Between toys and textbooks: Mastering education while having a family
Anyone who plays with the idea of starting an apprenticeship as a mother or father of small children is often confronted with prejudices. For many people, it still sounds impossible to combine child care and education. The balancing act between toys and textbooks is simply not feasible. Or is it? The experience of Désirée Kirchmann and Julia Wach, apprentices at thyssenkrupp, shows that having a child and doing an apprenticeship can be combined.
Having a child turns the parents’ lives upside down. Suddenly, the own interests are no longer the main focus, but those of the child. So it’s no wonder that Désirée Kirchmann first had to rearrange her life. This also included becoming certain about her professional future. “After parental leave, I wanted to learn something that was future-proof and family-friendly, something where I could continue my education and also study on the side if I felt the need,” explains the now 28-year-old. But as a young mother, other things were also important to her: “But of course I also needed something with relatively free time management, flexibility and something that would still challenge me. Meanwhile, the mother of a 2-year-old son is doing an apprenticeship as an office management assistant at thyssenkrupp AG in Essen. “What group would be more suitable for an Essen-based woman than thyssenkrupp,” says Désirée happily.
Flexible working hours and child-friendly working conditions
Her colleague Julia Wach also hoped for an education as multi-faceted as possible: “It was very important to me to have variety in my activities. I am a very communicative person, so I wanted to do something where I could talk a lot and always be in exchange with others”. That’s why the single mother of a now 9-year-old son also decided to train as an office management assistant. So that her son doesn’t miss out, she decided, together with the HR department, to train part-time. For Julia this means that the weekly training time in the company is reduced to 20 to 35 hours. This leaves the trainee enough time for her son. “Thanks to the flexible working hours and the shortened hours, I can plan my working hours really well. The part-time model has worked great,” explains the young mother. So well, in fact, that Julia was able to shorten her training to two and a half years thanks to the good grades she received.
For Désirée, on the other hand, part-time training was not an option. Nevertheless, thanks to flexible working hours, she manages to combine child and career. Her employer’s flexibility is a big plus for the trainee: “There is a parent-child office with lots of toys, a bed and a workplace for mum or dad. Above all, the employer always understands”.
Without challenges it is not possible
In spite of the employer’s goodwill, it is not always easy to combine the child’s needs with everyday work. The biggest challenge for a single mother? “Finding time to study for exams,” Julia says. “I always had to study in the evening when my son was in bed. Here you have to be particularly strict and consistent with yourself. It’s a bit easier for the normal trainees, because they can spend a whole day studying.”
Apart from that, Julia and Désirée have to face the same challenges as many other working parents. “It’s challenging when the child is sick, and they are quite often in the first and second year of daycare,” explains Désirée with a laugh. This phenomenon is probably familiar to most parents. “Of course, I don’t want to miss out and in such a case I always try to work in the afternoon when my husband is at home”.
Time for the family is important.
Despite the stressful everyday working life, there is still enough time for the family thanks to flexible working hours. “I always had enough time to do something nice with my son and pursue my hobbies,” Julia remembers. “All in all, it really worked out great! And for that I thank thyssenkrupp very much.” Her conclusion: “Part-time training is very feasible, but still no walk in the park.”