Working mother

The Working Parent Project: 6-word stories

The Working Parent Project aims to uncover the stories behind the working parenthood statistics. To do this, we’ve been collecting people’s 6-word stories about their experiences through pregnancy, parental leave and return to work.

This post contains all the stories we’ve received so far.

By sharing parents stories we hope to raise greater awareness, empathy and understanding of the working parent experience so that more effective support can be provided.

Here’s the link if you’d like to share your story

Please feel free to share the link and this post amongst your networks.

  1. “Full-Time work part-time hours. Redundancy.” Rebecca, Brisbane QLD
  2. “part-time was denied, made redundant” Bree, Port Macquarie NSW
  3. “Be my own boss for flexibility” Rachel, Wollongong NSW (Further comments: “Went from full time health position to self employment”)
  4. “Bullied, supported, amazing return to work” Anonymous, Perth WA (Further comments: “My first pregnancy was a bit different to my second. I had a really bad experience with the first, but with my second it was a great return to work. Hence the mixed experience.”)
  5. “Shifting values, uncertain of worth, stubborn” Stacy, Toowoomba QLD (Further comments: “My experiences were 30 years ago.”)
  6. “Pregnant again. “Expendable resource” tossed away.” Anonymous, Canberra ACT (Further comments: “I would never wish the financial fear & social isolation I felt in early pregnancy on any other woman.”)
  7. “Babies. Work like it didn’t happen.” Katherine, Sydney NSW (Further comments: “Love the project!”)
  8. “Baby making. Secondary to career making.” Gladys, West Pymble NSW (Further comments: “Love this!”)
  9. “Sacrificed my ambition for flexibility” Anonymous, Sydney NSW (Further comments: “Not easy to manage a sick child with monthly hospital appointments with a regular job, I lucked out getting a local government job which is incredibly flexible but sacrificed my passion and ambition. Husband works 6 days a week and earns six times more than me – it’s usually the lower earner (usually woman) that sacrifices. Sometimes slightly resentful but realise I have it much much better than most.”)
  10. “Sick child, call who? Not Dad.” Carrie, Sydney NSW
  11. “I only work part time. Not.” Nicole, Sydney NSW
  12. “Running. Running. Running. Running. Nailing nothing.” Melissa, Sydney NSW (Further comments: “Like good old Chris Gardner, on the movie Pursuit of Happiness, that chapter in my life was called ‘Running’… running/ rushing between everything but also ‘running’ to keep up with the professional I used to be, ‘running’ to try become the mum I hoped I’d be, and running between friend, daughter, sister, partner and wife/ home maker.”)
  13. “Single Mother: There isn’t enough money.” Peta, Gold Coast QLD
  14. “”SAHM”? No. “Full Time Parent”? Yes.” Naomi, Sydney NSW (Further comments: “Parenting is work, whether you’re getting paid for it or not”)
  15. “Started job pregnant. Lucky maternity policy.” Anonymous, VIC (Further comments: “Being eligible for parental leave at six months service and scraping in that by a few days, and having employer pass my probation and pay parental leave instead of letting me go, was literally life changing at a really vulnerable time when surprise #2 came along while still on leave with #1.”)
  16. “Challenging, isolating, lack of support, tiring” Sophie, Adelaide SA (Further comments: “Wonderful to have kids and huge life event”)
  17. “COVID babies and contracting. Burnout. Launched business.” Cherie, VIC
  18. “Work places don’t care about families.” Jessica, Alexandria, VA (Further comments: “I left the job market and started my own company. It was just too hard to balance life with a neurodivergent kid.”)
  19. “Frustrated tired unseen stuck trapped capable” Dee, Brisbane QLD
  20. “It’s time. My own way now.” Louise, Melbourne VIC (Further comments: “I wasn’t running away from something. My corporate experience was the perfect playground to launch me into something of my own where I could grow faster, be more and have a purpose aligned impact on the world.”)
  21. “Pushed aside, appraised with unfair expectations” Sophie, Sydney NSW
  22. “Trapped. Can’t change jobs because of leave” Anonymous, Melbourne VIC (Further comments: “The feeling of being stuck with an employer who (very fortunately) has a great parental leave policy but culture and workload make it almost impossible to work part time and progress within org”)
  23. “School holidays and employment don’t align” Leisa, Perth WA (Further comments: “Systemically the working world and education worlds have not evolved to align with the requirements of families. 12 weeks of school holidays with one parent working was fine ‘back in the day’ but in these economic times of two working parents, even if they both take leave at separate times, you still have another 4 weeks to cover and that’s with no time off together as a family. I’m all for a four day week for school and work and for better alignment between work and school systems to support humans.”)
