Yes, I'm lucky to have a flexible job - but there are downsides


I work for myself as a freelance writer, and it's truly a wonderful gig. I get to do a job I love while working from home, and be available for my kids – both when it matters, and for the incidental stuff. 

But it's interesting, don't you think, how we all come around to either replicating or attempting to 'fix' the ways we were parented as children.

I grew up in a single-parent household in a time when flexible working hours hadn't been heard of, and if you wanted a job, you had to toe the line and do the hours that were given to you.

So my mum missed a lot of stuff. She missed my athletics carnivals, netball games, and special parent days. All because she was on her own and she was doing her best to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. And I know my mother felt that loss as much as I did.



But as a kid, it was something I noticed. I noticed that my friends' parents would show up, and that mine didn't. As a child, you don't care if there's a good reason, you just notice that you're the one who's alone. 

So maybe now I'm overcorrecting, or maybe it's natural to just want to be there for your kids, but I take every opportunity to turn up for each of my three children when they have something on. Throughout the year, it's not such a big deal – I supervise some reading here, go along to a Mothers Day morning tea there…Maybe once every few weeks I'll have something to go to.

Working from home, it's nice to get out of the house, and I know my kids love it when I turn up.

But this time of year is a killer. This week alone, I've supervised a swimming lesson, been to a dance recital (and been forced at the end to do the macarena, to add to the indignity), helped with a secret santa draw, and attended a scouts information session. And I'm typing really quickly right now because I'm about to head along to a graduation ceremony – and not even for a grade that actually graduates from anything. 


Each one of these events is lovely, and my children will love that I'm there. But I do wonder, if I had a full-time job working for someone else, would I be expected to turn up to all of these things?

My children's father doesn't go to everything, and it doesn't seem to bother them one bit.

And add to that the fact that every time I leave the house to go to school for an event, I'm not doing paid work, or pitching for more paid work, so I'm losing money – or doing what I usually do, which is waking up at 4am or working through my lunch break and when my kids are asleep so I hit my deadlines.

Sometimes I wish I could just use the "can't leave the office" excuse - but nobody would buy it, least of all my kids. But I'm glad they take my presence for granted and assume I'll be there for all their life events.

It was a feeling I didn't have as a kid, and I'm thrilled I can give it to them. Even if I have to give up a few lunch breaks.