A realistic account of the ‘Perfect Family Job’
I regretted using that term within an hour of being at that perfect family job! I’ve just finished an 8 week stint on an Edit Producing role which initially gave me a huge boost knowing that there were jobs that fit with a hectic home life that is having two children under 3.
During the interview the SP clearly told me that it was 2 days in the edit, Thursday and Friday and a couple of hours from home on a Saturday. The previous guy apparently went in to the edit but I was told that they were more than happy to send shows over to me remotely to view on a Saturday and sign off..brilliant..the perfect job you see..
So..off I go to the perfect job. Childcare was all in hand, Nursery for the big girl and a childminder for the small boy on a Thursday..then a nanny at home on Fridays which gave me the flexibility to work later if I needed to. Then I remembered, this is telly..of course I’d need to!
When I arrived at the edit on my first day, I caught up with the edit team who’d be managing my projects. I said everything sounded straightforward and that I’d be watching 2 shows at home on a Saturday where I would sign them off – job done. The helpful edit lady almost lost her teeth when I said these words! She literally laughed out loud in my face and asked if anyone had actually told me about this job! Off go the alarm bells!
Nobody seemed to know too much about the details of the job, I was standing in for the Edit Producer who did the job the previous year, he’d be coming back to it so I was told to call him, he’d fill me in.
This is how that phone call went.
“You can’t work from home” and “I was in the edit all day on the Sunday and the Monday”
Without going in to too much detail, I was informed that I was solely responsible for signing off the shows following the online – any ‘blip’ would incur a $100,000 fine, I’d be watching 4 hours of shows each weekend so working from home was quickly slipping out of my grasp.
When I arrived in the edit suite to meet my fabulous Editor..I relayed the things I knew to be true about the job and he again, laughed, heartily in my face.
He told me that last year..he was sometimes there until 2am..on Thursdays and Fridays..
Things weren’t looking good!
Anyway, off I went and got to grips with the job. I loved being back in the edit and the job was fun. I got out relatively early on that first week, 8pm but I spent the whole day in the edit on the Sunday. A day which I had made no childcare provisions for – sorry husband!
There really was no choice. I had to get the job done. When I posted on the SMTJ group about the hours I was advised to ‘just leave’ and ‘tell them you can’t do those hours’. To be fair, it was one of those jobs where there was no negotiation on hours. It had to be done for a deadline and I had to wait on the show being finished before I could do my bit so there was no control there.
On the second week, the hours were long and again, I was in the edit for almost 12 hours on that Sunday. My stress levels were through the roof at this point and I decided call the Co-ordinator to discuss the disaster that was the hours. I explained that I couldn’t do the Sundays. I couldn’t make the hours or childcare work and if I’d known have known about the Sunday’s then I wouldn’t have been able to take the job.
So, when I explained the reality and how I couldn’t manage it..the response I got was this:
(Slight nervous laugh preceding these words)..”I don’t know what you want me to say Louise”.
I stayed silent waiting for something, like an apology..a solution..anything..
There was nothing.
That was it.
She eventually said that she’d speak to the edit house. This would resolve nothing as the job was the job.
“I told her that the only option I have is to leave the job”
Not much of a response from that either.
Stress levels were peaking at this point. I decided to sort it and started to look for someone to do the Sundays for me. Luckily, the Edit Producer who I was standing in for said he could do most of the Sundays. Although I’d solved that problem, I’d also lost a day’s work.
I did explain this to my Series Producer and he was brilliant and very apologetic. He explained that the chap who did it before me just got on with it so nobody really knew the ins and outs of the role. It was one of those jobs that just gone done without anyone paying too much attention to it.
In some ways, the autonomy of the role was great. I could manage my time and get through it in the best way for me but with that comes a sense of abandonment, if I did have an issue, there really was nowhere to go with it.
I got through the job and I did really enjoy being back in an edit.
Another issue I faced was constantly sick children. The baby picked up a new virus every week from the childminders..he was honestly sick for 6 weeks. I was running on fumes by the end of it. The double childcare drop off pre-work was something else. I felt like I’d ran a marathon before I’d even sat down.
What I’ve learnt from this is really what I already knew.
- Don’t take short contracts
- Demand the detail about the job, hours, days, exact requirements
- Be prepared for constantly sick kids once they go in to new childcare environments
- Sick kids mean sick parents
- Be VERY picky about the shows you work on. Big, hectic entertainment shows are not conducive to a seamless back to work experience!
- The feeling of freedom, working in central London and being back doing something I loved was magic
The next issue is the cost of childcare. I tried two different options. On Thursdays I had one at nursery and the other at a childminders (the total cost for this was £160 per day and Daddy had to be on hand to collect them at 5). On Friday’s, I had a nanny at home.
The nanny was great on a Friday. I could leave the kids covered in Weetabix and semi naked and know they’d be sorted. I didn’t have to rush back for bedtime which was definitely a much better childcare option, however, this comes at a HUGE cost. Fridays were longer so I sometimes had to pay her for a 12 hour day..
The cost of a good nanny for 12 hours is: £175 + accrued holiday pay, so closer to £200.
The nanny charged £12 per hour, which seemed reasonable for the care of 2 babies but that figure was ‘net’. On top of that I had to pay her expenses for the kids, tax, NI and holiday pay.
Once I took off tax and travel off my day rate it meant I’d earned precisely £0 that day. Yes, I was doing the job to get some edit experience back on my CV and I was told very many times..’you’re not doing it for the money..it’s about the experience and using your brain’.
What I still can’t get my head around is why it’s ok for me to put myself and my family through the added stress and change of routine and be totally ok with not earning a penny. I worked for 12 hours on a Friday, head down, barely time for lunch. I saw the kids for half an hour in the morning and missed them at night. I worked my arse off and almost had to pay for that privilege of going back to work…for experience..
I’m just not sure why that’s ok?!
I know it’s all about keeping a hand in when the children are young and grabbing what you can, I had to take this job as it’s been 3 years since I’ve had an Edit Producing credit but bloody hell, it was a bit bonkers. Essentially, I really enjoyed the job but I did not enjoy the stress that went with it.
Now, I have to start the process over again to find my next job. My feelings are that I didn’t set myself up very well before I went on maternity leave. With hindsight I’d have tried to forge stronger relationships in fewer companies choosing jobs that would have worked well post baby.
I’m starting to understand why those 10,000 women chose to leave TV. By chose, I mean, had no choice…