Share this content

Career versus mum

14th Nov 2012
Share this content

I know I keep blogging about this but this is one thing that keeps bugging me.

In an ideal world I'd like to work part time doing the hours that suit me and earn loads of money and still be able to be at home with my kids and do stuff with them. The reality for me was working part time or on a sub contracting basis led to rubbish pay compared to how much work I did and how much I was on before but I was able to do some stuff with my daughter during the day as I did a lot of work in the evening and night. However, I was constantly tired and being pregnant with baby number 2 didn't help and I was quite short in temper with my daughter, although I stopped myself if I did realise it.

During this time, I kept thinking it would be so much easier being a full time mum, especially considering how little I felt that I earned and how much effort I had put into it and I also felt like I was a free technical helpline for any queries they had when the company I was subcontracting for got stuck. Ok, so I feel bitter and hard done by, but I guess I should also remember that I haven't worked full time since summer 2010 when I went on maternity leave with my first daughter. I'm now on maternity leave for the second baby so I guess I should be grateful that I managed to get some flexible sub contracting work where I could work from home at the time that suited me so that during the day I could spend time with my daughter.

One of my biggest problems of working for myself that I found was that some things because I don't do it on a regular basis or I had forgotten bits, there's no one that I can really turn to for help, like colleagues, or the boss or even old working papers. There are things that I know I'm good at and I can whizz through them. There have also been times when I've been on CPD courses which has jogged my memory about something that I may have forgotten which has been really useful. And there's always this website which has been very helpful but sometimes I feel like a bit of a fraud for asking such a simple question, especially as I'm applying for my practicing certificate so I should know a lot if things. So then I think maybe I can get a part time job and work for myself once my maternity leave is over but I'm not really sure how much I think I can do. I want to do everything!

As I mentioned, I am now in the process of trying to obtain my ACCA practicing certificate and if I am successful, then hopefully, this will help me increase my fees and I'm hoping to use the maternity leave time to get things organised and ready. I guess I'm in the fortunate position of not having to worry about working as my husband earns enough for it not to be essential (at least for the moment) and which is why I can even consider being a full time mum.

So the reasons for being a full time mum are that I feel that being there for my daughter and baby number 2 is a good thing and would benefit them, educationally and with their behaviour and discipline. Secondly, the amount I got paid and the associated nursery fees so I could spend time working wasn't really worth it and on other days when I had to go to a meeting that was on a day that my daughter was not at nursery and I had to drop her off with whichever relative was free felt awful. It's good that my daughter gets to know her relatives too but I also felt like she picked up some bad habits going there. So ok, maybe I'm being a bit of a control freak here and I really should be grateful as to how much help I have had.

Also, there's a lot in the news about how parents work so hard that they don't have time for their kids whereas if they did stay at home, there would be less chance of unruly kids, apparently the type that were in the riots last summer. Then there are stories you here about grooming, internet abuse and bullying and I know you can't control everything but surely, I should do as much as I can. However, I shouldn't really spend too much time looking at government statistics as being an only child of a single parent should mean that I'm off the rails! But it's just that if I have the opportunity to stay at home and bring up my kids, should I not take advantage of this? But I have spent 10 year of my life working as an accountant. It forms part of my identity, I'm reluctant to give that up entirely, even just for a few years.

So there lies my dilemma. I don't expect it to be resolved instantly and I know it's going to take me time to figure out what works and what doesn't but hopefully without spending too much money and hopefully get the right balance eventually!


You might also be interested in

Replies (13)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

By FirstTab
14th Nov 2012 19:29

Many points

Wow! Good to read a mother's perspective. There are many points you make. I hope I have got this right:

1) Conflict over child care and career

2) Poor returns on  subcontract work

3) Future direction 

In my opinion wait for your prac certificate and get your own clients. Take on simple work and progressing from there. 

Feel free to and tell me off - why did you not resolve these issues before planning and having a  a second baby? This aspect about people confuses me. There is always a price to pay in the choices we make. As you know we just cannot have it all. 


