Balancing personal and professional commitments can be a challenge for anyone. But when you add children to the mix, there’s a whole new level of logistics to consider.
Finding affordable childcare, managing school pick-ups and drop-offs, what to do when they’re sick, what to do when they’re on holidays….aaaaggghh! Surely it can’t be done! Well, not only can it be done, it is being done everyday by inspiring women (and men) all around the world.
As a way of recognising their achievements on Mother’s Day, we asked six working mums how they juggle their responsibilities. One thing they all agreed on, was that working for a great employer makes life a whole lot easier. That means being supported through flexible working arrangements, paid parental leave, return to work programs and a range of other initiatives. (If you're not getting any of this, maybe it's time to reassess your employer).
But the rest is down to these amazing women, their talents and their patience. (Yes, we know it's also down to fathers but we'll talk about that on 1st September). Happy Mother’s Day!
''While on parental leave, I stayed in touch many ways with work. I set up a ‘whats app’ group with my work colleagues, I emailed and texted my manager frequently to receive updates about the team and on occasion visited my team with my son Henry. Now I’m back, flexible working allows me to arrive early and leave at a reasonable hour. That means I can feed my son, give him a bath and tuck him into bed, and even have some quality time for myself! Ha ha.''
Ann Lawrence Manager - Business Initiatives, Insurance, Latitude Financial
''Remember that the world hasn’t changed since you left on maternity leave (no matter how long ago that was). It might feel like it, but actually, we are a people business, and people are still the same. There might be a bit of technology to catch up on and some organisation changes to get across, but fundamentally it’s still the same. And be clear about what you can take on – especially when you first return to work. The adjustment will take some time for everyone. Once you have your feet under the desk, you can increase your load in a balanced way. For me, the firm has been incredibly supportive in this, but it is still up to me to make sure I am not taking on too much. I think it’s better to state up front what your constraints are than let people down or alternatively drive yourself into the ground trying to meet expectations.''
Jayne Parish Director, Management Consulting, KPMG
''I am currently on a part-time arrangement which works excellent for me. If I have family commitments Toyota supports me swapping my days and I do the same for Toyota. If there are vital meetings to attend I try and reschedule my week. I also have a very supportive husband and we share out the dropping and picking up duties so both of us can spend time with our daughter. We dedicate the weekend for family time only. I also update my manager on my whereabouts and she is very supportive. I usually find time to myself at night when I like to relax, read a book, listen to music and of course prepare for the next day! I also have hobbies which are for me only, such as going to the football with my cousin on the weekends.''
Rachel Eather Senior HR Business Partner, Toyota
''Alcoa has a great ‘parents and kids’ network which holds a forum every 3 months. So while I was on parental leave, I was emailed at home about future forums and was able to bring my children along and receive an update on the business and any changes. My Manager also called me regularly and forwarded any emails which were important. When it comes to school, I find being organised the night before assists with getting out the door on time. This entails packing lunches and the daycare bag the night before and having an easy quick breakfast ready for the kids also.''
Bianca Underdown HR Consultant, Alcoa
''I slowly integrated back to work, starting with a couple of days a week and building up to four. This took a lot of pressure off myself and my family. Xero’s very flexible. If you want to work from home, your child is unwell or you need to attend an important school event, there’s no judgment. You just do what you need to do. It’s refreshing to know I’m trusted to manage my own time. I also set boundaries early on. I can be a bit of a workaholic, so it was just as important for me as it was to set expectations across the business. Being home at a certain time everyday to have dinner with Emily and put her to bed is imperative - and I’ve been successful so far. Haven’t missed one yet.''
Bianca Welch Head of Strategic Marketing - AU, Xero
''I get my son involved in my work. When I was in a traditional engineering role I used to point out things engineers make that help people (and still do). I also run a dance school and get him dancing on stage with me. We enjoy dancing together and it gets us chatting about why the arts are important. Now that I am with WORK180 we have great discussions about equality and how small changes by one person can lead to big changes to benefit lots of people. I don’t think I have the perfect balance and it’s different for everyone, but involving him definitely helps reduce ‘The Mother Guilt’.''
Marshie Perera Rajakumar Launch Specialist, WORK180
About the author
WORK180 is a jobs board with a difference! We pre-screen employers on paid-parent leave, pay equity, flexible working arrangements and more. Find your dream job here.