Working as a self-employed TV producer on documentaries like One Born Every Minute means the return to work for Cat Green is somewhat more complicated. She shares her conundrum…
Cat Green, 33, lives in Brighton with her husband Steve and their one-year-old daughter Betty. She left her job as a TV producer working on documentaries to look after Betty and is currently deciding whether or not to return…
“I had been working in TV production for 11 years when I found out I was pregnant with Betty. As well as sheer excitement, I felt pangs of panic when imagining my future as a mum and a producer.
However, working with some amazing women (Auntie Jo Abel – the best producer out there), filled me with confidence and excitement; reassuring me that being a mum would only make me better at my job, as and when I decided to return.
The first six months of maternity leave were a dream. Two close friends had babies six months ahead of me so much of the early time in Betty’s life was spent hanging out with them, heeding their advice, walking along the beach for hours, drinking coffee (obviously) and reminding ourselves to still be us; not just a mum.
I also had the most amazing support from my mum and a good friend called Jasmine. They parent exactly in the way I had wanted to so we were all on the same wavelength and they were always on the end of the phone or popping in at any new mum hurdle I encountered.
Then I hit the six-month mark and I lost my two mates to the world of work. I felt sad for them – but that was only because I was nowhere near that headspace of leaving Betty; but they were, and all power to them. They are juggling things so well – it’s an inspiration.
I find the main challenge, while looking after Betty, is keeping myself busy
To be honest, it’s only with Betty turning one just a couple of weeks ago that I have started to feel a little bit ‘lost’. It’s a strange feeling – like I should be doing something other than being a mum; yet day to day, I can’t think of anything better than being with Betty and watching her flourish and develop into the little person she is.
I feel so torn because in this modern day we spend much of our time as mothers celebrating those who manage to ‘have it all’. I spend hours scrolling through my Instagram feed looking at these gorgeous, glamorous mums who juggle their kids and their supercool jobs. Is it really as seamless as it looks?
Yesterday, a friend posted an article about working mums having more successful children. It struck a chord – even if it was just another one of those American studies from a publication I’ve never heard of.
But watching my mates go off to work every day is hard – I feel really jealous of them, while simultaneously feeling like the luckiest mum alive to be building dens with Betty and making her giggle with a tickle marathon on the bed in the middle of the day.
I find the main challenge, while looking after Betty, is keeping myself busy. My husband Steve leaves the flat and at that point I have a little word with myself to fill my day and be productive and have fun with Betty.
I didn’t go along the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) route. Having produced the first series of One Born Every Minute; I had had my fill of NCT meetings and decided it wasn’t for me. Two of my mates going through the same journey was a saving grace – I felt fear at the thought of meeting a group of mums every week to talk incessantly about our babies.
But motherhood can be lonely, and my personality and my career path has meant I am rarely alone. I thrive on company, so being social is important to me – and more than just hanging out with Betty, adult company is so important. Again comes the conundrum; does this mean I should go back to work?
It’s also about trying to strike what feels like an impossible balance with my line of work. If I go back, it will mean full on days commuting back and forth to London getting home at 8pm – at the very earliest. So me and Betty will be all about the weekends. If I’m not filming across the world for weeks on end, that is.
Making documentaries is about being with the people, living their lives as they do – you rarely can choose when filming is appropriate for you; their lives determine your hours. And when you’re in the mix – those things don’t matter, but when you have a baby it’s so much harder.
Sometimes I wish I’d chosen a 9-5 type job, local to where I live. But then I realise that perhaps I am happy to be at home with Betty because the last 10 years of my life have been nonstop excitement and privilege.
If I want to return to work then I have to hunt the work down. I have to get back on that telly wheel and let people know I’m ready to return. That said; a year out of the industry is a long time, there’ll be new kids on the block who are super talented. I’m relying on the reputation I made for myself before going on maternity leave.
Before Betty was born I produced a documentary for the BBC, filming at a pupil referral unit in Fulham. We filmed for a whole academic year and became part of the school’s furniture. It was the most tough, testing and challenging project I have ever worked on to date – but by far the most rewarding.
There is nothing better than filming young people and giving them the freedom to talk openly about life today. It opened my mind so much. It made me realise even more how tough things are for young people in this country. Thinking about that production makes me really miss my job.
The truth is you get by on what money you have. Our total income has halved, and in some ways we’d never realise it. It’s amazing, really, that the more you have – the more you spend
Steve, my husband, is the best support ever. Not only is he a hands-on dad, he never fails to make me feel like the best mum I can possibly be. We had a big chat recently about finances. We got married just two months ago, so the subject of joint bank accounts is high on the list.
He is a hard worker; he runs his own graphic design business so the hours are often tough – he realises more and more as days go on that me returning to producing would mean that he would have to be the primary carer for Bett. Breakfast time, collect from childminders, dinner and bath. In reality, it would be near on impossible for him to commit to that daily.
He feels lucky that I am there for Betty. He also respects that life is so completely different for me now: career girl to mum. In an ideal world, finances would be better. But he insists that things are fine and he will support us for as long as I want to stay home with Betty.
We have the pressure of not owning our own property yet, and I know its something he’s hankering after – we both are. Married, with a baby girl – it’s the next step, right? Or perhaps something we should have struggled through years ago.
The truth is you get by on what money you have. Our total income has halved, and in some ways we’d never realise it. It’s amazing, really, that the more you have – the more you spend. Although I saved a lot throughout pregnancy and it has got me through this first year with Betty, being a self-employed TV producer does not result in much maternity pay.
Finding something part time would be perfect. For now. My mum moves down to the sea in the new year, she’s retiring and desperate to be nearer her two granddaughters. We are so lucky, as this will mean she’ll have Betty for a couple of days a week, at which point I would love to find something part time. In an ideal world it would be in TV, but I fully appreciate a temporary career change may be imminent.
My mum was a nurse by trade, but when she had me and my brother she took a break – partly due to the fact that my dad worked overseas much of the year – and the only way to make it work was to stay at home with her two kids. Perhaps that’s why I crave to be a stay-at-home mum. And to be honest my mum is supportive and encouraging of it. She often tells me that you never get these years back. Equally, she is a proud mum of her daughter and the career I worked so hard for.