The value of the unpaid work of parenthood and how to use it on a CV
Our recent blog about the re-entry level position generated quite a lot of comment about whether mothers’ / parents’ skills are undervalued.
Is it work if you do it for love?
I believe work is work, whether it is done for money, for love, or for charity. But I didn’t always think that way. I remember hearing feminists talking about ‘unpaid work’ and I never got it. Until I got pregnant and suddenly the new hormone balance cleared my eyes!
I was thinking back to when I was involved in Playcentre. We – mainly mothers - carried out the huge amount of work involved in running a licenced early childhood centre. Plus part-time study in early childhood development, leadership, creativity, administration; often being involved in evening meetings, training, representing our centre at association level and looking after our own children – at the same time.
How to drive a parent crazy with one simple question
When anyone described me as “not working”, or asked me “What do you do all day?” I wanted to throttle them. I would say sarcastically that I spent the day lying on the sofa eating chocolates.
What this mother did – for half a day
What I should have done was ask them to spend a day in my shoes “not working” as I rose early (after a broken night’s sleep) to feed and change a baby, put two loads of washing on the clothesline, prepared, served and cleaned up after breakfast, prepared lunchboxes, dressed children and dragged them to a Playcentre session, co-ran a licenced early childhood education session, participated in evaluation and cleaned up after 20 young children’s paint, playdough, fingerpaint, carpentry and sandpit and mud work, dragged my children home, prepared, served and cleaned up after lunch – and that was just half a typical day. Still waiting and often left undone were housework, beds and as for the garden, let’s just say that the neighbours thought we’d abandoned the house.
I feel tired just thinking about it. Now I “only” work full time and believe me it’s a holiday compared to “not working”.
What we need to do as a society is to value this work. (One easy way woud be to calculate how much you’d have pay someone else to do these multiple roles.)
How to describe this in a CV
What you need to do if you’re looking for paid work is to reframe this *unpaid work* into Skills Employers are Looking for.
According to Business New Zealand, the top 10 skills employers look for are:
- communication skills
- customer service skills – in person, on the phone, and online
- ability to work well in a team
- literacy and numeracy skills
- confidence learning about and using computers and technology
- planning and organisational skills
- initiative and a can-do attitude
- problem-solving skills
- good work habits and independence
- health and safety skills.
I’d suggest that the only skill on this list that you don’t develop as a parent of young children is “confidence learning about and using computers and technology”. (But that’s ok – you can ask your children to help with this.)