Working off-farm best for rural mum

Bridget Tweed says working off-farm helps her to appreciate her family unit and the precious...
Bridget Tweed says working off-farm helps her to appreciate her family unit and the precious quality time they have together. From left: Bridget, Millie (9). Ava (7), George (5) Isla (9) and Luke Tweed. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Waitahuna’s Bridget Tweed still cringes when she recalls her first job interview after what had been four years as a stay-at-home mum with pre-schooler twins, a toddler and a baby.

"I stumbled my way through the entire interview. I just wasn’t used to talking to adults anymore. The whole interview was just terrible."

She got home and after some thought decided to call the manager.

"I said I felt the interview hadn’t gone too great and I hadn’t given a true reflection of myself. The manager actually agreed it wasn’t the greatest interview, but I rattled off a few things and I must’ve said the right thing because I got the job," she said laughing.

Bridget and her husband Luke farm sheep and beef in conjunction with Luke’s family at Waitahuna. Family life has been extremely busy and when their youngest was eight months old, Bridget took the account management role for a New Zealand-owned mutual insurer. That was nearly five years ago and she has since been promoted to area manager, overseeing staff in the Alexandra, Dunedin and Balclutha offices.

Choosing to work full-time off-farm was not a decision they made lightly. Luke was also working off-farm as a rural banker at the time. Bridget concedes there were a few "raised eyebrows" when she took the job. "We’ve been so lucky to have had some amazing nannies and au pairs who gave our children an enriched experience.

"Sitting down on the floor playing games and reading books was never my strong point, but it was theirs and our kids are better off for it."

The expectation for rural women to stay at home isn’t as commanding as it once was.

"I think society has come a long way from where we used to be. I must admit the number of times people would ask me ‘so what have you done with the kids?’ did use to get on my nerves a bit, because I tried to picture Luke being asked that same question in his banking job. They just wouldn’t. But I know people weren’t meaning any malice by it. In the end I would just say they were at home alone and we would have a bit of a laugh."

Bridget says Luke has been very supportive of her career ambitions.

"He’s backed me 150%. He gives me a lot of confidence and makes me believe in myself."

Staying true to one’s own values and showing empathy to others is a daily driving force for Bridget.

"There is a quote I read a long time ago which has stayed with me: ‘everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about’. I think, particularly at the moment, with Covid-19 and all the anxiety and uncertainty, it’s especially true and helps bring a level of understanding and compassion."

Not one for idle time, outside of work and family life, Bridget is a trustee of the Otago Community Trust, chairwoman of the Clutha Development Board and an ambassador for the Clutha Foundation. Working within a collective, she enjoys looking for opportunities that will make a tangible difference to people’s lives.

Alice Scott

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