Work and Leisure

Julie with Likisma Director Lisa BurkeJULIE: I had Murray in 1995 and that was … with my mum’s agreement that she would look after him because I wanted to go back to work full time afterwards. I just knew that that’s what I wanted to do but obviously that was an ideal situation with her caring for him as well and then I had Harvey two and a half years later but only went back to work part time after that because my mum didn’t feel that she could cope with both of them full time … my mum was actually sixty nine ... I was a PA in the Business Centre for Natwest, working for different managers or deputising for them … I worked in Lewes

Click here to listen: I liked helping people and I liked the fact that I was good at my job and I did really like it; people, customers that I dealt with. Each manager had their own portfolio of customers so you got to know them very well. They came to rely on you and I liked troubleshooting, I always did. I taught myself quite a lot about computers while I was there … and became a bit of an expert like the office computer buff in that sense as well. And so it was really the sense of worth, I don’t know what it is … part of me very much needs to be praised and I got that from the customers and from the managers. I always had very good reports. It’s a highly competitive environment; people were scrabbling for promotion ... The sales pressure definitely increased as time went on - presumably as the banks became more competitive … I personally felt that sometimes, you were just flogging people stuff for the sake of it rather than something that suited them and was tailored for their needs ... They expected people to work, particularly the managers, longer hours. Which is why I didn’t want to be a manager, I could have been easily but I felt that with a family, I had got enough and I was happy with what I was doing. If you like, I was having the benefits of being a manager because I was obviously looking after the office while the manager wasn’t there ... without having to pay the penalty of working long hours and writing reports etc. I worked for managers in the beginning and they understood the children and … I didn’t have to stay and work the long hours because I could use that almost as an excuse.

Then in March 1999 Mum died very … suddenly and … my only choice really then, … I gave up working for Natwest to stay at home and initially be a full time mum … I was gutted … I enjoyed my job with Natwest. I felt I had been through a major life change … all forced upon me and hadn’t made any choices of my own and not only had I lost my mum and my best friend …that’s what she was to me - that I then had to give up the job that I really liked as well so it was very very hard and I was under the doctor for a little while. My husband was absolutely brilliant, I mean he was really supportive and the fact that I had the children helped me stay strong but it was very very hard.

Then I did a typical Julie thing and took on too much really because I became treasurer of the local playgroup ... then I …became elected chairman of the PTFA ... and I also started work doing party plan ... I couldn’t bear to just sit at home and housework’s never been my forte really. It wasn’t really enough to just … rush round the house and keep it clean and tidy … by June the next year, I had been looking at working in ... the evenings because by then … I had got used to being there for the children … and I liked it … I felt that it was very important to carry on to be there and not put them with childminders … So I had to look around at other things ... in the end I decided to take a bit of a risk and work for a party plan company called Likisma, doing aromatherapy parties ... I always tell people that it’s a really really good job because I get paid for socialising ... I can ... if I do two or three parties a week, even if they are only average parties … earn more doing three evenings a week than I can working full time as a support assistant in a classroom ...

… I do always feel the need to be valued and recognised. I have got that with Likisma because I have actually done quite well within the company. Last year I was the fourteenth manager in the country on personal sales ... It has worked very well ... It just fits in beautifully ... you go to road shows and rallies and you actually get up on stage and it’s an ego trip, everybody says how well you have done. But I do find that as a housewife you don’t get that and I really really missed it. I actually went for some counselling after I lost my Mum and ... we discussed this aspect of it. Mum was brilliant, she was very supportive, she would tell me what a good job I was doing with the children. I am that sort of person. I need to be told how well I am doing all the time so the aromatherapy is an extra way of having somebody say that because … on the whole, I don’t think men do that perhaps as well as women. They don’t support each other or say ‘well done’ in the same way.Julie's Likisma Newsletter Article

I need to work basically to pay the utility bills without extras. I mean … in theory, I could go out to work full time now and we would be a lot more comfortably off but we discussed it and we would rather stay as we are. Even with the children as they are quite young. We have all discussed it as a family and decided that this is what we would rather do than me go and get a full time job.

