’s great to see such an honest post !

    • Alison Perry
      April 7, 2014 / 6:03 pm

      I think most mums would admit to feeling like they don’t cope well all the time. Whether you work full time, part time or work as a SAHM.

  9. April 7, 2014 / 5:31 pm

    I LOVE working full time. I returned to work after both pregnancies but only worked part time and found it very difficult due to lack of continuity {I’m a nurse}. I have now worked for a year as a full timer and wish I did ‘it’ years ago. Happy Mama, and all that jazz! ; )

    • Alison Perry
      April 7, 2014 / 6:04 pm

      Hooray! Welcome to the club 🙂

  10. lesley
    April 7, 2014 / 6:16 pm

    I work 4 days (off on the Wednesday) and find that’s a good balance for us. I only work for the money not for fun though! I think it’s important to have the money to be able to do afford to things with your kids no point having all the time with them if your just sat in the house!

  11. April 7, 2014 / 6:22 pm

    The crux of your post, as I see it, is that you work because you find child rearing boring. Ultimately the only judge (and everyone judges people whether they say they shouldn’t blah blah – they do), the only opinion that really matters is that of your daughters’. She is the only one who can say yes mum you can wear that badge with pride or not. She may also work full-time or decide she will never work full-time. She will either have you at home with her in your old age or visit you once a month in a care home. The badge, incidentally, doesn’t sit comfortably with me – I find it somewhat child like and I thought the isn’t it cool to be a ‘bad mum’ had gone out of fashion somewhat. I digress – I can’t say you’re a ‘bad mum’ as I have no idea what you do outside of the 8 hours she spends in someone else’s care. Motherhood isn’t for everyone. My mum was a SAHM and was bored all day long – she ran back to work as soon as I started school and she tells me now if she could have her time again she wouldn’t have children. I don’t hold it against her that’s just the way it is. She Grandparents as well as she parented. I don’t have a close relationship with her as ultimately you reap what you sow. I personally don’t think anyone gets to the end of their life and thinks “oh I wish I had worked more hours”. What I would say is that I am a far better parent because of her so am thankful for that. I get annoyed when people ask me when I’m going back to work which I wrote in a post entitled “get back” on my blog which articulates my views on this whole subject far better than in this comment!

  12. Nicol
    April 7, 2014 / 6:33 pm

    It’s horses for courses. We’re all different, our families are all different, our needs are all different, our children are all different. I’ve loved being at home with my children for the last 8 years but when my daughter starts school in September it will be nice to be able to go back to being a bit more Nic & a little less mummy. That said, I’ll miss her being around during the day, she’s a little comedian and she makes me smile 🙂

  13. April 7, 2014 / 7:51 pm

    I totally agree with you that to make your child happy you have to be happy yourself.

    If your daughter is happy and pre-school and you are happy at work then there is no issue here. What anyone else does or thinks is totally irrelevant.

    Great post through Alison, honest and brave and i’m sure very reassuring to a lot of full time working mums x

  14. April 7, 2014 / 9:17 pm

    If you are happy your child will be happy. My mother worked two full time jobs as a single mother. She was a great mother and I love her dearly. It never did any of us any harm for her to work so much. If it works for you all then everyone else has no right to judge or say anything. Don’t feel like a bad mom every Mom is different, completely 100 percent different. We all feel judges or compared to others in some shape or form. I love that you love your job. You get a double fulfilment out of life a career and a family. Win-win. #badmumsclub

  15. Baby Gifts
    April 8, 2014 / 9:18 am

    Very brave post. Some people need time apart from their children to be better mothers.

    I’m sorry but I don’t agree with you. I love watching my child develop and being there at every step. It’s only a few years that I’ll never get back.

    Surely as long as you and your child are happy and it’s a situation that works well for your family then that’s all that matters.

    If everyone was the same the world would be a boring place.

