#IWD2020 - My day of work: a full time job, looking after family, and fighting for women's equality

In this #MakingWorkVisible blog, Caroline MacKinnnon reflects on her working day. You can follow Caroline on Twitter @Carmcd79.

When I agreed to write a blog to highlight my own experiences of unpaid work, I felt that I should take some time to learn more about this issue. What I discovered is that “women carry out an overall average of 60% more unpaid work than men”, according to the Office of National Statistics (2016). This includes domestic chores, caring responsibilities and cooking. These figures prompted me to consider my own day to day routine and what work I was actually undertaking that could be referred to as “invisible work”.

In my paid work I am employed on a full-time basis as a Social Worker. I often work more than my contracted hours and I am also doing a professional development award at present. In my personal life, I am married with two children. In the past six weeks our normal routine has changed a lot because my son has had major leg surgery. Whilst this surgery was planned it has been difficult to adjust to and we didn’t quite know what to expect as parents. I am trying to work from home when I can and I’ve purchased extra annual leave so that I can work around my care-giving responsibilities.

On Tuesday morning I got up at 7am to get my youngest child up and ready for school. As my youngest was eating breakfast I prepared ingredients for dinner using our slow cooker, I figured that this would save me lots of time later. I prepared my youngest sons packed lunch and off to school he went. I then woke up my eldest son up in preparation for his hospital appointment. His mobility isn’t great at the moment and he needs lots of help to do the most basic things. I made him his favourite breakfast (well, for this week anyway) of boiled eggs and toast. I have to keep on top of his pain medication and antibiotics throughout the day and undertake other practical tasks on his behalf.

It took a while to get out the door because my sons’ foot is badly swollen and as a result of this, he requires his wheelchair to get around. This meant that I had to lift the cumbersome wheelchair into the car. As we arrived to the hospital carpark at 9.15am it became clear that searching for a space required plenty of patience on my part. Unfortunately, the only car parking space I could find was in the furthest away carpark. The first challenge was trying to see over my teenage son’s head as I pushed the wheelchair - one downside of being short! The second challenge was getting through the doors safely without bumping the metal frame that’s attached to my sons’ leg. By the time we got into the clinic I was feeling harassed and my back was aching.

picture of rubbish bags, breakfast, and a box of donuts

After the hospital appointment I popped to the shops to purchase items for lunch. I took a short lunch break and then I put on my work laptop to keep on track of work emails, telephone calls and correspondence for the rest of the afternoon. My husband arrived home from work at 4pm, he picked up my youngest child from after-school club and he popped to the supermarket for shopping. Meanwhile, I worked my way through some domestic chores, such as laundry, clearing away dishes, hoovering, cleaning and taking out the rubbish. Dinner was easier tonight because it was already in the slow cooker from earlier this morning, thank goodness!

My evening consisted of clearing up the dinner dishes, cleaning and sorting out school/work clothes. One year ago, a friend and I established a local feminist women’s group. Hence, I spent part of my evening sending emails and messaging my friend as we are organising a public event. Our plan is to celebrate women’s activism over the last one hundred years and take this opportunity to learn more about inspirational local women too. Although I do this in my own time, it’s important that I do what I can to campaign for gender equality. I also spent time posting relevant news and information onto our social media pages to keep our group members updated on current affairs.

Once I got the kids settled in bed my next task was preparing my lunch for work the following day. I also made my overnight oats for breakfast and popped this into the fridge; this saves me lots of time in the morning. I finally got to bed at 10.30pm.

Writing this blog about my day has helped me to capture the large volume of unpaid work that I undertake on a daily basis. I would argue that maintaining work and family commitments is exceptionally challenging, however like most women I need to work to pay the bills. I do think it’s disappointing that caring responsibilities, cooking and household chores are undervalued within society and that these tasks are often left to women to complete. I hope to see positive changes in the near future to improve equality in unpaid work and beyond, but for now I have dinner and the school uniforms to attend to!

Happy International Women’s day 2020!

This blog was commissioned as part of Engender's #MakingWorkVisible campaign. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Engender, and all language used is the author's own.

Tags: MWV2020
Read more stories