Inspiration for childless and childfree women

Thoughts and ideas to inspire, uplift and affirm the childless and childfree, by circumstance and by choice

working non-mothers


My high school career advisor had a method of analysis that involved a brief interview, a look at your grades, a lengthy questionnaire and a phonebook-sized text of every conceivable job. It was a bit like the sorting hat in Harry Potter except that instead of determining something relatively minor, like the school house you’d be in for the next few years, this process appeared to have the power to determine the course of your entire life.

I was told that someone with my personality and skill set was best suited to ‘systems analysis’. I didn’t know what that was then and I don’t know now (it still doesn’t sound even the tiniest bit more interesting to me though). When I did eventually finish school, I remember being hit by an overwhelming wave of panic and lethargy at the thought of doing any one thing for the rest of my life. Regrettably, the enormity of the decision floored me so badly that I did nothing for a while.

I would love to be able to go back in time and have a quiet word with my gloomy eighteen-year-old self and tell her that actually, you get to do lots of different things in the course of one lifetime. As long as you’re guided by passion and enthusiasm, the odds are that you’ll do your work well and it will propel you towards interesting possibilities you could never possibly have foreseen. At the age of thirty-six, I’ve now been employed in three completely different fields of work and my plans continue to evolve and extend in new directions. I’m excited and curious about all of them.

I know that in my case, my work satisfaction has a huge amount to do with the freedom associated with not being a parent. I’m able to work absurdly long hours without interruption when that helps me to meet my goals. I’m able to leave jobs that have become unsatisfying and wait for work that interests me. And (best of all) I’m able to take gambles on the various hare-brained schemes I dream up from time to time and just see what happens. If funds run dry, I’m happy to live on baked beans and library books for a while and it doesn’t cause anyone any hardship but me. But when I look back over my own experiences and those of my friends, I suspect there’s a lot of truth in the saying that fortune favours the bold.

Systems analysis! If only I’d had any idea how interesting life was really going to be!

If you’re curious in the freedoms associated with the lifestyle of non-motherhood, you might like to read this post about travel or this post about breaking with convention.

But in the meantime, how about you? Do you find that non-motherhood has created any interesting opportunities work-wise?

[The gorgeous image above is another of Yataro’s
photographs, presented here with permission.] 

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11 comments on “working non-mothers

  1. Kaitlyn
    April 6, 2012

    Non-motherhood has opened a lot of doors for me. I’m in college, working, and I can spend time with my fiance without feeling like I’m stretched thin. I can also have occasional “me time” with no guilt! I can make awesome grades, work extra hard, be the best fiance and best me I can be. In the future, I’ll be the best Psychology professor, have a minor in Sociology,, and travel. I can honestly say non-motherhood is best for me 🙂

    • olivia
      April 6, 2012

      Kaitlyn, what a brilliant life you have mapped out ahead of you! I love that you’ve figured the ‘me time’ in with your ambitions, too. So important. Thanks as always for sharing your thoughts and plans 🙂

  2. Melanie
    April 6, 2012

    Agreed with Kaitlyn. People wonder how I manage to maintain such good grades in school, AND work full time, AND have a successful relationship….travel too of course. Easy answer: no children. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me as far as my career! When you are accountable to no one but yourself (and significant other in my case), the sky is the limit.

    • olivia
      April 6, 2012

      I get that too Melanie – that slightly stunned, ‘How do you do it all?’ look. But the answer is pretty straightforward and it’s the same as yours. I wish you every bit of luck with your career and I bet it (along with your relationship and your travels) will be brilliant!

  3. Heidi
    April 6, 2012

    Hi Olivia!

    Another great blog post. Career is huge for childfree by choice women. Not that is isn’t for mothers; it’s just different.

    I have the opportunity to look into FIFO because altho I’ll be leaving my furbabies & hubby at home, I won’t have so much guilt with leaving the kiddies too. I don’t know how mums do that who work away or are in the armed forces, oh my, it must be hard.