Andrew’s happy because I am happy; he really is very good like that. He also knew … right from the moment that he first met me that I would never be content just to stay at home all the time - that’s why I went back to work after I had my first child so he knew that I always was a bit of a career woman. He was very worried about me - when I lost mum and when I wasn’t doing anything and he’s just glad, and so am I that I have found something that suits us both so well and so he is quite happy with the whole situation.

Zoe School Identification BadgeZOE: I was a residential child care officer for a Deaf school in Brighton, Hamilton Lodge School. I was a child care officer so I worked with the children outside of school hours. It was a residential school so they were weekly boarders from Monday to Friday. So I cared for them before school started and after school had finished. ……working with the children, particularly because they were deaf children, I learnt sign language so that then became my skill and also … I could plan things myself to do with groups of children so I had quite a lot of flexibility, organising activities for them. I carried on working, full-time until Gabi was three … then my husband and I took on; we were joint residential child care officers for the further education unit so it was a separate house from the school. We had five residents who lived there, went to college during the day and then we developed their independence skills. They did their own shopping and cooking and cleaning ...and we supported them in that role ... they … went home each weekend but we stayed in the house, Terry and I and Gabi, so we lived there permanently. I gave up that post to have Megan and then when Megan was about a year old I went back to Hamilton Lodge again where I just worked in the evenings from six till half past nine, Monday to Friday.

Now I work as a teaching assistant at Telscombe Cliffs Primary School. I work Monday to Fridays, quarter to nine till one o’clock. This is my third academic year ... Working within education, …I really enjoy being in the classroom … When you are … a teaching assistant you can be asked to do a lot of varying jobs really, so I think the school, or many schools have to decide whether they want their teachers assistants to support the children in the classroom with their academic work or whether they wish them to be doing photocopying and getting resources ready, backing boards …We are all women and the teachers are all mostly women … I was quite impressed the other week that one of the male teachers had time off, because his wife is also a teacher and their child was sick and she had had some time off and then he took a couple of days off so I was quite impressed with that … From a teaching assistant point of view … most of us …do lots of hours outside of our working time. For instance I have been away on a week’s residential course. A residential holiday with year six which is for a whole week and I went and I only got paid for the mornings. So they know that we give.

… I have been really fortunate in my work because when I was at Hamilton Lodge I had … Gabi with me and then when Megan came along I gave up and only worked in the evenings when Terry came home from work. So Terry always had them as babies. We, as a couple have been quite fussy in the fact that Nanny has been the only one that has babysat my children but again I am very lucky as I have got a very supportive in law ... on INSET days when the staff have to go in to school so the children are off, … we can take our children in and we take it in turns to do a crèche with our children so most of us are in on the meeting and two of us are running the crèche and we just take it in turns.

I am also a residential social worker for the RNID, Royal National Institute for the Deaf. I am a relief worker … I work at weekends in a house which has five young deaf adults, again for independence skills. So I go there but I only do weekend work or evening work when Terry is around to look after the children. I do probably … four shifts a month … but I might sleep in as well. So … for instance, last Friday I worked from five o’clock in the evening until ten o’clock in the evening, then I slept in and I was back indoors at eight o’clock … Saturday morning … and then Terry went to work. When I am going to work on a weekend, Friday evening they quite often say, ‘are you coming back tonight’ or ’will you be here in the morning?’ but I don’t think that it worries them, it’s just a fact. I feel quite happy with who they are with, either their dad or their nanny. So when I walk out the door … I have got to be fair I don’t think about them when they are with dad or Nan and I think that it is just important that I go to work as well … for me, it’s my career and I am trying to also give something back to the family and then it’s not all Terry that’s doing it and the girls see that … He hasn’t got a problem with me working but there has been an issue raised on weekend work, that he could go to work and earn more money than me at the weekend but I always say that at the moment I can’t earn that much money but I would like to go out to work at the weekends to contribute to the family. And I enjoy going to work so we both do weekends but really he can earn more money than me ... I always tell them when I am going out, who I am going out with and that nanny is going to baby-sit but at least they have been brought up with a life like that.