  24. “No part-time jobs, no security.” Emily, Adelaide SA (Further comments: “Fixed-term contract jobs in public service a nightmare for parents.”)
  25. “There’s no guarantee of staying pregnant” Kate, Perth WA (Further comments: “Change the Fair Work Act general rule for unpaid leave an employee must have served 12 months to 6 months or less and free those who are hoping for children under the weight of infertility and miscarriage to seek opportunities in their career.”)
  26. “Disregulating, lonely, exhausting, depressive, disconnecting, overwhelming” Nicole, Sydney NSW
  27. “So much stress, so little support” Amelia, Sydney NSW (Further comments: “Make partners need to step up. There’d be less stress if I had support with the mental load”)
  28. “Part time pay, full time expectations” Anonymous, Melbourne VIC (Further comments: “That was at a corporate, I’m now at a small business which offers a much better balance”)
  29. “Part-time cliff, perceived less ambitious.” Mairead, Ocean Grove VIC
  30. “Lost job. Locked out of workforce.” Erica Hatfield, Sydney NSW (Further comments: “We need to change the way work is structured so that it evolves to meet modern day needs to enable everyone the opportunity to fully participate.”)
  31. “I leant in. Society didn’t follow.” Laura (Further comments: “Like many of the working women of my generation, I took Sheryl’s advice to ‘lean in’. I maintained an Executive-level role while I birthed and then raised two children. I was stretched so far that some days I felt that I was becoming translucent. But I kept on showing up, holding so many balls in the court, and advocating for better policies within my organisation because I was desperate that the women who followed me would have an easier path through motherhood. This has come at a huge cost to my mental and physical health. The tide is changing and under the Albanese government progress is happening but the mums are exhausted. Society needs to hurry the f*ck up before we lean so far that we can’t get back up.”)
  32. “Felt supported. And then I wasn’t.” Stephanie, Auckland NZ
  33. “Single mum. Unpaid parental leave. Struggling.” Anonymous, NSW
  34. “Career stalemate. Left feeling lost, directionless.” Melanie, Melbourne VIC
  35. “Does balance exist? Trying my best” Caitlin, Sydney NSW (Further comments: “I feel like I’m constantly trying to be a good enough parent and a good enough business owner. Many days it feels like I’m failing at both but occasionally it feels like I’m winning. Still a work in process!”)
  36. “Employer didn’t execute planned support strategies” Amelia, Melbourne VIC
  37. “Excited – calm – divided – burnout – aware – resigned” Maria, Melbourne VIC (Further comments: “I made a choice to prioritise my family at my careers expense. More could be done to support mothers especially careers like nursing”)
  38. “Unsupported and lost, manager made redundant on my return to work” Emma, Melbourne VIC (Further comments: “I had a terrible experience returning to work from maternity leave. It’s like starting a new job but everyone expects you know everything but so much has changed and you get no support”)
  39. “Absolutely horrific” Juliette, Sydney NSW
  40. “Redundant. Job hunting with confidence thrown.” Anonymous, Melbourne VIC (Further comments: “Redundant while on parental leave TWICE from two different employers of choice for women”)
  41. “Flexibility + career fulfilment = hard to find” Mel, Sydney NSW (Further comments: “Working parents are the norm. Flexible work needs to be too.”)
  42. “Isolating with minimal support experiencing hope.” Sabina, Melbourne VIC
  43. “My own business no mat leave” Shoko, Sydney NSW (Further comments: “But more flexibility after while”)
  44. “Extended parental leave, you’re now locked out” Maryanne, Sydney NSW (Further comments: “Extended parental leave wasn’t the plan, nor was a bad jobs market on my return. However I’ve been made to feel like I must have had my frontal lobe removed and existed in a remote island during my 3 years off and can’t possibly hold down any job, not even the role that previously reported to me 3/5/7 years ago.”)
  45. “Mum at work, heart at home” Amy, Brisbane QLD
  46. “Challenging, I was surprised by how many women felt overwhelmed like I felt.” Tania, Melbourne VIC (Further comments: “Having a support network is key. Supportive partner, supportive work place, colleagues and family were so important.”)
  47. “Current workplace and education system not compatible.” Jessica, Melbourne VIC
  48. “Belittled, Pushed Around, Robbed of my Role, Lost Confidence, Lost Job” Fatimah, Sydney NSW
  49. “Home working Dad saved Mum’s career.” Donna, Launceston TAS (Further comments: “I missed time with my kids returning to work part time but I maintained my career and our kids spent quality time at home with Dad around his career and we made more money while also saving childcare fees.”)