Assessment 1: Qualitative Depth Interview Report

A woman’s experience of her multiple roles as a housewife, mother, home educator and volunteer



The interview was conducted to understand the experiences of a woman regarding specific roles she maintains. These roles are that of being a mother, housewife, home educator and volunteer. The aim of the interview was to uncover the woman’s responsibilities and the feeling she holds towards negotiating these responsibilities.


Feminist literature often focuses on housework in conjunction with motherhood. Oakley (1990) suggests that many women choose to be housewives because of the autonomy they gain but this role often comes to define their identities. Oakley also argues that the traditional feminine role is often socialised into girls through childhood. The problems often faced by housewives, such as the ‘low status’ and ‘social isolation’, is seen to be resolved through motherhood but in practise this may not be the case (Oakley, 1990: 100). Specifically in relation to marriage and housework, Oakley (1974) argues that the division of labour in the household is present in the majority of relationships with each partner having gender specific roles, ‘joint role marriages’ being in the minority (Oakley, 1974: 142). Many women find returning to work difficult because of the new responsibilities and emotional attachment, which causes them to take on part-time work or become housewives (Gerson, 1985). In relationships with young children women are more likely to reduce their work hours to accommodate this (Bianchi et al., 2012). But Hook (2004) suggests that women are more likely to volunteer and participate in unpaid labour compared to men but this is dependent on time limitations. Home-schooling is among the unpaid labour through which women strive to be the ideal mother through sacrifice of her time and emotions (Lois, 2010).



The method used in this research was depth interviewing. The reason for this is because it enables the interviewee to express their views and discuss issues most important to them within the topic of the interview (Flick, 2009). Also, research literature regarding women’s role uses depth interviewing because it is an effective method of gaining insight into the lives of individual women. Using this method researchers are able to understand women’s experiences and their perspective of them. This method is not structured in a linear way and allows flexibility to deal with a range of problems that may arise at the same time (Gerson and Horowitz, 2002). An example in this interview is where the interviewee discussed issues not included in the interview guide. The flexibility ensured the interviewee was able to discuss these issues without feeling her views were being dismissed (Jones, 2004).


The interviewee for this particular research was selected through a non-probability convenience sampling method because of the convenience of interviewing this particular individual (Bryman, 2012). The reason for choosing to interview this individual was because of ease of access and she maintains all the roles the topic of the interview is focuses on. The interview took place at the interviewee’s home to ensure the she was comfortable in the environment and could discuss her views openly. However, the participant forgot about the interview and this was resolved through contacting the interviewee to postpone it. During the interview the only problem encountered was lack of experience of this method of research, which caused nervousness. This was expected and will potentially improve with practise (Flick, 2009). Moreover, the interviewee’s willingness to engage in the interview topic and responding in great detail helped counter this.


Throughout the research process utmost importance was given to ensuring ethical considerations were made. It was possible to record what was being discussed with the consent of the interviewee (BSA Ethical Guidelines, 2002). This was done using the recording facility on a laptop and also on a mobile phone as a contingency. Both recordings were deleted once the interview had been transcribed following the interviewee request to do so. The main ethical problem encountered during this research was confidentiality issues. The interviewee requested that names of individuals and organisations mentioned to be changed so they are unable to be identified. The names were replaced with pseudonyms to comply with BSA (2002) guidelines and the interviewee’s request. The practical concern during the interview was covering all the topics of discussion within the time limitations (Flick, 2002). In this case it was possible to cover most of the research aims outlined in the interview guide. The interview was transcribed and coding was used to analyse the data and to uncover ‘grounded theory’ (Bryman, 2012: 567-570).


Findings and analysis

The interviewee is a mother of eight children, all under the age of eighteen. Once having children she decided to leave employment to care for them. The respondent home educates her children, except the eldest daughter who is doing her A-levels at a state school. Throughout her life the interviewee has consistently volunteered. From the interview the core category is ‘how the mother is negotiating her diverse roles’.


Negotiating the mothers diversity of roles

The interviewee has some difficulty in managing all of her roles as often she feels overwhelmed and stressed by her responsibilities. In the household the interviewee’s husband does not take part in housework but ‘he would always help’. This is consistent with Oakley’s (1974) findings that the majority of men have a small involvement in housework. She reveals that it was difficult being a mother with so many children. The role of educator started with the interviewee’s first child because of the mother-child attachment that had developed leading to the mother being unwilling to break this bond (Lois, 2010). There is a balancing act of being a mother and educator as seen through the example of the mother being worried that Anna would lose her love of Arabic. The interviewee also volunteers in a number of ways but has now reduced it to manageable amount because ‘something’s got to give’ and this may negatively affect the family (Hook, 2004).