Thanks (0)
By A mum and an accountant
14th Nov 2012 22:15

Thing is it took us a while to get pregnant with baby number one and I'm a lot older and I didn't really want to wait too long to have baby number two. So to be honest my ideal situation is to have 2 kids and I guess I've made a bit of a sacrifice in my career to have my ideal family. But now that I'm on my way to the ideal family life, I want it all and have some sort of career too!

But yes I do agree, I need to sort my practicing certificate first off and go from there.

Thanks (0)
By FreddieZonko
15th Nov 2012 21:22

I wanted it all too!!!

Oh Lilac I so know where you're coming from. I wanted it all too and being a die hard Queen fan I am known to sing round the kitchen that I also want it now!!!

I had my babies at 33 and 34 and they are now 9 and 8. I was also lucky enough that my husband earned enough that I had a wonderful number of years as a full time mum until baby number 2 went to school and at that point I decided I wanted to do something for me and do something with the number of years training and qualifying.

Enjoy the years your babies are babies - you will never have those days back.

I have an ACCA  practising certificate by virtue of a orientation course I did years ago but now I am in the position of giving it all up to be a trailing spouse (lovely term!) as my husband has been offered a relocation to Mumbai and I have to think whether I want to go back to be a support actor.

Equally my husband has the stress of being the major bread winner and not attending the children's schools events or helping with homework or having their goodnight kisses.

First Tab - I think you're great but if you ever hope to understand a woman whose had a baby you're onto a loser - we don't understand ourselves!!! I was going back to being senior tax manager after baby number 1 (I'd had cats how different could it be!) and within three months there was no way I was giving this gorgeous little boy to be looked after by any one else - husband went a little pale but otherwise covered it well!






Thanks (0)
By FreddieZonko
15th Nov 2012 21:30

First Tab

I didn't give you enough credit for your fantastic summary of the working Mum's problems:

1) Conflict over child care and career

2) Poor returns on subcontract work

3) Future direction

Yes - you've got it in three.

The only thing I would add is the guilt you feel from being a freeloader rather than a fee earner and the bitterness that your husband didn't have to give it all up and/or make the same choices when you still worked as hard to get the qualifications but see above re. I get to go to the harvest festivals and the babies still come to me for cuddles.



Thanks (0)
By A mum and an accountant
15th Nov 2012 22:48

More good points!
Thank you for your perspective FreddieZonko. It's always inspiring to hear when people have been there and done that and how it worked out for them. Plus you raise some more good points such as:

1) The guilt of being a freeloader

2) The bitterness of my husband of not having to make this choice or give it all up

3) And the main one, we don't even understand ourselves that we have a hope in hell's chance trying to explain it to someone else, which is probably why this blog is so long!

Good luck with your move to Mumbai FreddieZonko.

Thanks (0)
By FirstTab
15th Nov 2012 23:28

Keep Blogging

FreddieZonko thanks really good of you.

Lilac 1 please keep blogging. It gives me a perspective that I currently do not have on challenges women face on trying to balance career and family life. Though it looks like there so much more it.


Thanks (0)
By coolmanwithbeard
16th Nov 2012 12:18

Keep going


I started my current practice s a male foster carer with a FT working wife so it's not just a female perspective !!


THe winner for me was aroom at home that was work so I could go in and pick up work without having to tidy it up at meal times.


Now they've grown up I'm still working from home and offering staff family friendly terms (I need 10 hours a week come when you can)


The balance will not always work as there are deadlines you take on (VAT quater ends, PAYE etc) but it can be done :) I think the simple question issue affects all of us who work mainly alone - so do bounce off on here - it's very rare anyone is criticised for asking a simple question


Keep blogging and take all those family friendly opportunities to get clients (at the school gate or playgroup) always carry business cards!!



Thanks (0)
By Tom 7000
16th Nov 2012 12:48

Be careful

You said....


As I mentioned, I am now in the process of trying to obtain my ACCA practicing certificate and if I am successful, then hopefully, this will help me increase my fees  


You cant do ANY accountancy work at all on your own account without one of these. If you have been doing some, even bookkeeping you have breached the rules and I recommend you contact the ACCA and deal with this


If you are not qualified you can do waht you want, the minute you pass the final exams you are barred from working until you have a practicing certificate...harsh and not fair but thems the rules

Thanks (0)
Della Hudson FCA
By Della Hudson
16th Nov 2012 15:31

That was me 4 years ago

I have been running my own practice for 4 years now (see class of 2009 if it is still on here) and it is possible to have it all but you will need to practice your juggling and ignore the guilt.

