Following on from the success of the ambition series where I interviewed The Brummy Mummy of 2, Honest Mum, Natasha Courtenay-Smith and Mother Pukka, I wanted to go on and explore all the different ways in which you wonderful women are juggling family life with work. Working means different things to different families and we all make our choices for different reasons. I want to explore the subject in further detail in the hope that we can either empathise and feel less alone in our own choices or gain an understanding of why other people work in the way they do. Hopefully you will do both during the course of this series. I hope that you will find motivation to make your own choices if you are currently wondering which direction to go in and I also hope that this series will be a place to support other parents and to build each other up.
So without further ado, I would like to introduce Aisling (pronounced Ashling) who blogs at Mummy on the run. Mummy on the run is a parenting and lifestyle blog with a focus on running and family travel. It’s a lovely, bright and infectiously enthusiastic space on the internet that I have just discovered and I am really enjoying. Aisling has been blogging about the working mothers burn out which you can read here but today she is telling us how to have it all as working mother. Enjoy and be sure to leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.
How To Have It All As A Working Mother
As part of my exploration of my feelings of conflict around being a working mother, I found myself a business mentor and we had our first meet today. I am delighted to report that some of my biggest concerns/preconceptions that I wrote about have been challenged. I have never been so happy to be in the wrong. Let me elaborate…
I hadn’t met my mentor before – all I knew about her before today was that she was in a senior position in the arts industry and has three children. That was enough for me, all I wanted was to speak to someone who was successfully managing the working mother juggling act and who could share some wisdom.
She is 10 years older than me and had kids around the same age as I did. I found her perspective insightful and valuable. I wanted to share some of her practical tips in case they can be of use to other mums out there:
- Define your red lines: something’s got to give so decide what you are prepared to sacrifice and what you’re not. Write it down for clarity. Once you’ve made your decisions, find peace with it and move on.
- Don’t apologise to your children: you have made your choices for a reason. Don’t put your anxiety onto your children by apologizing when you can’t be with them because you have to go to work. Explain to them that they have to go to school just like you have to go to work and that you enjoy it, just as they enjoy school. There is nothing to be sorry for.
- Be honest about your family commitments: when you have a parents’ evening or a nativity play to attend, put it in your diary so that your colleagues understand your other commitments. If you are in an established position and are trusted in your role, you will be professional enough to make the time up elsewhere.
- Don’t expect the flexibility to all be on the part of the employer and be prepared to show them flexibility in return. A successful working relationship with your employer is a two way street. If they are flexing to allow you to manage your family life, then you should show them the same courtesy when their backs are against the wall for some reason. Opening the laptop in the evening, checking emails at the weekend, attending an ad hoc meeting on a day off as long as they don’t become regular fixtures are other ways a working mother can show their employer that it’s a give and take relationship.
- Flexible childcare: if it’s within the realms of affordability, a nanny is a great option to give you more flexibility. Nursery childcare is more difficult because you have no choice as to the time you leave the office.
I will take all of these tips on board and implement as and when possible. But perhaps one of the most inspiring things I heard from my mentor today was that she had the biggest jumps in the career ladder – and pay rises to match – after having children. IT IS POSSIBLE! Commitment, focus, flexibility and carefully considered sacrifices have helped her to achieve her career goals. The last question I asked her was whether she thought women can have it all. At first she agreed that this was a myth but on consideration she came to the conclusion that she did have it all – a successful career, Fridays working from home to allow for the school drop off and pick ups and happy, fulfilled kids. What more could a working mother want?