Parental influence on the mother and her influence as a parent

The mother says she was not influenced by parents but it is apparent from the interview that she is to some extent. This is suggested in the discussion about her upbringing and her supportiveness in allowing her children to manage their future choices.  Also, she expects her children to understand she has other roles such as her volunteering work. Her expectations for her daughters to marry and take on a mothering role like she has can be seen as a way in which girls are socialised into these roles (Oakley, 1974).


Emotions of the mother and her family

The interviewee has a positive view looking back at her experiences. Her employment gave her a sense of enjoyment but this is replaced with motherhood as she felt ‘my heart wasn’t in it anymore’. Gerson (1985) discusses this emotional attachment that mothers have with their children which leads them to give up their careers. This shows the strong maternal connection with her children. However, having so many children was ‘demanding’ and she felt she was ‘just coping’ rather than fully enjoying the experience (Oakley, 1990). But ‘as your children get older it gets easier’ as they became more independent. She is uncertain about the future but is positive about it as many home educators are which allows them to continue with their stressful roles (Lois, 2010).


The change in identity

The interviewee’s identity has changed over time. In her youth her identity was based on her upbringing. ‘We lived on the farm and that was our life’ and ‘it was kind of farm and church’. During her youth she enjoyed travelling and this came to define her once she left home as she explains ‘I just wanted to travel’. Her work was important to her and it is only when she becomes a mother and leaves employment that her identity became defined by her children. Oakley (1990) discusses how housewives regard their roles as an integral part of their identities and in this case the interviewee’s role as a mother has evolved to become her dominant identity. ‘I still always ask God that I wouldn’t forget them because I know they should come first’.


These findings give greater detail about why the interviewee has chosen to take on these roles and how past experiences have influenced her decisions. The main understanding from this is that managing multiple roles is difficult but it is also a rewarding experience. However, this may not be representative of all women’s experiences.


Methodological Issues

The advantages of using qualitative interviews is that it informs research through individual perspectives rather than generalising social experiences (Gerson, K. and Horowitz, R., 2002). However, the limitation is that the conducting and processing of the research is time consuming and may put limitations on sample sizes (Bryman, 2012). Moreover, it may be difficult to identify when enough data has been gathered and the research should cease (Gerson, K. and Horowitz, R., 2002). This can lead to the accumulation of more data than can be processed.


Using depth interview in this research was the appropriate method as the main purpose of the research was to ascertain a mother experiences of her roles, which other methods would not have uncovered. However, the extensive information gathered made the process of coding difficult. Initially there were thirteen axial codes and these were merged to five. This also raised the issue of what information went into each category and whether ‘emotions’ should be a separate category.


The research is valid because it explains the mothers experience while placing it in context. Also, the views presented align with existing research, such as in relation to the husband’s role in housework. To test the validity of the research the husband could be interviewed to confirm or refute the views of the wife. The reliability of the research is good however because the research is in relation to personal experiences the outcomes of other research may vary considerably but should have a similar outline.


Word Count: 1645 words (excluding title, bibliography and appendices).


Bianchi, S. et al. (2012) Housework: Who Did, Does or Will Do It, and How Much Does It Matter? USA: Oxford University Press.

British Sociological Association (2002) ‘Statement of Ethical Practice for The British Sociological Association’. Available at: [31.10.13].

Bryman, A. (2012) Social Research Methods (4th edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Flick, U. (2009) An Introduction to Qualitative Research (4th edition). London: Sage.

Gerson, K. (1985) Hard Choices: How Women Decide about Work, Career, and Motherhood. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Hook, J. (2004) ‘Reconsidering the division of household labor: incorporating volunteer work and informal support.’, Journal of Marriage and Family, 66 (1) 101-117.

Jones, S. (2004) ‘Depth interviewing’, in Seale, C. (ed.) Social Research Methods: A Reader. London: Routledge.

Lois, J. (2010) ‘The temporal emotion work of motherhood: homeschoolers’ strategies for managing time shortage’, Gender and Society, 24 (4) 421-446.

Gerson, K. and Horowitz, R. (2002) ‘Observation and interviewing: options and choices in qualitative research’, in May, T. (ed.) Qualitative Research in Action. London: Sage.

Oakley, A. (1990) Housewife: High Value – Low Cost. London: Penguin.

