The Myth of Flexible Working

So, we’re all allowed to ask for flexible working conditions. Of course, our employers are in no way obliged to accept that request.  Therefore, making the request is often akin to pissing in the wind.

I made my request  (part-time, compressed hours of 4 days into 3 – a killer but worth it to keep my job, as we can’t afford 4 days’ childcare for two), created a business case for it, offered to work out-with my core hours including weekends where possible and discussed it with colleagues.  Childcare’s arranged, nursery deposit’s paid, and – most importantly – my line manager is totally understanding and pretty sure there will be no issues.  

So over the course of two weeks I hear….nothing.  Not a peep.  My inert line manager doesn’t even respond when I email a chaser.

When he does answer two days later, it’s not elaborate, nor is it encouraging:
“Its [sic]with [management] at the moment.  Don’t know how it will go down as there are a few grumblings going on.  I will let you know as soon as I find out”.

“This is my life, my children’s lives..!!”, I feel like screaming.  My line manager pretty much OK’ed it at our meeting there and then. The decision is ultimately his, in reality there’s no impediment but – as I knew would be the case – when he presents it to management the spinal cord buckles, one word of dismay from them and he rolls over for them just as he was probably rolling over for me.

Most galling of all – they let my backfill replacement go in December knowing full well I wasn’t returning till April so they clearly expected the team to cope without me for 60 days.  The arrangement I’m requesting wouldn’t even involve me dropping 60 working days in a full year!!!

Yeah, they say you can ask for flexible working.  The same way you can ask for a new Porsche for Christmas…

I say potato, you say spreadsheets…

I’ve just come from visiting a friend who’s 4 months pregnant with her first baby.  Having been made redundant in her first few weeks, she was expressing some concern about her unhirability…ness, and fretting over her lack of future income. My other friend pointed out that she has savings plus rent money coming in from a flat she owns, however this to me wasn’t the crux of the issue.  I don’t believe the drifting apart arises from one party bringing in the bacon and the other not. The problem is that while we’re at home with the kids – whether as a working mum on maternity like me, or a stay-at-home mum – we’re knocking our pans in from the early hours of every day: running around like  blue-arsed flies, starved of adult conversation unrelated to our or other people’s children; sick of the sight of the local park; cooking, washing, and tidying endlessly; cutting, pasting, colouring, baking, playing, organising and never finishing a single bloody cup of tea off and certainly never in peace.  And this doesn’t stop at 6pm.  It is ceaseless till we fall into bed and often continues through the night, depending on the ages of our children.  He, on the other hand, goes to work and yes, no doubt he deals with stressful and taxing situations but at least with other grown-ups (largely) and with a hot, fulfilling Starbucks in hand.

His take on the above however, is as follows.  He works. You don’t.

And that’s where the drifting of parental continents begins.  We are so many, many miles apart in what we’re experiencing on a daily basis that communication breaks down. Let’s face it, I don’t care if Sally in Marketing is incapable of operating her opposable thumbs to run a  basic report and H doesn’t care if B dragged dog shit into the front porch (provided it’s cleaned up before H gets home).

All the financial independence in the world would make no difference to our separation, if I was still spending it on soft play and groceries.