Article

Flipping Traditional Roles and Mummy Guilt


WORK180Dec 4, 2019

We spoke to Sussanah Osbourne, General Manager Production at BHP previously about chasing adventures and authentic networking to career success. In this article, we discuss non-traditional roles at home and finding balance.

Non-Traditional Roles

Sussanah has a big career that has seen her travel all over the world, two small children and a husband. She was candid with us about what it takes to make it all work.

“My husband is 12 years older than me and always wanted kids. I never had a strong maternal desire and having a career is important to me. I wouldn't change having children now for the life of me, but it wasn't something I felt I had to have. The deal we struck was that when we did have children he would be at home with the kids and we would follow my career.”

In many of her global placements her husband wasn’t granted a work visa, so Sussanah was the main breadwinner. She admits there have been “some challenges along the way!”

People often make assumptions about who plays the caring role in a family and she’s candid about those beliefs.

“I've run out of fingers to count the number of times people ask me, ‘Who picks up the kids from school when you travel?’ or, ‘What does your husband do that allows you to travel around the world?’

My husband's at home with kids. That's what's allowed us to travel around the world.

The other thing that I love is, ‘Gosh, isn't he wonderful?’

He IS wonderful. But I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be saying that if it was me at home with the kids.”

She does concede that as one of very few stay-at-home Dads, her husband has found some of Sussanah’s placements difficult. They discovered that women typically coordinated social planning, and were sometimes excluded by virtue of their non-traditional roles.

As her family’s main income earner, Sussanah felt some pressure to provide for her family, but she enjoys working and it has enabled them to travel the world and save enough to be comfortable.

Finding a Balance

With a demanding job, a husband, and wanting to make sure she spends time with her children when she’s not working, we asked Sussanah how she finds time for her adventures and sport.

Sussanah thinks society has preconditioned women in her position to not expect balance and time to themselves;

“I look at my male peers who don't think twice about heading off for a bike ride for three hours on a weekend morning, because it’s expected they have that balance.

I think there's still a lot of societal pressures around mummy guilt, so I struggle with that.”

Her non-negotiable is Monday night hockey, and she invited mothers to challenge their belief that we’re not allowed time to ourselves.

She says the most important things are being really present with your children when you’re with them, and looking after yourself.

Parting Tips

We asked Sussanah for her parting tips for career women, and she said;

“I think people need to find their passion and what really matters to them. Then the rest sort of happens. Don’t overthink things or question the ‘what if’s’. Don't beat yourself up, just take every opportunity as a chance to grow and develop. As long as you continue to reflect on your experiences, what you've learned and empathise with others, you can take any path.”

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WORK180

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