Jean at Windsor Pub in BrightonJEAN: I used to work as a bar maid in a pub and dad used to come in there as a customer … in Brighton … just up by the station. I was twenty-eight and we have been married for thirty four years now ...

I used to work at Woolworths on a Saturday as a Saturday girl and then I went after that, full time for Woolworths …In those days the pay was very poor... I don’t really remember whether it was worse for women than for men …I think I used to give my mum about £2.50 a week when I first started work and then I think in later years … it went up to £4.50 a week. But then I used to put a lot into the home, I used to buy things for the home. When we moved I brought all the lace curtains and everything like that so … whatever money I earned – a lot of it did go ... back into the home for my parents … I just used to like the company and filling up the shelves and doing a bit of everything. I disliked it when I was put on marking cards up for Christmas, doing thousands and thousands, putting the prices on the back of them! …After Woolworths I went to work where my dad worked at Alan and West and I worked there for many years. I left there three times and I went back there three times! I used to build things … I was promoted to being the ‘spare’ girl which, if any people hadn’t done their job right and it was faulty – they used to bring it along to me to rectify the job and make it good and I used to get an extra penny an hour for that … I then went to work in a fruit shop … and I took over as manageress …It used to be lovely working there because although our boss was very bad tempered, once you … finished at the end of the day, he would take us all out and he was the most smashing boss … but when his wife …and he used to work together, it was absolutely hell but when they were separated, it was lovely. I used to … dress the windows and fill up the shelves and I used to like doing them all pretty and make sure they looked attractive to the customers when they came in, I quite enjoyed that … I left there to go to work for British Home Stores and to make up the money, then I used to work at the Windsor pub in Brighton, so many nights a week. In British Home Stores I was a supervisor. I started off from the bottom and then worked my way up. I can’t remember how long I was there for, a few years anyway. I worked away, I went to Scotland and I went to Devon. When they opened up a new British Home Store I used to go and help the staff who were employed, to help them to run the shop, before it opened and then once they got their training in, then we used to go on to another place and then when I met my husband, Peter – I found that I didn’t want to travel … so that’s when I gave up the travelling with the British Home Stores. I did continue to work for them after that but not for long because I got married and started having a family … and then I went back to the fruit shop part time … After my youngest was born I packed up the fruit shop and I just did an evening cleaning job … Dad used to have you two girls then and on a Saturday while I used to work.

In those days … I don’t ever remember, with the friends we had, any of them going out to full time work, they had little part time jobs but never went to work full time. They were quite happy.

Claire at work at Barkers in LondonCLAIRE: Click here to listen: My job title is Assistant Studio Manager, even though we don’t have a studio manager. I work for a recruitment advertising agency. It’s based at Farringdon in London …I count it full time but the company count it as part time. I do just under the normal amount of hours for full time. I do shift hours so that I can pick up James and Holly from school and take them to school, on a different rota that Dave actually does …you can tell that there are the women that need to change their hours to suit bringing up children, I think that in our situation, as in mine and Dave’s, we are the only couple that I know that actually do a rota for picking up our children and taking them to school …I like the people I work with; they’re friends …I also like dealing with people on the phone and I like solving problems when other people have got problems about adverts that haven’t appeared correct in the newspaper, they’ll always come to me to try and solve the problem. I find it very difficult when I have to leave at two o’clock, that I am leaving everyone else trying to get on with their jobs and also taking over my job while I have to leave to come home to collect James and Holly. That’s very very hard for me to do. I think because of being at the company for so long that everyone relies on me, they always come to me for me to answer their questions and if I am not there, they don’t know what to do. By the time I get home at three they know that I have got the mobile switched on, the company mobile so they know they can phone me on that if they need to. And they do! … it’s nice to know that I am wanted.

