The brilliant Why Mummy Swears, Gill Sims’ much anticipated and equally hilarious second novel, has just come out in time for the summer holidays. For those of you who don’t know, Gill Sims is the author of Why Mummy Drinks, which was the bestselling debut hardback novel of 2017, and is currently the 2nd bestselling fiction hardback of 2018 and spent a staggering 30 weeks in the Sunday Times Top 10!
Gill’s writing is laugh out loud funny (I know – I have been falling asleep with Mummy Swears laughing most nights!) and totally addictive. Her second novel is a truly fantastic read, especially for any parent!
Alongside the wit in Why Mummy Swears Gill includes nods to more serious and current issues facing mothers both in the workplace and at home. For example, a lack of understanding from male colleagues towards mothers who conduct flexible hours, and the balance of parenting and household duties between men and women. Although Gill always maintains a light air in her writing these issues are things she feels passionately about and I have her here on the blog today talking about some of these issues that mums returning to work face.
In the book Mummy returns to work and realizes it’s not quite that she thought it would be what are your thoughts on mums returning to work?
I feel it’s every mum’s personal choice- some women have worked too hard on their careers to abandon, some women need the stimulation and interaction of working outside the home, some women can’t bear to leave their children and don’t go back to work, and a lot of women simply don’t have the luxury of making that choice because of financial constraints, and so either have to go back to work because they need the money, or they can’t go back to work because the cost of childcare is so crippling they would be financially worse off. If you’re in a position to make a choice about it, you just have to make the choice that’s best for you, there’s no right or wrong about whether mothers ‘should’ be working or not. As long as it’s working for you and your family, that’s the most important thing!
How much of the book is taken from your observations of mums trying to get back into the work place? What are some of the key points you wanted to convey?
Obviously it can be really hard for women trying to get back to work, and I’ve definitely seen some of those issues first hand, both for me and for friends and colleagues- from the little challenges like just trying to get out of the house without being covered in Weetabix, to the big challenges like trying to juggle everything while still being taken seriously and considered for promotion. I think one of the main points I wanted to convey with the storyline about Ellen’s new job was that working mothers can do just as good a job as men and women without children. Which is fairly obvious, really!
Mummy goes to great lengths to disguise her identity as a mum in the workplace – what’s the reality behind why she would do this?
I think it goes back to the previously point about the issues in some workplaces, especially perhaps in industries that have traditionally been seen as more male dominated, where there is a perception that perhaps a mother won’t be as dedicated, or as successful at her job because she is more interested in being a mother than in her work. So if you take the children out of the equation, then you are not fighting against those prejudices and preconceptions.
Let’s talk about when a woman goes from feeling successful in the workplace, to feeling like she doesn’t belong…..
I think whatever you do, whether you’re a working mother, or a stay at home mother, there’s always that lurking ‘mum guilt’ that you should be doing more, that you should be setting a better example- if you’re a working mum, there’s the guilt that you have missed a class assembly and have never made salt dough Christmas decorations with your precious moppets, and if you’re a stay at home mum, there’s the guilt that perhaps you are not showing a good example of an independent woman to your children, guilt at not contributing financially to the household. I don’t think it matters what you choose or what you do, there’s always that slightly nagging sensation that you could, or should, have done just a little more for your kids.
In the book, mummy’s marriage feels the strain and kids are running wild…so does that mean women can’t have it all?
Of course women can have it all- they just need the right support behind them! After all, men manage to ‘have it all’, no one blinks an eye at a man with a demanding career and a family, so why shouldn’t women be able to do the same?
Although this is a book that will have readers laughing out loud, in a perfect world, what would a return to work for a mum look like?
That’s back to the support again isn’t it? In a perfect world, you’d have a perfect partner who is able to share the load with you 50/50, and also there would be magic pixies and fairies to do the laundry and the hoovering!
What do you think needs to happen or change to help support mums going back to work?
I think the attitude that women are the ones who are supposed to be responsible for organising the childcare and running the house needs to change, and I think that is slowly changing. Employers need to be more willing to be flexible in the hours people work, and where they work from, and even though not every job is something people can do from home, there is often something that can be done to make it easier for women to return to work.
Oh and ideally, childcare could be cheaper too!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just that hopefully things are changing, and by the time our daughters are entering the workforce, they won’t encounter the same prejudices and problems and struggles that women are dealing with at the moment!
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