  16. April 8, 2014 / 7:36 pm

    I personally feel more accomplished when I was working before. Before. Before I am a mother I am working full time.. starts my day 5.30am and travels 2-4 hours a day just so I can go to work. I would go home 10-11pm to wake up again in few hours. Not a lot of rest there but I am enjoying myself. Its mostly the money involve and the fact that I am a breadwinner. It feels good to provide for my family then.

    Now I am a stay-at-home mother and I dont feel good about it. I mean I only have respect for the other SAHM but personally I want to go and work fulltime because it is enriching for me. If my mind is enriched I feel that I am going to be a more productive, a better mother to my son.

    I am not working as I am having a hard time getting a job in my terms.

    I am not working but I feel guilty in my mothering. Like you I am asking why.

    It is probably a good thing, this guilt. It makes us give more when we can to our family, to our child. It makes us more aware that we lack things on some things and we can try to give more on the things that we are okay on.

    I love the honesty of your post.


  17. April 8, 2014 / 9:42 pm

    I totally agree with you – a happy mum is important for a happy child! I work 4 days a week and people seem to think that’s too much. I admit I was hesitant to go back to work, but once there it was like I never left. I enjoy my job, and I think it helps me as well as Nancy. I think to be honest I was more down about returning to my old job rather than leaving the baby.

  18. April 8, 2014 / 9:44 pm

    I am a full time working mummy and I do tend to be pretty sad about it, that’s me though – not saying that’s the way it has to be! There are definitely days though, when I do feel grateful that I can escape for a bit, be an adult, pee in privacy, be silent, drink a hot drink etc. As much as I do wish I didn’t have to work, I can see here and there why some SAHMs envy me and you and other working mums.

    Thank you for bravely posting about something so discussion worthy!!

  19. April 9, 2014 / 6:36 am

    If you are happy your daughter is happy. No-one has the right to judge you- although I think a lot of the guilt we feel as mothers we put on ourselves. I admire you working full time – I hope I do the same when I return to work in a few months. It’s a wonderful example, I think, to set for our children x

  20. April 13, 2014 / 10:02 pm

    You’re damned if you do & you’re damned if you don’t. I admire you’re honesty A, & i respect anyone who has the gumption to do what they feel in their gut is right for them (& their family), & also share you’re views with the world. I really think its a case of ‘different stokes for different folks’.
    I’m on the flip side to you, a full time mum, mum what ever label people want to put on me (i have dreams & ambitions of growing & becoming more ‘self sufficient’ in the self employed lark) But i feel very judged by people when asked if i ‘work’ (cue the boiling inside). Like you, i’m strong willed & tend not to take on board other peoples opinions, & as long as I’m happy, this will translate into my mothering skills. Loved reading this. xx

  21. April 16, 2014 / 10:36 pm

    I absolutely loved reading this post. Your honesty is refreshing, and I can identify with a lot of what you are saying. My daughter is my number one, and always will be but this doesn’t mean I have/ want to spend every waking minute with her. I need my space, and I am sure she benefits from having time away from me too. I chuckled at some of the comments about feeling you need to justify going back to work to others, as I have done the same. My mum was a single parent, and managed to complete a degree and pursue her career. I thought she was an extremely good role model and very inspirational to me x

  22. Jenny
    December 27, 2014 / 10:01 pm

    I know my post comes very very late but I still wanted to reply. I believe you feel guilty because your society dictates the way a woman should behave once she has a child. I’m saying “your” society because mine is the opposite. When I was a child I didn’t know anyone whose mother didn’t work and back then there was no such thing as part time. My Mum worked full time and long hours but I can’t remember ever feeling neglected. Children like to be around children and as long as they feel loved and safe by their parents it’s all that matters. I’m a Mum and I work full time AND I love it! BUT I don’t feel guilty about it. I still have quality time with my son, in the eves and weekends. We also eat dinner together which I find very important. To me not working is a step back for humanity. We all have to do our share and I’m doing mine and so will my child.

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