Beyond Work: How Does Stress Affect The Modern Working Life?
My name is Stephanie Fletcher.
I look after Erin most days, and that involves a lot of cleaning, tidying, feeding and entertaining her. And then on the day when she’s at nursery I try and do everything else that doesn’t fit into toddler time, like dentists appointments and stuff like that, which is harder with her.
I have a small sewing business which is very fulfilling, I really enjoy it. It’s something that’s just mine, it’s something that makes money, so again that money is just mine. It fulfils my creative need, my need to make things and my need to be looking at colours and patterns and stuff, it just makes me really happy. What doesn’t make me happy is if I take on too much work and then I stress about it, that’s where I have to be super careful about how I manage that.
The reusable products I make are in demand so I could make myself very busy. It’s really hard, because naturally you want to take on lots of work, especially if people want you to do it. As a self-employed freelancer you always want to take on as much as you can, but it’s a terrible idea, it’s tricky to balance that desire.
Some days are stress free. Those are the golden days of being a stay at home parent, the days when there are no tantrums, everything goes right, it’s easy, it’s sunny out, you go to the park, you spend the day playing and you chat with friends. They’re rare, but they happen, and those days are stress free.
Stressful days are days when you’re trying to do things that don’t necessarily align with what Erin wants, what the child needs. If I have loads of errands to run and Erin is just not interested, she wants to go and play, she wants to have a chocolate biscuit, whatever. But when you’ve just gotta get stuff done, those are the most stressful days, because those two things just never line up.
Daddy goes to work, we say that a lot so I guess Erin assumes that mummy doesn’t work, that daddy works. Sometimes I tell her that I have work to do, maybe Nik takes her to the park, so maybe she does have an idea that I do a job. I don’t know, probably not, she probably just thinks that daddy goes to work and mummy stays home and that’s fine. If I’m feeling really stressed out about stuff I will try and make sure there is time at the weekend that Nik can take her out for a bit. Two hours, just to the park, anything that just means I’ve got some time to myself at home. That will nearly always counteract any amount of stress I’m feeling.
When I feel stressed I mostly want to be left alone, and again that doesn’t work with a toddler who just wants to be picked up, carried around, held and played with all the time. So having time for myself, whatever that is, having a bath, going upstairs to have the door closed whilst Erin and Nik are downstairs, and I know they’re fine and I can ignore them for a bit. That kind of stuff is just what I need.
Images and text excerpted from Curtis James’ ethnographic studies of modern working lives.
Beyond Work is driven by a simple purpose, to unearth the working lives of people whose jobs are often invisible, and for the stories that come out to inspire us all to make the world of work a respectful, humane and kind place that rewards people with more than money.
Learn more about the work Curtis does in businesses, helping them see and understand their working lives at: wearefieldwork.com
You can follow Curtis on Twitter: Curtis James
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