Executives by day and mothers by morning-noon-and-night, women are leading companies across the country.
Between board meetings and parent’s evenings they run a household, a business, and everything in between. From overcoming mummy guilt to time-management, “me” time and more, Care.com asks mums how they manage to do it.
6 Tips for Working Mums to Juggle Work and Family Life:
1. Get Past the Mummy Guilt
Whether it be by choice or necessity, many mothers find themselves back at work while their children are still young and it is easy to feel guilty about not being there for every milestone. Helen Egan took the decision to return to work as a Pharmacy Manager for Boots when her daughter was six-months-old. She said: “It fills me with horror. It’s not going back to work itself, it’s just the fact that I’m not going to see her all day. It’s that egotistical mummy thing of wondering how she’s going to cope without me.”
Helen and her husband gave careful consideration to which childcare solution would work best for them and be most suited to their daughter; eventually deciding on a nursery to give her the opportunity to socialise with other children. They will review their choice and may consider hiring a nanny some days to give their daughter a balance of one-on-one and group interactions.
She can see the benefits of getting out of the house: “The thing I’m looking forward to most about returning to work is having grown-up conversations and being me again.”
2. Don’t Bring Work to the Dinner Table
Louise Webster launched her website Beyond the School Run to allow parents to learn new work skills and use those they gained before the birth of their children in a way to fit family life.
By encouraging companies to see mothers as highly intelligent, professional people, Louise hopes more employers will offer flexible working hours, such as during school-time and after their children have gone to bed. She said: “One of my strong feelings is that some of the weaknesses in the current climate are possibly due to the fact that we are lacking a lot of female voices.
"Especially once you’ve had children you start to see the world in a different way, and I think that the commercial world would benefit from that.”
Whatever your situation, the key is to know what is most important to you and know your priorities from the outset. If you make it clear that you are capable of getting the job done and done well, even if it is at 10pm, you should be able to negotiate so that work does not detract from your time with your children.
3. Let the Little Things Slide
Gillian Nissim, founder of workingmums.co.uk said: “One of the main skills that working mums need to master early is the ability to prioritise. It’s impossible to do everything without ending up exhausted, but what is most important to you might not be as vital to someone else.
“Be sure of what your priorities are and don’t feel bad if something someone else thinks is essential is not even halfway up your list. The good thing is that, as with many parenting skills, learning how to prioritise is also a vital business skill.”
Ask yourself what really matters, is it spending quality time with your family or weeding the garden?
4. Ask for Help
We often feel like admitting that we are struggling is a sign of failure but, in reality, asking for help shows strength and a resolve. You might be surprised by how many people understand your plight and are willing to help in whatever way they can.
Louise Webster shares her solution for balancing her work and home commitments: “For me, being back at 3pm is really important so I can reconnect with [my son] again; I’ve recently found someone who looks after children who have just started school, so she’s free to help me through the day until 3pm.
“We just need a way to tap into all of the resources available in each community, maybe a retired grandmother who wants to do a couple of hours a week for example. So I think a website like Care.com is fantastic. It’s an easy way to connect with people.”
Be honest about what is and is not possible; if you find you have taken on too much, step back and think about what needs to change so that you can cope. It could be as simple as asking a neighbour to pick your children up from school when she fetches hers twice a week so that you can complete the project you are working on.
5. Carve out Time for Yourself
With your feet back under the table at work and your childcare arranged you might get a moment to think about yourself. Gillian gives her advice on making the most of your time: “Often you come absolutely bottom of any list of priorities and it is easy to end up looking after everyone else’s needs but your own.
“However, a bit of time for yourself whether that is an evening out with your friends or 10 minutes out with a hot chocolate, can give you the boost you need to come back to the parenting frontline with energy and humour.”
6. Keep on Keeping on
Life as a working mother is not always going to be easy; you may feel that your plate is full to overflowing, as Gillian explains: “There are often times as a working mum when you feel like throwing in the towel; a virus doing the family rounds, a string of sleepless nights or childcare disasters can make it seem like you are attempting the impossible just to get into the office.
“Remember, being a working mum is all about stamina and bad phases usually pass. You will look back on the bad times and laugh. Plan for the long run, be careful to give yourself regular breaks or treats and hone your sense of humour through sharing disaster stories with understanding friends.”
Care.com is an online childcare destination which allows families to connect with millions of caregivers to manage the lifecycle of care challenges families face. For more information go to uk.care.com.
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