    I too, love the ability to chop and change at will without worrying how it’s going affect the bottom line for the whole family. That makes a big difference and knowing that you don’t have to be stuck in a job you loathe just because school fees are due or you’ve committed to karate lessons for the little ones that you wouldn’t be able to afford if you were working at another job etc. it’s so freeing. I see the stress my sis and her hubby go through and my sis-in-law and her hubby go through with the financial responsibilities of kids and the impact on their working lives – it’s a tricky balancing act.

    • olivia
      April 6, 2012

      Thanks Heidi! Wow – FIFO sounds so laden with possibilities for adventure! And I am sure your fur babies and husband will do just fine in your absence – how exciting!

  4. Rhona
    April 7, 2012

    For sure!! I was able to live in germany for 3 months in 2009 for my job because i could!! it enhanced my career opportunities and helped me see so much of europe. it was fantastically amazing. i had noone to check with or ask or think about. i did what was required at work, bound a plane and had an amazing 3 months.
    right i am living in another city to take advantage of another work experience. once again, i did this because i could and had noone to answer to. i love my lifestyle as is and have zero desire to change it.

    • olivia
      April 7, 2012

      Rhona, I think I love your life too! What amazing opportunities to have had!

  5. help100jen
    April 8, 2012

    It’s taken me a long time to come to this conclusion!
    It’s not just work opportunities though. I am nearly 43 and for a long time have regretted not finding the right man in time to have children.
    But this year, I have dropped everything to go to Uganda with a charity when they invited me to go and make a film for them. I’ve spent hours and hours writing a book for Kindle just because it’s fun. I’ve gone off to London (200 miles away) just to do a salsa course (I hasten to add I used the train to be environmentally friendly!) That’s just a few of many fun things that have happened in the last 12 months.
    It’s been lovely. If I’d had children, I couldn’t do half of that stuff.

    • olivia
      April 8, 2012

      Help100jen, I LOVED reading this comment! I know what you mean about it not just being work, but on the other hand, yours is exactly the kind of lifestyle I think is most exciting – where, because of the freedom to make these kinds of changes and choices, the term ‘work’ can be understood very broadly to encompass gorgeous possibilities like the ones you’ve described here, not just the dreary stuff.
      Thank you so much for sharing this!

  6. Living my Life
    April 29, 2012

    I have to confess that the whole ‘work’ issue is something I’ve found quite terrifying in life, like you, when I finished Uni I was terrified of working for the rest of my life – probably I still am… I know I’ve been looking forward to the stage when I have kids and could forget about paid work for a while.
    It’s not as though I haven’t done interesting work:
    – Worked on an Aboriginal community for a couple of years
    – Worked in East Timor for a couple of years
    – Had a job where I travelled in PNG, Fiji and Kiribati
    However this has always been because – I have to work and I didn’t want to be stuck in a office wanting to slash my wrists. Not because I’ve ever been completely passionate about my job/career. Also I stopped doing it as being single and unattached the transient life made me feel very disconnected.

    Although a number of people would look at me and see a career woman (I have often joked that career – the one thing I never cared about – is the one area where I’ve done ok on paper) – I have NEVER wanted to be a career woman, in fact I generally refuse to believe I have a career! The quote by Heidi above “Career is huge for childfree by choice women.” really stresses me. Just because I haven’t had children and don’t have a partner I don’t want career to become a really important aspect of my life. But I’m also really flummoxed at the moment about what my life is about! No doubt I’m going through a bit of a crisis – I don’t want to go on about that – but I honestly don’t want career to become my main thing in life. I guess when I’ve got my positive hat on I see one of the benefits of being childfree that I can, as you said Olivia have a bit more freedom career wise. And I have come to realise that freedom is important to me. Currently I’m not working and studying instead so I guess I’m getting my job free time now anyway – although I do need to find some part time work – which is far more difficult than I realised it was going to be – anyway I will be blogging about that soon. Given a choice I would never work full time again! A simple life is all I want really – sounds like so little to aim for – where is the energy I used to have to change the world? But I do think I can hopefully rekindle a bit more passion for work if I can do it part time. Also my last job was my first time in the corporate world and that sapped the life blood out of me!

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