Studying between breastfeeds

Cassandra Ferris lives with a daily tug-of-war between “terrible mummy guilt” and career ambition while raising her two little daughters, aged nine months and three years.

But the 39-year-old Brisbane accountant has found a way to juggle both by studying online. When her second baby was just three months old, Cassandra enrolled in a Monarch Institute course to become a registered tax agent.

Running a bookkeeping business between breastfeeds, Cassandra has big plans to become a one-stop-shop for small businesses who need help organsing their finances.

“I worked for a long time as an accountant before I had babies,” Cassandra says. “As much as I love my kids, it’s hard not to feel a bit resentful about everything that I’ve given up. My husband gets to have a career and I’m stuck at home.

“But whenever you think about work, you get all the mummy guilt.”

Cassandra looked into online university courses, but there was not enough flexibility.

“Universities make you work around certain dates, and do exams at certain times, and that just wouldn’t work for me,” she says. “How is a breastfeeding mother supposed to do that? What if my kids get sick? Then I get sick. It just doesn’t work.

“Monarch lets me study in my own time, with loads of flexibility. There’s also great support from the trainers. I can study at any time of day, with all the materials up front.”

The latest Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that 114,800 women work in jobs while studying and caring for their children.

The number of mothers who study has grown a whopping 9.6 per cent since 2011. And the proportion of mothers with post-school qualifications has greatly increased since 1996, from 23.2 per cent to 51.5 per cent.

Cassandra’s new bookkeeping business has 16 clients, and it’s growing. She also trains her clients to use technology to work smarter, not harder.

“I get a lot of satisfaction from my work,” she says. “They say your career can define you as a person, and it’s true.”

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed a glimpse into the life of the nation’s working mums. According to the 2016 Census, there are more than six million mums in Australia. 77 percent of all women over 15 are mums and of those, 114,800 work, study and care for their children at the same time.

Little has changed for working mums since the 2011 Census, with the 2016 data continuing to report the most common places of employment of working mums as primary or secondary education, followed by hospitals and aged care.

The most common occupation for mothers working full-time was as a general clerk performing administrative duties. For those working part-time, most were employed as sales assistants.

The number of mums who are self-employed has also risen to 6.7 percent.

Working mums are also on a quest to be better educated. The number of mothers who study has grown by 9.6 per cent since 2011. In 2016, roughly 95,100 – or 1.6 per cent – of mothers were studying full-time at technical, tertiary or other institutions. The proportion of mothers with post-school qualifications has greatly increased since 1996, from 23.2 per cent to 51.5 percent.

As for housework, mums are still doing the majority of work. Half of mums aged between 20 and 49 (inclusive) do 15 or more hours of unpaid domestic work a week, compared to 9 per cent of women with no children.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Monarch Institute’s accounting and bookkeeping courses, check out the options here, or call us on 1300 738 955 to chat to a Course Consultant.