There were two things that spurred me into action with regards the piece-work: the first was a particularly unpleasant conversation with the lady who manages the out-workers, in which she called me a slacker and said I was not quick or efficient enough to have decent equipment (I am paraphrasing, but this is the message she was telling me). I sent her a letter of complaint and heard absolutely nothing. Not even an "I got your letter". I decided that the little bit of pocket money was NOT worth putting up with that kind of attitude.
The second thing that made me seriously re-think my working plans was the Marriage Course that my husband and I are attending. On one evening, we learned about "effective communication", and our homework was to discuss issues that had been bothering us, and make a point of listening PROPERLY to each other. The upshot of me and Tareka talking and listening so effectively, was Tareka asking me "what is the main reason you are doing this work?" and I said, without having to think about it, "making a financial contribution to this family".
Now we have our budget and our finances carefully worked out to allow us to live comfortably on one income, so there is NO NEED for me to do any paid work, but it seems that my subconscious belief is that I should be making money in order to have value. I think that my influences over my life have led me to believe (no matter how much I extol the virtues of the job of Mother) that I am not doing a "proper" job, unless I am being paid for it.
This is patently ridiculous, as parenting is one of the most varied, difficult and rewarding jobs anyone can undertake, yet I still actively seek out MORE work in order to gain some sort of monetary return! It's insane.
Once I sat and talked it through with Tareka, I had an epiphany. I do not WANT to do anything else! I got a degree in Ecology, which I use daily by teaching my children about the environment, nature, science, conservation and the joy of learning; I worked in various paid roles doing pointless, stressful work where I got a wage, but no satisfaction; and now I am running a household and raising my children, I don't think I have ever been more creative, more challenged or more satisfied by anything else in my life.
There is still a big part of me that feels I have failed in some way, if I don't use that degree, and those years of work experience, so I compiled CV containing all that I do NOW as Mother and Household Manager (housewife I may be, but damn it check the list, I'm virtually a CEO!):
Curriculum Vitae for Mother - Louise Ratcliffe
Financial - budget planning, forecasting, budget allocation, purchasing, banking, accounting
Logistics - schedule planning, appointment booking, transportation, managing 4 individual diaries
Creative - Knitting, sewing, creating gifts and cards at short notice, creating toys for children out of cardboard and string, storytelling, singing, playing flute, piano, guitar; running a Mainly Music group for 40 under 3 year olds plus parents; costume design
Maintenance - laundry service, cleaning service, organising service
Catering - menu planning on a budget; cooking, growing and preserving fruit and vegetables
Other skills - dancing, athletics and gymnastics, early childcare (0-3 yrs), computing, writing, swimmming (including teaching), science teacher
All that, and I am on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.