They (the children) understand that we need to work to be able to live in a nice house, to be able to have holidays, to be able to eat … They also understand that in school holidays we do still need to work, we can’t use up all our holiday in that time … I think if I had my way and I had enough money then I’d like to go part time and just do a couple of days a week or work closer to home. I’ve always said that I would like to work in a school and then I’d get the school holidays but James and Holly wouldn’t want me to go and work in a school, especially theirs!

I feel that my company would like me to go back and work full time. I’ve been there for thirteen years and within that time I have changed different roles to suit my hours … Also, it would mean more money for me but I would then work from between ten in the morning until six at night every day and Dave would do eight in the morning until two …every day so he would have all the rushing around when he gets home. But he’s happy to actually do that, he doesn’t mind finishing at two, rushing home, collecting James and Holly, he’s happier doing that, I can’t cope with the early mornings, getting up at half past six! … As long as we are happier with the hours, we both know exactly what we are doing, we both know that one of us is doing short days and one of us is doing long days and it will be easier for James and Holly as well. They know who is always taking them to school and who is always picking them up.

CATHERINE: I worked, I just did office work really and I worked for several different places but Trevor’s always worked for American Express so he was my main breadwinner basically because my wage was just pitiful really but I never really got a career because I wanted to go to University. Or at least I thought I did, I don’t know, I was doing my A levels and … I was really enjoying it and I had to give all that up. So I never really knew what I wanted to do and I just sort of fell into office work really which I would never do again in a million years but there you go … It was the money because we pulled all our money together to buy our place and do it up. We had a great time … I don’t think I ever got any gratification from it because … I wanted to be really good at it and I don’t think I ever got that from my bosses. I never got the praise I craved. I craved to be really good at something and I think I could have been and I think that was always there. I never got, ‘oh well done, you’ve done a fantastic job’ and that used to get me down I think and I didn’t enjoy it. I worked for the Estates department in the University of Brighton and I really liked that job but that was all men in there but I liked it because you got a lot of attention … and I enjoyed that, just being quite social. But still I didn’t get anything that this job is really worthwhile doing. I never really could say I really had job satisfaction. It was just a pay cheque really I think I was never going to go back. I wanted to look after my kids so I always said to Trevor, I don’t want children until I know I don’t have to go out to work as I didn’t want to put them into any kind of care … I wanted to be there for them … I always think that I am going to do it this way because I don’t want them to suffer like I did.

… I think Trevor likes me being at home, not in that ‘you are the woman, you will stay home’ but … he knows I am good at it and he says that its something that he could never ever do, he just could not stay at home and look after the kids and I don’t think he’d like it … I think that he couldn’t cope. He thinks I do a really good job and he tells me that and he says that I am a really good mum. No I don’t think he would want me to leave the boys with someone.

I went back and did a NVQ in beauty therapy because I got sick of talking about nappies and … I just needed something for myself … There were a lot of other older women, bored housewives doing the same thing. It was a really good social thing and I made some really good friends who I still see and I really enjoyed it. I don’t know even if that’s me though, although people say that I am good at it. I stopped doing beauty therapy after Annabel died because I just couldn’t get motivated with it again.

I was looking for a part time job because Trevor was going to be turning 30 and I really wanted to buy him something nice and I didn’t want to ask him for the money. So I saw the Body Shop … I thought I could do this because it ties in with my beauty therapy so I did and I made some good money out of it. I paid for Trevor’s 30th … It was a real big achievement. I was really pleased with myself, spoilt Trevor because he has always looked after me and been really kind to me. I was really proud of myself doing that. … then it just got a bit draining … quite demanding … you had to be out of the house … by seven .. to be at their house by half seven to set up for eight and you’d get parties where you’d be there till midnight and it was just draining. Sometimes I could do four or five a week depending what time of year it was. It just didn’t work out because you could go and have a really dry period with no parties. I started getting pressure from the Body Shop to progress and I just didn’t want to do it, just didn’t want all the aggro … and then we got to the point where people … weren’t interested in having parties and I just thought I don’t need this and Trevor was missing me because it was long hours … it was all the paperwork and it … just wasn’t worth it in the end … it was a good money spinner. I did really well out of it but it ran its course and I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I thought I could do my beauty therapy and earn some money from that.