Oakley, A. (1974) The Sociology of Housework. New York: Pantheon Books.




Appendix 1 – Interview Guide


  1. Can you tell me about your background, the female roles in your family?
  2. Was/is there a history of women working in your family – mother/mother-in-law?
  3. Was there any parental expectations of whether you should work or not?
  4. Does that extend to once there are children too?
  5. Any careers before marriage/motherhood?
  6. Can you describe the division of housework when you married and if that was in addition to paid work? (Husbands role?)
  7. Expectations of motherhood/homemaking? Comparison to real experience?
  8. Other responsibilities outside home? Reasons for doing it? Feelings/experiences?
  9. How do you manage the multiple roles? (Feelings?)
  10. Do you share aspects of your role with your husband? (Chores, childcare, education?)
  11. Views on the general perception/stereotypes of housewives?
  12. Future plans once children go on to further education/employment/leave home? (More volunteering? Going in to labour market?)




Appendix 2 – Interview Transcript (with commentary & coding)

Depth Interview:

Interview regarding a woman’s experience of multiple roles: housewife, mother, home educator and volunteer


Names and any identifiable titles have been changed for confidentiality purposes.


TQ: Right so my name is Tajneen and the interview topic were going to be doing today is about woman’s experience of multiple roles. Your role as a housewife, mother, home educator and volunteer. It’s just going to be me prompting you, asking you some questions and you going into depth and just giving your opinions as honestly as you can.

Commentary: I give a brief explanation of the interview topic and direct the interview to the topic.

A: Ok.

TQ: I do need to tell you that if you like I can change your name once the recording has been transcribed for confidentiality issues. I need to ask if you are ok with me recording this?

A: Yeah, that’s fine.

TQ: The recording won’t be accessed by anyone else but me and once I’ve done them if you wish it can be deleted. We can stop the interview at any time if you’re uncomfortable. So do you have any other questions?

A: No that’s fine.

Commentary: I explain what will happen with the recording of the interview and discuss confidentiality issues. Then I gain permission to record and explain that the recording can be stopped at any time to ensure that the interview is conducted ethically.

TQ: Ok. So basically I want to ask you about your background. Roles in your family. So who did what? Your mother, your father, household roles that they had.

A: Yeah well I grew up on various farms in the south of England but mostly in Dorset. My father was a farmer all his life and so he was always around in our childhood. He was kind of in and out, on the farm but just you know always outside somewhere. My mum used to work. I can’t remember how old we were when she started work but we were at primary school and she used to work as a secretary in the bible college. So she was kind of often, I remember her picking us up from school but I know there were times when we were older when we would just come home and she wasn’t there. So she was kind of like working part time and wasn’t really involved on the farm but my dad was very much. We lived on the farm and that was our life.

Commentary: I ask a broad question to allow the interviewee to explain her background and her family life. I also enable the interview to follow a specific direction, focusing on her experience of growing up in this environment.

TQ: Did it affect you, having a mum that was working?

A: Not really. Because she was kind of a very efficient type, busy type person so she wasn’t a traditional farmer’s wife. She didn’t really, was involved as perhaps some farmer’s wives. She was more, she liked to be busy, and she had to be involved with people. She liked to be active in the community and my family also I should mention were practising Christians so life kind of revolved around Church activities I would say for us growing up. So it was kind of farm and church.

Commentary: The interviewee mentions that her mother worked and I probed further into this to understand what affect her mother’s role had on her childhood experience. She mentions that it did not particularly affect her and does not portray any sense of resentment for her mother’s involvement in the community. However, she does emphasise the role of religion in regulating her family’s routine. I probe further to understand how her childhood affected her perceptions.

TQ: So did that effect sort of what you expected out of life. Would you say how you are now was affected by sort of what your mother did, what your father did?

A: Umm. No. I would say character wise yes that’s affected me. But in terms of goals and whatever I don’t remember them giving us much input. I remember just kind of, I don’t even remember, now that my own children are doing GCSEs I’ve been thinking about this. I don’t even remember them encouraging us to you know to do anything. They didn’t give us any input. That probably sounds bad but it wasn’t that it was just that they, you know that was school and that was our life and then home life was kind of separate. So we would bring our school work home and I’m sure we would be encouraged to do homework but I don’t remember them ever pushing us towards something you know. It was like you choose what you want to so and we’ll support you and they were very supportive in whatever we chose. There was myself and two sisters, two older sisters. So for example, my older sister went into nursing, my middle sister went on to do A-levels and a university degree and I went on to college at sixteen. So we were all, all three of us did quite different roles because there was no pressure on us. Which was good really. I liked that, I didn’t mind it at all.

