Being a working parent isn’t easy, at times you can feel overwhelmed and unsure of how you are going to manage it all. Now more than ever we need to throw our arms around each other (figuratively speaking of course, because you know, social distancing) and share some our life hacks as working mums!
We asked working mums from WORK180 and our Endorsed Employers to share their tips, tricks and general life hacks on work-life balance, self-care and transferable skills you gain as a parent.
How do you set boundaries to ensure a work-life balance?
Pritida Vinod, Head of technology Siebel, BAC, & EDCM at NAB: What works for me is being clear on what my priorities are, then working on establishing the boundaries around that. The way I do that is by establishing a routine that is suitable for my responsibilities both at home and work, then communicating those boundaries to your peers/managers and team so that they can help you maintain them. One has to reinforce the boundaries regularly to ensure your ability to maintain them. Over time reassess the boundaries and reset if required.
Sam Giri, Customer Success Partner at WORK180: I have shifted my mindset from work-life balance to work-life harmony. Balance implies that one thing is weighed against something else and that has often led to an internal struggle for me in trying to get it right. Plot twist: there is no right. It's an ever-evolving journey.
Rola Almalak, Senior Manager, Professional Services Functional Management at Splunk: If it’s not in the calendar it doesn’t exist! I put my personal appointments in my work calendar. When at work (regardless if I’m in the office or working remotely) I focus 100% on work, when with the family I put my phone away so I’m 100% with them.
How do you look after your mental health?
Regina Sun, Regional Customer Executive, Perth at NAB: I need to get enough sleep (I’m one of those who need 7 hours at least a day!), hydrated (I make sure I finish my 2L bottle of water each day), exercise (I don’t enjoy it but I do it) and nourishing my soul (I carve out time to pray each day or some people call it meditation). Importantly, I try not to give myself a hard time when I don’t get the balance quite right – getting rid of that guilt is a good first step towards keeping mentally healthy, especially when you are a working mum.
Sarah McGlade, Senior Consultant, Talent at NAB: I am a firm believer in ‘Self-care Sunday’. Every Sunday late afternoon I ensure I reserve time just for myself whether it is to have a cup of tea and read a book, paint my nails, do a spa treatment or just meditate. It’s my way to press the reset button and feel rejuvenated for the new week ahead.
Kimberley Duff, Underground Mine Geologist at OZ Minerals: Having some free time to do the things that make me a happier person. If I am onsite, I like to meditate and exercise, and if I am at home, I love to get fresh air down at the beach and walk the dog. After becoming a Mother of three and now working full-time, self-care doesn’t come easy, however I am continually working at it.
Iraina Langmair, Underground Mine Control at OZ Minerals: Getting a good sleep makes every difference for me. I go for long walks when I can (sometimes with a friend), while my toddler sleeps and/or screams. I talk things out with my partner. He also works in mining and has a good understanding of the industry.
Are there transferable skills that you have as a parent that you use in your career?
Suzanne Millar, Logistic Officer at Aurizon: I have an autistic daughter, so I have learnt - People skills, understanding, resilience. Never send replies when upset, write a draft save it, sleep on it then review it again the next day.
Pritida Vinod at NAB: I have learnt negotiation and how to persist even when you hear a no as an answer, patience to deal with situations, walk away when you feel like you are going to lose your cool, organising and prioritising multiple priorities. The skills you learn are life skills and transferable to any role that you might be in.
Regina Sun at NAB: The art of good, clear and honest communication is something I use a lot in my career. As with parenting, being clear in terms of expectations and not assuming that everyone can read your mind has been really helpful for me.
What advice do you have for parents working flexibly to help them advance in their career?
Sarah Worrall, GIS Operator at Origin Energy: If you are going on maternity leave, or working considerably less days in the office, try and keep in touch with your colleagues on a personal level as well as professional. Having a good rapport with your team is just as important in career advancement as working the hard hours.
Charmaine Scott, Team Lead Talent Acquisition at Rheinmetall Defence Australia: My biggest tip is you have to be disciplined. You know what you have to deliver and by when - and you work hard and remain focused on the task at hand. I am very routine driven and set myself mini goals to achieve each day towards my ultimate end goal.
Sarah McGlade at NAB: A great leader once told me once not to apologise for working part time. My hours of work should not dictate my career opportunities. My advice to others is the same - don’t apologise for working flexibly. Continue to focus on your strengths, embrace opportunities, put your hand up for new projects and to deliver to expectation.
What are your top tips to managing your working day as a mum?
Grace Kim, Financial Controller at WORK180: Don’t burn out. Being a working mum is difficult. We are not superhuman, so don’t have the expectation that you need to do things 150% for everything!
Vinzena Romeo-Dick, People Development Coordinator at Uber Australia: Be organised the night before. Check your calendar the night before. I also always make a to-do list at the end of my workday before I leave the office to download from my brain what I need to focus on the next day so that I’m completely focussed on my family when I get home.
Leigh Frost, Diversity & Inclusion Lead at QSuper: I am big on routine and organisation. It’s not for everyone but I find if I know and the kids know what is happening then it takes away a lot of stress for everyone. The biggest life saver is having the freezer full of pre-cooked dinners for the days I am working.
Rola Almalak at Splunk: Find what works best for you. I am an early riser and I get a lot done while everyone is sleeping. Having a family, a personal life is human, people around you will understand. So be present, plan, delegate, communicate and close one eye!!! It’s okay if you didn’t wash the school jumper, or if you forgot to pack extra snacks. Be kind to yourself.
Final piece of advice
At the end of the day if there is one thing you take from this article; I hope it is just to be kind to yourself. We as working parents are doing the best we can, so let’s support one another and continue to share life hacks that might help make someone else’s life a little easier.
Make sure to download the Life Hacks for Working mums guide and workbook for more tips and advice on work-life balance, self-care and transferable skills!
Working from home with kids
Take a listen to what some of our WORK180 mums and Tom Archer from NAB had to say about working from home with kids!
Subscribe to our fortnightly Women at Work email to find out about new stories, events and career building resources
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.