Go for it!

Feel free to DM me if you want to talk in detail.

Thanks (0)
By A mum and an accountant
17th Nov 2012 08:07

Thanks for all your replies
I'm overwhelmed with all your kind and helpful responses (must be the hormones!).

Coolmanwithabeard - I do realise that it's not just women who always face this dilemma and if the situation was reversed and my husband said he would happily work part time and juggle child care, I'm not quite sure how I would feel. So even though I feel bitterness towards him for not having to give it all up, I don't think I'd want it any other way. Your family friendly terms does sound good, thank you for your offer and I'm sure you'll here from me before the end of 2013!

Tom 7000 - thank you for your concern. I have checked with ACCA and I believe bookkeeping is allowable but not much more than that unless your doing it for family or friends without any remuneration. But I'm also a member of ATT, which allows me to do tax returns. It is annoying that you do all this hard work to pass your exams and become a member and then you have even more restrictions on what you can and can't do compared to someone who's not done any exams. I'm sure it will be even more worth it though when I do get my practicing certificate.

HudsonCo - I will look up class of 2009. I love inspiring stories and I'm glad to hear that you're doing well four years on. I will DM you to see what you had to face and how you got over random stumbling blocks. Thank you.

Thanks (0)
Pillow May Ltd
By pillowmay
18th Nov 2012 19:31

Working mum
I fully emphasise with all your comments having set up my practice just after the birth of my first child.
I couldn't stay at home with the kids all day, much as I love them as I enjoy the interaction with businesses & the working routine.
I believe good software & systems is one of the answers to a good work-life balance (although I'm not there yet)!
My aim next year is to join together local part-time accountants & offer IT & admin systems (through a hosted system) on a per client cost basis so Mum accountancy practices (in particular but not exclusively) spend more time doing the higher level & higher value work without getting tied down in all the rest of the admin which comes with running a practice.
If anyone likes this idea, do get in touch!

Thanks (0)
Pillow May Ltd
By pillowmay
20th Nov 2012 09:51

Replying to your direct mail

Hi Lilac1, I can't reply to your direct mail as the system says that I'm blocked from replying to you for some reason?!  To see where we're based, see although I'm not sure since we'd be working on the cloud whether it is actually relevant that all the accountants are local!  It's still early in the development of my ideas for sharing IT - will be working on them more in February 2013 once we're through the busy season!  Do contact me if you'd like to hear more ...

Thanks (0)
Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
19th Dec 2012 10:46

Running your own practice as a mum

H i 

I am 13 years in practice and have 1 child which we were extremely lucky.  He will be 10 in the summer and I am going back to having an office as I have had enough of the girls working in my house.  I know we visit clients a lot but still I wanted my house back.

My boy is delighted and I had not realised  how much it bother him having the office in the house.   Over the years I have had years of nearly losing it.  I came to the conclusion though that life is too short for clients to get in the way of your childs life so I have got rid of a few over the years so I have a happier lifestyle. 

To be honest I  have a biike and I use the train so my travel costs are low and I use that money to go on holidays instead of having a second car.  The fact is I won,t drive  because I don,t like it .  I would rather pay for a taxi, train or bus which are reasonable in Glasgow. 

I think you learn to live within your means and you come to realise it is not your kid that wants everything as they want your time .    It is ourselves who have become materlised .  

Here is an example everyone has asked me what I am getting my boy from Santa , he has asked for an RC moon which is less than £20 and one year asked to have Rudolph which was a lot harder to find but not expensive.    The point is last year I topped it up with something small and he thought it was very strange behaviour for Santa to do that we nearly blew it. 

I have loved been there for my kid leaving to go to school and coming back. My office will be quite near so I can be back after he walks home form school. He walks on his own now so it adds 40 mins to my day. 

Anyway sorry for late post but I hope you are loving them both and also enjoying work. 




Thanks (0)