Commentary: I wanted to understand whether her experiences affected her expectations of life. The interviewee responded by explaining this effect was minimal and her parents did not have any rigid expectations of their children. This allowed the interviewee to have a lot of choice in her early life along with her siblings and this was realised from her recent experiences though her children’s academic studies. From the comments it is clear that the interviewee enjoyed the approach taken by her parents and herself and her siblings benefited as a result, which is shown in their life achievements.

TQ: You say pressure so was there, there was no pressure of school work and education but was there a pressure to, an expectation sort of, of working or not?

A: Yes I think we were all expected to leave home by eighteen I think. My mother in particular kind of felt it was strange if you know families were somebody was still at home and I think maybe that, that was kind of the area that we grew up in. You just you studied and then you went on and found work. And usually that was moving away from home that was quite acceptable. I mean my sister moved to Brighton. My other sister, my middle sister studied at Warwick University and then she moved and worked in Surrey and so it was quite expected that we would study and then move away and I studied and then I left home at eighteen. So we all left home by eighteen.

Commentary: I guide the interview on from what the interviewee has mentioned about the pressure in the home regarding education to enquire if this was also the same in the expectation of working once they had left education or at some point in the future. I was surprised with the interviewee’s response. Although I asked about work the interviewee also talked about parental expectations to leave the parental home and the views associated with not doing so. The interviewee also mentions that she followed her sibling’s experiences of leaving home. It is interesting to consider the extent of choice and expectation in this matter as it is not clear what the interviewee’s feelings were towards this issue.

TQ: So you left home at eighteen, you were working at that time?

A: Yes. I did nursery nursing which I’m not really sure what they call it now, probably BTEC something whatever childcare. So I finished by the time I was eighteen because I just wanted to travel so I wanted to go to Canada but my mum and dad felt it would be good to get a year’s experience. I must have listened to them so I did a year of temporary jobs and then I went to Ireland because I kind of thought that was a hop away. That actually that job didn’t work out but it was good because it was a bit of travel and then when I was nineteen I went to Canada. Worked there for three years. Do you want me to carry on?

Commentary: The interviewee presents her experience of entering the labour market and desire to travel abroad. There is a conflict between the interviewee wanting to go abroad with the parental expectation for her to get some experience before leaving. From the interviewees comments it can be inferred that she was influenced by her parents but doesn’t comment on how she felt about this. However, it could be suggested that in hindsight it was a positive experience as from this she takes small steps on her quest to work abroad. Travelling to somewhere close to Britain before travelling to Canada shows the interviewees want to travel but also shows her fear of moving such a distance.

TQ: Yeah, yeah. Go ahead.

Commentary: The interviewee is uncertain as to whether she should continue explaining her experiences or to stop. As the reason of this depth interview is to understand her perspective, I encourage her to continue.

A: Then Canada was kind of too good so then I decided that I wanted something a bit more realistic in life. Then I went to India for two years, then I came back which really unsettled me. Didn’t want to be in England. Did a lot of voluntary work around England and Scotland and then, what did I do after that? Then I found a job in the Philippines. So I went to the Philippines.

Commentary: From the interviewees description it can be ascertained that she was unclear as to what she wanted to do and had difficulty settling into a geographical place during this period of time. She enjoyed being abroad but did not feel the same when she returned to England. The interviewees quest for adventure and new experiences can be inferred from her travel history.

TQ: Wow.

A: Was there for a year, thought I was never coming back. And then came back and ended up in Tower Hamlets. Went back for a little time to the Philippines and then got married here and stayed here.

Commentary: The interviewee makes a sudden shift to explain how she came to be in her current position but gives no real reason as to why she chose to come here and what had changed from before when she felt unsettled in the country. The lack of explanation can be due to the short amount of time for the interview and the interviewee not wanting to divulge to much personal information, which is understandable in this situation.

TQ: Ok. So got married. What age were you?

A: At that time I was, by the time I was married I was in my thirties.

TQ: Ok so you were working in, until your thirties?

A: Yeah.

Commentary: The interviewee mentions her marriage and I use this as a prompt to discuss her life once she had married and the changes which occurred after this potentially life changing event. 

TQ: So once you got married did you carry on with your career?