JULIE: I like to read books and I don’t have time hardly ever to do that anymore. So it’s on the loo or in the bath! I find it very very difficult, even though I am at home during the day, the only time I really sit down and read my book, is to have lunch … The other thing that I am very strong on and again Andrew is very supportive, is before I go out to work … to do a party I always have a bath and that sounds really silly but even if its only for 10 minutes, it also goes back to the product as well because obviously, I put my aromatherapy oils in the bath so that’s my only other time and then when I come back from the parties I can’t go straight to bed. So that tends to be a bit of either reading a book or playing computer games.

But I do find there is very little time. Again, Andrew is brilliant because he has said to me ‘you need to do something for yourself during the day.’ But … to sit down and read a book over lunch is the one indulgence really. And then, I either go out to work or if I am not working, I tend to try to put the children to bed myself obviously, because I am not doing it otherwise and then have a bit of time with my husband to watch television or a DVD or play a computer game and wind down a bit … I try to go on school trips … because I like to do that sort of thing and I do go in and help in the classroom one morning a week as well.

ZOE: I am really lucky because I do have a very very supportive husband really, in many ways, who doesn’t stop me from doing anything and encourages me to do everything that I want to do within reason. But I still feel guilty. So he might come home and say, ‘you could go out every night Zoe and it wouldn’t bother me’ and I don’t think it would but I would feel guilty for doing that. Well I go to the gym at least once a week but I don’t have any real hobbies, I like socialising and seeing friends and I am fortunate again, because I work in the school environment I have all the school holidays so the girls and I spend time seeing people and doing things together. I enjoy studying and training so if I have the opportunity to do training courses then I enjoy the work that goes with that …Watching TV in the evenings, I do like that but everybody does that don’t they? But I always like to try and sit down by eight o’clock every evening.

JEAN: I do voluntary work for a tenants association. It takes up a lot of time, involves going to meetings and learning all about what the council do. Some of the meetings are quite interesting and some of the meetings are quite boring. Owing to the fact that you represent your tenants you still have to go to them but it is done voluntarily and you get to know a lot of people and I have met up with a cousin who I haven’t seen for years and we have now come to be really close when we go to meetings together. I have been doing this nearly five years.

CLAIRE: I try to arrange that if I am going out after work that it is on one of my days that I do as a long day so it will either be a Monday or a Wednesday and then I can go out for a drink or go out for a meal and I don’t need to worry about who is looking after James and Holly. On the other days then it is harder for me to do but we also meet up at weekends as well which is nice ...

I used to do cake decorating but that’s now gone out the window. I’d say our only hobbies really are decorating, we do like to decorate but we’ve nearly finished now … I suppose our hobby … in the summer is gardening. It’s very nice to be able to go out and do the gardening. Most weekends are either seeing friends or we try to make sure that we do spend some weekends just on our own, going shopping on Saturdays, going out, going for a walk through forests and things like that just so that we can be a family but if you gave James and Holly an option of going for a walk round the forest or playing out with their friends, then they’d much prefer to play out with their friends. I take one day off either in March or April and … go to the Ideal Home Exhibition with my mum, that’s the only day that I will really take to be off with anyone else. At Christmas we try to take a couple of days off, Dave and me to go shopping without James and Holly … but most of the rest of the holiday is actually taken off in school holidays.

Annabel Harwood Trust Picture CATHERINE: I have got the charity that takes my time up. I’ve got Matthew that takes every minute of my time. By the time I get to the evening I just want to veg and watch something on the TV. I like going on the computer and surfing the web and looking for holidays … I haven’t really had time to do anything … I’d like to write a book or something. Maybe write a book on my experiences with Annabel or something. I really loved English and I really would like to do that. I said to Trevor that one day I would like to do an English degree but I don’t know whether I would cope. I’d like to see the charity progress and I’d like to know that we’ve helped people. Even if we just helped one person, that’s such a big achievement and I’d like to do that.


Back to top