A: I carried on working for the first year. First year until I got pregnant and then I, yeah I probably carried on working trying to think how old I was. I was thirty-five I think. Can’t remember. Anyway I was in my mid-thirties when I had my first baby and I was, I loved my work. I was doing community work. I was working with Bengali women and we ran an enterprise project. So they were learning English and they were learning skills and I was selling their work and so they were getting some money, they were getting some income from it. And the job just gave me a real buzz. Really loved it. So didn’t really want to give up work even though I was very happy to be pregnant. And I was planning with my boss that I would come back part time and so I did actually come back part time with the baby but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. Just didn’t seem to have the, things had moved on. You know when I had been away the work had moved on slightly and it just didn’t seem to matter as much. You know once you have a child that’s all that matters really. So yes I only worked for a few weeks and I told my boss sorry I can’t do it.

Commentary: The interviewee discusses her love of her occupation but describes how the transition to motherhood changed her enjoyment of work. Her role as a mother overrides her desire to work and she felt that being with her baby was of greater importance to her than her job. She also explains the change she felt when she went back to work after her maternity leave. It is interesting to note that she felt that the role had changed and it could be suggested from her comments that she no longer felt a connection of sense of belonging in the environment. Also, it is interesting that she chose to go back to work part-time but this could be considered normal occurrence rather than an exception.

TQ: But when you had your children is that when you sort of started your other roles? Sort of being a mother and home educator?

A: Yes. Being a mother for the first sort of three years and I had four children really within three years. I had twins, I had two girls close up and then I had the twins really close together. And then I was so happy being a mother that I really didn’t want to give my daughter over to anybody. I didn’t want to put her into school and she didn’t want to go to school either. She was quite, although she was only three because she was the eldest and she seemed a lot older than three and it sounds strange to say now but I remember she said ‘I don’t want to go to school’. And then we were thinking what we could do and a friend of mine was setting up a home education organisation and she asked me to be part of it and I said I don’t think I know much about it. And so at that point we were still thinking, we actually set up our own little school because we thought that would be easier but it was a lot of work. So we set up a small school where a few families dropped their children off but we were thinking that they would be involved as well but they weren’t. They just wanted to drop them off. So then when that kind of fizzled out after about nine months it was a blessing really because then we just said right that’s it we’ll just home educate, be much easier. And by then, so yeah I then basically started home educating and I’ve done that right up until my eldest daughter is now sixteen, nearly seventeen. She’s starting her A-levels and she has gone to a girl’s school to do her A-levels.

Commentary: The process that led to the interviewee choosing to home-school her children was not a clear and direct path.  It was a process of trial and error and trying things that she would not have previously considered. The interviewee sees the experience of the home-schooling project as a blessing rather than a failure and this allows her to move on quickly and find a solution. Also, the interviewee mentions that it was because of her eldest daughter not wanting to start school and the interviewees attachment that led them to home-schooling but it would be interesting to understand if this process was repeated with all the interviewees children or the first experience led to a domino effect with the siblings having minimal input on the process.

TQ: So would you say that during that time, home educating, being a mother, was there sort of division of the housework, sort of chores, home educating between you and your husband?

A: Probably when I was pregnant he might cook once or twice. So that’s as far as he’s housework sort of things go. He would always help but I think the more, you just have another child and you’re expected to do more and you do more. And you have another child and so it goes on. And so you end up stretching yourself. And I know, I remember times being so tired thinking I can’t give anymore but then there’s always something else that you can give. There’s always something more you can do. And obviously when they were all, I had eight children so when they were all very small it was very demanding. And now I look back and I think why didn’t I teach the Quran, why didn’t I do this or why didn’t I you know do it all with them. But now really when I think about it I was just coping, I was just coping with eight children under the age of nine. I had a lot of children really close together so when I look at other people and I think oh gosh they’re doing so well with their children, they’re teaching them this that and the other the fact is I was just managing with what I could do. And sometimes you know not even being able to get out with them. When we were, as I was saying earlier, we lived in a small flat so I had five children I think literally under the age of five and there was days when I would just look out the window and I just felt I’ve got to be patient because it’s not my time to go out of the flat. And we were very close as a little family, big family but we were very close and the children were quite bright really because I was just with them all the time. They didn’t go anywhere. Occasionally, you know if my husband was at home we would go somewhere. But it was difficult you know those times were very good but quite difficult in terms of you know. Then we moved to a big house and I was fortunate because we had the garden so our life was just the house and the garden really. Because I couldn’t, it was too much too really it sounds silly now they’re big but in those days I couldn’t I would be too scared to take them to the park. Even though we live near the park. Because they were so small if one of them ran off how am I going to run off and catch that one and keep an eye on the others. I didn’t have any help, I didn’t have family and I didn’t really have any friends at that time to support me because other people had their own children. And then we set up a home education organisation, that was from quite early on but it was only really as the children had grown older that I started to make local friends who home educated, good friends. And then as your children get older it gets easier so I think my multi-tasking really started when the youngest one was four. And that’s when we set up the cycling club because my husband was out of work. He was working six days a week before that and then he had a bad car accident, I mean got knocked off his bike badly and his health was so bad that he couldn’t stand any noise, and you know him now he’s completely different but he was having fits because he had head injury. He couldn’t move his back, he couldn’t bear any noise from the children and you can imagine eight children, he couldn’t bear any noise, it was very difficult. So we had our difficult years and then he got better and then he started, we realised he could actually set up doing something with cycling. So he set up a cycling club and that kind of moved on from there. But that was only when the youngest one was about four. So how many years, he’s about eight, so about four five years ago everything kind of really started to blossom and got too busy.

Commentary: I wanted to understand whether the division of labour in the household was consistent with the research I had done. This was the case however, though the issues of household chores was swiftly dealt with, other issues were raised by the interviewee. The interviewee discusses her experience of being a mother and a housewife and the feelings of stress and loneliness she felt when her children were young. She also notes that that this changed as her children grew older and she got involved with the cycling club. It is also interesting that the interviewee discussed her husband’s accident and it reveals the effect this event had on all of the family and changed their direction and opportunities in life, mostly for the positive.

TQ: So would you say that your expectations of motherhood and being a wife and homemaking, was that different to your real experiences? Did you expect it to go this way? Is it how you planned?

A: Not really. No. I mean I thinks it’s a bit, as your children grow and get bigger you think I can get a bit more involved in the community or I can do something more or whatever. Whereas, sometimes I kind of think it would be nice just too completely focus on the children because I don’t do that.  They know I’ve got other interests I’ve got other things going on. And sometimes I worry that that’s bad, that I’m not doing enough for them but then I think they’re with me all the time. They’re at home all the time so in some ways it’s good for them to see that their mum can be involved in other things and I think they do, they have learnt a lot from that, seeing me do other things as well. I still think, I still always ask God that I wouldn’t forget them because I know they should come first.

Commentary: The interviewee’s previous perception of her role were not experienced in reality. However, it is clear that her role as a mother is very important to her and she loves and cares for her children greatly.

TQ: So you help out at the cycling club. What else do you do?

A: Well I do the cycling club because my husband runs that. So I kind of do all the admin for that which at some points it was so much. But now I’ve kind of whittled it down to, it’s quite manageable now. Then I also, well I used to run a home education group on Thursday mornings. I’ve just given that up just a couple of months ago because my children are older now so it got to the point why am I going to run this centre on a Thursday morning and leaving seven of them at home and just taking the younger one. So you know I’m leaving seven of them at home on their own and I’m going down there to run it for these women. Like why am I doing that? So now that four of them are doing their GCSEs like seriously I though now something’s got to give because otherwise I’m not going to be able to keep going. So then I realised that I need to give that up so I passed that over. So I’m not really involved in running anything for home education anymore. I used to organise activities for the girls because we would get a grant and then we would set up activities. So I used to be kind of like the liaison, the coordinator for that but now the girls are, they’ve kind of done all of that now. They’ve done their Duke of Edinburgh, they’ve done their silver award or whatever and they’ve finished their activities. So we’ve kind of moved on from that. The boys, I’ve never done any fundraising for them. They would just, they’ve got their, they go through the cycling club. We’ve got the BMX club and they do sailing and things like that. So I’m just kind of taxi driving now, just coordinating activities. And then I’m involved with Organisation X which is an organisation to help Muslim women, Muslim revert women who have become Muslim and are going through difficulties. I got involved in that in a small way and I think probably I am getting more involved in that because when I started off I was key worker for East London.  And there were two key workers at that point and I would kind of like have three or four cases. So I would be supporting these women but using support workers. Now I seem to always have about eight or nine cases and I’m the only key worker. And I’m also supporting a couple of women as there wasn’t a suitable support worker. So yeah that takes up a lot of time. But I’m trying to, I’m trying to get that more structured and trying to you know when the kids are doing their activities I liked to have focused hours on that so I’m not just on the phone to these women all the time. I probably wouldn’t want you to mention the name of the organisation actually.

TQ: Ok. Yeah that’s fine.

Commentary: The interviewee is very involved in the community through various roles and views this as an important aspect of her life. She mentions the stress involved in managing all her roles but it is still a contrast to her previous experience when what she could do was limited because of her young children. Also, her reduction in some of the roles shows her commitment to her children’s education and this will be prioritised before any of her personal volunteering activities.

A: Just ‘an organisation’. Yeah. So yeah that is an involvement but that’s something that the kids see the value of because it’s Islamic and it’s something that as Muslims we should be supporting these women. And so and knowing my background, knowing I wasn’t a Muslim before and knowing that it’s quite difficult to be a Muslim woman with a non-Muslim family. They know that these women have problems so they are quite supportive of that. And they know that if Umi’s (mother) doing her Solace work that’s when she shouldn’t be disturbed. Like I’ll put a notice on the door saying I’m doing Solace call and they know not to come in or whatever.

TQ: And is that how you sort of manage all your roles and how would you go about sort of managing it?

A: How do I manage it? Umm.

TQ: How do you feel about managing everything?

A: Yeah. Sometimes I feel it’s all a bit out of control. Sometimes I, I’m not the most organised person. I have good role models. I have a couple of women I know who are very, well one in particular who’s, she runs the organisation and she’s very structured. She’s very organised and so every so often she’ll kind of give me some suggestions. I’ve kind of come to my own conclusions coz I’m not. You know people can try and make you organised and they can give you guidelines but if you’re not a highly organised person I don’t think you’re ever going to become a highly organised person. I’ve realised that.  And so you find your own ways of organising but you don’t, you don’t feel that you’re failing if you’re not living up to the other person’s ideal. So I’ve become more organised. I’ve got my timetable but I know it’s, it all goes a bit bleeuuu. And that’s fine coz that’s who I am and that’s, I you know I’m doing fairly well. And it’s better to just accept who you are rather than try and be something you’re not. You can always, there’s always room for improvement but you can’t be somebody else so you just do your best. Yeah I’ve become more structured I suppose in some ways but I don’t want to be structure I want to be you know. Like I don’t like the GCSE thing to be honest at the moment you know. The kids are having to do that and the days were so lovely and sunny and I was saying on no we’ve got to the school work and they were saying ‘ahh we could be…’ and I was thinking I really must make some time to pick up conkers. Now look I’ve lost it. Whereas before, before the GCSEs we would say ‘Ah it’s a nice sunny day, let’s forget work’ or we’d say ‘let’s try and do our work on the park’. But we’d take it, we’d never work.  We knew it would never work but we would go anyway. So yeah.

Commentary: She feel stressed but has accepted that she manages in her own way and dislikes external influence on her organisation of her life. This is clear from her views on education. Although education is important, the interviewee does not enjoy the constraints of attaining formal qualifications. This shows the difference between formal education which is focused on qualifications and home-schooling which focuses on learning through experiences.

TQ: So what are your future plans really? Your youngest is eight now?

A: The youngest is eight yes. Umm, I can see things changing in two years. Because in two years’ time Anna will have finished her A-levels, three of them will have finished their GCSEs, no four of them will have finished their GCSEs because Hana will finish next year, the twins the year after, but then Ali who’s thirteen he’s doing the same work as twins, academically he can do the same. So I want them all done in two years and I want it finished in two years. Then I’m just thinking that’s it now we’re just going to have a year to do whatever we want to. Like Anna wants to do her Arabic, Sara wants to do A-levels. She can but I kind of if the boys want to go to Algeria, stay on the farm for a while. Because that would mean Yusuf would still be there. But I just don’t know. So I’m not, I haven’t got any, after that I’m just thinking let’s get these GCSEs out of the way, they’re a pain. Let’s do them and then can we please be free again. Because I don’t like this structure really. And then you know at some stage the girls are going to get married. So let’s enjoy ourselves before all that happens as well. But Sara wants to do A-levels, she’s quite keen she wants to do medicine so she’s kind of got I want to this and I don’t want to go to Algeria. You know I’m not quite sure what will happen with that. You know maybe she should take a year off as well.

Commentary: The interviewee want her children to succeed in whatever they want to do. This characteristic can be seen as a product of her own upbringing.

TQ: So your girls you know hopefully they’ll get married one day. Do you have sort of expectations for them to carry out? Sort of maternal role that you’ve sort of had?

A: Yes. I think they will always want you know, they see their role first and foremost as mothers. But they’ve also got a lot to offer as well. And that’s what I would always encourage them that, and a friend was saying this to me as well yesterday, that you know you should encourage your children to have as many different skills in life as they can. Because then they can use all of them, coz even you know as Muslims we’ve not just got one function, we’re people with lots of talents and so we should be using those talents in all different directions. So yeah I would expect that, like even with Anna, for example, she was always very good at Arabic and Quran and now she’s kind of put that to one side. And part of me, I don’t know why it bothered me but part of me thought she was going to lose her Arabic, she’s going to lose her love of Arabic. You know she’s not going to go on study it anymore. Actually she hasn’t, she’s just put it aside for the moment because she’s focusing on Maths, her other love, and then Biology which is not really her love but she’s quite enjoying it. So she’s doing Maths and I’m thinking that’s good because Arabic she can pick up anytime, maybe she won’t have the opportunity to pick up on Maths you know in the future or something. So it’s better she’s got that, if she does her A-levels in Maths and Further Maths she can take it further if she wants because Arabic is always there alongside it. It doesn’t have to be, she’s going to find her own way. It’s her choice, it’s not my choice. It’s up to her what she wants to do. And Hana, she doesn’t want to do A-levels she’s going to find out what she wants to do and Sara seems to have got quite a clear gaol. So I think they’re all going to be very different and I think I’ll be supporting them in whatever work they want to do. I think just supporting them to believe that they can do whatever they want to do with their life. It doesn’t have to be what everyone says it’s got to be. It doesn’t have to be university, it doesn’t have to be you know anything really. I’m sure that they’ll just give themselves challenges to do things. That’s what I hope. And the boys, I don’t really. They’re less, they haven’t got as much clue as the girls. They kind of like haven’t got any clear paths yet. That will come later.

Commentary: The interviewee expects her daughters to marry and fulfil their maternal role but feels they should achieve in all aspects of their lives. Once again the importance of her education is highlighted but it is difficult to separate this to a specific role the interviewee has. By this I mean the interviewee does not view education from just a parental perspective but also from the role of an educator. Both seem to compliment and balance as she both encourages motivation and choice while instilling the importance of any and all forms of education.

TQ: So do you have any other sort of issues that you would like to raise?

A: About my roles?

TQ: About you roles. About anything in general.

Commentary: I asked this question to find out any other issues the interviewee feels is important to mention about her roles.

A: I think there’s always, you always think about the things that you would have liked to have done or liked to have been like for me I never thought I would be in London. Raising my kids in London, I thought I would live in the countryside like I had done. And I think you have to accept that they way that you grow up and what you’re given as a child and what makes you who you are is not necessarily what you your children are going to have. They’re going to have a certain part of that because that’s who you are and so you give them a lot of input as to that. But at the end of the day they’re experiences are different than yours and when they get married probably their experiences will be different, their children’s experiences will be different. And I always think I want to take the good from what I got from my mum and dad and give it to the kids and tell them don’t take the bad from me, because there is you know there is bad obviously. There are things that are lacking that we could have done more of but take the good of what we gave you and then what you didn’t get, what you thought I wish they’d given us this then ok then take that and put that into your children. So hopefully you know you kind of, you build up the family through the good experiences and what bad experiences you’ve had you say ok let’s see if I can do better than that or improve on that. Because I never had any bad experiences really in my childhood. My parents were really good and we were brought up as Christians on a farm. You know we had a lot of good things but there were things now looking back I can see things that were weaknesses and I’m sure my kids looking back they will see weaknesses in myself and Adam. So I suppose that’s what I’m saying, we haven’t had any bad experiences and that’s a real blessing so take the good and improve on the weak areas.

TQ: Quite a good experience actually.

A: Yeah. That’s really what I would advise. I think what I should do less of is be less busy and maybe not take on things but then I kind of want to do as much as I can do as well. And do what you can while you’ve got the energy to do it.

TQ: Thank you very much for that.

Commentary: The interviewee raises the issue of the children growing up and the experiences she wants them to take with them. She links this back to her own childhood and emphasises the importance of her children’s upbringing in the best possible way. The interview concludes with me thanking the interviewee and making a general comment on her experience which probably did not directly influence her comment.


Key for Theme Coding:
·         Diversity of roles

·         Parental influence

·         Emotions

·         Identity


After Interview:

  • I explained to the interviewee that I will transcribe the recordings and will give her a copy of the interview report once complete.
  • I also thanked her again for taking the time to be interviewed.
  • The interviewee was pleased with the way the interview was conducted and how her personal experiences could be of use to research.
  • The interviewee was very open about her experiences and this brought up topics that I had not considered in my interview guide or in my research of the topics.